Wannabe scripwriter to his boss, a top scripwriter, in, where else but a 5 star hotel."Boss, you wanted a script like Sholay. I think I have a good idea .With a touch of Gudiya incident."
Boss wakes up and tries to focus on the wannabe and grunts.
Wannabe : "Set in a village.."
Boss : "Stop. I wanted a story like Sholay. But it should appeal to today's youth. This is the age of India Shining,sms and pizzas"
Wannabe : "Malika Sherawat can be one of the heroines"
Boss : "Hmm. Make it quick"
Wannabe : "I was doing some research on the internet and I came across this article.."
Boss : "What were you doing on the internet. I told you to watch Shyamalan's The Village and some other movies for a Sholay with modern touch inspiration. And I know what internet research means these days. I am still in touch with the youth"
Wannabe : " Boss let me tell you about some of the incidents I came across, then we can mix and match." And starts to read from his printout.
"Background is the atrocities of panchayat. Not the legislated, elected gram panchayats that are supposed to be governance's third tier. They are supposed to be mere rubber stamp. This is about caste panchayats that rule life in many of our villages: the community councils of elders—five or more, mostly upper-caste, and always male—who dispense justice at will and whim. Muscled by a medieval morality, these caste collectives of elders are known to punish by ostracising, publicly disgracing, making the guilty chew excreta, stripping, parading women naked, presiding over torture, mutilating, prescribing rape as retribution, even killing. But the one punitive device the caste panchayats use most commonly—social boycott—is also the one that they get away with with the greatest ease. For those living in the villages, "hooka pani bandh" is social strangulation, akin to death. "
Boss nodding with eyes closed. Wannabe pauses,not sure if Boss is asking him to go on or dozing. But decides to go on.
Wannabe : "In July this year, three Dalit women from the Mahar caste were gangraped by eight upper-caste men in Madhya Pradesh's Bhomtola village in Seoni district as "reprisal": because an upper-caste girl had eloped with a boy from their family. When, as demanded by the upper-caste Goli panchayat, the boy's family could not locate and bring the couple back within two days, the elders delivered retributive rape as justice. About 50 Goli men attacked the erring Mahar family, dragged its three women about two kilometers away. Where, eight men from the girl's family, including uncles and nephews, raped the women. All eight were later arrested, and the state government imposed a fine on the entire village for "abominable cowardice in remaining a mute witness to a gory happening".
Boss opens eyes: "Hero is a police officer.Two possiblities. The victim family could be his heroine, and he saves them before any thing happens. Or better, they could be his sisters. He is in city, his brother comes to him with the eloped girl. But after a lengthy dialouge, he convinces them to return to the village with him. But before their arrival, all his sisters are raped and they commit suicide from shame. The brothers pledge to avenge. The heroine could be a city journalist or lawyer who helps them. The main villain of course should be an ISI Terrorist. Who is in the hero's village and wants to smuggle a huge cache of bombs and missiles and is in collision with the Panch. Have the village near a beach and we can have some beach scenes too. But a fine on all the villagers is not a good climax. A long dialogue, and some good action hmmm lets see... we can work on it...ok continue..
Wannabe reading from the printout : "Around the same time, 60 villagers of Jhapa Udan, 17 km from Muzaffarpur in Bihar, watched a similarly morbid panchayat punishment being meted out to 48-year-old widow Sumitra Devi. Sumitra was beaten, stripped and acid thrown on her genitals; penalty for filing a complaint with the chief judicial magistrate against mukhiya Ambika Ram and his men, accusing them of filching the money allotted to her for an Indira Awas housing unit. Lying wounded and weak in a dirty ward in Muzaffarpur's skm hospital now, Sumitra whines out her memory of the court that punished her so: the mukhiya dragged her out of her home and the panchayat decided she was tarnishing the village's image by complaining about reputed people to outside authorities."
Boss : "No hero. Forget this, but we can include this in the first script"
Wannabe : "In February, a panchayat in the Babultara village of Marathwada presided over the thrashing of a Dalit woman by upper-caste Hindus. She had filled water from the only public tap in the village. Later, to ensure that lessons in local law had been learnt well, the panchayat ordered a boycott of all 25 Dalit households in the village of 2,000, the grocer wasn't allowed to sell food to them for many months. "
Boss simply yawns
Wannabe hurriedly skips couple of incidents and comes to ..: " Last month, a caste pancahayat ordered 21-year-old Sonu, widowed four years ago, to leave her marital home in Chaubara village in Haryana's Hissar district. Fault: Sonu wasn't playing the expected helpless homebound widow. She'd reaped fruitful harvests on the plot left to her by her husband, run a grocery shop, tailored clothes for added income, got her son into an English medium school. Soon, however, her brother-in-law took her as his second wife citing Jat custom: to usurp half her property. "Also, most male relatives began demanding sexual favours," says Sonu. "I beat up some, and began sleeping in the courtyard with a stick by my side. Spurned, these men spread canards; even an electrician coming to my house was immoral!" The moral police stepped in and sentenced Sonu to a year-long exile, without hearing her at all. "
Boss : "We can show the husband is a special agent in army. For a secret mission, he pretends to be dead. He fights terrorists and detonates bombs and comes back from the Kargil war, and fights his step-brother (brother won't do).And they live happily. But there is no punch and not much city angle..
Wannabe reading from the article again : " it benefits the nexus of politicians, bureaucrats, landlords, upper castes and contractors to keep power away from people. So, they keep the caste collectives working by ensuring the legislated panchayats remain weak. Only more panchayati raj, and a more efficient one at that, can eliminate the caste panchayats." " so you can have the hero fighting the politicians in the city."
Boss : "Audience will laugh at heros who ask for efficient Panchayati Raj. Fighting against terrorism is better. But we can think about this village touch.Especially a village with a good beach."
Boss : "Anyway enough about these incidents, what if it turns out like PhoolanDevi, can we fight the victims who say we stole their story?"
Wannabe looks pleased. He had anticipated this question."Boss, Phoolan Devi was famous and a bandit. These people couldn't fight even the unofficial panchayat, why will they drag you to court? And these things probably happen in many more villages, there probably is nothing unique about them."
Boss suddenly worried. "What about activists. Will they think it is wrong to treat these topics in insensitive manner?"
Wannabe : "But that can mean more publicity boss. I read after Gudiya incident this is the age of reality TV. Anyway films have been inspired by incidents like bhanwari rape, the train rape etc"
Boss : "they didnt do that well"
Wannabe : "But they didnt have heroines like Malika Sherawat"
Boss thinks and then decides."No. It can be thought of as unpatriotic and divisive. Work on the Sholay angle, but Gabbar is ISI and the heroine is a Pizza delivery girl"