Friday, October 19, 2007

The script

Today, like every other weekday, he woke with a start, perspiring, cursing the power cut, and cursing the 8 am shift. He had 20 minutes to shave, shower and get dressed before the company jeep would take him out to the site. He was the shift operator for the earth moving equipment that the British company had specially brought over to India by sea. The job was one of great responsibility. He was the only Indian who was given a key to the inventory. The crane was built by a company in an unheard of European country, and he could only understand the images in the user manual, the text was all foreign.

To add to his worries, his wife was carrying their second child, a daughter this time, he hoped. The 2 year old boy was proving to be a rascal with no scruples. Must have got it from her side of the family, he cursed again. She was a tease, he thought, as he trimmed his mustache. If only my wife was as attractive and intelligent as her, he mused. As he picked up his freshly pressed uniform, he noticed the new button stitched into the cuff which the washerwoman had broken the previous week. He paused for a moment, and the usual guilty thoughts ran through his head. His wife was a conscientious, pious woman, who never asked for anything, and never questioned him about the running of his house. He wondered if his fling with the British supervisor's daughter would land him a place in hell, forever. He had even converted to Christianity to appease her. Their concept of eternal damnation, was a very scary thought. The priest never failed to remind him that all his fellow pagans would spend eternity in the arms of the devil.

The cold water washed away all his musings, and jolted him back into reality. He would be late if he did not rush to the corner Post Office, the arranged pick up point for the jeep. He dreaded his daily commute, as it would mean sitting alongside that arrogant ass Romeo. Romeo Chettiar was a constant pain in his side, never failing to highlight that his family converted to the faith a generation before. And was always needling and taunting him. It was all his own fault really, he never should have let Romeo see him with Stephanie. But she was aggressive and independent. She wanted the whole world to know about them. How would her father react! He would be summarily dismissed from his post, and even thrown into jail. She would be sent away back to England, to cure her of her insolence. His whole existence was threatened, and he knew exactly how much trouble he was in. If his wife's relatives knew of this, he could be ostracized from the community completely. He was already in trouble after the conversion. With so many things to worry about, his wife found the perfect time to get pregnant again.

His thoughts began to make his jaw tighten into a frown so dark, he was scared of his own reflection in the mirror. Enough! he thought. Today I will make amends. Today, I will cut off everything with Stephanie, and return to my wife, my family. Even if he was thrown out of his job, he would not care. This constant worrying was driving him insane. The consequences be damned, the whole world be damned!

As I excitedly turned the page of the writers first draft, I could not help admiring the plot line. It was brilliant! An Indian family man, honest and scrupulous, burdened by responsibilities, a family, a stressful job, a British mistress! The time was pre-independence, the atmosphere was buzzing with anti-British sentiments, and the lead of the story was living right in the middle of it all. I couldn't wait to read the entire script. Of course, it would need editing, I may even have to add or remove a few characters, or exaggerate their roles according to my creative opinion. But the movie would be a super hit! The critics always loved these scripts set in the colonial past. The film would have a very decent International audience as well. Music releases, Premiere shows for the glitterati, press coverage, the Muhurat shot! The producers would pour indecent, nay vulgar amounts of money into this! Who should I get for the lead role? That tall star-son, with the super star father, and the drama queen wife, or that ridiculously popular mega star, who loves to stutter, with a violin in one hand and a sweater draped over his shoulders...Decisions, decisions, decisions.