EXT. BIHAR – DAY (DAWN, SUMMER, MID-1980)
Heat that has mass. That rises off the parched earth in
shimmering waves. After a moment, we see what appear to
be figures coming out of the haze, one by one. A family
with their few belongings: HASARI PAL, 33, his wife,
ALOKA, 28, and their children, daughter, AMRITA, 13,
sons MANOOJ and SHAMBU, 11 and 9; HASARI’S MOTHER and
FATHER. They embark toward the night, the rising sun
EXT. ROADSIDE – BUS STOP – DAY (DAWN)
Hasari’s Father passes a gourd of precious water. Hasari
serves the children first. Shambu gulps entirely too
much, the others forcing him to stop by a unified force
of will. Embarrassed, he passes the cup to his brother,
who sips, as does his sister. Aloka barely wets her
lips, insisting on leaving the last drops for Hasari.
And now, a rooster tail of dust rises up behind the
approaching bus and the old parents bid farewell to their
son’s family. There is an intense sadness at leaving
the land and Hasari’s Mother clings to him…
I’ll send money soon.
His Mother nods, as Hasari erupts in a small cough which,
by habit, he suppresses. His Mother crushes Aloka to
Don’t let the children out of your
sight. Not for a moment.
Now the children. She wants to keep them here even as
the old man touches her, reminding her she must let them
Help your parents. Don’t fight
with each other. And, Manooj,
stay away from the cinema, do you
Shambu, his eyes big as saucers, whispers to his
I don’t want to go. There are bad
men with long knives who steal
That does it: Hasari’s Mother dissolves in tears, but
the old man nevertheless unlooses her insistently from
the children. Aloka and the children get on the bus as
the old man embraces his son.
A man’s journey to the end of his
obligations is a very long road.
Yours begins here.
EXT. ROADSIDE/INT. BUS – DAY
There’s not an empty inch inside the little vehicle or
on top. The passengers are silent. A woman breast feeds
a baby. Several passengers fan themselves. Many sleep.
The Pals squeeze wearily into the rear seat.
(to his neighbor)
Our farm has died, so we are
moving to Calcutta to become rich!
Hasari and Aloka look at each other: If only it were the
pursuit of wealth and not survival. The woman under-
stands. And now the BUS GRINDS forward and the Pals look
back. Hasari coughs, suppresses it… as silence falls.
The elder Pals stand huddled together in the dust and we
see, nestled behind a boulder at the roadside, a tiny,
blue flower — beautiful and fragile, but like all things
alive, determined to live… and we hear the sound of a
DOZEN VOICES CHANTING a quiet mantra in unison as we —
INT. ASHRAM – ANOTHER FLOWER – DAY
This flower floats gently in a bowl of water. The TITLES
END as we PULL BACK SLOWLY to reveal a dozen Anglos,
several Indians, and one Kenyan seated cross-legged
before an aging Yogi, who’s quietly urging the suppli-
cants to find “their light, allow your white light to
fill your spirit’s eye.” Above, ceiling fans move the
As we PAN the group, we see that everyone has his/her
eyes closed in earnest meditation… until we COME TO an
American, MAX LOEB, 29, who pops open first his right eye
— looks to his right and left — closes his right eye
and opens his left eye — looks left and right… and
then, instead of continuing the mantra and the search for
his white light, expels a stream of air through his
pursed lips, making a vibrating, flatulent sound, one
indicative of sizeable frustration and dismissal.
Around him, other single eyes pop open, searching for the
source of this unmeditative sound. Max nods and smiles
a wry smile as if to say: This just ain’t doin’ it for
INT. SPARTAN ROOM – TRUMPET – DAY
Max closes the trumpet case and starts chucking his
clothes and books in a knapsack and a small valise. We
notice the Hebrew letter chai on a gold chain around his
neck. His girl friend, BETSY KAHN, overdressed somewhat
in an Indian style, endeavors to exercise the inner peace
she’s been pursuing…
I swear to God, you never give
anything enough time! What did
you expect in five days, Max?
Only what they promise in the
brochure: Inner peace, serenity,
and a nice chant that gets rid of
this rock in my gut. E.S.T., they
do you in a weekend.
I would really appreciate it if
you wouldn’t be terribly glib just
That’s okay with Max, who’s willing to eschew communica-
tion of all kinds and just finish heaving his stuff in
Am I to assume you’ll be at the
airport in Calcutta a week from
Impossible to predict, Betsy Ilene
Kahn. Maybe you better give me my
Screw you, Max — I paid for it!
How many times am I going to let
you walk out on me and come back?
I think only you can answer that,
Betsy Ilene Kahn.
She slaps him.
Do you really think that’s an
appropriate way to get rid of your
Western rage, Bets?
She swings at him again. He catches her hand hard in his
One slap is romantic. Two would
call for retaliation… Lend me a
She yanks free, begins to chant her mantra as he grabs
his knapsack and valise and goes out the door. Now,
she’s silent and, in the simplest sense, deeply hurt.
She can’t help herself; she cares. We STAY WITH her
a moment as we —
EXT. COUNTRY AIRPORT (ASSAM) – WINDING ROAD – DAY
Cool, lush hills. A little pack of single-engine two-
and four-seaters. Max, in shorts and University of
Miami T-shirt, hot, sweaty, appears around a bend in the
INT. AIRPORT – WAITING ROOM
A small service desk. A CLERK, who doubles as Ground
Control on the microphone, passing on the prevailing wind
and the active runway. We hear the STATIC-BACKED VOICE
of a PILOT, giving his call numbers, then announcing
he’s clear for immediate takeoff on the active runway.
The Clerk CLICKS off and finds Max.
How you doin’?
The Clerk gives Max a warm smile.
I’ve always wanted to walk into a
little airport just about like
this one and ask the guy at the
counter the following question.
The Clerk nods; he’s at Max’s ervice.
When’s the next flight to anywhere?
To Bombay. Tomorrow, at one
o’clock in the afternoon.
A beat — the Clerk with his smile, Max with his, one
simply warm, the other giving off simmering heat.
EXT. AIRPORT – LOW ANGLE – DAY
Max sits on the ground, up against the building, playing
a jazz line quietly and rather well on his trumpet. A
pair of well-shod feet ENTER the FRAME. Max looks up.
The rubicund face of VEEJAY CHATTERGEE, 50, and more
British than Churchill. Behind him, his cherubic wife,
RAVI… and making her way toward the enclave of small
planes, their daughter, MANUBAI, 26.
I say, are you looking for a way
out of here? We have an extra
seat. Where are you wanting to
Max’s eyes flick from Veejay to the back view of Manubai
as she continues on and back to Veejay.
I’m wanting to go wherever you’re
wanting to take me.
INT. 180 FOUR-SEATER – DAY
Max is crammed into the back seat with the plump Ravi.
We see now that, contrary to our assumption that Veejay
would be in the left seat, it’s Manubai who’s flying the
plane. The NOISE of the ENGINE forces them to speak
We were among the fortunate back
in ’48. We got out of East Bengal
before partition destroyed so many.
We make mattresses. The Rajah
Veejay has an old flask out.
We don’t have a flight attendant
on this flight…
(passing the flask)
Are you a musician, Mr. Loeb?
Unattached trumpet player and
recently-certified associate guru.
As he takes a hit on the flask, Max’s eye focuses on the
little mirror on the dash. In it he can see Manubai’s
eyes. If we were to judge by what he sees in them, she
doesn’t find him the least bit amusing. He smiles his
smile at her.
EXT. HOWRAH STATION (CALCUTTA) – DAY (EARLY MORNING)
A huge bridge dominates the skyline. The train trundles
to a stop, its WHISTLE clearing the way. People hang on
its sides, sit on the roof… and now flood the platform,
flowing into the station, clearing a view for us of the
Pals, clinging to their baggage in the middle of this
CLOSE ON THEM (MOVING)
Hands reach out with sweets to sell, with tea, asking for
Daddy, I’m scared.
Scared? No — why? This is very
exciting. As soon as we get to
our friend’s house, everything
will be fine.
But, despite Hasari’s charade of confidence, they (and
we) are overwhelmed by the size of the station and the
desperate energy of the humanity around them. As they
press on, a small beggar woman huddled on the platform
turns her eyes eerily on Manooj… as a deformed hand
stretches INTO the FRAME. Aloka senses someone: A
beggar, face half-hidden and eaten away by leprosy. This
terrifying image presses the boys tightly to their
mother and moves Hasari to encircle Armita with one hand
and attempt to wrap the other three inside the embrace of
his other hand. It does not seem possible that he can
protect all of them against the predatory eyes watching
them. He moves them quickly to a wall…
Wait right here. Don’t move.
He moves to a line of VENDORS, shows a piece of paper to
one, as he digs out his precious screw of money to make a
purchase of sweets from the Vendor.
Please, can you direct me to my
friend at this address? We are
to stay with him.
The Vendor gives the address a look, shows it to the
Vendor next to him. Both look at Hasari.
There’s no such address as this in
But that’s not possible.
Of course it is possible! I have
lived here all my life. You are
new. Who would know if a place
exists or does not?
Bombay, perhaps. Delhi. Look
Dear God, what now? Stunned, Hasari hands Vendor #1 a
rupee and, with the sweets, turns back to his family, his
face going through a magical transformation as he
prepares to suggest to the family that all is well.
EXT. CHOWRINGHEE LANE – DAY (MIDDAY SUN)
A few clean and cared-for Ambassador cars sweep into the
gateway of the Grand Hotel, past a gateman.
RACK FOCUS TO:
FEET – MAIDAN
Feet tramping the pulsating tarmac, sending up dust.
The Pals, scared, dispirited, weary, consumed by the
crowd. They’ve been walking a long time. Shambu cries;
Aloka tries to ease his fear. They stop numbly at the
edge of the park, put their bundles down against a long
Across the way, a thin policeman shares a cigarette with
a group of traders. There is a deeply fearful look in
Hasari’s eyes, a look he is having difficulty controlling
now. He needs to revive the family’s confidence. He
takes out his precious bundle of rupees and gives one to
Manooj. Manooj, though, is fixed on the cinema across
the street. Hasari indicates a stall just across the
Manooj, go and get some fruit.
Come straight back.
Delighted with his task, Manooj sets off, his eyes on the
marquee of the theater with its huge cardboard cutout of
Kumar Kapur, starring in Hot Gun. Hasari calls out to
him to watch where he’s going; the mere crossing of the
street is a potential parental nightmare. A hand ruffles
Manooj’s head and a TALL MAN with dark eyes and a sweet
smile comes at the boy’s anxious parents.
GANGOOLY (TALL MAN)
Yes, hello, brother. Bihar, am I
Yes, how did you know?
Hasari is torn between speaking to the man and watching
his son’s incredible journey across the street.
Let me say only that the terrible
malevolence that has visited your
part of the country affects us all.
Three years without rain. Nothing
came out of the earth but debts.
Terrible. And now, the family on
the street. It is not acceptable.
And if I can’t help, my name is not
Mr. Gangooly… Which, blessedly,
And now a smile as full as the sky above.
EXT. SMALL BUILDING IN BACK STREET – DAY
A brick slides out of the wall.
We’re BEHIND the brick and see Gangooly’s soft face as he
reaches in and pulls out a key.
The street is small and empty. Though the houses are
nothing much, to the Pals, they look like palaces.
Manooj and Shambu run about in delight. Gangooly motions
for quiet. With a flourish, he opens the door.
INT. SMALL ROOM – DAY
Gangooly enters, glances around, waves the Pals in.
They’re amazed. There’s a cage occupied by two parrots.
In one corner, a small altar dedicated to the goddess
Lakshmi is decorated with some flowers and, behind a
torn, plastic curtain in a corner, part kitchen, part
wash place, containing a tap with running water.
Be free — look around.
On the faces of the family is one thought: Is it
possible? Amrita goes right to the parrots.
They’ll need feeding. Give them
seed. But don’t spoil them.
He bows briefly before the altar as he moves to the
And now, one of the miracles of
life in the city. One and two…
He turns on the tap and a stream of brown WATER GURGLES
out. The Pals are hypnotized, the fists around their
hearts begin to ease.
Holy water from the Ganges! Flows
out forever. Come — touch it.
Manooj and Shambu put their hands under the tap.
Drink! It’s as pure as the dew on
They drink. Gangooly claps in delight… and beckons
FAVORING GANGOOLY AND HASARI
Now, this place is yours for two
weeks. My cousin, Moti, is away,
traveling. Normally, the rent
takes fifty rupees for a week, but
for a brother, forty. No, don’t
Hasari pulls out his little screw of money.
I have only seventy-five, but as
soon as I have work…
Give me the fifty, pay the rest
next week. You’ll find work, I
trust you. Aren’t I from Bihar,
And the money is in his hand. He joins his hands
You are pleased? Then Mr. Gangooly
is pleased. It’s how I am.
He turns on his heel and he’s gone. For a moment, the
Pals are still, swept from the brink of catastrophe to
salvation… and now, as one, they release their sheer
and utter joy.
INT. CHATTERGEE STAIRCASE – DAY
Ravi and Veejay leading Max up the grand staircase,
Manubai in the foyer, looking after them.
INT. GUEST ROOM – DAY
Ravi leads the way into a lovely guest bedroom.
I hope this is all right. The
room hasn’t been aired or the bed
turned, but —
Oh, he doesn’t care about that, do
you, Max? Here, look here.
Veejay opens a little cupboard, stocked with liquor.
Help yourself. Be comfortable.
Ravi, come on, go, go, let’s leave
the young man to himself.
Obediently, Ravi goes. Veejay follows. Max goes to the
The beautiful Manubai in the garden.
He lies down on the bed. He’s found Nirvana.
INT. MAIN ROOM – DAY
It’s Hasari who watches now. There’s LAUGHTER from Aloka
and Amrita. Joyful SHOUTS from the boys. Hasari is
alone in the main room, on his knees, in front of the
pile of their baggage and bundles. He turns his atten-
tion from the laughter to a just-opened, old suitcase.
He takes out a small tea box. Opens it delicately.
It’s full of something brown. He pushes his fingers in
and feels this bit of earth with a tenderness that’s
almost religious, puts a pinch to his nose and breathes
it in. The LAUGHTER and SHOUTING from the bathing area
INT. BATHING AREA
Shambu is paddling near the tap. Aloka is bending over
the drain and Amrita is rinsing her heavy, dark hair
with a pot. Manooj is nearby, rubbing himself with an
old towel. Hasari enters unnoticed and looks at the
group with tenderness… and with gratitude for their
A MAN, red with anger, yanks the curtain aside, stares.
The family freezes. Aloka’s hair drips unnoticed on her
What are you doing here? Who are
My name is Pal, Hasari. Mr.
Gangooly rented this space to —
Gangooly. You must be his cousin,
I don’t know any Gangooly and my
name is Binal and this is my home
— get out!
The furious Binal, followed by the Pals, goes into the
main part of the room. A small crowd has been attracted
by the noise.
But this is true. We paid him a
deposit of fifty —
A man goes out because he has to
work, and some beggar tries to
move in while his back is turned.
This while Binal has begun to throw things out onto the
street, though this cleansing of his home doesn’t stop
him from picking up a stick. The odd sympathizer meets
So, should I suffer if they are
so stupid to jump into the first
mouth that wants to eat them?
He turns with the stick on Hasari.
You’re lucky I don’t kill you!
Hasari looks at Manooj, who drops his eyes. They collect
the remainder of their possessions and hurry out the
EXT. SMALL STREET – DAY
Full of neighbors. There’s a suppressed violence in the
air. A man pushes Aloka. Sweat streaming down his face,
Hasari confronts the man. A WOMAN pushes the men apart.
Go to the river. Try to squeeze
EXT. VICTORIA MONUMENT – STREET – NIGHT (DUSK)
Calcutta broiling: Buses, vendors, carts, rickshaws,
children beg at car windows. The Pals stand, uncertain,
and for the first time a rickshaw fills Hasari’s eye,
carrying two passengers. But now he shoulders his burden
and leads the family toward the river. We HOLD until
they grow small against the setting sun, gleaming red
against the white domes of the Victoria Monument.
INT. CHATTERGEE’S LIBRARY – TORSO – NIGHT
Moving through the dark, a figure, touching things,
looking at photographs of the Chattergees. We hear
a MUFFLED DIALOGUE mixed with the SINGING a la Dean
Martin of “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime”:
“Goddamn it, boy, what’s the matter with you? —
“Everybody loves somebody sometime” — “Go for it,
son!” — “Sure, Dad, whatever you say, Dad.” —
“Everybody falls in love somehow” — “You’re the dad,
Dad.” Now, a humidor. Max opens it, takes out a
cigar, takes two. Takes five. Senses someone. Turns.
Ravi in her bathrobe.
He gives her his best saint’s smile.
Well, you don’t want to eat those
awful cigars. Come with me, we’ll
wake up the cook, she’ll fix you
EXT. KITCHEN – WINDOW – NIGHT
THROUGH the window, we see the bleary-eyed cook laying
out food as Ravi chatters away at Max, he with a beatific
grin on his face as he feeds himself.
EXT. RIVER BANK – HOWRAH BRIDGE – DAY
The bridge etched against the dawn sky. The corpse of
an indigent is collected and put on a cart.
With his eyes open, watching the dead man being removed.
After their humiliating flight, they found refuge here.
Tiny figures huddled together with their baggage and
bundles, near a tree, not far from the steps that dip
down to the smooth water. Hasari’s eyes, too, are on
the dead man, that warning. He kneels beside Manooj,
strokes him. The boy’s eyes turns to the man’s,
wondering if the man can provide for them.
Don’t let it frighten you. You
have to be brave. I know we’ll
find work today.
Fear and doubt fill Manooj’s eyes. He nods.
EXT. DOCKS – DAY
Hasari at the gates, the family huddled together in
the b.g. The man behind the gate shakes his head,
A line of a hundred men stretches from a door. Hasari
is on the edge of panic, but when he turns to the family,
he’s wearing his confident smile. As before, he gathers
the family into the protectorate of his arms and guides
them onward. As he pushes off into the sea of humanity,
we PULL BACK AND UP, FILLING the FRAME WITH street upon
street, disappearing Hasari.
FROM STREET – INTO WORKSHOP – HASARI AND OWNER
Two plump men in shirt sleeves look coolly at Hasari.
The elder shakes his head. The younger shows Hasari
Outside, an increasingly desperate Hasari finds
Aloka before a small shrine, saying a prayer.
EXT. BARA BAZAR – DAY
Aloka huddled with Manooj and Amrita. Hasari talking
to the owner of a small market stall. Shambu is peering
into a shop with male mannequins in the window.
INT. MEN’S SHOP – MOVING MIRROR
In the moving mirror we see counters and shelves of men’s
The mirror stops at Max slipping into a kurta before an
audience of Ravi, Manubai, and a salesman.
It’s not extravagant at all. You
can’t go around all week in your
Max sees a boy’s face pressed to the glass: he indicates
the shirt, for the boy’s approval. The boy smiles a
Now he looks civilized, doesn’t
Max looks at her. She at him.
EXT. MEN’S SHOP – DAY
Man leans down, whispers to the smiling boy…
You sure I look all right?
The little boy nods. Max slips him several rupees…
and he, Manubai, and Ravi fold themselves into her tiny
car as —
Shambu runs to his dejected family.
Look! A man gave me these many
What man? Why — did you ask him
He just gave it to me.
Where is he?
Shambu looks, but the car’s gone.
Don’t do that. We’re not beggars.
Shambu is devastated. Out of his own desperation,
Hasari feels he’s been a little rough on the boy. He
holds him close.
Go back to the river. Wait for me
by the tree. Don’t go anywhere.
Do you understand?
Aloka, the boys nod. We WATCH them as Hasari heads
off, quickly becoming a small figure disappearing into
EXT. JUTE MILL DAY – LATE AFTERNOON SUN
Starting to sink. We PAN DOWN TO Hasari stepping to
a grilled window as the man ahead moves out.
INT. JUTE MILL – DAY
A flaking gray wall, half-obscured with moldering files.
The grilled window lets in a little light and the quiet
supplications of those outside.
An old CLERK at a desk. A voice calls out. The Clerk
looks up, crosses to the grill.
Hasari’s tense face through the bars. A TRUCK RUMBLES
past, drowning out the words… except these: “…trade
union.” The Clerk shakes his head sadly. On the verge
of panic, Hasari hangs onto the window…
Do you have family?
Yes, yes of course. But I’m
three days without work. I’ll
The Clerk digs in his pocket, presses two rupees on
Here, now go away.
No, I don’t want you to give me —
The next man in line forcibly moves Hasari out of the
In this city, a man with a family
can’t be proud. Take it!
The Clerk waves him away, turns his attention to the
INT. CHATTERGEE RECEPTION ROOM – DAY (LATE AFTERNOON)
Manubai’s face. Then Max’s. Then hers. Then his.
Looking at each other. Five days. Kiss. Ravi.
I said you have three days to
get me into bed, and I’m betting
you can’t do it.
It’s all right for you to use my
mother as your tour guide and
meal ticket, because she’ll get
something nice out of it. But
what would I get?
He stares at her a moment, then gets up, goes around the
Well, gee, I don’t know. Maybe I
could say something so amusing
that you’d laugh so hard it would
break that hot poker you have up
She stares at him. He bends to kiss her. She doesn’t
pull away… but after a moment he realizes she isn’t
responding. He continues the kiss, but he opens his
eyes… to find her staring at him. He pulls back.
They stare at each other another moment, then Max
senses someone in the doorway.
Staring at them, disappointment filling her eyes.
The same sound of frustration and ennui he made in the
EXT. CHATTERGEE HOME – DAY
His arm around Max, Veejay guides the young man toward
a waiting taxi.
Believe me, I understand, but you
know how women are. Do you have
Max gives him a non-commital shrug. Veejay winks,
stuffs the money into Max’s pocket.
EXT. GREEN ACRES COURTYARD – COW – DAY (LATE AFTERNOON)
Bare feet… and then sneakered feet step over the sleep-
ing bovine, who turns a disinterested eye up.
Max is guided by a grumpy hall PORTER wearing an off-
white shirt and bellbottoms through the walled and well
planted courtyard of an inexpensive hotel. Max gives the
cow a bemused eye…
INT. HOTEL ROOM – DAY
The room is utterly utilitarian. The Porter turns on a
ceiling fan, sending an army of cockroaches scurrying
for calmer terrain. Max clearly doesn’t care for
It pleases you?
No fruit basket? No mini bar?
Max hands the Porter several rupees.
Bar? Of course — many, many.
But make care, Sahib. Please,
for me. If it is lady you like
to know — yes? — you let me.
Huh? Very sweet girl, good
nature, very sweet. Or boy, very
Max puts a finger on the Porter’s head, turns him for
No like boy? Something then for
smoke — mmmh, very good for smoke!
Max eases the Porter out. As the door is closing…
Maybe you like two girls — look
a little Chinese, but very great
Max smiles his smile and disappears the Porter behind the
closed door. The smile disappears and the FAN gets his
attention; it has an annoying rhythm and sound. He
flicks the switch, but the fan continues to snap around.
He stares at it… and startles us by suddenly flicking
out a hand and grabbing the blade, stopping the fan.
He lets go. The fan is still. He carries his knapsack
to the tub; it has brown stains along the middle and
the water has a brown tinge as it flows out of the tap.
He sits on the edge of the tub, dumps his knapsack on
the floor, picks up a half-dozen pamphlets from the
CLOSE ON PAMPHLETS
Guides to inner peace.
He wings the pamphlets at the trashcan.
EXT. RIVERBANK – HOWRAH BRIDGE – DAY (EARLY EVENING)
Hasari comes around the corner of a warehouse, a smile
on his face, clutching some bananas and dried grain.
His relief — and ours — is short-lived.
TREE AND BANK
The space where he left the family has been cleared
and taken over by trucks. He’s lost his family.
HOWRAH BRIDGE ROAD
A group of Hindus are celebrating a puja, the women
singing canticles at the top of their lungs; the men
tossing a little boy happily back and forth… as the
panic-stricken Hasari rushes up.
My wife, my children…
Hasari rushes on. Suddenly we —
UNDER BRIDGE – DAY
His head turns and his eyes look this way, that way…
until out of the near silence, we hear a distant,
The word catches Hasari’s ear. He looks into the sea
of people along the river bank under the bridge.
As in a dream, Shambu rises up out of the sea of bodies
… and runs to his father.
Now, Aloka, Amrita, Manooj appear, rising up out of the
sea, ending Hasari’s nightmare.
A warrior returning from battle, Hasari engulfs the
I told you to remain where I left
you! I told you to stay there!
The police came!
We said we had to meet you, but
they didn’t care! They were
As before, Hasari tries to engulf the rest of his family
in the protectorate of his arms. In the b.g., Arun and
These friends have found space.
They will share with us.
Hasari looks at the tiny space. The roof is cardboard
and cloth and half an old movie poster featuring the
actor Kumar Kapur. Hasari looks at his tiny bit of
food, debates a moment… then puts his hands together,
addresses these generous people.
I would be proud if you would
share our food with us.
Everyone looks at the food; there is no disguising their
EXT. BRIDGE – NIGHT
Distant transistor MUSIC as we PAN DOWN: The Pal
children sleep despite the QUIET MOANS and nightmare
CRIES around them, the two boys huddled together, Amrita
close to her mother.
Hasari comes out of the dark. Aloka looks at him. He
shakes his head. He slumps beside her. Aloka strokes
Hasari, looking lovingly at him.
I remember the first time I saw
you, on the day of our marriage.
Wearing a bright yellow turban.
You asked me my name and you said,
‘You are a very beautiful girl
and I am wondering whether you
will find me appealing.’
He strokes her tenderly in return… but now, overwhelmed
with despair, she begins to weep.
She doesn’t want to say it, doesn’t want to wake the
It’s all right — what?
I miss the village. There I
Hasari pulls Aloka close, strokes her.
EXT. GREEN ACRES – NIGHT
The sky turns red. The Porter looks up, shakes his head:
Poor young man, stuck with only a trumpet for company.
INT. MAX’S ROOM
Max sits on the floor in a corner and plays as we hear
the sound of a fierce WHISTLE and a SCREAMING ENGINE.
EXT. SETTLEMENT – CLOSE ON BULLDOZER – DAWN
A gigantic earthmover lurches into position.
Awaken — startled, disoriented. Aloka gentles the
children as Hasari moves instinctively toward the threat.
A black ambassadorial car pulls up, out of which steps
a BABU. A microphone and speaker has been set up.
Another car unloads several politicos with party banners.
A minion hands the Babu the mike; he wants to get on with
it before this turns into a political rally. Hasari is
close to him, as is Arun.
The municipality has directed us
to carry out the destruction of
this settlement. All of you must
go — now!
For a moment there is a babble of fear and frustration.
Then from Hasari’s side, Arun confronts the Babu.
For what reason?
The Babue appears disconcerted. He’s not accustomed to
the poor asking questions.
Because this settlement is
impeding construction work.
We’re not moving! Why should
we move? Who is the municipality?
We are! This is our home!
I have my orders.
If we’re driven from here, where
should we go?
I’ll give you five minutes to
gather your things. Then, the
settlement comes down.
Why should you alone be burdened
with such a task? Let me help!
Arun begins to tear his shelter apart, and to heave the
pieces at the Babu, who retreats. Others soon take up
the call to vent their frustration, hurling things at
the police and at the driver of the tractor. Quickly
we’ve got a full-scale riot. The police wade into the
crowd, pounding people with their sticks, Arun one of
the first to get hit. He staggers into Hasari’s arms.
FAVORING PALS/ARUN AND HIS FAMILY
Unbelievable! Panic-stricken, Hasari and Aloka gather
the children and their few belongings… as beside them
a woman goes down from a stick to the head; Aloka stops
instinctively to help the woman, but Hasari grabs her,
trying to shelter her and the children as well as Arun’s
wife and children, clutching Arun to him as in the chaos
they manage to escape.
EXT. CHURCH – CLOSE ON BILLBOARD – DAY
On the billboard: A maharajah sleeping snugly on a thick
mattress. From his dreamland he inquires solicitously:
“Have you ever thought of a Rajah Double Spring as a
present?” We PAN DOWN and FIND the Pals and Arun and his
family, panting, terrified, beneath the sign.
Daddy, are we going to die here?
Hasari can see on everyone’s face this question.
No! Today, I’m just a mangy dog
on the street, but soon, I swear,
I’ll look other men in the eye!
Yet on his face we see the extraordinary pressure to make
this promise reality.
EXT. SIDE OF RESTAURANT
Hasari reaches the head of a line and receives a small
handout. Turning away, he studies the morsel of food.
His head aches, his belly screams with hunger… but he
takes only a single bite, then carefully wraps the rest
in a cloth and knots it.
He feels a tug at his elbow. It’s a 15-year-old BOY with
thick, scholarly spectacles.
Why live like a beggar when you
can live like a maharajah?
Hasari stares at the boy.
INT. BLOOD DISPENSARY – CLOSE ON HASARI’S ARM – DAY
A needle injected, blood flowing into a bottle.
Hasari seated on a stool, watching his blood leave his
body, his face broken out in perspiration.
I thought you were only taking a
We pay more, we take more.
I’m feeling a little dizzy.
Rafik and a thin man chatting easily and exchanging ciga-
rettes with another attendant. His vision BLURS.
HASARI AND NURSE
With his free hand, he begins to grapple for the Atten-
dant to keep his balance, starts to fall… and the
SCREEN GOES BLACK.
EXT. DISPENSARY – DAY
A woozy Hasari gives Rafik his share; Rafik in turn gives
the thin man his share. The thin man bows his farewell.
Blood is the oil well of the poor,
brother. Now, give me another
three and I’ll give you these.
He opens his hand with its dirty nails. In it lie a
little group of pills, like highly-colored sweets.
What are those?
Vitamins. Take these and you can
give again in a week.
While Hasari considers, Rafik pours the pills into
Hasari’s hand, takes the three rupees. Hasari downs the
One week. Here. The same time.
And he’s gone, leaving Hasari, woozy but at least, for
the moment, blessed to count his money.
INT. MAX’S ROOM – NIGHT
Max lies on his messed bed, contorted, with his feet up
over his head against the wall. A book lies open beside
him. A half-eaten room service meal, many hours old,
moulders on the bedside table. Max is babbling a mock
sports case into his fist…
They’re in the shotgun. There’s
the snap from center, the clock is
running — five, four, three — he
has an open man at the Notre Dame
twenty for the victory… and he
freezes. He freezes! Mr. Choke
chokes. The fans go —
A KNOCK at the door. Max shuts up, falls off the wall.
He crosses to the door. Opens it. POOMINA is 16,
beautiful and exotic-looking behind her excessive makeup.
ANOTHER ANGLE – FAVORING MAX
The porter pushes the girl gently into the room, smiling
at Max, nodding. The door is closed.
MAX AND POOMINA
He may have been receptive to a “sweet, young girl,” but
not a kid in her teens.
Got an I.D. on you?
(she doesn’t get it)
How old are you?
I buy that.
She approaches him seductively.
I can do anything you want, sahib.
She fingers the Hebrew letter at Max’s throat, on its
gold chain. For a moment, Max is mesmerized by this
child; but then, as she begins more serious ministra-
tions, he pulls back.
Hold it, time out. Time, there’s
time out on the field.
Is problems, sahib?
Is problems, yeah, just a couple.
No, please, yes, I can —
There’s something desperate in her that makes him put a
finger to her lips and say…
How ‘bout some chow?
(she doesn’t get it)
I was just about to order some room
service. Food. I call, they come,
She stares at him.
INT. MAX’S ROOM – NIGHT (HALF HOUR LATER)
Max smokes a Monte Cristo and watches Poomina, like a
frightened little animal, devour the last of a Green
Acres room service meal and then wrap a small piece of
fish in the paper napkin.
She looks up at him, delivers a small burp. Covers her
mouth in charming embarrassment.
Now, you are ready for great
Watching you eat was my great
pleasure. Now you go home.
As he escorts her toward the door, Poomina is distressed.
Max realizes she can’t leave empty-handed. He pulls out
She hasn’t given up, though, and as he takes the money,
she stands on tiptoe and kisses him. Torn, Max begins
to respond. He stops himself, his grip on her causing
her discomfort. His breath comes in little bursts.
You’re a very wet kisser. Work on
it, get in touch in five years.
He leads her toward the door. Like some lunatic comedy.
she resists. He pushes. She locks her knees. He opens
Goddamn it, cut it out! Now, good
He muscles her out the door, closes it, wipes his lips.
He stares at a parade of cockroaches gliding along the
wall as he listens to her CRYING quietly on the other
side of the door. He debates… and he loses. Opens the
door. Poomina stands there; the tears stop and a lip-
twitching smile lights her face.
Five years already? Gee, time
really flies when you have no
She slides into his arms, pressing against him. With his
shoulder, he closes the door, leaving us outside.
INT. BACK ALLEY – BAR – FLAMING LIGHT – NIGHT
A bare light bulb; a SCRATCHY vinyl RECORD on a turn-
Poomina watches Max do a sleight-of-hand trick with a
coin. He tosses it up, brings his hands past each other,
then holds out his fists; she picks on… but the other
holds the penny. Fooled, she laughs. He does it again;
she points to one fist — empty — then other — also
empty. Max reaches behind her ear and… produces the
coin. She loves it, her laughter escalating. But then
she seesm to read something in the b.g. where we see four
thugs, two of whom will become known to us as THE GOONDA,
a capo to the local “mafia” chieftan, and ASHOKA, son of
the local Godfather. Ashoka works on a pimple on his
chin. The Goonda meticulously cleans a spot of mud with
spit from one of his expensive new running shoes. Max
eyes the thugs eyeing him.
Short guys! Quit lookin’ at us!
This remark goes over big with the thugs. Max doesn’t
care. He knocks off the last of the beer in his bottle.
The bartender brings them two shots of something in two
Special drink for you, sahib.
Only the most man can drink it.
You make try. For me.
For you, I would drink battery
Who that finish first. I bet!
She puts her glass to her lips and, in a childish,
exaggerated way, mimes waiting for him to commence a
drinking race with her. The two of them toss off what’s
in their glasses. The bangla in Max’s glass is stronger
than battery acid. He does an elaborate routine involv-
ing the pain, the surprise, the sheer awfulness of the
drink. But puts it down with mock machismo.
I really don’t think so — oh no,
nay, nay! I never lose the truly
We have fun some more. I bet
She turns to the bartender, calls for two more. All the
while, in the b.g., The Goonda and his two thugs watch
emotionlessly and Ashoka works on his acne.
EXT. BAR – NIGHT
Max sings “Take It to the Limit” with enormous inebriated
sincerity as Poomina helps him out of the bar. There’s a
big black motorcycle parked outside. Max glances at it
as they start down the alley. As he looks back to the
road ahead, he finds The Goonda in front of him. Max
isn’t so drunk that he doesn’t sense what this is about.
He looks behind him. Indeed, the other two goons are
there. Ashoka straddles the big cycle.
Well well. Seek punishment and ye
Knowing what’s coming, Max nevertheless unleashes a
beautiful howl and tries to trample The Goonda off-
tackle. From behind, he’s hit with a length of stick.
He goes down, looks up through blasted eyes at Ashoka as
two sticks now land against his shoulder and his head…
EXT. MAHARAJAH SIGN – NIGHT
The Pals sleep beneath the sign. Hasari awakens from
restive sleep to the sound of a FIGHT. He gets up. The
Don’t go — what are you doing?
It sounds like someone needs help.
Hasari bolts for the corner.
As Hasari turns into the head of the alley, he can see
three men beating someone, a fourth man standing off to
the side, watching.
What are you doing?
A man’s being beaten here!
As Hasari runs down the alley, the MOTORCYCLE FIRES UP
and SCREAMS OFF and the three goons take flight.
HASARI AND MAX
Hasari runs up, reaches out to Max, who’s barely on his
feet. As Hasari touches Max, Max turns and belts Hasari
in the nose, nailing Hasari to the wall as Max collapses
at Hasari’s feet. Hasari grabs his nose with one hand
and kneels beside the fallen Max… as a shadow moves
and startles Hasari. He peers into the dark… and
Poomina steps into the light.
INT. CLINIC/SCHOOL (CITY OF JOY) – MAX’S POV – CRUCIFIX
The crucifix sways. Now Max’s eyes RACK FOCUS TO the
cherubic face of JOAN BETHAL, peering AT the CAMERA
Max on a cot in a tiny, spare room, a butterfly bandage
under one eye. Joan, Irish, short, stout, hovers over
him. Behind her, Hasari Pal.
Good morning, junior, welcome to
Max manages to sit up. Wishes he hadn’t.
Oh, I like the way the room moves
(checking out his
I suppose I should inquire where I
You’re in the City of Joy.
Is that geographic or spiritual?
Oh, now we require that each
visitor decide that for himself.
This gentleman and a young lady
brought you here.
Did I do that to your nose?
(as Hasari nods)
Hasari shrugs, smiles… and a gigantic rat drops in
Max’s lap. He leaps to his feet and against the wall.
The rat scurries away.
What was that — a Shetland pony?
I would have to inspect it more
closely, but I believe that was
one of our economy-size rats.
Max clambers for the door. Too late, Joan thinks to
Watch your —
Max cracks his head on the door frame.
Thanks — got it.
He ducks outside for some air.
EXT. CLINIC/SCHOOL – NIZAMUDHIN LANE – MAX’S FACE
In the dawn light, he finds himself in a small square in
a slum, an open sewer running before him. He’s repulsed.
Pardon the expression, but Jesus
From the tea shop, SURYA, a stout old Hindu man dressed
in Western clothes, raises a hand in greeting to Joan.
On the door Max and Joan have come through: “City of Joy
Self Help School & Clinic.” Across the way, a young man
is dandling a baby on his knee, rubbing its back and
sniffing at its neck. Small group of children around a
blackboard with a teacher, MARGARETA, doing numbers.
RAM CHANDAR, the rickshaw puller, readies to go out to
work. Trying to orient himself, Max turns…
… to find perhaps fifty people, largely women and
children, staring at him.
He knows them by type: patients. He looks at the sign
on the door.
You a doctor?
Oh no, I’m a corporate executive.
Doctor arrives at half seven, but
only three days a week.
This is obviously one of those
Indeed. What brings you to our
I came to find my white light.
Ah, yes. I take it you didn’t
Kept opening the doors and windows
of my spirit, but couldn’t see a
What do you do in America?
Max is slow to answer. Discreetly, Hasari hangs back,
Oh, how exciting. Must be
something illegal. Are you a
criminal of some sort?
I suppose that depends how you
define the word: I’m a doctor.
I see. How long are you here?
Perhaps I could recruit you for —
Forget it. You’ve got your non-
practicing Catholics. I’m a non-
How very distressing. Why’s that?
Found out I just really don’t like
sick people. Well, I’m outta
here. I owe you one.
I can’t imagine ever divining how
to collect, but there are a few of
us Indians, you know, who believe
the tourist trade ought to be
Max turns to Hasari. Hasari is incredibly shy, can
barely meet Max’s eyes.
Thank you very much. Let me…
He goes for his money.
Max finds his pockets empty. Then reaches for his wrist
— his watch is gone — and then his throat — his chai
is gone, too.
I’m afraid they cleaned you out.
Ram, here’s your first rider.
She holds out several rupees toward him. All eyes on
Go on, it’s all right. You’ll owe
EXT. STREET – FLYING FEET – DAY
Max in the rickshaw, Hasari running alongside Ram, an
exuberant smile slashed across his face.
You see, I can keep up.
Keep up, of course. Anyone can
run at this pace. But you think
it’s easy to run and to pull?
I can do it. I could pull it.
Come on, give him a shot. He’s as
fast as you and looks twice as
Will you still pay me when he runs
you into a ditch?
Absolutely. I trust the man.
Suddenly, Ram comes to a stop.
All right, you, come, step in here.
Hasari looks on Max with enormous gratitude. Ram puts
the shafts down, has a short coughing fit, spits some
phlegm, looks at Max.
I hope you’re taking something for
Ram waves him off as Hasari lifts the shafts to his hips.
Now, fine, pull, go.
Hasari tries to pull, but the center of gravity isn’t
easy to find. This is enormously difficult and Hasari’s
very clumsy at it. The street is crowded. The traffic
is beginning to back up behind them. The driver and
conductor of the tram let fly a tirade of insults.
See, mister! What did I tell
you? Come on! What do you think
this is — some village street?
You’ve got to move quickly.
He turns to Max.
You see, it takes a gift.
I say he can do it. I’ll bet you
the fare he can do it.
(play by play)
What do you think, rickshaw fans,
can he do it?
The crowd isn’t in for fun. Hasari strains forward.
The rickshaw moves with him. Ram moves alongside,
shouting instructions and oaths. A cop comes on the run,
screaming at Hasai… which makes Ram importune more
strongly and Max joke more vociferously.
Even under this incredible pressue, Hasari gains
confidence and begins to move quicker, earning shouts
of approval from Max and Ram, who now has trouble
keeping up as they make their way through the maelstrom,
an avalanche of oaths following them.
INT. GODFATHER’S HOUSE – DAY
At first all we see are feet on a marble floor. The
Goonda’s in his running shoes, then Ram and Hasari’s
This is the partitioned splendor of an old house
sprinkled with the relics of a grand colonial past.
Everything is baroque, rotting and somehow impressive.
Hasari has never been anywhere like this, and is caught
between curiosity and fear of breathing.
INT. “THRONE ROOM”
The three men enter a large room shuttered from the sun-
light — dusty and packed with a ramshackle assortment
of furniture. Two fat blue titmice perch in a cage next
to ambitious plaster portrait of Napolean.
Sitting behind a desk is Ashoka, leaning over a mirror,
squeezing a balky pimple.
Near a large window, his 60-year-old father, GHATAK, in
a European jacket and dhoti, works with intense concen-
tration at repairing a pair of broken glasses with a
twist of fine wire.
The three new arrivals stand silent and respectful
before the desk. At last, without raising his head…
Not a tongue between you then?
Yes, yes, I am wondering, sir,
we are, is it possible you might
have something for my friend?
Ram indicates Hasari, as if there might be some question
to whom he’s referring. Ashoka attacks the pimple.
Let me explain it for your ears,
sir. My cousin from Bihar has
just arrived in our city —
They’ve brought a small present
— of respect.
The Goonda places a small bundle of rupees on the desk.
Ashoka allows himself a disinterested glance at
So, you want to be a human horse?
Oh yes! I have personally witnessed
his excellence — yes.
He doesn’t talk? Can he neigh at
You — do your ears function?
Oh yes, Babu. Can I… uhm…?
Neigh! Like a horse.
Ashoka pulls back his lips, shows his teeth and imitates
a neigh: “Ne-igh! Ne-igh!”
Well, yes, Babu, I can do that.
Would you like me to imitate a
Finished with the pimple, Ashoka wipes a finger on his
shirt and takes a helping off a plate of sweetcakes
Behind him, The Godfather walks up to the desk, putting
his glasses on. He barely glances at his son, but
waves him out of the chair.
Ashoka doesn’t like it, but he steps aside. As he does,
he turns a look of hatred on Hasari. Through no fault of
his own, Hasari has made an enemy. Ghatak chews on a pan
and casts a benevolent eye on Hasari.
Lift your longhi.
Hasari does. The Godfather looks at his legs and thighs.
The wise men of our nation say that
nirvana is the attainment of a
state of supreme detachment. For
me, nirvana is counting each
evening, one by one, the rupees
earned by my two thousand and
Hasari doesn’t know whether to respond. A glance at
Ram tells him not to. Ghatak gestures for Hasari to
lower his longhi.
You are with family?
I have a wife and three children,
And they must eat, heh. The
world is full of open mouths.
He chews on this a moment, then opens a drawer… and
holds a small, tinkling rickshaw bell toward Hasari.
Hasari understands that, incredibly, he has a job. His
breath is so shallow, he can barely utter his gratitude.
He takes the bell.
I shall be eternally grateful to
you. From now on, I shall be as
the youngest of your brothers.
Stay loyal. These days, it’s a
crop nobody plants.
The Godfather turns his beatific and Godlike smile on
EXT. MATTRESS SIGN – DAY (EARLY EVENING)
Transitor MUSIC. The Pals load the rickshaw that stands
at the road with Ram in it. There are embraces with the
bruised Arun and his family.
EXT. SQUARE – NIGHT (EARLY EVENING)
We hear the BELL TINKLING as the rickshaw, pulled by
Hasari, carrying Ram and Aloka (holding Shambu) arrives
(Amrita and Manooj trotting beside their father). Surya,
Selima, other neighbors greet them as they come. The
Pals glance into the school at Joan, who’s teaching
an evening class.
Reverentially, they follow Ram inside as Joan watches.
INT. RAM’S HUT – NIGHT
A door opens. Moonlight. Faces peer through the door.
Ram lights an oil lamp. In the glow, the family looks
around their tiny space. Hardly able to suppress smiles.
Someone has blessed us. A job, a
roof, a school. Soon I’ll be able
to send money home…
(looking at Amrita)
… and put away a little bit for
In their excitement, the boys run.
and up to the roof, under the stars. We LOOK UP WITH
EXT. GREEN ACRES – ON SKY – NIGHT
PAN DOWN TO Max on his balcony playing his trumpet as we
DISSOLVE TO BLACK.
EXT. SQUARE AND STREET (CITY OF JOY) – DAY
About twenty tattered street kids faces shining with en-
joyment. They run and shout as they pursue something
just out of frame.
The cause of the excitement is Hasari running TOWARD us,
feet flying, as he pulls the rickshaw, loaded with a huge
sack. Manooj and Shambu are clinging to the sides of the
Ram stands in the center of the square. He shouts a
command and Hasari struggles to bring the rickshaw to a
stop. It’s not easy and Sunil — who’s arriving — has to
jump out of the way to the accompaniment of apologies from
Hasari and Ram and hoots of laughter from the children.
Outside the clinic, a line of perhaps seventy-five wait
patiently, watching as Hasari takes off again. The wheels
of the rickshaw hit a rut. Hasari loses control, the sack
tips back and Hasari is lifted into the air, feet kicking
as he tries to regain his balance. Aloka and Amrita,
sitting near the bawling Ram, can’t hold back their
EXT. SQUARE – HIGH ANGLE – DAY
The square is set with obstacles. As Ram shouts instruc-
tion, we see Hasari negotiate them with much increased
skill. He stops in front of a small group. It’s his
family, plus Joan and Surya. With an exhausted smile, he
signs to Aloka and Amrita to get in. They do, and Hasari
takes them triumphantly around the circuit.
Hasari’s triumphant ride continues and we:
EXT. PARK STREET – DAY
Hasari rubs the moonstone in his ring on the shafts, then
touches his heart and his forehead. A SCHOOL GIRL in
uniform, approaches the rickshaw stand. We also see
several other pullers, Rassoul, Chomotkar, Ramatullah.
Let Hasari go!
The line of rickshaw pullers turns to Hasari. The other
pullers wish him well as he comes forward. His heart
pounds; ever so politely, he helps the School Girl into
his carriage. She gives him the address of the St. Pius
I’m sorry, I don’t know where that
is. You’re my very first passenger.
Really. Well, I hope I bring you
She gives him a sweet smile.
That way, and then to the right.
His moment has arrived. He looks at Ram… and thrusts
his hips forward, setting off into the insanity of the
traffic, eyes flicking left and right. A HORN RAILS at
him and a taxi tries to run him down, calling and laugh-
ing as Hasari jumps in terror.
Feed the police!
Other pullers laugh, call after Hasari… and as he
approaches the first corner, he manages to pull out a
rupee and deposit it into the hand of the impassive
traffic policeman and then turn right.
EXT. ST. PIUS – DAY
The School Girl hands him a slip of paper.
This is my home address. Pick me
up promptly at seven each morning.
Yes, thank you, you can depend on
The girl runs into the school yard, met immediately by
friends. Hasari looks around at the clean, bustling
school, at all the children in their crisp uniforms and
a look of great yearning comes over his face.
INT. SMALL RESTAURANT – DAY
Max is trying to explain to the waiter what he wants.
Beef. You know — cow? Minced,
little salt, pepper, slap it flat
like this, throw it on the grill,
Now, though, he just glimpses the shiny gas tank and
engine of a motorcycle around the hip of the waiter.
He leans out.
Ashoka, astride his motorcycle, GUNNING the ENGINE as a
boy runs out of a store with an armload of cassettes.
WITH MAX AND WAITER
Put it on the grill, I’ll be right
He pulls the boy’s ear, REVS the ENGINE to go… and
senses someone close. He turns to find an American
hovering at his shoulder.
You know, I have to say you
really don’t look Jewish. I
believe that’s mine.
He reaches for the necklace with the Hebrew letter.
Ashoka recognizes Max. Looks around for help. There is
Don’t touch me. No one touches me.
Max grabs Ashoka… who breaks free, and GUNS the CYCLE
down a side street. Max gives chase, his aching ribs
slowing him a bit.
Ashoka, glancing back, begins to open up some distance.
Yet, Max hangs tough, weaving like a broken field runner
through the mass of bodies and vehicles. Now, suddenly,
he loses Ashoka. He has to make a choice about this
corner or that one. He chooses.
EXT. CITY OF JOY – AROUND CORNER – DAY (EARLY EVENING)
A COP steps into his path. He sees Ashoka up ahead. He’s
hopelessly out of breath.
Oh… great… good…good timing
He can’t talk and breathe. He points desperately. The
Cop glances where Max points, but he makes no move to
May I see your passport?
Passport? I’m in the middle of a
high speed chase. That guy —
A crowd has begun to form. In the distance, we see a
group of girls carrying cricket equipment COMING AT us.
It’s in my hotel room.
Passport, please, now.
Ready my lips: I do not have my
passport with me at this…
(he gets it)
Ah, I see, said the blind man.
The Cop obviously is doing this at Ashoka’s behest. Max
starts around the Cop. The Cop, however, sticks his club
in Max’s face; there’s fire in Max’s eyes… but a hand
takes the Cop’s stick before Max can make a big mistake.
ANOTHER ANGLE – FAVORING OWNER OF HAND
The girls with the cricket equipment (and Margareta,
the teacher). The hand belongs to Joan Bethel.
Well, all right, junior, so you’ll
owe me three.
EXT. POST OFFICE – DAY
A scribe finishes writing a note home for Hasari. The
scribe hands it to Hasari.
INSERT – NOTE AND MONEY ORDER
“We are well. Manooj does not go in the cinema. I am
earning my living as a rickshaw wallah. It is my
honor to send you this.”
With great pride, Hasari pays the scribe, seals the money
order with the message in an envelope, licks the flap,
and puts the envelope into the mail slot.
EXT. SQUARE (CITY OF JOY) – TEA SHOP – DAY (DUSK)
Surya plays his zither. Max and Joan sit at a table. Max
pops little boiled candies into his mouth from a dish on
Oh, it was just a whim in the
beginning really — to try to
convince them not to be so bloody
passive, that they could pull
themselves up on their own. I
get a little money from a Swiss
organization. Now it’s become a
bit more than I can manage.
It’s got to be like trying to
drill a hole in water, though.
We just need a few more hands on
this little life raft we’ve set
They stare at each other. Shambu has become one of
Surya’s tea boys and refills their tea.
You know what I’ve come to think
in my middle age, Max?
Nope, no, earthly idea. You’re
pretty much outta my league,
There are really only three
actions open to a person.
Only three — okay. And what are
To run, to spectate, to commit.
Max peers at her a moment, then around the square.
Has it occurred to you that this
obsession with charity is really a
flaw in your character?
Charity! It’s not charity, dear
child, it’s love. You’re very
badly twisted around, aren’t you?
One of us sure as hell is.
The clinic’s part-time doctor, SUNIL DASGUPTA, comes out
of the clinic after a very long day.
I’m off for home, Sister Joan. A
pleasure to meet you, Dr. Loeb.
See you day after tomorrow.
Good night, God bless, Doctor.
Generous young man.
As he watches Sunil head away, Max senses something com-
ing at him from the side. A soccer ball almost hits him;
he jumps up, handles the ball athletically.
He begins to play with Manooj and several other children.
Shambu leaves his post in the tea shop to join them.
Are you the American doctor? Are
you coming here to help us.
No, I’m the visiting American
soccer star, El Max.
Do you go to the cinema in
America, El Max?
When I was your age — two movies,
plus cartoons every Saturday.
Aloka and Amrita are cooking on an open fire bucket. Max
almost knocks the fire over. Aloka looks at him, apolo-
getic, shy… as Manooj knocks Shambu down at Max’s feet.
Max scoops the little boy up…
There you go, little guy. Ut —
Reaching behind Shambu’s ear, Max produces a boiled sweet.
Aloka watches this with a smile; their eyes touch again…
as Manooj lets out a cry at the sight of their father.
Ram and Hasari return home. Hasari can hardly walk.
Shambu runs to his father, explaining excitedly…
Daddy, there is the doctor from
America. He saw two movies every
Saturday. What’s in your fist?
Shambu pries his father’s fist open: seeds.
So we can watch something grow.
EXT. RAM’S HUNT NIGHT – UPSTAIRS
Children leaning down as smoke wafts up. We FOLLOW the
smoke DOWN TO Max’s cigar. Aloka and Amrita laying the
food out. Shambu rubbing his father’s aching legs as
Hasari and Manooj plant the seeds in Hasari’s little tea
caddy full of earth from home. Max is watching this
“family” huddled around the father.
Another few months, I’ll be able
to pay off the moneylender in my
village and go home and open a
grocery shop. All around me sacks
overflowing with all kinds of dal
and rice, aromatic spices, piles
of vegetables… and at night, I’ll
lie on my back beneath the trees
sniffing fresh aubergines.
This beautiful picture burrows into Hasari’s mind. For
a moment, he goes there — home, to the village…
If my wife will let me come within
a hundred miles of the place where
she herself resides.
Ram laughs, Hasari smiles…
Amrita, I saw a beautiful wedding
Amrita is terribly embarrassed.
It was six hundred rupees only.
He laughs at the impossibility of the price.
That’s only 40 dollars, isn’t it?
If you have it.
I’ll send it to you from America
when I get home tomorrow.
That’s very generous but no,
Repayment for punching you in the
You have repaid me by sharing our
Joan indicates that Max should let it go. Hasari ever
so carefully waters the tea box.
Doctor Big Brother, I myself would
be willing to accept a gift. Could
you give me five rupees in a note —
ten, perhaps. My ankle is badly
swelled; the higher the number the
more the swelling sinks.
Max has to laugh.
I don’t have a cent on me. I’ll
Now everyone’s attentions is taken by a CRY from Shambu,
who expels his breath, his terrified eyes directing our
It’s an amazing sight. Two lepers: ANOUAR, bearded with
a sharp intelligent, unmarked face, makes his way along
on a small wheeled board, at an amazingly fast pace,
ahead of SAID, a huge, mute leper. They stop some feet
away. Lepers aren’t often welcome. Out from behind Said
Joan Di, my sister!
She sees Max, gasps, throws herself behind Said. Joan
looks at Max — he starts to speak, she points a finger
that silences him…
It was Poomina who brought you to
us. She has herself and her
sister to support. It’s all right,
Poomina. Anouar, what is it?
She moves to them. They’re all three badly out of breath.
WITH JOAN AND LEPERS
It’s Meeta! It’s her time. But
something is wrong. The midwives
don’t know what to do! Dr. Sunil,
could he help, perhaps?
Dr. Sunil isn’t here.
Meeta will die.
Joan turns to Max, who hasn’t heard the exchange.
Max, I wouldn’t ask, but it’s an
emergency. A pregnancy gone awry.
It’s a leper. Could you have a
Max is clearly thrown by the sight of the lepers.
I don’t have any experience with
Good Christ, son, because she’s
a leper doesn’t mean she’s not
built like a woman!
I can run and get Dr. Sunil.
It’s too far.
I could help. I’ve had three
You can’t do that. They’re
outcasts, they’re unclean.
There are murmurs of assent from the others.
Oh nonsense! It’s not contagious!
A beat — everyone fixed on Max.
You’re a doctor, how can you not
The moon reflects off the dark puddles of muddy water
that line the side of the railway tracks. Anouar
propels his board with astonishing agility along the
path, Said and Poomina running with him. Max, Joan,
carrying a first aid bag, Aloka and Hasari following,
slipping and sliding on the rough ground with its
puddles and sewage.
EXT. RAILWAY LINE – LEPER HUTS – NIGHT
The little procession arrives outside the three rough
huts, made of bamboo, plastic sheeting, cloth, wood
and cardboard. A few shadows materialize. Lepers —
Anouar points into a hut. Joan and Aloka precede Max
inside. Max forgets to bend and bumps his head.
INT. HUT – NIGHT
The only light is the feeble waver from a candle. The
blind Meeta lies on a rough mattress on the ground. Her
ragged sari is pulled up to her middle. Her face runs
with sweat, her hair is plastered to her face. A girl
with black eyes is fanning her with a piece of wood.
Meeta sends up a SOFT, uninterrupted MOAN. A wedge of
blood-soaked cloth is between her legs.
A middle-age leper is leaning over her — a midwife,
encouraging Meeta with a string of commands in their
Max kneels, Aloka at his side. His breathing becomes
shallow… but then he pulls off the blood-soaked
bandages. Between Meeta’s legs he can just make out
the bottom of a foot. The child is breached. Maybe
Will she die?
Max goes into reflex actions. Joan has opened the first
aid kit. There’s a flashlight among the medicine,
alcohol, compresses, scissors, etc. He hands the flash-
light to Aloka as…
Pull me two c.c.’s of Coramine.
He nods at Aloka; she illuminates the scene.
Uh-oh, uh-oh, who’s this coming’
down the lane? Why it’s — is it
possible — way over here, in
India — yes, it’s Mr. Choke.
He comes to a stop. Everyone stares at him. Meeta
moans. For a moment, he stays frozen. Aloka reaches
out instinctively, wipes the sweat from his eyes. This
gesture seems to free him; he looks at her, looks at the
room and its expectant, trusting faces…
I’m going to have to turn it —
the baby. Tell her she has to
relax these muscles as much as
He doesn’t finish the sentence. Aloka speaks softly to
Meeta as Max takes Meeta’s arm, makes a tourniquet.
Joan hands him the syringe and he injects. Hands the
syringe back to Joan and begins to work at turning the
Aloka takes Meeta’s hand and it’s a moment before we
realize Aloka, with her fine hand, is holding Meeta’s
A small group waits, trying to determine from the sounds
what’s happening inside. Anouar pours tea from a pot on
the small fire, offers the cup to Hasari. Hasari stares
at the cup, doesn’t want to be impolite, but more than
that, doesn’t want to touch the cup. He shakes his head,
smiles. Anouar drinks off the tea.
Sweat pours down Max’s face into his eyes. He shakes it
out. Aloka leans forward and, with her new sari, wipes
the sweat away again. Max nods thanks.
Tell her again to breathe in short
little bursts now.
He demonstrates. Aloka does the same to Meeta. Meeta
tries to cooperate. And suddenly Max has the baby
All right! Now, tell her to push.
Aloka translates. Meeta pushes. The midwife, the little
girl, Aloka lean forward.
Again. Yes! Again. It’s coming.
No one is sitting now. Everyone hangs close to the
door. Only Hasari remains apart, seated on a tree stump
in the middle of the quad. He coughs; suppresses it.
I’ve got the head. Come on,
little baby, come on, little
baby. Be alive, be alive, be
Aloka wipes the sweat away again. He looks at her, his
voice squeezed out through his teeth.
We’ve got it, we’ve got it. Yeah!
He seems as released as Meeta. Then he gives a last
gentle tug and a CRY squeezes out of the little piece of
life in his hands. Max is fairly overwhelmed by the life
in his hands. Poomina steps close, a smile on her lovely
face, and touches the baby in Max’s hands.
EXT. LANE – NIGHT
Max, Joan, Aloka and Hasari walk in silence down Nizamudhin
Lane. There is only the mingled sound of COUGHING,
MOANING, and a TRANSISTOR RADIO nearby playing a popular
song. Outside the clinic, they stop. She takes his hand.
For a non-practicing doctor, that
was pretty practiced.
Never been so scared in my life.
It’s a warm, open moment between them. But now there’s
the ongoing desperation of her needs.
Max, please, won’t you change your
mind? We desperately need another
doctor. Full-time. Think about
it — just give us a couple of
Can’t do it. Maybe you’ve got it
in you to be a saint. I just
Then what do you want? What are
you going to be when you grow up?
Good night, Aloka, Hasari.
Joan goes inside, leaving Max, Aloka, and a very uncom-
fortable Hasari alone a moment.
Thank you for allowing me to go
You could make a helluva nurse.
A little smile comes over her face; no one’s ever paid
her that kind of compliment. She goes into Ram’s hut,
leaving Max and Hasari now.
I think perhaps you are a good
Hasari brings his hands together and goes inside.
EXT./INT. JOAN’S AND THE PAL’S (ALTERNATE) – NIGHT
Max hears Joan praying inside.
Jesus, my brother, you who I am
trying to believe are the light
and salvation of the puking world
Aloka sits huddled with her husband while their children
sleep; they listen…
Please see that we are living in
madness and darkness here…
… and we need help. Om, Jesus,
om and amen.
Suddenly, he hurtles into motion. He runs down the alley,
his stride stretching out, swallowing up the distance
between here and the world beyond the City of Joy in
EXT. CALCUTTA AIRPORT – ESTABLISHING – DAY
A busy, urban airport as opposed to the small country
airport in which we saw Max earlier. V.O. we hear…
Yes, yes, yes, that’s right, yes!
I turned in your ticket!
INT. AIRPORT – DAY
It’s a small place; it’s sweltering, and it’s packed
with hundreds of families shoulder to shoulder. Though
Betsy’s trying to be discreet, it’s not a very private
place, as we see by the number of people watching Max
I bought it, I got a refund!
But I want to go home with you.
You want to go home with me?
Then prove it.
Good — how — name it.
Buy yourself a ticket.
I would love to do that, Betsy
Ilene, boy would I love to do
just that, but I’m financially
embarrassed at the —
Use your credit cards.
What credit cards? You know I
maxed them before we left. Just
lend me —
No! You won’t pay me back; you
never have. Oh, Max!
They’re calling our flight. I
want to go home with you, Betsy
Ilene Kahn. Because I have a
He’s trying to woo and charm her. He mimes a kind of
I see you and me, Betsy Ilene
Kahn, nibbling toward each other
through a quarter pounder with
cheese, chugalugging a frosty
light beer — great taste! Less
filling! Bowling! I want to go
bowling, Besty Ilene Kahn!
He fires a strike through the watching crowd.
I want… Oh, my Lord Amighty, I
want so many American things —
Oh, stop it! You have no earthly
idea what you want, Max! And
stop calling me Betsy Ilene Kahn.
Isn’t that your name?
You call me Betsy Ilene Kahn like
you just met me yesterday.
What should I call you? My girl,
my significant other —
Don’t get cute! You get cute and
I swear to God — you told me once
I look like my mother!
You do — so what?
See — you don’t understand!
How could I possibly not
understand a conversation as easy
as this one, Betsy Ilene.
I hate you!
Na ya don’t.
I stood by you for three years!
I supported you through your
Why? It was never working. What
have I been thinking all these
years — that you’d change?
You’re the most self-pitying,
She can’t find anything fierce enough, so she abates,
tries to get it together to make a dignified exit.
But you’ve taught me something,
Max. You never finish anything.
Well, I quit. I’ve found my
light and I’m free of you.
She heads for the gate, people parting to give her a
MOVING SHOT – TOWARD THE GATE
Will you at least call my mother
and ask her to empty my savings
account and wire —
Do it yourself, Max. Call her
collect. You should have called
her weeks ago anyway just because
she’s your mother!
White light, white light…!
She hands her ticket and boarding pass over and she’s
through the gate. Max turns to find the audience fixed
Guerilla theater, folks. ‘All the
world’s a stage.’ Don’t know if
that word reached you here yet.
If you’d care to show your
appreciation by a small donation…
Many smiles… and several instant offers of rupees. A
Aw, what the hell.
… Swallowing his incredible embarrassment, Max takes
EXT. SQUARE – DAY (EARLY MORNING)
The line is long. At this moment, Joan is checking a
child’s throat with a tongue-depressor. Aloka is walking
beside her with a fistful of depressors and a bag for
disposal. Hasari and Ram are getting ready to leave.
Anouar appears at Joan’s waist.
Good morning, Joan Di. Dr. Loeb
said many of us could be helped;
that all it would take is money
Anouar hands Joan some newspaper in which something is
wrapped. Joan opens the paper. Inside is a good deal of
Please buy the medication for us.
If we cannot come here to receive
it, perhaps Dr. Loeb would come
I’ll be happy to buy the medication,
but Dr. Loeb is not part of this
endeavor, Anouar; there is only his
Then perhaps I am having visions.
Anouar’s focus is up the lane. Joan follows his focus
Max approaches. A buzz about Max’s heroics; hands coming
together. Max raises a hand in benediction, makes the
sign of the cross. Max claps Hasari on the shoulder;
Hasari brings his hands together and gives Max a
genuinely pleased smile. Children circle and touch him,
Manooj and Shambu among them.
BACK TO SCENE
Good morning! Good morning!
Heckuva morning! Getting ready
to practice medicine without a
license, Sister Joan? You don’t
see me soliciting conversions,
Well, well, well, I do so love to
Okay, for starters, pick me out
someone with something easy I can
heal, make me look good.
Aloka, you’re my assistant, let’s
Aloka smiles, she nods, she accepts.
Max, knock it off, give us a bit
(as he does)
I changed my mind.
And I’m a bloody bathing beauty.
Okay, so I got left.
Smart girl… So how long am I
stuck with you?
Two weeks — or until Mom sends me
Not worth the aggravation of your
prattle every day. Six months —
and not a day less.
No way. Six weeks — and that’s
my best offer.
Two months — and that’s my final
Jesus and Mary. The Lone Ranger
And now smiles creep onto all their faces as Max goes
inside, followed by Joan… and then Aloka — after she
looks at Hasari, gets his nod of encouragement. Too late,
Watch your —
Thanks — got it.
The children titter. The teacher, Margareta, admonishes
them to pay attention and be polite… as we —
EXT. SCHOOL GIRL’S HOUSE – HASARI’S WHEELS – DAY (TWO
The wheels spinning furiously and then stopping abruptly.
Hasari, dripping with sweat, panting. The School Girl
comes running toward him. After her, in the b.g., her
Hasari, where have you been? I’ve
been waiting almost five minutes.
I’m sorry, forgive me. It won’t
We’re not going to school today.
You’re taking my mother and me to
the Bara Bazar. I’m getting
Oh, I am so pleased for you!
Panting helplessly, Hasari smiles… as he helps the
School Girl’s Mother into the rickshaw.
Good morning, Hasari.
Good morning, missus.
Briskly, he takes up the shafts and sets off.
Turn right at that corner, Hasari.
It’s farther that way, missus.
No, not really. Turn there,
Obediently, Hasari turns (as Ramatullah, heading the
other way, passes; they wave) and Hasari pulls AWAY FROM
EXT. SECOND WEDDING SHOP – DAY
He helps them out of the rickshaw in front of an
expensive-looking bridal shop.
You must remember this shop,
Hasari, when it’s your daughter’s
time. This is the nicest in the
The Mother gives the School Girl a withering look and
hustles her into the shop. Hasari can just barely
Don’t say things like that. He’s
never going to be able to buy
He watches from outside, a look of determination coming
over his face. Suddenly a pair of fingers takes hold of
his ear, twisting his face painfully.
Ashoka, with The Goonda and two henchmen, in the b.g.
Not working? How will my father
eat this evening?
I was just…
You have a daughter?
Called to work, Hasari starts for his rickshaw, but
Ashoka hangs on to his ear for another uncomfortable
moment… as he slips a rupee into Hasari’s shirt pocket.
Keep working. Give this to Sister
Joan and your friend the doctor
when you go home.
Now he hands Hasari a sealed envelope and turns his ear
loose. Hasari springs toward his passenger.
INT. EXAMINING ROOM – DAY
Max with his stethoscope to Meeta’s baby. Meeta in a
brightly-colored sari and a lot of bracelets and Aloka
looks on. Poomina clings to the wall.
He’s just malnourished. Is she
giving him the milk we gave her or
Aloka asks Meeta in Hindi. Meeta clearly swears she’s
giving the baby the milk. Aloka pushes her.
Not all. Most.
Tell her to give all the milk to
Aloka does so as Max bounces the baby, coos to it play-
fully. The baby pees all over him. Aloka translates
quickly. Meeta starts apologizing. Poomina can’t help
laughing. Max reminds Meeta that that’s once for each
of the two weeks of the baby’s life. Aloka soothes Meeta
as she hustles her, Poomina, and the baby out, then
quickly begins to wipe Max’s face with a clean rag. This
isn’t something she’s accustomed to doing, but she’s
doing it before she has time to think. Max finds himself
conscious of her closeness to him… and then she becomes
suddenly self-conscious and she backs off, ducks her
head. He peeks up under.
She looks at him.
He smiles. So does she.
EXT. SQUARE – DAY (EARLY EVENING)
Sunil stands outside the clinic, rolling his sleeves
down. Anouar waits at a polite distance. Exhausted but
exhilarated, Max and Aloka emerge with an elderly woman
patient, Max singing Chuck Berry to the woman’s embar-
rassed delight: “They’re really rockin’ in Boston, in
Philadelphia, P.A…” Sunil looks at his American
colleague, smiles a small smile.
Good night, I’ll see you day after
Good night, Sunil.
“… Deep in the heart of Texas, around the Frisco
Bay…” Manooj and Shambu come charging at Max with the
soccer ball, hoping to engage him as a playmate. Hasari
returns home with his rickshaw.
Selima waves at Max, indicates she’s cooking dinner.
Joan wanders out of the school as the kids are released
and go charging through the square. Joan has the Pal
kids in hand.
Very special supper for you
tonight, Doctor Big Brother! Will
Wish I could, Selima, because I’m
sure hungry! Sixteen hours of
pestilence and misery always make
me famished. I have to go with my
man Anouar tonight. I’ve got
lepers to heal!
No, no, you know how patient we
are. Eat, eat.
You’re not tired, are you?
Not if you’re not.
Between Hasari and Aloka, there’s just a flicker of
tension; evidently, this has become Max’s (and her)
normal day. But he’s also worried about the note from
Ashoka. Joan joins them with the Pal children.
Well, I think we’ve got three very
good potential scholars here.
Behind the children’s backs, she points at Manooj and
indicates the kid’s really got a head.
Given him some time here, he’ll
be good enough for a proper school.
It’s more than a father could hope.
Fifteen years from now: Miami,
Florida, Dr. Manooj Pal, in
association with Dr. Maxwell Loeb.
For a moment, Hasari is swept up in this little reverie,
then remembers reality.
(giving her the note)
From the godfather’s son. For you
and the doctor.
Amidst instant concern, Joan opens the envelope. Looks
at Max. We hear the sound of BANGLADESH MUSIC.
INT. GODFATHER’S “THRONE ROOM” – OLD RADIO – DAY
The MUSIC is of days gone by, playing on an old RADIO.
Sticks of burning incense send off trails of smoke. The
godfather, MR. GHATAK, Looking infirm, wipes a tear from
Now we see Max and Joan seated on cushions before the
godfather, tea in hand. Max catches a glimpse in an
anteroom of several thugs with several young girls, one
of whom is Poomina. She catches a glimpse of Max as she
disappears past a door. A moment later, her head peeks
around the door frame. She brings her hands together.
Poomina quickly disappears. Max’s attention is pulled
back to the godfather…
I understand that you’re interested
in expanding your clinic and free
school, and that you intend to
start treating lepers in the City
We’d like to better serve the
entire community, Mr. Ghatak.
Of course. That’s very good.
Admirable. And we’d be pleased to
rent you suitable space. But you
must understand that certain
payments will go up.
I understand the rent would have
to go up if we rent larger
quarters from you, Mr. Ghatak, but
why should we have to pay more
More people, more potential
trouble. Strangers. If I don’t
charge you, what will I tell
But we can’t afford it!
Surely if you can expand, you can
Joan throws up her hands — how do you reason with this
Am I stupid, but isn’t this
protection money money we’re
paying you to protect us from you?
We live in chaotic times, Miss
Bethel, Doctor. I control the
City of Joy and maintain it as a
model of harmony. It’s a miracle,
but a very fragile miracle.
And how are we threatening your
I admire your courage in choosing
to work in such a violent place,
Your neighbors in the City of Joy,
they’re not educated, they’re
given to violence, to meanness, I
can promise you they won’t like
having lepers among them, but
because they know you’re under my
He dispatches a globule of spit into the copper urn next
to his right toe… and tries to get to his feet. The
Goonda hurries forward to help him.
Doctor, do you like our music?
Well, I can’t say I’ve developed a
craving for it yet.
It’s difficult to appreciate what
we don’t understand, isn’t it?
Let me put it another way: The
world is a terrible place. Only
the ruthless prevail. My son will
make the arrangements with you.
One of the thugs helps the godfather outside, where, in
the b.g., we see him listening to his music and pottering
in his garden. As Max and Joan turn, Max finds himself
face to face with Ashoka, who wears Max’s necklace and
chai. There’s a long pause as the two of them take the
I like your taste in neckwear.
Joan puts a cautioning hand on Max’s arm. Ashoka seems
just the slight bit uneasy dealing with Max and so keeps
trying to direct himself to Joan. He smokes a long
The entire package we’re proposing
will cost you three thousand rupees
Joan is taken aback by the sum.
If we pay you that, we won’t have
any money for supplies.
I’m told you’re very resourceful.
I think I see a solution. May I?
What if we were to work out a
profit-sharing arrangement? We
give you a share of our net profit.
How do you expect to make a profit
off of lepers and the poor, Doctor?
Beats the hell outta me, asshole.
But you’ve obviously found a way.
The question would seem to be whether Ashoka will have
Max killed here or outside the house. His eyes on Max,
Ashoka puts the cigarette out against the back of his
hand… and smiles at Max.
EXT. GODFATHER’S HOUSE – DAY
Joan is furious.
Have you gone right off your
rocker!? These people don’t have
a sense of humor. Are you trying
to get yourself killed?
I don’t think so… but with me,
any duplicity is possible.
He tickles her; she knocks his hands away; he tickles her
Stop it, you… you… you nudnick!
He doesn’t stop, and as she storms off down the street,
he stays right on her, tickling away.
INT. METAL PIECEWORK SHOP – DAY
It’s dark and claustrophobic. The air vibrates with the
SQUEAL and CLATTER of METAL. About twenty kids sit in a
line, back to back, manipulating aseries of lethal and
unprotected lathes and polishers. No one can hear his
Hasari, with Shambu in the rickshaw, arrives to take the
children home. As he looks inside, he notices…
Not far from Amrita sits a handsome boy (Subash). He
catches Amrita’s eyes. Amrita is sweetly embarrassed
to find her father staring at her.
But he can’t help but smile. At the same time he’s re-
minded moment to moment of his various obligations.
EXT. SIDE STREET – DAY
The three kids in the rickshaw. An ambassador car
swerves in front of Hasari, forcing him to jam to a stop,
jolting the kids. The Goonda sits in the back seat with
Ashoka, who carves his fingernails with a switchblade
knife. He crooks a finger at Hasari. Hasari leans close
and Ashoka takes him by the ear.
Who gave you your rickshaw?
Who provides the food you eat?
He gives Hasari’s ear a last tug… and the car continues
on, leaving Hasari. He looks at his children, ashamed
to have been cowed. Manooj fixes his father with a hard
EXT. JOAN’S ROOM – KIDS – ABOVE – NIGHT
Leaning over, listening, taking in the aroma of…
INT. JOAN’S ROOM
Max’s cigar. He sits slightly apart from Joan, Sunil,
Aloka, Ram, Hasari, Selima, Margareta, Surya, SALADDIN,
ASHISH and Shanta, Aristotle John, MEHBOUB, Anouar, and
Hasari is stretched out, Aloka rubbing his screaming
legs. Throughout the following, their eyes meet and
The Godfather is at least
civilized. The son is vicious.
Remember the last elections — the
Molotov coctails, the blows with
iron bars. They’ll throw us out.
We won’t be able to find anyone
else to rent to us. We’ll just
have to agree to pay what he
Saladdin’s right. Neither nature
nor the people with the power
have any conscience. We have to
A sigh escapes Surya. He shakes his head. Eyes
flick at him.
What do you say, Doctor Big
I think we must try to break the
Godfather’s hold on us.
This is startling and is met with a babble of cautious
agreement and dispute.
Please, hear me out. But I think
we have to be very cautious.
How the hell do you proceed with
caution against these people?
You can’t. You have to risk
You try to negotiate with these
people, you make compromises with
them, they’ll eat you alive. Stand
up against them now and they’ll
fold. I guarantee it. Underneath,
they’re cowards, they got no guts.
We show them we’re strong and
the’ll just move on to easier
We? You have an airplane ticket.
Still, he’s clearly piqued a lot of support.
You know, Max, this is not
American gangster television.
Yes, if you’re wrong, you don’t
have to be here.
I’m not wrong. You bow your heads,
you plead with your Gods to do
what you won’t do yourselves.
You put up with this nightmare
as if there were no choice. I’m
telling you, if you don’t stand
up to that little pimple face
now, he’ll own you for the rest
of your lives.
Everyone stares at him. Many of them want to buy his
commitment. There’s another large sigh from Surya.
Aloka and Hasari’s eyes bang off of each other, she
silently urging him to speak. He’s deeply conflicted
and deeply frightened.
Even though I am invisible to some
of you and I don’t have a complete
set of legs to stand on, I stand
with the Doctor Big Brother. Maybe
nature doesn’t have a conscience
or those with the power, but don’t
Said, the giant mute, mades an unintelligible sound in
his throat, but clearly he’s agreeing with Anouar.
I agree with Anouar and Max Daddah.
I think it’s worth the chance.
Silence… until Aloka and Hasari’s meet again and, out
of his terrible fear and conflict, he says very shyly…
Is it permitted to speak?
There are quick nods around the room. With great difficulty,
Hasari says his piece.
I want my children to be educated
and cared for; this is our home,
we have never had such friends.
But many of us owe a great debt
to the Godfather. He is strong
and could kill us… But we must
choose. I trust my Big Brother.
I say we must stand up.
There’s still dissension, but somewhat more support.
Said makes a fierce, unintelligible supportive sound.
Surya sighs again. Eyes flick at the old man.
Sister Joan, what do you think,
Well, I think Max has hit on the
heart of what we’re trying to build
here: a self-help society. Each
of us has to decide for himself.
As for me, I suppose I think,
really, that if the bastards are
going to suck us dry, I’d like to
get in a couple of good left-
handers before I turn the other
But who will rent to us!
Surya clucks his tongue and shakes his head; everyone
assumes he is preparing a heated refutation of the
resisters. His sighs, though, have been a building
I have a property I will rent you
for two hundred rupees a month,
and not a rupee less. As for
protection… you are on your own.
Many of the faces are uncertain — Hasari’s notable among
MONTAGE – INT./EXT. COWSHEDS – DAY
A) Two cows are shooed out of the ramshackle building as
bustling activity on the new clinic begins. Cleaning
the place. Debris being torn out, hurled into a
pile in the street.
B) Said, with the strength of three men, holds up a heavy
beam while Hasari tries to secure it. Max, hot,
smelly, and hating the place, stands in the middle of
the room, wishing he were elsewhere. The beams starts
to slip. Max leaps to Hasari’s side.
C) We see that Max and Hasari are thrown together again
in some carpentering task in uneasy camaraderie. A
finger pokes Max on the back. He turns to find
Poomina holding out two cups of tea.
D) The whole group shares a meal, prepared under the
direction of Selima, though the lepers remain separate
from the normals. Anouar leads the lepers in singing
a song. Joan and Margareta pick it up, as do several
other of the normals.
E) Equipment from the old school/clinic being moved from
the square down here.
F) Max and Aloka do one of those dances where two people
with arms loaded try to go around each other. Finally
he says he’ll stand still and she should go around
him. They both laugh. Hasari watches.
G) As Max puts medicine into a cabinet, Ram peeks in,
nods his approval, “helpfully” passes Max something
Max can reach just fine himself, shows Max an enormous
hole in his shorts and hits Max for ten rupees.
H) A small truck carrying a charitable organization’s
logo on the side is being unloaded of powdered milk
and various other things.
I) UPSTAIRS AND STAIRWELL
Hasari and Max move the last cot upstairs and into
place beside a window that will come into play at the
end (It looks down on the street). Hasari nods to Max,
indicating he should look.
J) THEIR POV
Everyone gathered as Shanta and Ashish put a banner
above the door: “You are invited to the festival of
this world and your life is blessed.” The assemblage
applauds and embraces.
Hasari smiles at Max, brings his hands together, but
doesn’t embrace the doctor.
EXT. CLINIC – NIGHT
Everyone lingers, adults and children. Max plays his
trumpet, accompanying Surya on his zither. Manooj
hovers over Max.
Doctor Big Brother, aren’t you
going to smoke your evening cigar?
Max points at his trumpet, continues playing.
Max indicates his pocket. Manooj takes out a cigar and a
clip. Clips the cigar, holds it out to Max, who indi-
cates Manooj should light it, and keeps playing. Manooj
looks at Hasari, who nods. Shambu holds a match to it.
Everyone watches as if this were a major event. Manooj
takes a puff, chokes, offers the cigar to Mehboub, who
takes it, puffs, passes it. Everyone relaxes, enjoys the
peacefulness of the smoking and the aroma wafting upward.
Ram taps at Max’s elbow.
It has come to me tonight to write
a letter to my wife.
Ram produces a mangled one piece letter — envelope.
He thrusts the paper at Max. Max takes a pen from his
Okay — shott.
Yes — what is the word — that
word — when land is watered…
Yes, yes, that word, I want that
word in the letter.
Max looks at him, nods, waits. Ram stares at Max; waits.
What would you like to say to
I don’t know, Max Daddah. If I
knew what to say to my wife, I’d
never have left home.
Everybody laughs, though Ram’s remark hits Max on a
deeper level. Manooj slides in beside him.
Why do you have to go home, Doctor
Because he doesn’t live here,
Manooj. This is not his home.
A look between Max and Aloka; Hasari’s eyes flicking at
both of them… as Aloka’s eyes come to Hasari. The
cigar reaches Ram. As Max starts to write, Ram takes
a large puff and blows a huge ring out of his mouth. We
A whole row of faces on rooftops enjoying the cigar.
This as we:
EXT. GREEN ACRES – THROUGH RICKSHAW WHEELS – DAY
THROUGH the WHEELS we see Max come briskly out of the
hotel carrying his doctor’s bag. He’s met by the sight
of Hasari between the shafts of his rickshaw and Anouar
and Meeta perched on the seat.
On no! Lepers! Lepers in my
Sshh! Doctor Big Brother,
please, we are pretending not
to be lepers.
Oh, oh, I didn’t get the concept
— of course, not lepers. I think
you’re going to fool a lot of
people. I have only one question:
Why are you here?
We’ve come to take you to the
dispensary in grand style on this
special day, haven’t we, Hasari?
Na, I’ll just trot alongside Hasari.
No, please, get in.
Max climbs into the rickshaw beside the two lepers and
Hasari pulls away.
Meeta’s very excited by this ride
through Calcutta. You see, she’s
never been sightseeing before.
Meeta, of course, is blind. Max, Hasari, Anouar laugh.
You’re incorrigible, Anouar.
Yes, yes, I know, thank you very
As the rickshaw disappears into the sea of people and
vehicles, we hear Anouar and Max LAUGHING.
EXT. SIDE STREET – DAY
Margareta, Manooj, Shambu, Shoba, several other kids and,
at the end of the line, Poomina, all carrying water on
their heads toward the City of Joy. Suddenly, someone
whispers to Poomina. One of Ashoka’s thugs. She glances
after Margareta and the other kids who are turning a
corner and steps into:
Where Ashoka waits.
You taking that to the clinic?
(as she nods)
You like it there?
(as she nods)
And they love your smile, don’t
She’s fearful now and doesn’t respond. He grabs her,
the water pitcher crashes to the ground, he puts his
knife into her mouth and lays her face open on both side
with his knife.
EXT. CITY OF JOY – DAY
Aloka comes TOWARD us leading a group of lepers. And
stops. Her hand goes to her mouth.
THEIR POV – CLINIC – FROM DISTANCE
Two hundred normal people lined up outside the gaily be-
decked dispensary — many mothers with small children in
their arms. Shanta sees Aloka, gestures to indicate the
incredible turn-out. The normals at the end of the line
turn to look at the approaching LEPERS.
It is too beautiful to believe.
As if indeed she were right, their path is suddenly cut
off by the Goonda and a commando of thugs, armed with
sticks and iron bars, backed up by a group carrying
banners with slogans proclaiming in Hindi, Urdu, English:
“We Don’t Want Lepers Here!” There’s a sudden uneasy
silence. Behind the thugs a short distance is the
policeman who harassed Max earlier and another cop.
Joan hurries forward.
Good morning, Sister to the poor.
Yes, Mr. Bhose?
Those people aren’t coming into
They are going to be treated at
the dispensary. You have no
right to stop them.
Hasari arrives with Max, Anouar, and Meeta.
Go ahead, Aloka, take them inside.
The Goonda puts his hand on Aloka. The policeman in the
b.g. keep their distance.
Take your hands off her, you
Joan is seized by a sudden fury and grabs the Goonda.
He grabs her much harder. Said growls and pushes
forward. Several thugs turn, step in to neutralize him.
Joan elbows the Goonda and tires to westle free of him.
As a reflex he raises his hand. And as he does, it’s
Max (with Hasari in the b.g., confused, conficted). Max
slings the Goonda against the side of a truck.
That was a mistake, Doctor.
The mistake’s yours, putz.
Get these people inside.
Aloka starts forward, leading the lepers. She’s stopped
by a sudden blow from the Goonda’s stick across her
shoulders, knocking her to the ground, bleeding from the
Hasari bolts for his wife, gets caught up in the melee.
Max swings around on the Goonda and for the first time we
realize how strong he is, and that he knows how to box.
The Goonda goes down and violence erupts. Anouar is
chopping at the legs of one of the thugs working on Said.
The massive Said tears free and starts to beat the crap
out of the two thugs holding him.
The noise brings everyone out of the square, those lined
up at the clinic, the children from the school.
Sunil comes flying out of the clinic.
A stampede of those waiting outside the dispensary and
those normally in the crowded alley ensues. Shanta runs
inside for help. Shopkeepers barricade their shop
One of the thugs pours gasoline over Anouar and lights a
match. Hasari kneels beside Aloka when he sees the
match ignite the tiny leper. Without thinking, Hasari
hurls himself on top of Anouar, rolling him in the dirt
and against his own body to put out the flames.
Joan shouts, demanding the violence stop. She’s hit
from behind; she decides talk isn’t going to do it. She
grabs a piece of lumber and starts to fight.
ANGLE ON DISPENSARY
An EXPLOSION in the doorway, scattering anyone who remains
in the area of the dispensary doorway, badly wounding
More people with sticks. Hasari goes down under several
bodies. Max reaches Aloka, helps her up, sends her toward
the clinic. He tears an attacker off of Hasari and they
fight back to back a moment. A SECOND EXPLOSION near
them… and through the smoke Max sees…
Ashoka astride his motorcycle, behind his dark glasses,
with more thugs, these with Molotov cocktails and pick-
axes, ready to raze the clinic and school and the
Sunil drags Mehboub inside.
People chant: “White Monkeys, go home! White Monkeys,
go home! No lepers here! No lepers here!” The thugs
cock their iron bars and bricks and Molotov cocktails.
Max picks up an iron bar of his own and starts for
Ashoka. Suddenly, there’s a DETONATION followed by a
BLAST of air so fierce, Max is thrown to the ground.
A bottle of GASOLINE has EXPLODED just behind him. He’s
enveloped in smoke.
An assailant bears down on Joan with a cutlass. As the
assailant is about to strike, Hasari seizes the attacker
and hurls him backward. Ashish steps in and slashes the
assailant with his own weapon, startling, even repelling
From all over the lane, young fighters have come and joined
the fray, not bothering to choose sides but merely enjoying
the release. Hasari lunges for a woman under attack by a
boy, arriving too late to stop the boy from plunging his
knife into the woman’s belly. Hasari fights his way to
the woman, but she staggers into the mob.
Max knocks down one of the thugs only to have another hand
grasp his shoulder. He turns, fist cocked to find Poomina,
her hands holding her face together. Slowly, she takes
hands away. The sides of her face have been laid open.
Max sweeps her up in his arms, heads for the clinic.
Oh, little girl, little girl…
Joan is suddenly beside Ashoka.
We’ll pay! All right then, so by
all means, protect us!
Ashoka raises a hand, The Goonda blows a whistle, and
the fighting stops as suddenly as it began. The com-
batants are breathing heavily. There is silence but for
the groans and cries of the wounded and grieving.
In a world such as ours, everyone
needs protection. For the fee we
discussed, from this day forward,
I can assure you nothing like this
will happen again.
A beat… Saladdin is at Joan’s shoulder. Ashoka points
a finger at Hasari.
You. I warned you about the
company you keep.
He REVS his MOTORCYCLE and SCREECHES away, leaving Hasari
staring after him in his dust.
INT. COURTYARD – DAY
People peer in through every opening. Mehboub’s chest is
bandaged. Sunil squeezes through the packed courtyard
and hallway, Ashish carrying a wounded woman behind him.
Hasari steps into a doorway, us WITH him.
INT. EXAMINING ROOM – MAX, ALOKA, POOMINA
Max, blood crusted on her face, sutures Poomina’s awful
facial wound as Aloka prepares a compress.
Will she… Her face, will it…
If she’s very careful and doesn’t
do anything to open the wound, the
scarring will be minimal.
Do you understand? You can’t…
You have to stay here.
You make her stay here.
Don’t goddamn try, Joan! Goddamn
Poomina peers through her pain at Max, his hands putting
her back together.
I hate this place, I hate this
place, I hate this place.
Max looks at the doorway and he locks eyes with Hasari.
Max breaks the contact. Hasari stares at him as we hear
the godfather’s MUSIC on the RADIO.
EXT. GODFATHER’S COURTYARD – HAND AND PENCIL – DAY
A hand tap, tap, taps against a ledger.
Ashoka sits behind a little table, picking absently at
his face. The Goonda is slouched near the table, smoking
a cigarette and fiddling with a thin switch. (It’s dif-
ficult for him to show Ashoka the respect his inherited
position gives him.) The Goonda has a bruise under one
eye from his altercation in the City of Joy yesterday.
The air is filled with the MUFFLED SOUNDS OF the STREET.
FROM here, we can see the evermore enfeebled godfather
in his “throne room,” wrapped in a cashmere, listening
to the radio. Ashoka looks up, stares impassively at
Well. What have you got to say?
For the first time, we see who Ashoka’s speaking to.
I told them that your father
provides us with a great deal and
Ashoka slams his hand on the register.
From this minute, you are off the
list! You will leave your rickshaw
here… where it will be reserved
for a man who deserves our trust.
He stands up. Hasari is near tears.
Please, Babu, this is as if the
ground has opened up. I have to
speak to Mr. Ghatak!
Hasari starts for the house. The Goonda stops him and,
quickly, has Hasari on his knees, his arm twisted pain-
fully behind his back. Ashoka jumps at Hasari, grabs
My father’s ill! You are speaking
I have a family!
The decision is made. I have made
it. Now get out before I have Mr.
Bhose break your legs.
He gives Hasari’s ear a vicious twist and slams his head
against the table.
EXT. GODFATHER’S HOUSE – DAY
The side gate opens and Hasari is shoved out. Stumbling,
he runs to the fence, peers through. Two men are pulling
his rickshaw into the courtyard. Hasari watches as a
steel shutter is pulled down, cutting his livelihood from
ANGLE THROUGH BAR – HASARI
Numb, compromised, defeated. Perhaps the low point of
INT. CLINIC – JOAN’S ROOM – “RAFT OF MEDUSA” – NIGHT
Flickering candlelight illuminates the “Raft of Medusa.”
Max rails at Joan.
I just don’t… I don’t want to…
I don’t want to care! I don’t want
to care this much! I just don’t
want to be invested in you people.
In people! I became a goddamn
doctor because my goddamn father
wanted me to be a goddamn doctor
because he was a goddamn doctor!
He was the goddamn king of
doctors! It’s too goddamn hard!
Out of breath, out of words, Joan reaches out and takes
Max to her, brings him beside her on the cot. Beneath
the “Raft of Medusa,” she sits with an arm around Max, as
if he were her son.
Not everyone’s cut out for this.
You did the best you could.
Better than many. It’s all right.
I didn’t do the best I could! I
did what I always do! I shot my
big mouth off and did a half-assed
job. And what I want to do now is
I want to go back to America and
make money and live a life without
entanglements and demands and
people hanging on me.
You know, the fact is from the
minute we’re born we’re
shipwrecked. Some see that as a
lifetime of drowning, of fear,
others only to endure, but to
triumph. It’s all in the
individual spirit, isn’t it?
Got it: To run, to spectate, to
(raises his hand)
Then, by all means, go home, Max,
and go with my blessing and my
The candlelight flickers against them as they sit side
by side. Neither speaks.
EXT. RAM’S HUT – TEA SHOP – NIGHT
At the tea shop, a group relive the day’s events. The
children sleep. Aloka sits outside, worried about
Max comes out, meets Aloka’s eyes and looks away. She’s
heard the conversation.
Hasari, drunk, comes down the slope. Face to face with
They took away my rickshaw.
Aloka’s hand flies to her mouth. Hasari peers at Max
with his drunken gaze. It’s a terrible moment for Max,
So what do you want me to do about
it — get it back for you?
Max takes away a step. Stops.
I’m sorry. I’m going home.
Because this isn’t my fight. I
got one person to look after —
Hasari stares at Max. On the roof, the children listen.
At the tea shop, the late-night talkers listen.
All right, I’m running out, okay?
Because I’m a coward, this is me,
this is what I do, I get in over
my head, I let people down, I run.
But I trusted you.
Well, that was your goddamn
Max walks away, leaving Hasari desolate. Aloka comes to
I don’t know how I’m going to pay
the rent, how we’re going to eat.
We have what is saved for Amrita’s
The thought of using the dowry is yet another awful blow
to Hasari’s hopes.
The children must leave the
school; they’ll have to work. And
you will not have anything to do
with the clinic or those people
Ram joins them.
What I earn is yours, too.
You can’t support all of us. You
have a family in your village, too.
Hasari touches his friend and goes into:
INT. RAM’S HUT
Alone in his pain, he spots his tea caddy in which he
planted his seeds over a month ago. He bends over to
tenderly touch the growing shoot and water the earth.
He looks up and the three children are staring at him.
What will their father do now to keep them alive?
INT. BLOOD DISPENSARY – CLOSE ON HASARI’S ARM – DAY
The needle injected, Hasari’s blood flowing into a
Hasari seated on the stool, watching his blood leave his
body, his face again broken out in perspiration.
HIS POV – RAFIK
BACK TO SCENE – HASARI
His face immobile, his thoughts distant. The Attendant
starts to pull the needle out. Hasari stops his hand.
The Attendant shakes his head.
The Attendant looks at Rafik, who shrugs, nods… and
allows the blood to flow on out of Hasari’s body.
EXT. BLOOD BANK – DAY
Barely ambulatory, Hasari starts down the street, but has
to stop, lean against a wall. Through his woozy haze, he
thinks he sees an apparition.
There, in the entrance to a building, is Gangooly.
Seeing a potential victim, he swoops in.
Not well, brother?
Still stealing from refugees?
Gangooly looks at Hasari, recognizes him, and gives him
an amazing smile.
Well, yes, I remember you, of
course — hello! I am delighted
to see you — yes. And tell me
immediately, please — your little
family, your beautiful children,
everyone eats, yes. Come, have a
cup of tea or a little something
stronger, we must celebrate.
Gangooly starts to move, to position himself for a get-
away. Hasari blocks his egress, unsmiling.
Ah, well, you’re angry at me, yes,
I wondered if that was still on
your mind — I am full of regret
about that, yes, even a little
tormented. What can I say? I have
the spirit of an eagle trapped in
the body of a crow.
My friend, I am lame and I am poor.
Does that mean that I shouldn’t
survive? Huh? When a man is
struggling in a rough sea, he
clutches onto what he can or he
drowns. You don’t look so well.
I lost my rickshaw.
Gangooly gives Hasari an appraising look for a moment,
Ach! I have an offer. No,
listen! Shiva be my witness, you
must at least think about this.
Please, I can help… Or my name
is not Mr. Gangooly.
Which, fortunately, it is.
EXT. STREET – MOVING SHOT – DAY
Gangooly guiding Hasari onward.
Remove the children from the school
— no, why? When you, the father,
can make a small sacrifice. Nature
has foreseen your plight. For she
has given you two eyes, yes, and
two kidneys. But. To live, you
have need of one only. I have a
friend who sold his kidney — this
one — and now — believe me, this
is the truth — he lives in a brick
home… which he owns.
EXT. SKELETON WAREHOUSE (MITRA & CO. EXPORTERS) – JUDAS
DOOR – DAY
A forbidding face appears at the grill, stares out.
INT. SKELETON WAREHOUSE – DAY
Hasari and Gangooly enter. A repulsive smell almost
makes Hasari gag. Gangooly takes Hasari’s arm and steers
him through the gloom. Hasari discovers the origin of
A line of skeletons arranged along the walls. Tables
stacked with bones: skulls, spines, rib cages, hands
and feet. Each skeleton sports a label with a price in
Crouched among the bones and packing crates are men work-
ing. Some smoke, some have masks over their faces. They
scrape and clean and decorticate. They skillfully
assemble their grisly creations, emotionless but like
POV – MANAGER’S OFFICE – DAY
THROUGH a dusty, glass, interior window, we see, almost
in mime, the manager examining Hasari.
INT. MANAGER’S OFFICE
With a smile, the manager produces some papers. Hasari
shakes his head, starts for the door. Gangooly stops
Of course, take some time, think
about it. People all over the
world, anxiously waiting, willing
to pay. 15,000 rupees for a
kidney. 25,000 for an eye.
Gangooly winks, peers at Hasari with a single eye, and
INT./EXT. TAXI – ROAD TO AIRPORT – DAY
Heat haze on the road. As we FOCUS, we FIND Max, Joan,
Aloka, also with their thoughts. Joan gazes out the
window of the taxi. Max looks at the back of Joan’s head
a moment, then looks at Aloka, who sits between them.
She deflects his eyes forward.
Hasari has forbid her to have
anything more to do with us. He’d
be very angry if he knew she was
seeing you off.
Max looks at Joan. Looks out the window.
INT. AIRPORT – DEPARTURE AREA – WIDE SHOT – DAY
First we see joyous people greeting arriving passengers;
parents greet a young man returning from college abroad.
The way clears and we CLOSE IN ON Max, Joan, and Aloka, a
tiny island in this sea of people at the moment of their
parting. Max empties all the money out of his pockets.
This is for Poomina. When I get
He thrusts the money on Joan and Max offers his hand;
she goes through the hand to embrace Max. Then Max and
Aloka look at each other.
You did good things.
(chokes up, but
Thank you for coming to our
And now Max heads out the door.
INT. CAFETERIA – ALOKA AND JOAN – DAY
Sparsely populated. They sit in isolation at a table
over a cup of tea.
It’s not like he’s royalty or
anything, so I’m not persuaded we
have to wait for the plane to
actually take off.
No. We should go.
Yet, they remain another moment… then get up. Joan
puts her arm around Aloka and they turn to go. The looks
on their faces suggest they’ve come face to face with
ANGLE ON DOOR
Max. Standing inside the departure doorway.
What were those three choices
Their faces. And his with just a wistful version of his
old grin… and we —
EXT. COMPOUND – DAY
Hasari returns. Goes into Ram’s hut.
INT. RAM’S HUT – DAY
He finds his family… and Max. The two men stare at
I need Aloka at the clinic.
(as Hasari stares)
All right, they, the patients,
need her. She’s a good nurse.
(as Hasari stares)
Come on, man, this is between you
and me. Why take the kids out of
school, why punish your wife?
Hasari holds his anger in; he moves to a mat and lies
down, his back to Max. But Max doesn’t go.
I have a little money, I can get
it from the States…
It’s not a question of money.
We’ll survive on our own.
That’s it. Hasari lies with his back to Max. After some
moments of silence, Aloka indicates Max should go. And
he does. After another moment…
Maybe he’s right. The clinic is
for everyone and if I am needed —
Hasari bolts up, a look of anger on his face we’ve never
No! I’m your husband and you’ll
do as I say! Unless, of course,
you’ve become an American wife and
then you’ll do as you please!
Stay away from them. They are not
part of us. They will only be good
to you as long as you please them.
The children, Aloka are frozen, she very close to tears.
Hasari lies back down, again turns his back on them.
EXT. LEPER COLONY (DAWN) – DAY
The small colony alive; a line of patients outside a door.
INT. ROOM – DAY
Max unwraps a bandage from a leper’s partial limb. Looks
around for Aloka. She’s not there. Said is acting as
his nurse. Points at his instruments.
Hand me the scissors, please.
Helpfully Said hands him the tweezers.
He demonstrates. Said fumbles through the instruments,
picking up the scissors by the ends.
Not that end — No, that’s fine,
thanks, I’ve got it.
EXT. LEPER COLONY – DAY
Max comes out with his last patient. Anouar waits.
Max Daddah, you are finished?
Anouar takes off down the lane and disappears quickly
into a little building, Max following.
INT. TANNERY – DAY
Max follows Anouar past bubbling cauldrons and heaps of
animal skins. The place stinks fiercely. Anouar and
Max exit into…
A SMALL YARD
Two young men (the two pullers Chomotkar and Ramatullah)
… and something covered with a tarp.
You didn’t steal this.
The police, Sahib, they stole it.
We stole it from them.
The pullers whip the tarp off. A battered rickshaw, the
springs poking out of the seat, the broken wheels lying
in the body, the finish scarred and gouged, one shaft
EXT. SQUARE – DAY
Max comes into the square. Aloka and Selima are pre-
paring meals. Manooj, Shambu, and three other boys
playing. Ram is trying to jolly Hasari, who’s deep in
his own reverie. Max stands in front of Hasari.
I’d like to show you something.
Just take a minute.
A beat as Hasari fixes Max with an empty stare and the
family waits to see if Hasari will respond.
Go ahead. Go on.
EXT. COURTYARD AND STORAGE SHED – CLINIC
The sound of a PADLOCK being UNLOCKED. DARK SCREEN.
Light flashes. Max and Hasari appear in the doorway.
Surprised by the light, a few rats scurry off. Some-
where a dog BARKS. Slated, shafted light. He indicates
Piled up in its ruin.
I’m good with my hands. You’re
good with yours. What do you say?
Hasari looks at Max, part resentful, part touched.
If I were to go on the street with
this machine, I would end up in a
gutter with my throat cut.
Well, it’s yours if you want it.
You know the license, the cops,
all that can be fixed. You’ll
own this — it’ll have nothing to
do with the Godfather.
Doctor Daddah, I’m just a small
man. Don’t try to tempt me again
with big thoughts.
Hasari starts to leave. Max blocks his way.
You didn’t want me to quit. Well,
I came back.
But can you be trusted?
I hope so.
Hasari can see the hope and desire in Max’s face. After
a moment, Max steps aside. Hasari bends his head and
makes off. Leaving Max and a small sigh of
EXT. LATRINES – FOUNTAIN – ALOKA – DAY (DAWN)
She takes her morning absolutions, bathing in the foun-
tain. The process is extremely sensual, though there is
not even a glimpse of her nakedness as she moves her
clothing around, cleansing this area, then that. She
glances up to see…
Max, in an Indian shirt, heading for the square; rather
naturally, he brings his hands together in the Indian
salutation. He carries several bottles of distilled
water, a large value pack of bar soap, and a carton of
medical supplies. As he passes, his eyes hook on
Aloka’s. He lifts a hand in greeting. After a moment,
she ducks her head. He turns and continues on coming
face to face with Ram, an enormous smile on his face.
With him, Hasari. He glances at his wife in the water.
Going to look for work?
When Hasari doesn’t answer…
Yes, he is.
Ram has a small coughing fit.
Are you taking your medicine?
Yes, yes, but look at this.
He points at the wheel of his rickshaw; the rim is
cracked. Scornfully, Hasari walks on. Max and Ram
glance after him. Max digs out several rupees. Ram
takes them and goes. Max looks after the two men as
they disappear. When he turns…
…he finds himself face to face with Aloka. Without a
word, they start walking side by side toward the square.
It’s several seconds before she says…
He’s very proud.
They walk on in silence — two friends, separated by a
EXT. DOCKS – FROM THE GATE – DAY
Men moving like ants into the bow of the ship. Hasari is
locked out, turned away without work.
EXT. METRO CONSTRUCTION SITE – DAY
A huge gouge in the black mud, sunlight streaming through
steel girders across it. Hasari emerges from the ground,
looking for someone. Stops him. The foreman shakes his
head, no, before Hasari even has the chance to ask for
EXT. SKELETON WAREHOUSE – EXTREME CLOSEUP – HASARI’S
FACE – DAY
Then we see he’s standing outside Mitra & Co., staring at
it, wondering if it’s time to sell part of himself. No!
We see on his face a look that tells us he will not be
EXT. CLINIC – COURTYARD – DAY
The street children’s school now takes up two rooms.
Children peer out of one room now as, to the accompani-
ment of Surya’s zither, twenty or so girls are doing some
Indian classical dancing, under the eye of a young Indian
Across the way, in the other room, some children are
translating Bengali words into English. A boy is writing
on the board. It’s Manooj. We see that Shambu is in the
INT. EXAMINING ROOM
FROM BEHIND, we watch Max take a wrapping off of
Poomina’s wound, Joan assisting him. Indeed, Ashoka
extended Poomina’s smile on either side of her mouth.
The scars are healing as nicely as could be expected.
Max did a fine job.
You must have had a good doctor.
Still no running, jumping, picking
up anything heavy. And you stay
here. You’re going to help Sister
Joan and you’re going to school.
Do you understand?
A beat, Poomina nods. But now a look of abject fear
comes over her face.
The Goonda stands in the doorway. Max begins singing
“Sweet Little Sixteen.” The Goodna stares impassively
Time to collect the rent, Sister.
Of course. Come with me, please.
Joan leaves, followed by The Goonda. Max works care-
fully at the fine line of scabbing on Poomina’s scar…
but then something takes his attention.
ACROSS THE COURTYARD
Manooj, with a small tin of food, looks this way and
that… and then sneaks into the shed.
EXT. SHED – DAY
We hear a, TAP, TAP, TAP. The door is half open. The
padlock is hanging on its chain. Max opens the door.
INT. STORAGE ROOM
Startled, frightened, Hasari presses himself against the
wall, as does Manooj. Hasari is wearing a wet dhoti,
caught in the middle of straightening the wheel rim of
the old rickshaw.
Close the door!
Max is very surprised but, needless to say, pleased. He
looks at the rickshaw, looks at Hasari.
Close the door. The Godfather
has more eyes than a pineapple.
Max quickly closes the door. The half light is broken
by thin beams of light that dance with dust.
Hasari studies Max a moment, then moves to put the first
wheel on. Instinctively, Manooj moves to his side, takes
hold of the rickshaw so Hasari can slip the wheel on.
Hasari nods and goes for the other wheel. Manooj moves
around to the other side, hefts the carcass. Hasari
slips on the second wheel. Hasari looks at Max. Max
brings his hands together and starts to go.
I was saying to Manooj that if a
man bows down too many times,
there will come a day when he will
no longer be able to stand upright.
The two men look at each other… and then Hasari gets
on with his work.
I promised Manooj and Shambu I’d
take them to the movies. Is it
If a man makes a promise…
Max brins his hands together and starts for the door.
Hasari picks up one of the worn seat boards.
INT. MOVIE THEATER – NIGHT
We’re TRACKING WITH a moving bag of peanuts behind a row
of boy’s heads. On the screen in front of them, a “medi-
eval era” sword battle between the great Kumar Kapur and
a legion of bad guys.
We hear the sound of CRACKING NUTS as we MOVE FROM Manooj
to three kids we’ve seen in the neighborhood (two boys
Manooj’s age and Shoba, who’s Shambu’s age) and then to
Shambu, each kid dipping into the bag in his turn.
Finally: Max’s (and on the other side of him, Amrita
and Poomina.) The bag arrives… empty.
Thanks, guys. Who wants to go for
No one. We’re talking about rapt attention. We hear
NUTS CRACKING. Max smiles.
EXT. STREET – NEAR CITY OF JOY – NIGHT
Max and the boys walking home after the movie, the boys
dancing around each other, acting out the fight sequences,
all of the sword-fighting against Max, who battles them
all over the street, in and around cars, Poomina and Amrita
looking on shyly, as El Max fights to save their honor.
I can’t decide if I want to be
Kumar Kapur or a doctor.
Ha ha! You can be both! Manooj
Pal, swashbuckling physician!
You’re so much fun, El Max. I
wish my daddy were as much fun as
Max stops the fight, takes Manooj by the shoulders.
I wish my father loved me like
your father loves you. Your dad’s
a very special man. And now, en
As the battle continues, the bright beams of a truck
come at them.
Time out, men. Off the street
till this truck passes.
The kids move toward the wall of the building they’re
passing, but the truck seems to turn toward them, seem-
ing not to intend to pass, but to hit them.
The look on Max’s face lets us know he senses something
terrible is in the offing here. He shouts for the kids
to get out of the way, shoving the kids closest to him
into a doorway. He turns to Shambu, who’s behind him,
calls to him.
But in a panic, Shambu doesn’t move into the shelter of
the building on his right… but tries to run across the
street. Max leaps for the little boy too late… as the
truck just misses Max and clips Shambu hard, sending the
little boy flying.
EXT. SQUARE – NIGHT
Manooj runs ahead of everyone as he charges into Ram’s
hut, crying for his father. Behind Manooj come the
others, Max carrying Shambu in his arms. Hasari and
Aloka, Ram, Joan, others in the square hurtle out of
I can’t do anything here. He’s
got a compound fracture, he
hemorrhaging. We’ve got to get
to a hospital — now!
You’ll never get a taxi at this
EXT STREET – HASARI’S FEET – DAY (EARLY EVENING)
He pounds along, the wheels wobbling and squeaking,
urging people out of his way. Max runs alongside Hasari.
Aloka sits on the seat with Shambu, whose quiet moaning
fills her ears. Blood drips down the rickshaw.
EXT. PARK STREET – FROM THE RICKSHAW – DAY
Several taxis waiting for clients outside a row of
restaurants. Hasari and Aloka watch as Max argues with
the drivers. They won’t take a bleeding passenger.
SAME STREET – MOMENTS LATER
The race to the hospital continues.
EXT. MEDWAR PINE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL – NIGHT
The arrive at the gates of the huge, Victorian hospital.
People sleep outside the gates.
INT. HOSPITAL – CORRIDOR – SIDE ROOM – DAY
The wards are full, as are the corridors. Patients on
beds and stretchers everywhere. Most have at least one
member of their family to look over them. In a side
room, Max is arguing with a porter who tells him he can’t
help him. Max slaps some rupees into the porter’s hand,
tells him to take him to the person in charge.
Shambu is fading. Aloka smooths the sweat from his brow,
trying to keep Shambu alive by force of will and love.
Then Max is back, standing over her with another man. It
may take a moment before we recognize the ATTENDANT from
the Blood Bank.
They’ll admit him, but we have to
pay for the blood. I gave him all
I had. He wants more. Do you have
Sister Joan gave me this.
Aloka holds out a fistful of rupees. The Attendant blows
through his lips, indicating it’s a paltry sum. Max
grabs the money and shoves it at the Attendant.
We haven’t got any more!
The Attendant doesn’t move… until he sees Max is about
If this child dies while you
stand here, I’ll kill you.
The Attendant is smart enough not to push any further.
Now, I need an X-ray room and I
need an O.R. nurse.
Not possible. You can’t give
care, you’re an American. You
must be an Indian doctor.
Then take me to one!
As Max takes flight with the Attendant, Aloka strokes
Shambu and Hasari hovers. We CLOSE IN ON Shambu’s
inanimate face and HOLD a moment.
Max hurtles down the corridor with a young INTERN in
tow. Almost a kid, he’s been up for days. But he’s
going to help.
This way, please.
Max scoops Shambu up and rushes down the corridor behind
the Intern, leaving Hasari and Aloka looking after him.
His arm comes around her shoulders.
EXT. HOSPTIAL – DAY (DAWN)
Hasari and Aloka wait. People are starting to move about.
You’re my wife, Aloka, you and my
children are all my wealth. But
if Max Daddah and Big Sister Joan
have need of you, you may go to
Max comes out of the hospital. The two Pals stare at
We pinned his leg. Couple of
months, he’ll be better than
ever. They want to keep him
today. We’re a good team.
He smiles, holds out a palm for them to slap. They
look at the palm, unsure what this means. Yet, each
takes Max’s hand.
EXT. CLINIC – COURTYARD – DAY
The whole community is here, around the tree.
I don’t think it was an accident.
I think they were aiming for Max.
So, what we have to ask ourselves
is whether his presence is
endangering all of us.
Even from my low vantage point, I
know this: It’s the son. He’s
Max Daddah is our friend. If
they’re trying to harm him, then
they’re trying to harm all of us.
We must stand by him as one.
INT. SHED – CLOSE ON TWO PAINTBRUSHES – NIGHT
dip into a little box of paints. The boys look on as the
two men paint an intricate design on the shafts. Shambu
sits in the rickshaw seat. He wears an ankle to hip
cast. Manooj is spelling words and urging Shambu to
follow suit. Aloka is putting out a tray of food. Ram,
Ramatullah, and Chomotkar slip in, quickly close the
door. The two pullers focus on the rickshaw, Ram on Max.
Doctor Daddah, please, very
important, only one moment.
This is going to cost me every
rupee I didn’t make today.
Ram thrusts an envelope into Max’s hand.
A letter from your wife.
Ram nods nervously. Max looks at the postmark as he
slices it open with a finger.
This is postmarked six weeks ago.
So, what have you been doing —
I was afraid.
Ram waits, his hands twisting each other.
‘My dear husband…’
Oh that’s very hopeful so far!
‘Your words brought tears of joy
to my arid eyes.’
Oh, I’m in love! My words
brought tears to her arid eyes!
What does that mean — arid?
Manooj throws his hand up.
I know! Dry.
Correct. Her eyes were dry, your
letter irrigated them.
He snatches the letter, crushes it to his heart. Notices
the finish work on the rickshaw.
This is a puka nasgar. What a
curse that you can’t use it.
I’m going on the streets tomorrow.
This gets everyone’s attention. The pullers shake their
heads, they’re worried for him.
Listen. I don’t want you to think
I’m crazy, but I don’t think that
truck was an accident.
I think Ashoka was after me. You
can bet he’ll be after you too.
I’m going to speak to his father.
Can I go with you? I’ll go with
you. Can I go with you if I shut
A beat… and Hasari gives him a small nod.
EXT. GODFATHER’S HOUSE – DAY
Ghatak is literally carried out of the house by an
orderly and placed into his car. There’s a driver
and there is the Goonda. They start down the street.
We’re WITH the car. Suddenly, the driver slams on the
brakes and from:
We see Hasari and Max blocking the street with the new
rickshaw. The Goonda jumps out of the car, comes
threateningly at Hasari.
Babu, please, I beg you, hear
As the Goonda is about to land on Hasari we hear a
The Goonda backs off. The Godfather waves Hasari and
Max close. Hasari brings his gleaming rickshaw to the
window of the car, Max at his shoulder.
May I say first, Babu, I wish you
long life and good health.
Acha! They take me now to the
scientists. They stick needles in
me, take pictures of my insides,
study them, and then tell me what
The Godfather stares at Hasari, flicks his eyes at Max.
When you gave me work, I swore I
would be as your youngest brother.
Your son thinks I have been
disloyal. He took my rickshaw.
With my friend, I have remade this
one. I beg you to let me go again
onto the streets. I have my family.
The old man looks at the rickshaw, at the obvious care
that went into its renovation, at this unlikely team
of refurbishers. He reaches a shaking hand out toward
a shaft. Hasari brings it close. The old man rubs the
It is very beautiful.
Thank you, Babu.
If I may say, it has an allure.
An allure, Babu — thank you.
The Godfather stares at Hasari, then at Max.
The world is chaos. We struggle
to build something permanent,
then our bodies betray us, our sons
(to Hasari now)
Yes, you may take your rickshaw
out. If you can face up to my son.
The Goonda gets back into the car and the car pulls away
and we are left with Hasari and Max as moment.
EXT. SKELETON WAREHOUSE (MITRA & CO) – DAY
INT. MANAGER’S OFFICE – DAY
The manager stares at Hasari, as he consumes a pot of
rice and vegetable curry. Gangooly hovers like a crow.
Hasari stares at the contract before him.
If a man dies and he’s not burned,
what do you think becomes of his
The manager turns his palms up, continues chewing.
Hasari stares through the window at the row of skeletons.
I must provide for my family.
Oh, it’s a noble fate. If indeed
your wheel ceases to turn, you will
help educate somewhere in this
great world a fine doctor.
Hasari bends to the contract and laboriously signs his
EXT. GODFATHER’S HOUSE – DAY
Hasari arrives to an outcry of anger. There are several
dozen rickshaws. Among the passersby, we see umbrellas,
as the people on the street try to combat the incredible
What’s going on?
The Godfather ill! The son is
raising the rent!
Ashoka is on his front steps with a loudspeaker before a
growing crowd of pullers. He’s backed up by the Goonda
and a dozen of his thugs. The loudspeaker lifts
Ashoka’s voice above the anger.
Do you know how much it costs to
change the spoke in a wheel? Or
how much baksheesh I have to pay
Impulsively, Hasari moves forward. Cries from pullers:
“Who will be the victims of this madness? You?” “Hell
no!” “You don’t need the six rupees each old crate
brings you per day to fill your belly! For us, it means
death!” The street is so packed with rickshaw and
pullers now that cars can’t get through. A chorus
of HORNS HONK; drivers scream.
We haven’t been breaking our
backs between the shafts of our
rickshaws in order to weep for
Hasari continues forward, his eyes on Ashoka.
The only thing that matters is the
bundle of rupees we take to the
munshi each month to feed and to
answer the daily needs of our
RASSOUL steps up on a telagarhi with a loudspeaker.
Listn to me! Listen now! Listen
(when the pullers
Friends! I ask you to vote for an
unlimited strike. Inkalabad
zindabad! Long live the
revolution! Rickshaw Workers Union
A strike? No income at all? The slogan is taken up
by a small percentage of the assemblage. Fear and
doubt on many faces.
That’s what I thought. All
right, get to work! Customers
Something detonates in him and he jumps onto the tela-
garhi and grabs the microphone from Ashoka. Police
arrive in vans.
Friends! The Godfather at least
is a caring man! This one,
though, the son —
A signal from Ashoka and one of the thugs knocks Hasari
We helped this man! We gave him
a job, a place to live! This is
how he shows his gratitude. Get
on the streets now! Or turn in
Hasari gets up and tries to speak.
Friends — don’t! If we stand —
He gets hit again. A number of the pullers come forward
and a riot starts. The police move in, beat and arrest
many of the demonstrators. Ramatullah and Chomotkar
try to help Hasari, but they are descended on by cops
who hurl them aside and beat Hasari senseless until
SCREEN GOES BLACK.
INT. BONSAL COURT – DAY
Birds flying below ceiling. The room has a barred cage
running all around its edge; the cage is filled to near
overflowing. Hasari stands before the JUDGE, his face
covered with blood, his body a mass of aches and welts.
At the back of the room, Max and Aloka; elsewhere,
Ashoka, the Goonda, and several of his thugs.
The life of a rickshaw puller is
not one a man would choose if he
had a choice. Our feet blister
and burn up from the boiling
asphalt, our noses burn from the
fumes of countless motor cars and
buses, our backs curve permanently
from the loads we carry hour after
hour, day after day. But I am
proud to be one of the human horses
who carry my countryman from place
to place and I am thankful for the
opportunity to make a living. But
I will not keep silent anymore and
I will not be cheated and
threatened anymore. Life is hard
enough. No more.
Ramatullah starts to applaud. Rassoul follows suit.
The Judge bangs his gavel.
(when it’s silent)
This man will be permitted to
use his rickshaw without let or
hindrance. And I will make a
restraining order against Mr.
Cheers from the pullers. The Judge bangs his gavel.
I haven’t finished these
proceedings. For his part in this
disturbance, I fine the defendant
Fifty rupees, Your Honor?
Pay at this time or spend seven
days in jail!
Seven days in jail will cost him far more than fifty
rupees. As he reaches into his pocket for his screw
of money, a hand suddenly protrudes into the cage through
And now another hand with several rupees reaches through.
Now a dozen voices call his name and a dozen hands reach
through the bars with rupees clutched in their fists and
press the money into Hasari’s hands. The Judge, Max and
Aloka, and certainly Ashoka watch this in amazement. The
Judge bangs his gavel.
Max turns, shoots a little finger gun and winks at Ashoka.
CLOSE ON ASHOKA
ON his face, we see pure hatred for these two men.
EXT. CITY OF JOY – DAY
Amrita, Manooj, and Shambu. With them, Subash flirting
with Amrita, incurring the wrath and admiration of her
brothers, causing her to flush.
THUNDER sounds. They all look up. Rain starts to fall.
People run outside of workshops and huts, crying, “The
rains, the rains.” Suddenly, a THUNDERCLAP shakes the
earth and rain begins to bombard them. The rain falls,
the WIND HOWLS, and people in the lane are dancing,
praising the beginning of the monsoon season. Men tear
off their shirts, women rush out fully clothed, singing.
Swarms of naked children run about. The kids run toward
EXT. CLINIC COURTYARD – DAY
Hasari is locking his rickshaw into the shed. Staff and
several patients come out of the examining rooms — Joan,
Aloka, Sunil, Anouar, Poomina. Margareta and her
students, a new teacher, Bandona, her students come out of
the classrooms… They’re all swept up in dancing, Joan’s
metal cross jumping about as if it were beating out time.
From his balcony, Max emerges with his trumpet and plays
the first bars of “Singin’ In the Rain.” Everyone looks
his way; he begins to hum and sing as he jumps over the
balcony to the ground and takes off in a wild, impro-
vished, but damn good version of Gene Kelly’s dance in
the rain, bringing Anouar on his cart in as his dancing
partner. Everyone in the courtyard crowds around them,
laughing and encouraging the dancer/singers on. The
number builds to an extraordinary climax with Max sliding
through mud to an exquisite finish at Joan’s feet.
There’s thunderous applause.
INT. CLINIC – NIGHT
Rain. Max, The Pals, Ram, Joan, Anouar, Meeta and the
Baby, Poomina, Saladdin, Mehboub, Ashish, Shanta,
Margareta, Bandona, and the other members of the commit-
tee sharing a meal.
Really — a boyfriend, Amrita?
Amrita whacks Manooj.
Yes, she does. His name is Subash
Ghosh. His father owns the workshop.
Is there someone you care about?
The look in Amrita’s eyes tells us indeed there is.
Hasari smiles at Amrita and then at Aloka.
Then I must speak to his father
and I must complete your dowry.
Amrita squeezes close to her mother. This is serious
You will make people sigh at how
beautiful you are. And I shall
drop tears of joy.
At my wedding I became so
frightened, my father gave me
things to drink to calm me down.
I went out to piss and fell asleep
under the village tree. When I
woke I thought it was the tree I’d
married. I still love that tree.
The laugh. But Hasari’s attention is on his daughter.
He reaches a loving hand to her.
INT. GREEN ACRES – MAX’S BATHROOM – TUB FAUCET – NIGHT
A rag has been wrapped around the faucet and water runs
slowly and silently down into the nearly filled tub. The
scene is illuminated dimly by a flashlight with fingers
over the beam.
He sleeps. Suddenly he’s grabbed, his eyes spring open
in fear. Hands yanks him out of bed, slam him up against
the wall, then hurtle him across the room and into:
Where the tub has been filled. His head is slammed down
underwater and he’s held there struggling.
His head is yanked up and through bleary eyes he sees a
knife at his throat and the Hewbrew letter chai dangling
from the knife – wielder’s neck, illuminated by a
Go home, Doctor.
Before he can respond, he’s slammed down into the tub of
water again and held there until it seems his lungs will
explode. Then he’s dumped backward, gasping for breath.
EXT. CITY OF JOY – SQUARE – NIGHT
Max on the run through the rain, carrying his belongings.
He pounds through the puddles, past a sleepy old watchman,
and through the gate.
INT. COURTYARD – NIGHT
He bangs on Joan’s door. She opens the door in her Indian
pajamas. One look at him…
Ashoka ordered me to go home.
Well, I’ve come home.
A beat. She steps aside, he steps in, and the door closes
him safely inside.
EXT. PARK CIRCUS – DAY
The rickshaw station. The rain pours down. People
clambor for rickshaws. The line moves forward as fast
as the pullers can take on passengers. Hasari, Ram,
Ramatullah, Chomotkar look at the stalled buses, the
streetcars, the taxis, the private cars.
What a joy it is to survey this
disaster! We will all make a
The monsoon is the great Durga’s
gift to the human horse!
Hasari glances at Ram, who isn’t a part of the joking.
What’s the matter?
I’m wet and I’m cold. Your
daughter is getting married. Time
is passing. I want to go home to
Chomotkar touches Hasari, nods across the street. There,
we see the Goonda and two thugs.
It’s Hasari’s turn. He can’t stay to talk with Ram now.
He has to go.
How much to the market?
What! I won’t pay it!
Who else needs a ride? I am
available at a price!
Several others crowd and shove toward him.
No! Take me — I’ll pay, let’s
The price just went up! Ten
rupees! In advance.
The Marwari hesitates only as long as it takes him to dig
in his soaking wet pants and to slap the bills into
Hasari’s hand and climb aboard. Hasari sets out with
great difficulty — and greater determination — through
the floodwaters, flicking his eyes at the Goonda as he
EXT. WEDDING SHOP – DAY
Water pours down. FROM HERE we see Hasari inside, putting
money down in front of the shop owner and then hustling
back into the rain and taking up his shafts. We WATCH the
owner look after him with a touch of disdain as he comes
into the window and takes down the beautiful green and
EXT. CLINIC – GUTTERS – NIGHT
Water pouring from above; the gutters overflow with refuse.
We PAN UP to the clinic.
INT. CLINIC COURTYARD
Water pouring off the room into the courtyard. Hasari
locks his rickshaw into the shed and turns out, attention
to Max, Aloka, Joan, Poomina, Margareta, Mehboub, several
others trying to patch leaking roof tiles and keep
supplies high and dry.
INT. CLINIC ROOM
Hasari enters. Max looks at him, doesn’t like the look
of the obviously exhausted man.
How can I help?
EXT. CIRCULAR ROAD – FISTFUL OF RUPEES (RUNNING MONTAGE)
An Anglo couple jockeying for preference. Hasari selects
them from a crowd. This is the beginning of RUNNING
A) He runs AT us from different directions with riders
— pushing, pushing — the water getting higher, our
FOCUS VARIOUSLY IN NORMAL AND SLOW MOTION ON his
feet, his tensed muscles; for a moment, we hear only
his breathing, the sound of his feet on the pavement,
the RAIN AGAINST the CANOPY of the rickshaw.
B) He drags up with an entire, well-to-do family of six,
packed into the rickshaw.
C) He stumbles to a stop outside the emergency entrance
to the hospital, carrying a mother and her sick
D) An upper-crust Brahmin dressed in crisp white, an
umbrella protecting him against the harsh elements.
E) Four uniformed school children huddled, laughing
together under the rickshaw’s canopy.
INT. LEPER COLONY – MEETA’S ROOM – DAY
The rain continues, as does the work in the clinic. Max
is working on Anouar, Aloka assisting. Meeta and the
baby (now 6 months old) in the b.g.
I think Aloka would have a gentler
touch than you, Max Daddah. Maybe
she should perform this surgery on
Aloka ducks her eyes, embarrassed.
Last time you told me you were
more than two women could manage.
Yes, but given a choice between one
and none, I will accept the one.
Max lifts Anouar off the table and places him on his
Okay, you ought to be good for
another few days. Send in the
Anouar scoots out. Max and Aloka both turn to the
instruments lying on the table and knock a pair of
scissors to the floor. Simultaneously, they bend to pick
it up and bang heads.
The first impulse of each is to touch the other’s head.
But almost simultaneously, their hands freeze short of
touching. Several months ago, Max might have tried to
kiss her; now, though, there is friendship and affection.
FROM here, we see a pair of bare feet. We COME WITH Max
and Aloka UP.
Shoba, a deeply concerned look on his face. Slowly his
hands come forward, holding his parrot, with a broken
wing. He puts the parrot on the examining table.
INT. POST OFFICE – DAY
Hasari seals a letter and a money order into an envelope,
seals, and puts it into the slot. He is clearly
exhausted. Outside he can see two Sikh merchants at his
rickshaw, looking around in the rain for him. He hurries
toward the door.
Here! I’m here!
INT. SUBASH’S HOUSE – NIGHT
Aloka and three women huddled beside a window, Amrita
half hidden behind them. We PAN ACROSS a staircase TO
another window, THROUGH which we see a doorway. In the
doorway, Subash turns to smile a shy smile at Amrita; he
shrugs. PAST him now, we see Hasari facing SUBASH’S
FATHER and three UNCLES, surly men with hair matted with
mustard oil. The Ghoshes are all seated on low chairs
and stools. Hasari is standing.
INT. ROOM – NIGHT
Mr. Ghosh and the Uncles stare at Hasari, who stands
politely and hopefully before them.
MR. GHOSH (SUBASH’S FATHER)
You’re a rickshaw puller, am I
Yes, that’s correct.
He looks at his brothers, on either side. They look at
And I a partner in the workshop
where your daughter is employed.
Were you aware of that?
Yes, yes, I was, my daughter told
me, thank you.
Yes, well then, perhaps you can
tell me why I would permit my son
to marry your daughter.
Mr. Ghosh raises his palms. It’s all over as far as
Just a moment, please.
The brothers huddle, whisper just loudly enough for
Hasari to hear.
Are you saying there’s no way
you’d consider this match?
Mr. Ghosh shakes his head, shrugs his palms.
Perhaps some inducement? Would
that be of any help?
What could he possibly offer?
Probably nothing. But perhaps,
in fairness, we should find out.
Mr. Ghosh shrugs. The huddle breaks. All five men
stare at Hasari.
EXT. STREETS – DAY
Hasari, mouth half open, flecked with spume, pulls a
huge Marwari. He’s pouring sweat, his eyes are blood-
shot. He has never looked more like a horse.
They arrive at a cross street. The Marwari gets down
and pays Hasari. Hasari slumps against the rickshaw
and, while he awaits his next rider, counts his crum-
pled pile of notes and coins.
EXT. CLINIC – DAY
Max, Joan, Aristotle John, Margareta, Mehboub, perhaps
a dozen others trying to raise the level of the low
wall at the entrance with bricks. The wall caves in.
Other people in the neighborhood rush to rebuild it.
(shouting to the
My dear friends, it’s just
occurred to me what inspired me
to stay here.
Thinking he’s about to make some cogent remark about
this unified effort…
What’s that, Doctor Big Brother?
The opportunity to acquire
waterfront property at a reasonable
Joan begins to laugh; the others don’t get it, query
each other as to what’s funny about that.
I hate to admit it, junior, but
that was actually quite witty.
She whacks him on the shoulder with a wet, muddy paw.
Ut-nobody laugh; it’s a natural
disaster — we have guests.
Everyone turns to…
Manubai and Ravi, their car parked at the entryway to
the clinic. A big puddle separates them.
I’d throw my cape down, but I’m
all out of dry capes.
He sloshes through the water to them, wiping his muddy
hands on his pants. He offers a semi-clean hand to
each in turn.
It’s very nice to see you. Both
We heard you were still here.
Vijay wanted to send some things.
She indicates the car, which is packed with dry food
Shall we unload the car?
Yes, yes, by all means.
Max whistles, indicates the car. People come and start
unloading it, Ravi showing the way, leaving Max and
Manubai alone a moment, Aloka flicking her eyes at the
two of them.
I’m surprised. I really didn’t
think you’d stick it out.
People grow older; sometimes they
even grow up.
He smiles a sweet smile at her. She smiles back at him.
EXT. MUD BANK – WIDE SHOT – DAY
Anouar on Said’s shoulders. The big mute runs, followed
by Hasari and a phalanx of rickshaw pullers: Chomotkar,
Rassoul, Ramatullah-Joan, Aloka, Manooj, several others
in the rickshaws, Max and Sunil, each with his doctor bag
— all of them running in silhouette along the embankment
in the rain.
Where can we take them? We can’t
take them back to the clinic. No
one will put up with it.
We can’t let them drown, can we?
Eh, Max Daddah?
EXT. LEPER COLONY – DAY
The leper colony is submerged. The parents have put
their children on the roofs and the relatively able-
bodied lepers are piling charpoys one on top of another
to protect the sick and the infirm. Meeta and her baby
are on a roof. The mud bank is too slippery to get the
rickshaws down and back up.
It’s too deep!
EXT. LEPER COLONY – PAIR MUDDY, PARTIAL HANDS – SAME
DAY – SOME MINUTES LATER
A leper clings to a rope as several of the human horses
pull him and others up the mud bank.
Max, Hasari, Rassoul, and Chomotkar up to their necks
in water; Hasari and Rassoul have a door on their
shoulders; on top of the door, a sick leper woman.
Max is lifting one child, then another onto the door.
The two pullers make their way slowly toward the mud
ON MUD BANK
Aloka, Joan, helping lepers into rickshaw.
ON MEETA AND BABY
The hut starts to come apart under them. Max and
Chomotkar quickly move to the house with another door.
We’re here! We’re here!
Chomotkar holds the door up as Meeta holds the baby
out in the direction of Max’s voice. Max catches the
baby as the house slips down, then grabs Meeta, who
clings to him.
EXT. MUD BANK – DAY
Hasari pulling the lead rickshaw. Anouar on Max’s
shoulders, the two of them leading a terrible ensemble
version of “Hound Dog.” An air of festivity among
lepers and rescuers.
They come to a bridge made of two planks over rushing
Several rickshaws go across but as Max and Anouar start
over, suddenly the ground gives way beneath Max’s feet.
Anouar falls free; someone grabs him; but a blackish
stream rushes into Max’s mouth and in an instant he’s
swept beneath the gurgling filth. The density of the
filth makes his effort to surface ineffective. It
looks for all the world like he’s going to drown.
Max has disappeared. Instinctively, Hasari dives into
the maelstrom. He, too, disappears. After some moments,
Hasari surfaces, spitting the filth out of his mouth.
He dives again, comes up somewhere else. Dives a third
time. Is down. Is down. Is down. Then suddenly
bursts out of the filth, dragging the unconscious form
of Max Loeb into the air. More people have gathered.
It’s the doctor. Save Doctor Big
Aloka passes a baby to someone and helps Hasari push
Max up onto the bank. But now Hasari doesn’t know
what to do and turns to his wife.
Aloka quickly clears Max’s mouth and begins to admin-
ister mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She blows, she
breathes; she blows, she breathes. People crowd in.
Aloka blows, she breathes. It seems, though, that by
his stillness and by the looks on people’s faces that
Max is dead. Yet, more determined still, Aloka goes
on; blows, breathes…
CLOSE ON ALOKA AND MAX
And now Max gags, his body erupts in spasm, and he
explodes a stream of black liquid out of his lungs.
Aloka supports his forehead as Max retches again and
then comes still. A beat.
INT. CLASSROOM – NIGHT
We PAN ACROSS members of our group — lepers and
normals — passing bowls of rice in a simple communal
meal, Singing a religious song quietly. On the floor
in the b.g., Anouar is writing something on a slightly
damp stretch of cloth with a child’s crayon. Said
takes the cloth and tacks it to the wall. What Anouar
has written is this, “All that is not given is lost.”
Everyone in the room stares at the words.
INT. CLINIC – MAX’S ROOM – NIGHT
Max opens his eyes to find Joan, Hasari, Aloka, and the
children keeping a vigil.
Oh, Jesus, the guy went to sleep
when he was supposed to be working?
I gotta get up —
He tries to get up. Joan pushes him back down.
Sshh, sshh, sshh! No heroics,
junior. Lay back. You’re all
(a distant laugh)
Yeah, I am, I’m all right.
He is a little delirious. The boys come close, kneel
at his side, instinctively reach out to him.
Want you guys to know something.
About me. Wanted to be the
world’s greatest heart surgeon,
just one better than my dad. Just
one. First time I’m the lead
surgeon on a case, the main guy, I
choke. Froze. The chief made me
step aside. My teacher. Had to
take over for me. Went into
radiology. Photography. Had to
have somethin’ easy. No pressure.
Wasn’t too nuts about myself.
Hasari reaches out and touches Max, telling him with a
touch that it’s all right. He stares up through bleary
eyes at all of them with utterly open love. Amrita
holds out a small gift to him: It’s a banana leaf,
holding a small scoop of rice and surrounded by little
You people… You…
I love you guys.
EXT. RAM’S HUT – TWO MONTHS LATER – DAY
A group gathered on a dry, sunny afternoon, peering into
the hut. We FOCUS on the growing flower in the tea
caddy in the window and then go THROUGH the window into:
INT. PALS’ ROOM – DAY
Hasari, Max (dressed quite India), the local Hara Giri,
Mr. Ghosh and the four Ghosh uncles crammed into the
tiny room. Members of our group jam the doorway,
spectating. The air is close.
I can offer no more than I’ve
offered! No more! All right,
I’ll add two dhotis, two vests,
and a punjabi. But that’s all.
Mr. Ghosh lights up a bidi, looks at his brothers,
wrinkles his brows at Hasari.
That’s all? Did he say that’s
My daughter’s qualities will make
up for what is lacking.
Well, it won’t do! I am firm in
requiring for my exceptional son
the bicycle, 1000 repees… and
one ounce of gold.
That’s robbery! The child of a
rajah might be worth that, and
I’m not even sure of that!
We linger on Shambu a moment.
INT. ST. PIUS SCHOOL – HEADMISTRESSES’ OFFICE – DAY
Sister Cecilia, in full habit, looks over a sheaf of
Then she peers up at…
Manooj, seated between Hasari and Max.
Well, indeed I think Sister Joan
is right — we’ve got a prospect
here. We’ll start you off with a
few classes; if that works out,
we’ll make a proper student of you.
Hasari can’t believe his ears. Manooj sits frozen. Max
EXT. NARROW LANE – NEAR CITY OF JOY – DAY
Amrita, Subash, and Shambu heading home from the work-
shop. Shambu’s cast is gone. Subash flirts with
Amrita. They see Hasari, Max, and Manooj coming toward
them. Manooj runs to them, shouting that he’s going to
the school; Amrita, Subash, Shambu congratulate him…
HASARI AND MAX
Suddenly the rickshaw wheels jam. They turn to find
two men, one of whom has slammed a stick into Hasari’s
spokes. Retribution, it would seem, has arrived.
The kids stop, huddle instinctively together in fear.
Our policeman disappears into a doorway as shutters
close up and down this little street. There are thugs
at both ends. No one else is visible on the street.
The two men stare at Hasari a moment, smiling. Then
one gets into the rickshaw, crosses his legs as if he
might want transport. But now he whips out a narrow
bladed knife, and still staring at Hasari, begins to
slice up the newly covered seats of the rickshaw. Max
looks around, trying to cool things.
Hey, come on, don’t do this.
Well, what’s the problem here?
They turn, Ashoka. Behind him, the Goonda.
You’ve become very brave of late,
Don’t do this.
Oh, I do what I please. You see,
my father’s dead, I’m in charge
now. So you will get off my
streets, you will leave my
country, and that clinic and
school will close.
My father was weak. He let you
and your European friend give
these little people ideas. It’s
You can’t do this!
He takes no more than a step at Ashoka, a hand coming up,
when he’s hit hard from behind. Goes to his knees.
His hand comes away from the back of his head with blood.
He tries to rise and is hit again.
(to the kids)
Get back! Stay back!
No, no, come forward. Come.
Ashoka glides toward the petrified Amrita. The Goonda
remains unmoving, watchful. Ashoka puts out his hand
with its rings, and strokes Amrita’s cheek.
What a little woman already, hey?
Please, don’t touch her, Babu.
What did you say?
I said, Please, don’t touch her.
Hasari glances over his shoulder, his eyes bouncing off
the Goonda’s impassive face. Now, the knife comes out of
Ashoka’s pocket, snaps open, glints in the light.
She’s going to give someone a lot
of enjoyment. Yes.
There’s a moment of unbearable tension as everyone, in-
cluding the Goonda, realizes this man is out of control.
(to the Goonda)
He said ‘please’ didn’t he?
‘Please, don’t touch her?’
The Goonda stares at Ashoka… And now Ashoka reaches out
and we FOLLOW CLOSE on his hand as it moves ever so
slowly through space to settle on Amrita’s breast.
And now Hasari explodes. He hits Ashoka. A hard punch
to the chest. Ashoka stumbles and falls to one knee.
The Two Thugs make a move to come to his rescue… but a
curious thing stops them: the Goonda’s arm, outstretched
across their path, his eyes alerting them not to proceed.
Max lurches to his feet unsteadily.
Bhose, help me!
Hasari unloads a punch into Ashoka’s face; Ashoka’s nose
pours blood; he starts to whimper. He clutches Hasari
hard to him. Holds him. Hasari struggles, slams his
palm into Ashoka’s chin, sending Ashoka to the ground,
sending the knife skidding across the ground. Hasari
grabs the knife, straddles Ashoka, about to kill. But he
can’t do it.
Life is hard enough. No more.
Leave us alone.
Hasari backs off, leans against a wall, stares down at
Ashoka, his hands in tight against his body.
Manooj and Shambu stare at their father in awe.
Shambu sees something on the ground where the first blow
was delivered to Ashoka’s chest. Everyone has moved
slightly to one side. He bends and closes his fist
The Goonda steps between Ashoka and Max and Hasari.
You won’t be bothered again.
A look from the Goonda and the Thugs vanish, leaving
Ashoka cowering in a doorway on his knees.
Shutters start to open, people begin to appear again in
doorways and windows.
Fearing for his life, Ashoka suddenly bolts.
Max is fixed on Hasari. He lets up a scream of exulta-
tion, his hand going out for a “five” from Hasari. The
kids charge toward Hasari.
Then everyone freezes.
Hasari lists to his right side and blood starts to pour
from the knife wound in his abdomen under his pressing
EXT. MAX’S ROOM – UPSTAIRS BALCONY – NIGHT
From here we can see Hasari on Max’s cot under “The Raft
of the Medusa” in the little room overlooking the street.
Out here, the two doctors are alone.
Why don’t you go on home. I’ll
stay with him.
Sunil nods. Max grips Sunil’s hand strongly. Sunil goes
down the steps. Max moves to Hasari’s bedside. He
watches Hasari breathing. He looks up at “The Raft of
INT. MAX’S ROOM – NIGHT (SEVERAL HOURS LATER)
A thin stream of dawn light coming through the half-
FROM HERE – THE BALCONY
Through the open door, we can just see Joan, praying
quietly. Close around her, Anouar, Meeta, Surya, Marga-
Beneath “The Raft of the Medusa,” Hasari Pal speaks to
his family and Max, Aloka sitting close to the bed, the
Children on the bed beside their father, and Max standing
A man’s journey to the end of his
obligations is a very long road.
And you have to remember that you
can never give up. We pray that
life will bless us, that we will
be kings, with possessions and
money that we can rule over all
around us. But it’s a mist; the
only thing that makes it possible
to endure life is our love, one
for the other.
A beat, the family and Max tightly bound together. And
now we hear the dim sounds of RICKSHAW BELLS.
I was dreaming the sound of
rickshaw bells, and now I hear
Max opens the windows. Manooj helps his father sit up.
COURTYARD – THEIR POV
Outside, there are rickshaw pullers filling the courtyard
and spilling out into the street. When the window opens,
all the Pullers start ringing their bells and the room is
full of their music.
Are they here for me?
Unquestionably, they are.
A city so big. When we arrived,
we didn’t have a place to live, a
The many hands with their ringing bells.
CLOSE ON WINDOW
The tiny figure of Shambu joins Max in the window. Max
Is my father going to die?
Max makes the same sound he made in the ashram at the
beginning of the movie, though this sound of dismissal
INT. RAM’S HUT – HASARI’S FACE – DAY
Hasari mirrors Max’s expression of dismissal!
Get serious! I’ve agreed to the
bicycle, I’ve agreed to the 1000
rupees! I can go no further. I
have nothing more to give!
OUTSIDE THE HUT
Everyone crowded around the door. From within, we DIMLY
HEAR the negotiations continue. Max approaches from the
clinic. Shambu slips down the steps from above as…
How’s it going?
All that stands between them now
is the ounce of gold. Max
Daddah, Joan Di — is she a good
What do you mean?
She read this letter to me.
( he shows Max)
But I think she must have read it
wrong. She said my wife writes
that irrigation has come to our
But that’s great.
But it means I should go home to
I thought that’s why we’ve been
writing all these letters.
Yes, of course, I love her from
here, yes; but, what if I go home
and find I don’t love her from
Shambu takes him by the hand and tugs him quickly to the
edge of the tea shop. The little boy indicates Max
should bend close. Max leans down.
Daddy needs gold, right?
Max nods. And Shambu brings his fist up from under the
CLOSE ON SHAMBU’S HAND
He opens his hand to disclose what he scooped off the
ground during the fight: Max’s necklace and Hebrew
Do you think this is pretend gold
MAX AND SHAMBU
Max stares at the little boy’s hopeful face.
INT. PAL’S ROOM – FLOWER
We see the fully blossomed flower in the tea caddy and
then Hasari’s fingers come INTO THE FRAME. He carefully
snips the flower free of its stalk.
Amrita is dressed in the beautiful sari her father bought
her. Father and daughter are alone. He hands her the
flower and adjusts her veil tenderly.
You never did belong to me. You
were only lent to me by God until
you marry and continue the wheel
Amrita stares at her loving father and slowly her arms
come up around his neck, the flower against his curved
back. Tears fill Hasari’s eyes, but a smile graces his
EXT. SQUARE – DAY – EARLY EVENING
The procession to the courtyard begins when a BRASS BAND
strikes up, accompanied by singing and shouting. Tiny
lights have been strung over the street. We see Max and
Manubai. Margareta and a group of children. Joan with
Poomina. Anour, Meeta, Said. Everyone who’s become part
of the family is present.
EXT. CLINIC COURTYARD – DAY (DUSK)
The procession arrives and enters. Smoke from the chu-
las. Light from a half dozen lamps.
Subash and his procession make their entrance. A ritual
veil is fixed to Subash’s face. The Pujari waves for
Hasari to come to his place. Hasari turns to Max.
I would be pleased if you would
stand with me in the place of
honor to the right of my daughter.
Deeply touched, Max nods… and the two men step for-
ward… as Subash is motioned forward by the Pujari.
Subash sits beside Amrita.
A flame. The shyness of bride and groom as the ceremony
proceeds with the winding of the red thread. Hasari
looks on with unspeakable pride, Max beside him. We see
the faces of all our family again: Aloka, Manooj and
Shambu, Joan, Poomina, Surya, Selima, Aristotle John,
Turning. As Amrita and Subash, joined by the thread,
circle the flame… as we PULL BACK AND UP. Now we see
the clinic and school and the surrounding area, the
alleys full of people and activity. As we continue to
PULL BACK, we see the entirety of the City of Joy and
then beyond — Calcutta, its teeming streets — life con-
tinuing as the sun sets against an infinite sky and we
ROLL END CREDITS.
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