OUT OF INDIA, An Action Adventure

Reg’d © Library of Congress
A jail bird, an Indian holy man and a woman from the WHO team up to spirit a herbal cure for hemorrhoids out of India.  Think of:

Proposed cast: Harrison Ford (Mitch)
MITCH, an American in India, is doing time in a Calcutta prison for smuggling (let’s not ask what), when a Bagwan, also in for smuggling, is thrown into the crowded cell with him.

The Bagwan's villagers have shown him a herbal cure for hemorrhoids—works instantly!— handed down secretly for millennia; not even the local Muslims know.  And he can spring Mitch if Mitch can get it out of the country. 


Proposed cast: Sir Ben Kingsley (the Bagwan)
Despite lucrative foreign contracts with pharmaceutical companies in Ohio, the BAGWAN can't get it out past the red tape.  It makes up as a suspicious-looking white powder and he can’t afford to baksheesh all those officials. 


The two go into business. Mitch takes a steel suitcase of the stuff out of the southern hills to Bombay, where an associate, a fisherman, will sail it past the customs cruisers to a waiting freighter.

But here's another steel suitcase being tied to the roof of a bus by an Afghan horseman.  


So heavy is it (so stuffed with opium) and so cumbersome that he puts a curse on it, and we follow that suitcase south into India on buses and trains, from runner to runner, watching the curse work its evil on each of them until, on the train into Bombay, it gets mixed up with Mitch’s. 


Proposed cast: Rebecca Hall (Jill)
As this is happening he meets Americans JILL and Harold from the World Health Organization, doing a report on Indian women. A starving kid grabs her traveler's checks, Mitch reluctantly intercepts them and lets the kid go, and their prickly relationship begins.

Proposed cast: Catherine Tate (Franny)

Also on the train is lascivious FRANNY, a small-time smuggler (it's a widely-practiced trade there), who guesses that Mitch too is a runner, and flirts with him shamelessly—

Proposed cast: Dev Patel (Shubash)

—although she has something going with shy and proper SHUBASH, an untouchable ("We'll see about that") she has brought into the first-class carriage over the objections of the conductors, and seduced.

He has sold his patrimonial acre and is on his way to Bombay (they say Bombay there, not "Mumbai") to make his fortune, though he knows he'll have to sleep on the sidewalk. 


When they get to Bombay and Mitch realizes the switch, and the opium is stolen, and the drug lord won’t believe him, and his fisherman contact is murdered, and a corpse is planted in his room, he goes to Jill for help.

She thinks he’s smuggling something bad but they’re already on a non-stop-bus-car-train-boat chase that gives her a closer look at the country, fast as it goes by, than she’d bargained for— 


Proposed cast: Satish Shah (Under-Assistant Sub-Inspector Pramod Gupta)

—until Mitch is arrested by Under-Assistant Sub-Inspector GUPTA, a likable fool despised by his superiors for being honest.  
Mitch persuades Gupta to have the ships in Madras port searched, and when nothing is found gives him the slip.  But Gupta stays on their trail.

Based on the novel.  Here's the first scene:

INT. CALCUTTA DUNGEON CORRIDOR - DAY

A BAGWAN (holy man), sixty, dignified, long white hair and beard, saffron robe, WALKS TOWARD US TAPPING his folded black umbrella like a cane, escorted by TWO GUARDS with heavy bamboo cudgels. 

They pause before an iron door, a guard UNLOCKS THE DOOR AND IT CREAKS as he opens it.  The Bagwan looks at the guards.  

They look at him.  He steps inside, still facing them and they SLAM IT on him, LOCK IT and WALK AWAY.

INT. CALCUTTA JAIL CELL - CONTINUOUS (DAY)

The BAGWAN turns to peer into the darkness. 

As his eyes grow used to it we see A HUNDRED MEN huddled on the floor with no room to move.

He steps among them firmly but awkwardly.

BAGWAN
(indignant shout)
I am a Bagwan!

ONE MAN kneels up and touches the Bagwan’s shins with both hands, then his own heart; the Bagwan’s feet, his own heart.

OTHERS - sleepy, surly - ignore him.  As he steps through with more confidence, SOME make obeisance, OTHERS don’t. 

Sitting against the wall tightly squeezed among other PRISONERS, MITCH, a middle-aged Westerner, looks up, bearded, heavy-eyed, in rags: he’s been here for a while.  The Bagwan stands facing him.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
I am a Bagwan!

MITCH
Sorry?

BAGWAN
(manages to step forward importantly)
A Bagwan.
(explains)
God.

MITCH
Good.  I’ve got a few questions.

BAGWAN
I wish to be seated!

MITCH
Why don’t you levitate?

BAGWAN
The Bagwan would like a place against the wall!

MITCH
Takes time to get to the wall.

The Bagwan BARKS ANGRILY IN HINDI at the man beside Mitch, who MOVES AWAY.  The Bagwan sits, and surveys his new estate.

BAGWAN
You have questions?

MITCH
How did I get here?

BAGWAN
You are paying for the sins of a past life.

MITCH
(nods)
How did you get here?

BAGWAN
Injustice!  For smuggling something perfectly legal!

A RAT SQUEALS.  Mitch quickly WHACKS it and lifts the dead RAT by the tail, its neck broken.

MITCH
(delighted)
Meat for supper!  Got a match?

BAGWAN
I do not eat flesh.

DISSOLVE TO:
Deeper darkness.  A small fire of straw on the floor.  Mitch and THREE MEN pick at the bones of the roasted rat.

MITCH
(to the Bagwan)
Got any floss?
(licks his fingers)
What were you smuggling?

BAGWAN
Hemorrhoid medicine.
(to Mitch’s double-take)
An ancient remedy handed down in my village since before the Buddha.  Not even the local Muslims know.  Works instantly!  When I’d lived among them for a while they offered their secret up to God.

MITCH
If I sit here much longer I’ll need some.

BAGWAN
(agrees)
Secretaries, truck-drivers, beggars on curbs, pregnant women, homosexuals, holy men who sit for years meditating - I was a sufferer myself!  Now at last there is Bagwan Bubu’s All-Herbal Cure for Hemorrhoids!  On every corner will be my picture holding it up!  I’ll have an ashram with swimming pools and three hundred and sixty-six Rolls Royces - one for leap year!  How better to show contempt for such things? (FLINCHES at a COCKROACH crawling on him)

MITCH
(plucks it off and eats it)
Not much protein in the diet. 
(back to the subject)
Why smuggle it?

BAGWAN
I have no licence to export!  When I failed to fill the bowls of all the many officials I landed here!  It makes up as a white powder - very suspicious.  If the tests work I get two point five million dollars and thirty per cent of sales!  I have only to get it to Ohio!

MITCH
(belches)
You need an exporter.

BAGWAN
(looks at him narrowly)
Not one who gets caught.

MITCH
(shrugs)
It happens.

BAGWAN
What were you smuggling?

Mitch just winks at him.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
Where is the toilet?

They step among sleeping MEN toward two barrels.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
(sniffs each barrel, wrinkles his nose)
Which one is for drinking?

MITCH
(sniffs each barrel)
I’m not sure.
(picks the most offensive and PEES in it)

BAGWAN
(PEES in it too)
How were you caught?

MITCH
They had a mind-reader at customs.  She saw my thoughts.

They FINISH, and drink with their hands from the other water.

BAGWAN
(recoils in disgust)
We have pee-peeed in the wrong barrel!

MITCH
(can only agree)
It happens.

They sit against the wall.

BAGWAN
(whispers intimately)
Could you get a case of white powder out of India?

MITCH
I’d have to get out of here first.

BAGWAN
(smiles - that’s easy)
My villagers will raise enough to baksheesh these people.  If I arrange for your release you will be in my employ.

MITCH
(shakes his head)
Half.

BAGWAN
(laughs)
Not possible. You will have ten per cent.

MITCH
Half.  Last price.

BAGWAN
Twenty per cent. Last price.  Best price.

MITCH
Half.  Best price.  Only price.

The Bagwan scowls.
 Reg’d © Library of Congress

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