[This is a diploma film size screenplay, autobiographical in essence and one of my most satisfying. I got an identical burst of temper from my son, the same as the man in the story. The film wasn’t made since i couldn’t find a right actor to play my character. (Not that he has to look or behave like me! In fact quite the opposite.)
I still hope to make it one day. But if somebody else wants it sooner, please let me know. A good film must be made, whoever does it.]
August 31, 2005
FRUIT PULP FICTION
Screenplay for a 15-minute long film in 35mm, colour
by Surendar Chawdhary
A fruit obsessed father tries to push a bowl of fruit to his son but gets a blast of foul temper. Hurt he goes for a walk and crossing a busy road, meets with an accident. Mother dismisses reporting calls as wrong number, but when the son takes the phone, he is flabbergasted. “Where is he?” he asks mother, “Where does he go for walks?” But surprisingly she remains indifferent. By the time some neighbourhood children come to fetch him, he is already collapsing. As the kids wait outside, in a strange mix of penance as well as need for instant energy, the six-footer boy sits gobbling up from the same fruit bowls that only minutes back he had rejected. And promptly throws up. He is miserable.
But fortunately, all this has been played out only in father’s imagination. There’s been no accident and having ‘commandeered’ the boy to this situation in his mind, the father now sits across the table from him, watching as he suffers. And when he decides enough is enough, he further imagines for him the most effective balm in the world, his girl friend’s apology and a passionate patch up.
Finally thus purged, the father goes happily for his evening walk.
“Distrust all men in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.”
A man comes back home from work.
He parks his Maruti in the stilt parking of his apartment complex and climbs three floors. His wife opens the door. The son is already back from office but has closed the bedroom door. “Working,” says mother. “He has asked not to disturb.”
Unburdening himself of his laptop on the drawing room chair, father goes to the toilet, then returns to join her in the kitchen. Plucks himself a banana from the top of the fridge, eats. “When did he return?” he asks mother. “Just half an hour back.” It isn’t yet dark but she has already started cooking dinner.
“Oh, he didn’t finish this in the morning?” Inspecting the fridge for something more to eat, he has found a bowl of fruit. Mother is not surprised. “I told you, he doesn’t like them papayas.” She is fed up with having to tell him for the umpteenth time, even happy that he prefers her cooking to all the vegetables and fruit that her husband tends to push. “He just took some Maggi, watched TV and then…”
“Well, you could have finished it. Fruit is good for everybody.” Father picks up a fork and settles down with the bowl at the dining table. “You know why they are saying ‘shit’ all the time? Shit this, shit that? Because they are eating shit all the time, that’s why! Give them pizzas and coke, any number.” He finishes and leaves the bowl at the sink beside her. Then picks up a fresh bowl and brings out the leftover papaya fruit from the fridge. Again he settles down peeling and slicing it at the dining table. Seeing which, mother senses trouble. “Now who is this for?” But he says nothing and goes on. Next he selects a large chikoo from a paper bag on the fridge. “These would be the greatest chikoos in the world, by any reckoning!” This one too he carefully cleans and slices. And likewise a large, blood red pomegranate, whose flyaway seeds he goes retrieving from all kinds of places. “Only Kandhari pomegranates are better than these. A Kandhari would never stain your shirt.” Mother looks at him with mistrust. “And why’s that?” “Because it’s a Kandhari, that’s why!”
Finally father has assembled an appetizing, colourful tray. The bowls even seems to glow from inside.
“He said not to disturb, he’s working!” mother warns him. But handling fruit seems to send father on a high. “You can’t stop them from eating shit, but you can certainly leave them less space to eat that shit!” says he, making a point, with gleaming eyes. “That’s the strategy, you see! It’s war!” He picks up a fork and gets up to go.
Music can be heard playing inside as he approaches the bedroom door. He knocks, gently at first, then harder. “Surja?”
Just then, right next to him, the telephone rings. It’s from his own office. “Just a minute, I’ll take the hand set,” he has already switched to playing the boss, then drifts into the room issuing instructions in a measured tone. “You don’t have to sir me so much, only keep deadlines. That’s all I ask!” he dismisses the caller. Obviously a junior is having to stay longer to complete an assignment.
“Suraj!” Father is again at the door knocking.
“Yeah, yeah, just a minute,” comes a sudden, irritated response from inside. Is he sleeping? Suraj, a tall big youth, opens the door. It’s dark red light inside and he’s indeed been sleeping.
“Oh, but mummy said you were working…” Father tries to explain.
“Yeah, so?” His eyes are groggy and father is overawed and dumb-founded. “Sure I lied, I am not working but why can’t you just for once leave me alone, man!!??” He suddenly bursts out shouting. “Oh, I’m sorry, I just didn’t…!” The father is taken aback and instinctively begins to withdraw the fork in his hand but that only draws the boy’s attention to it—and in turn to the sliced fruit crowding next to the phone.
“Papa, you woke me up for these?” His eyes red, he is incredulous, astounded. “Shit man! Why don’t you just get lost and leave me alone, Papa? I really mean it!” Not knowing any better, he has suddenly switched to almost begging.
“What a way to talk Suraj!” Mother has meanwhile joined up from the kitchen. “These are not for you, he’s cut them for himself! He wants his clothes, so he can go for his walk. Why are you forever bolting the door from inside?” She goes past him into the room as Suraj returns to the bed in disgust and flops. Mother collects father’s walking outfit one by one from the pegs and hangers in the closet and comes out closing the door behind her.
“Ji?” she goes looking for father. “Where are you?”
Standing in their third floor balcony, father is looking at the flowing traffic through the grille. His head is reeling—they love him so much, he and his wife, and… “Where are you?” Mother joins him from behind. “Here are your things.”
“Just what’s wrong with this boy? He is turning a regular psycho, crazy!” Father returns into the drawing hall and sits down on a divan against the wall. This serves as his bed for the night, while mother’s bed is opposite on the other side. The bedroom has been given over to the son.
“Don’t bother about him; just go for your walk!”
“But something has to be wrong with him after all?”
“Must be that girl, what else?” Mother is dismissive as she goes back to attend to her cooking.
Girl? What girl? And what can a girl have to do with this lout anyway? Father draws the French door curtain and stands changing in front of his bed; then gets his shoes from the rack and begins to wear them sitting on the bed.
Music starts as we see father coming out of the building’s main gate. Dressed for his evening walk, he approaches the camera like a zombie. Music builds up to a peak and goes silent as he goes past the frame. The view ominously holds as we hear an accident.
He has been struck by a vehicle. A commotion results. As some people attend to him, one tries to take down the registration number of the gone car.
Back in the house, telephone rings—and keeps ringing. “Mama!” Suraj calls out irritated. Mother comes from the kitchen and takes the call. “Wrong number!” she promptly puts it down and returns.
Another call and mother again dismisses it as wrong number. The third time, Suraj comes out and takes the phone. He is flabbergasted. “Where is Papa?” he asks mother. “Somebody is out of his mind—” mother continues stirring the vegetable. “Yeah but where’s Papa?” “He’s gone for a walk and nothing is wrong with him,” insists the mother. “But where does he go, for a walk, these days?” Something is definitely wrong and mother doesn’t seem to understand. “Well, he goes and comes back!” shouts back mother. “He doesn’t meet with accidents! Never done so in his whole life!”
Just then there is a knock on the door. Some children have come to report the accident. Alarmed, Suraj begins to leave at once but returns from the staircase to change. “Give me some money,” he asks the mother in the kitchen. “I may need…” To his surprise she continues to cook as though nothing is amiss. But he is already breaking down. “Let me eat something before I go.” In the fridge, there is the tray with the same glowing fruit bowls that his father had prepared for him. He takes out the whole tray and sits down at the dining table. Fidgeting, he begins to gobble from all the bowls. Rich red of pomegranate, BJP saffron of papaya and shit brown of chikoo, he finishes them all. Then suddenly he throws up and everything is out on the table. He is miserable but would his father like that? Wasting good fruit, vitamins? Dazed and desperate, he begins to wipe and lick up the mess from the table.
Sitting unseen at the opposite chair, father watches all this in great sorrow as if to say, “But you asked for it!” The whole thing has been entirely a product of his imagination, not real. Mother stands behind him cooking as before—she’s by now slapping chapattis. A young girl comes hurrying up the staircase, past the waiting children, and appears behind the son in the kitchen. She has heard the news. With great concern she holds him from behind. “No, no, don’t worry. I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. Don’t worry Suraj we’ll eat up everything. We’ll both finish all this fruit, just as your father said…” She smothers and fondles him with all the love that father wants bestowed upon the boy at this moment.
Watching intently thus far, father breaks into a smile. That’s been punishment enough for the boy. Moreover he now knows why his son was misbehaving. It was his girl—and that’s her. Nice girl. In fact, rather too pretty, for this high-strung, foul-mouthed idiot. The thought makes him feel somewhat easy and the boy is forgiven. But he has a genuine curiosity and mother is best person to ask.
“Lekin, yeh aise gadhon ke saath aisee sexy ladkiyan pat kaise jati hain?” says father, turning round to mother.
“What?” Mother is caught midway through a chapatti.
Father, now standing in the kitchen doorway, repeats the question in a lowered tone. He is ready to leave for his evening walk and steps in so as not to be heard by the boy in the next room.
“Why, isn’t that her picture on his table? What’s her name?”
“Aur kaun gadha?”
Father doesn’t want to argue the point. “Anyhow, that’s none of our business,” he says.
Feeling light and bouncy, father steps out into the staircase. “Close the door, I’m gone for the evening!”
Music builds up as he comes out of the main gate, towards the traffic, just as he had done a while ago. And just as before, music peaks and ends on an empty frame. But this time there is no accident.
Instead a car is heard approaching and it goes brushing past father, almost knocking him down at real high speed.
“Bastards!” shouts the father lustily after the ruffians, angry from the fright they gave him. Then resumes.
When last seen, he is chewing at a carrot and waiting to cross the road.