Thursday, July 29, 2010


I have not yet forgiven myself for thinking that I have the makings of an idea for a movie script swirling around in my head. The characters are drawn from profiles of: senior defense personnel, politicians, advertising executives and actors. The script is to be divided into three acts, each an illustration on the concept of Duplicity

- A general is in talks with his country's national politicians about the future course of the insurgency his army is currently combating; he pontificates about a historical enemy on one side of the border, explicitly criticizes western powers for being too naive to fully understand the pressures he faces every day, and finally threatens his leaders against taking a stand opposed to his own and therefore against the national interest, before walking out of the meeting in a huff. At home later, he sits in front of his television watching the news of yet another suicide bombing killing tens of people in his home town on the other side of the country. He suddenly recognizes the street depicted in the carnage, and after taking a sip of his scotch, self-consciously breaks down and weeps uninhibitedly.

- An advertising executive is in his element on the creative floor of his office; he is telling his designers and copywriters that they must focus on what the idea of being fair means in this country – intrinsic superiority, higher culture, better prospects… He tells them that nobody likes dark people - that they are only tolerated because it is politically correct. If people were given a chance to express their unadulterated views in public, he says, you would hear a lot more overt racism. He tells the team to focus on the promise, the glory, the vanity of the colour white when they begin their campaign. He leaves the floor triumphant. At home later, he enters his drawing room to find his 8-year old daughter throwing things around, in the throes of one of her wild tantrums. He has witnessed such a scene many times before. He angrily questions his wife; ‘What happened this time?’ She says, ‘She was teased once again about being black and ugly by her classmates.’

– A celebrated actor rehearses for a play. He is arguing in an imaginary court of law for equality, fraternity and justice for all. His fight is for a poor villager caught in the crossfire between government forces and Maoists in his little hamlet somewhere in the vastness of the Red Corridor. The actor is impassioned, articulate and full of zeal. The few witnesses at the rehearsal cry watching the performance. The actor ends with the words, ‘This world will not stand the scrutiny of even the highest born among us looking at the people he has so willfully scorned; in the face of reason, ineptitude and the mysterious workings of that most criminal of ideas – fate!’ Even the director stands up in his seat immediately after, applauding. A helper hurries over to the actor, worried that the long trail of his lawyer’s gown costume is about to trip him. When he touches the garment, he receives a brutal kick from the actor that sends him sprawling across the stage. The flabbergasted actor then screams out - ‘How dare you interrupt me when I am in the zone.’

Perhaps I can be forgiven for thinking that this could really be a work of fiction. But then again, probably not.

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