I am a closet film script writer. The one thing I really want to do is write a masala film script which is different. Recently I ran into a film maker friend of mine and since he was in the mood to listen, I told him my story.
"Acha hai," he said, down two drinks of whisky.
“I am glad you liked it so much,” I replied, hoping that he would take it on and choose to direct it.
“Par thoda change karna padega!”
“We will have to change the religion of the villain.”
“Yes. We will have to make him a Parsi.”
“Oh why?” I asked, not having heard of a bawa villain in Hindi cinema for a very long time.
“Well. One they are too small in number and most of them barely watch Hindi cinema.”
“So?” I asked.
“So, some of their so-called leaders won't bother to protest that we have a shown a Parsi character in negative light. And even if they do, their protests will fall on deaf ears because there are only around 70,000 of them. So they are not a vote bank.”
“Oh. But when was the last time you heard of a Parsi terrorist?” I asked rather humbly, trying to drive home what I thought was an important point.
“Arre yaar! It doesn't matter. This is Hindi cinema. The absurd will just become absurder,” he said. “Chal, let me order a drink. Tu tamatar soup theek se pee!”
“Whatever you think is right,” I replied, eager to get the script accepted.
“Also, that side character of a cobbler. We will have to change that a little as well. We can't call him a Raju mochi as you do in the script,” he explained patiently.
“But why?” I asked. “What do you call a mochi if not a mochi?”
“Mochi is insulting. You cannot call a cobbler a mochi. He needs to be called a charmakar. Accordingly you should call your character Raju Charmakar.”
“But why? He is not a cobbler. He is just a spy pretending to be a cobbler,” I persisted.
“Arre, you don't remember? A few years back a movie called Aaja Nachle had a line in a song which went like this “Bazaar Mein Machi Hai Mara Maar, Bole Mochi Bhi Khud Ko Sunar.””
“So there were protests and they had to remove that word. And I don't want my film to be stopped because of one word!”
The words “my film” were music to my ears. “As you say boss!” I agreed.
“Also, the side hero seems to be wearing saffron colour throughout the movie.”
“Yes. That's how his character is na. It is a political thriller after all. I had to build in characters from across the spectrum.”
“Wo to theek hai. But I don't like too much saffron on the screen. You know my movies have a red theme. So let's make him wear red. We will also give him a song with a lot of red in it. I have a nice set in mind. Karjat main set banayenge.”
“Arre, that will change the entire meaning. How can red replace saffron?” I asked him, totally perplexed.
“Well if Vishal Bhardwaj's bhains can be a pink Gulabo instead of a red Laali, I am sure the side hero can wear red instead of saffron. Samjha karo. It can have a big impact in the biggest territory.”
“As you wish,” I replied totally giving in to his demands.
“And lets put in a song by Yo Yo Honey Singh,” he further suggested.
I sank in my chair. My script was taking on a different hue.
“Thoda daaru shaaru, weed-sheed, kudiyon shudiyon ke baare main gayega. And that will ensure that the movie will go housefull in the Delhi, Western UP and Punjab territory,” he continued.
“But what if it gets banned because of his song? Also the women have been rallying against him,” I asked.
“Na, na. The protesting women were the few dented-painted types. We will ensure that he doesn't go to the same extent like he often does. Kuch hulka phulka, you know what I mean.”
“Hmmm,” I just nodded.
“Aur yaar. Your heroine is too dry.”
“Yes. She is from a small town. But she is a total deshbhakt. That is why she helps the hero in his mission against the terrorists.”
“Wo to theek hai. But let's spice her up!”
“Arre thoda item number-wumber daalo!”
“But she is a humble small town girl? It doesn't sound right!” I pleaded.
“Let's put in a dream sequence yaar.”
“Yes. You know what I have a brilliant idea. We will also shoot the heroine under a waterfall. The same one where Rajjishot Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili.”
“Yeah. Your script says she is a village girl na.”
“Small town girl,” I clarified.
“Arre ek hi baat hai. And while she is bathing under the waterfall, the hero will see her for the first time. Wo scene poore single screen theatres ko loot lega!”
“But who will do the heroine's role? Katrina?”
“She will be too expensive. Utne main to hero aa jayega. Arre we will take a new girl. She won't have any inhibitions about shedding clothes if the scene demands so.”
“You think very differently,” I replied.
“Right now it is important to ensure that the film does not get banned. And no film ever gets banned because of its heroine! So heroine koi bhi ho sakti hai!”
What about the lead role?” I asked. “Let's take Shah Rukh.”
Na, na. Bolta bahut hai wo! Ab to likhne bhi laga hai!” “He might say something reasonably intelligent before the film's release and there will be a huge controversy aur film dabbe main pad jayegi.”
“But wouldn't that be good publicity for the movie? I mean, My Name is Khan got a lot of publicity that way.”
“Yes it did. But I don't want to take that risk.”
“So? Lets take Aamir then?”
“Na, na he is too much of an activist and intellectual type. And if you remember Gujarat had banned his movie Fanaa. Gujarat territory mein Aamir risky hai.”
“Let's take Salman,” he replied confidently. “He barely speaks and when he does it sounds like Italian,” he replied. “So Rs 150 crore guaranteed.”
I had nothing to say. Money talks loudest.
Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org