Sunday, December 4, 2011

The rejected script for a short

The present

Scene 1: A sultry hot afternoon in a small town somewhere in north India. A few 6-8 year old children are playing hide and seek in the compound. There is a lot of noise and chaos. The camera zooms in beneath a staircase. In the cool darkness sits the protagonist, a 7 year old boy – average height, fair complexion, hair neatly combed to one side, plump face; he is sitting on his haunches, anxiously awaiting the seeker, staring straight into the camera for half a minute. Then he looks down and there is a sudden gleam in his eyes – something to his right has caught his attention. The camera focuses on his excited eyes as he bends forward and picks up the alien object. He hides it in his fist and pockets his discovery. Then he goes back to his original stance and the noise outside returns to its earlier chaotic levels.
Scene 2: A small bedroom in the small north Indian town described in Scene 1. A middle aged woman, around 35, medium height, wearing a cotton sari; is sitting in front of her dressing table. The camera shows us the woman from a distance. Next, it zooms in on the sunlight entering the room through an open window and moves on to the slowly revolving ceiling fan. We hear the woman humming an old film song slowly. Then the camera moves to the mirror. Through the mirror, we get a glimpse of the woman’s face. There is a faint, excited smile at the corners of her mouth as she applies kohl to her eyes. The little boy (the protagonist) comes running into her arms. She lovingly lifts him in her arms and places him on the bed. Then she holds his little face in her hands and says – “Tere papa ka phone aaya tha, wo kal aa rahe hain”. This brings a wide grin to the boy’s face. The mother leaves the room, humming the song excitedly. The boy jumps down in front of the dressing table, deftly touches his shirt pocket and lifts his mother’s mangal sutra. He puts it around his neck and starts grinning, staring at himself in the mirror. The camera moves to the TV set in the corner of the room, flashing images of the Kargil war.
Scene 3: An army truck, moving on a rugged mountain road. Just before twilight. We see a group of soldiers sitting in the open back of the truck. A soldier standing on one corner of the truck, stares into the open space around. He is a middle aged man (35-40), but looks older. Has thick stubble. The camera zooms in on his focused, unyielding eyes.
Scene 4: A small railway station. It’s around 11 am. The station is in its perennial state of chaos. Amidst the crowd on the platform, we see our protagonist standing with his mother, waiting for a train. The child is holding his mother’s finger. He stands with his head down, staring at the shadows of the passing passengers, humming a rhyme. His mother stands craning her neck in the direction from which the train will arrive. There is a glint in her eye as the sun shines on her face. Soon, we hear the rumbling sound of the approaching train. We see in the distance the smoke billowing out of the engine. Then slowly, losing pace, the train enters the platform. Mother and son take a couple of steps forward as the train slowly screeches to a halt. The man shown in Scene 3 emerges from a compartment some distance away from them. He is carrying an army trunk, which he drops at the sight of the approaching duo. The mother takes a few quick steps and hugs him. They let go after a few moments. The child, waiting patiently till now, tugs at his father leg. He lifts him in his arms, grinning widely. The father kisses the child on both cheeks. The child then takes out something from his shirt pocket, his fist clenched tightly around the object. He says to his father – “Papa, aap humara budday bhul gae the, but hum nai bhule. Hum aapke lie present laye hain”. The father asks what it is. The boy asks him to close his eyes. He obliges. The boy slowly opens his fist and puts a black thread around his father’s neck. The father looks down on his chest to find a plain black thread containing a small, yellowish pendant. The camera zooms in on the object in question. It’s a golden bullet, glistening in the shining sun. The camera moves to the father’s face as the son asks him – “Kaisa laga humara present?”. The wrinkles around his eyes are enhanced as he looks at the pendant, then at his son, in a state of utter confusion. A dark shadow crosses his face as we see a closing shot of the glistening bullet, resplendent in the warm sunlight. The sound of a gun going off is followed by darkness. THE END.