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writing2 minutes of silence

EXT. MARINE DRIVE - NIGHT
As the pre-monsoon showers drench the streets of Bombay, the
towering skyline bordering the Arabian sea, gleams in it’s
night lights. The long, street-lit stretch of Marine Drive
lies in emptiness, with minimal life wandering aimlessly in
the midnight hour.
Standing on the edge of the pier, staring at the lashing
waves is AKASH, in his early twenties, clad just as any
contemporary boy of his age. Though unconventionally good-
looking, his face bears the somberness and gloom of the night
sea. His eyes remain affixed on the rocks that separate him
and the depth of the blue reef.
A strong blow of wind rushes at his face breaking his
emotionless stare.
QUICK FLASH
INT. HOUSE - DAY
Covered in white, in the center of a room, Akash lies
motionless on the floor. Several faceless men and women, also
clad in white, surround his lifeless body. An old priest
facing the crowd, reads from a book, in an orderly mundane
fashion.
PRIEST
We shall now observe two minutes of
silence for the soul of this young
man. May his family find the
strength to cope...
BACK TO SCENE.
Drowning in the words, Akash ,his eyes now tightly shut,
leans towards the edge of the pier.
Just then a loud apathetic voice shouts out from behind him.
MAN (O.S.)
Don’t jump from here. The water
isn’t deep enough. All you’ll get
is a few broken bones.
Akash turns towards the voice.
In the distance, sitting on the ledge with his legs hanging
in mid-air is JOEL, a man possibly in his early-thirties
adorning a half-buttoned white shirt and a pair of faded
jeans. Staring into the darkness of the sea, he takes a long
drag from his cigarette.
AKASH
Can you please mind your own
business?
Unperturbed by the brash tone, Joel continues to look away.
JOEL
(blowing out smoke)
Hmm, let’s talk in the way you’d
probably understand. Equation 1: if
you jump and you don’t die I’ll
have to jump in to save you, which
believe me, I have no interest in
doing. Equation 2: But if I don’t
jump in, it would make me an
accomplice to your murder. And I
have no intentions of going to
prison for helping out some rich
kid who wants to kill himself. From
Equation 1 & 2, this is my
business.
Rattled by the stranger’s words, Akash walks away from the
pier and seats himself on the ledge, a few feet away from
Joel. The crashing of the waves engulfs the silence of the
night.
JOEL (CONT’D)
(stretching his hand)
Care for a ciggie?
AKASH
(rudely)
I don’t smoke!
JOEL
(pauses)
Life’s too short to think what’s
good and bad for you.
Akash turns towards him, pauses for a moment and reaches out
for the half-smoked cigarette.
Holding it uncomfortably, he takes a small drag and almost
instantly begins to cough, exhibiting signs of a clear
novice. At a distance, Joel chuckles.
JOEL (CONT’D)
How is it that boys like you end up
in a situation like this? Shouldn’t
you be dancing to some remix
version of Sex,Drugs & Rock n Roll
with skimpily clad girls?
2.
Akash looks away and remains silent, still lurking in the
side-effects of his failed suicide attempt.
Noticing his discomfort, Joel removes an almost empty bottle
of water from his pocket and passes it over.
JOEL (CONT’D)
Take a sip!
Akash unscrews the cap and gulps. But as soon as the liquid
hits his taste buds, he spits it out.
JOEL (CONT’D)
(screams)
What is wrong with you?
AKASH
(in anger)
This isn’t water.
JOEL
What did you think? That I would
flash my alcohol here in a
sparkling Jack Daniels bottle? The
bloody cops wouldn’t leave me a
sip... And nor have you.
Joel picks himself up and stares down at Akash. Throwing the
empty bottle into the sea, he notices Joel standing beside
him.
AKASH
What?
JOEL
You owe me a drink, man.
Akash stares at him in a questioning manner.
JOEL (CONT’D)
I saved your life you thankless
kid.
Joel turns around and starts walking towards a nearby parked
cab. Giving in, Akash gets up and starts walking towards his
car in displeasure.
AKASH
(looking at Joel)
Where are you, going?
JOEL
I’m a cab driver. Getting my cab.
3.
Akash looks at the old half-broken black-yellow cab with
uncertainty.
AKASH
(pauses)
We can take my car.
Akash points to a spotless white Mercedes ‘C’ Class and
looks towards Joel for a response.
JOEL
(amazed)
You have a Merc, and you were still
going to commit suicide. What is
wrong with you rich kids?
Shaking his head in disappointment, he walks towards the car.
INT. GOKUL BAR - NIGHT
As opposed to the silence of the Bombay night, Gokul Bar
bustles with activity. A second home to almost all ages of
Bombay men, the bar serves as the ideal hub for not only
university students on the lookout for cheap drinks but also
as meeting points for the Bombay mafia.
Closely followed by Akash, Joel walks in and is greeted by a
guard with a salaam, gestures meant only for their most
fortunate and frequent customers. Joel walks straight to the
end of the hallway and right into a closed door bar room.
Akash, still skeptical about the ghetto location, follows him
to an empty table in the corner of the room.
A waiter joins them and acknowledges Joel with a smile.
JOEL
A Red Label quarter with a soda..
WAITER
...water and ice. How can I forget
your order?
JOEL
(smiles)
A Rum and Coke for the rich kid.
The waiter jots down the order and leaves. Akash looks at
Joel, wondering what it was about this man, that made him
feel so much at ease. Awkward moments of silence ensue.
AKASH
What is this place?
4.
JOEL
(smirks)
Gokul. One of the oldest treasures
of Bombay. And you know what else
is so special about this place?...
Hoping an answer wasn’t expected, Akash continues to listen
intently.
JOEL (CONT’D)
...That at least fifty percent of
the people here would have thought
of killing themselves at one or the
other point in their lives.
A faint expression appears on Akash’s face.
JOEL (CONT’D)
Someone has money troubles,
someone’s wife ran away with the
laundry boy, someone’s family is
thousand miles away in a village
and lives on the money that he
sends every month.(pauses) They all
come here, to get away. To get a
break from the fucked up world.
They drown their sorrows in every
sip of alcohol.
AKASH
(interrupting)
Why do you come here?
JOEL
(taken aback by his
frankness)
I come here whenever I’m happy. I
drink to the good things in life
not the problematic ones.
Joel and Akash share a moment of silence. They are
interrupted by the waiter who places a tray of alcohol and
leaves.
As Joel prepares his drink, Akash takes a sip of his first
Rum and Coke. A sour expression bears upon his face as Joel
chuckles once again.
JOEL (CONT’D)
(stirring his drink)
So, whom were you dying for this
time?
5.
AKASH
(sternly)
For myself.
JOEL
(smiles)
Hmm, philosophical I must say.
Joel takes a drink and leans back on the wooden chair.
JOEL (CONT’D)
I wanted to kill myself once.
The words immediately catch Akash’s attention.
JOEL (CONT’D)
(smirks)
My mom died giving birth to my kid
sister. I was five, I think...I
cried for days... My dad used to
work at the factory, but he had a
major drinking problem. Went drunk
to work, got fired. So he drank
more. Literally killed himself. He
died a couple of years later.
Joel leans over, gulps down his glass of whiskey and pours
himself another drink. Akash continues to observe his
intriguing new acquaintance.
JOEL (CONT’D)
I think I was 16 when I came to
Bombay. Got my sister along with
me. (smiles) I wanted to become an
actor. A hero like Amitabh. It
didn’t take me long to realize that
dreams were meant to be broken. I
couldn’t handle the pressure,
thought killing myself would be the
best thing. A break from life
itself.
Akash, now accustomed to the taste, continues to drink.
JOEL (CONT’D)
I had decided to hang myself, when
my sister was away in school.
Unfortunately, or fortunately when
I look at it now, my sister came
home early... I can never forget
the look on her face... That was
it. Got a license, began driving a
taxi, got my sister married to an
accountant and see where I am now.
6.
(MORE)
(smiles) Riding in a Mercedes and
drinking with a rich kid.
Joel raises his glass as Akash smiles and looks on. Joel
begins to cough incessantly. Akash passes him a glass of
water but he refuses. He ends by coughing up some blood.
AKASH
Are you okay? Do you need
something?
JOEL
(wiping his mouth)
Couldn’t be better. The body is
just cleaning out some impure
blood.
A few shrieks are heard in the distance as a couple of drunk
girls enter the bar with their friends. Distracted, Akash
turns to the commotion, but looks away instantly.
JOEL (CONT’D)
Girlfriend? Do you have one?
AKASH
Nope.
JOEL
Oh, so you have a fuck buddy,then?
AKASH
(repelling)
What?
JOEL
(hesitantly)
Isn’t that what they’re called?
Friends... but no strings attached,
only sex.
AKASH
(angrily)
No.
JOEL
No?
AKASH
Yeah,no. I mean, I’ve never had sex
before.
7.
JOEL (CONT’D)
JOEL
What? And you were going to kill
yourself before doing that? No
wonder.
He gulps down his drink and thumps the glass on the table.
JOEL (CONT’D)
Let’s go.
Joel gets up from his seat and begins to leave.
AKASH
(surprised)
What? Where are you going?
Akash follows him. He returns and removes some bills from his
wallet and places it under the tray.
EXT. GOKUL BAR - NIGHT
Joel hurriedly exits the bar and walks onto the empty streets
as Akash tries to catch up with him.
AKASH
(hurriedly)
Wait, I need to get my car. It’s
parked...
JOEL
(interrupting)
Forget the car. Just keep walking.
We need to build up some energy
anyway.
Frustrated, Akash runs along and catches up with Joel.
AKASH
But, where are we going?
Joel remains silent but a wide smile flashes across his face.
A few minutes later Joel turns into a dark alley, almost
hidden among the tall commercial buildings that are swarmed
by stock investors during the day. He stops in front of a
large compound. Unlike the dark street-lit roads of Bombay,
the rundown building glimmers in fancy decoration lights of
vibrant colors.
A few women, clad in short skirts and revealing blouses
adorning layers of cheap make-up stand in front of the
compound and chatter among themselves.
8.
EXT. CONGRESS HOUSE BROTHEL - NIGHT
At the sight of Joel and Akash, the women begin calling out
to them, wooing them with their gestures. Bewildered and
scared at the same time, Akash begins to hesitate and retrace
his steps.
AKASH
I dont’t think...I’m not sure if I
should be here. I think I’ll just
go back now.
JOEL
(pulling him)
Come on, now. This place is to die
for.
Tugging him along, Joel enters the compound and walks towards
a staircase.
INT. CONGRESS HOUSE BROTHEL - NIGHT
Joel and Akash make their way through a narrow flight of
stairs, crammed by women waiting for their clients.
Joel makes his way to the main floor and walks towards a girl
standing in the near end of the hallway. Wearing a flashy red
sari, SHAMPA, a beautiful girl possibly in her late twenties,
leans onto a door eyeing Joel as he makes his way towards
her.
SHAMPA
(playfully)
Forgotten me, haven’t you?
JOEL
(getting closer to her)
Marry me?
Akash chuckles, keeping a distance from the couple.
SHAMPA
Shut up, you Drama King.(noticing
Akash) Who’s this chocolate boy you
brought along?
JOEL
Aah! This is Akash.(pulling him)
And he’s never...
9.
AKASH
(sternly)
Joel. (pauses) I think I should
leave.
Hearing this, a few girls start giggling in a hush-hush
manner. A petite girl, who looks quite mature for her age
walks towards Akash.
GIRL
(placing her hand on his
chest)
A newbie, are you? I think I can
take care of you.
Holding his hand she takes him to the end of the hallway and
enters a dimly-lit room. Surprisingly, Akash quite smitten
himself, follows her in silence. Taking him in, she shuts the
door behind them.
TWO HOURS LATER
INT. ROOM - NIGHT
A series of loud thuds on the door is heard. Akash blinks his
eyes open and faintly hears a voice that sounds like Joel. He
sees a naked girl lying beside him and sits up with a jolt.
He hears Joel, knocking the door, his voice conveying a sense
of urgency.
JOEL
(shouting)
Let’s go. It’s a raid. The cops are
here. Hurry up, man or I’ll kill
you before they do.
AKASH
Oh shit! What? I told you I should
I have left.
Wide awake, Akash hurriedly gathers his clothes and hastily
puts them on. The girl awoken by the chaos, zips up, cursing
the cops at the same time. Akash rushes out of the room and
follows Joel. Two steps at a time, they run down the stairs.
As soon as they touch ground, a plump cop dressed in khaki
overalls jumps in front of them and starts hitting them with
his wooden baton.
COP
(shouting)
Too much of young blood in you’ll
is it? Take this.
10.
He pushes them into a large police truck crowded with female
sex workers and their male clients.
AKASH
(hysterical)
I should have left,I should have
left...
JOEL
(cautiously)
How much cash do you have?
AKASH
(angrily)
What?
JOEL
Give me 100 bucks.Quick.
MOMENTS LATER
Akash looks on as Joel talks to a cop in murmurs. Stealthily
he removes a wad of cash from his pocket and hands it over it
to him. The cop moves towards Akash and signals him to get
off the truck.
COP
Get out of here and don’t you dare
be seen around here again.
Akash gets off the truck and follows Joel out of the
compound.
EXT. ROAD - DAWN
Akash and Joel walk in silence and avoid looking at each
other. Momentarily, Joel begins a quiet laugh. Akash too,
joins in, as the chuckles lead to a roar. In hysterical
laughter, both of them trudge along the road as the sun
slowly dawns in Bombay.
AKASH
(breathing heavily)
I have never done something like
that before. If my Dad got to know
that I had been arrested, he would
kill me.
JOEL
(calmly)
Your Dad.
Akash looks at him in a questioning manner.
11.
JOEL (CONT’D)
He is the reason you were trying to
kill yourself.
Giving no response, Akash continues to walk along the road.
EXT. MARINE DRIVE - DAY
Sitting on the ledge with their legs hanging in mid-air Joel
and Akash stare at the sun rising from the sea. Sipping from
their glasses of cutting chai, their eyes remain mesmerized
by the beauty of a clear calm sea.
AKASH
I hate my Dad.
Joel remains motionless, staring at the horizon. Akash takes
a sip from his glass and continues.
AKASH (CONT’D)
He is one of the leading
industrialists of Bombay. Five
factories and more than 1 lac
employees dancing to his tunes.
Loves only one thing. Money.
The calmness of the sea fills the air.
AKASH (CONT’D)
For the past twenty years, I’ve
lived my life according to him.
Never drank, never partied, never
even had a girlfriend so that I
don’t blemish his status in
society. The perfect son, that’s
all I’ve been.
Joel continues to listen intently. Both of their eyes affixed
at the rising sun.
AKASH (CONT’D)
He wants me to go to the States to
do an M.B.A. So that I can come
back and take over from him. So
that I can come back and keep
earning more and more money. Uphold
the status of my family. Fucking
family.
Akash continues to talk, his words swelling up in a passive
aggressive manner.
12.
AKASH (CONT’D)
Yesterday I got my acceptance
letter from the Edinburgh College
of Art and Design. A two year
scholarship to learn painting. My
dad tore that letter off in front
of my eyes. And that was it.
Akash slowly turns towards Joel and looks straight into his
eyes.
AKASH (CONT’D)
You were right. I was dying for my
Dad yesterday. Now I’m going to
live for myself.
Joel smiles and picks himself up from the ledge.
JOEL
I won’t be seeing you again.
Joel starts walking towards his cab. Akash looks towards him.
AKASH
Thank...
JOEL
(interrupting)
Thanks for not jumping.
Smiling he gets into his cab and drives away.
A FEW WEEKS LATER
EXT. UK CONSULATE - DAY
Heavily guarded by uniformed men, a long line of visa
applicants eagerly wait for their turn outside the UK
Consulate.
Akash, smartly dressed, his face now bearing a wide-eyed
smile, walks out of the Consulate, carrying a bunch of
folders in his hand.
Dramatically, he leaps into the air and screams with joy. He
begins to punch empty space in a celebratory fashion and
couldn’t care less of the puzzling expression donned by
passers-by.
Smiling, he closes his eyes and deeply inhales a breath of
fresh air. A breath of free air. He opens his eyes to see a
black-and-yellow cab zoom past him.
13.
EXT. MARINE DRIVE - NIGHT
Akash leans against his car, looking out for any signs of
Joel.
FLASHBACK
INT. HOUSE - NIGHT
The interiors of a large mansion exhibit pieces and paintings
of pure class and style. But in spite of its aesthetic
beauty, a desolated and dismal emptiness lingers in the air.
Akash carrying a backpack on his shoulder and a large
suitcase in his hand walks down the spiral staircase of his
house.
A bespectacled large-man somewhere in his late fifties,
Akash’s FATHER, clad in white overalls, watches news on the
television. Akash sets his suitcase down and stands beside
the stairs.
AKASH
Dad?
Unaware of his presence, Akash’s father turns around and
removes his glasses to get a clearer picture.
AKASH (CONT’D)
Dad, I’m leaving. I’m going to
Edinburgh.
His father, now standing in front of him looks at his son in
a puzzled manner.
DAD
Akash, what nonsense is this?
Aren’t we done with all this art
and painting shit...
AKASH
(interrupting)
That’s it, Dad. I’m done being your
perfect son. I’m finally going to
start living. I...
Akash’s words are cut short by a hard slap that lands on his
cheek. Akash looks up and a dry, cynical smile begins to
appear on his face.
Without a word, he picks up his suitcase and walks towards
the door.
14.
Caught unaware by his son’s reaction, he follows him, filled
with rage.
DAD
(bellowing)
You’ll come crawling back to me.
What are you without me anyway?
All the response he gets is the hard slamming of a door.
BACK TO SCENE
EXT. MARINE DRIVE - NIGHT
Disappointed by the wait and with no signs of Joel, Akash
gets into his car and drives away.
INT. GOKUL BAR - NIGHT
Akash walks into Gokul and heads straight towards the closed
bar room section. He looks around frantically, but there is
no sign of Joel. Eyeing the waiter that served them, he
approaches him.
AKASH
Have you seen Joel around? It’s
urgent.
WAITER
He’s not been here for a couple of
days now. Oh, but if you find him
(removes a wad of cash from his
pocket) please give him this.
Akash gives him a puzzled look.
WAITER (CONT’D)
I desperately needed money for my
wife’s operation. He was the only
person who would give money to a
stranger.
Akash’s expression conveys a greater sense of respect for a
man whom he had met only for one night, but had clearly
impacted many other around him.
Taking the cash, Akash hurriedly runs out of the bar and
begins running on the busy street.
15.
INT. CONGRESS HOUSE BROTHEL - NIGHT
Panting, Akash runs up the flight of stairs and dodges his
way to the near end of the hallway. Noticing him, Shampa and
a few other women turn towards him.
SHAMPA
All alone, today? The kid’s grown
up is it?
AKASH
No.Hmm, has Joel come here in the
past few days.
SHAMPA
No he hasn’t. And if you meet him,
tell him that I’m ready to marry
him now.
Hearing this, a few women start giggling and chattering among
themselves. Noticing Akash’s discomforted look, she moves
towards him.
SHAMPA (CONT’D)
What’s the matter? Is anything
wrong?
AKASH
No. I mean, yes. I’ve been trying
to find him since evening. But no
one knows where he is.
Holding his hand, Champa takes him into her room. Cracks on
the ceiling and paints peeling off the wall are masked by
colorful posters of Bollywood actors.
SHAMPA
(rummaging)
I think I should have his address
somewhere around here. Here it is!
She finds a postcard size picture of Joel posing for a
camera, one that might have been clicked for his acting
portfolio. She turns the card around to a sticker bearing his
contact information.
AKASH
(smiling)
Thank you. Thank you so much.
Grabbing it from her hands, Akash runs out of the room.
16.
INT. HOUSE - DAY
Making his way through a narrow lane of make-shift houses,
Akash reaches his destination. Surprisingly a large number of
people wait around the house, talking in murmurs.
Dilapidated by time, the unpainted brick house rests right
along a long open sewer line, clogged by plastic bottles and
garbage. Anxiously, Akash makes his way through the crowded
entrance. The room is composed of minimal furniture and walls
covered with movie posters. People seem to hover around in
the center of the room. Akash pushes his way through. The
sight astounds him.
In a cheap, black wooden casket wrapped in white cloth, is
Joel. An unexplained calmness and serenity bears upon his
face. Akash looks at the dead body of possibly his closest
friend, in disbelief.
Standing out in the crowd, a young woman notices Akash. She
approaches him.
WOMAN
I’m sorry, but did you know my
brother?
Akash looks at the young woman and notices her striking
resemblance to Joel.
AKASH
(hesitating)
Yes...Yes I did. But how..(unable
to finish his sentence)
WOMAN
Joel had blood cancer. He was
terminal...he knew about
it.(pauses) Didn’t he ever tell
you?
Akash remains speechless. A sudden movement in the room
ensues. A priest enters the room, clad in all-white, holding
a cross in one hand and the Bible in the other. He faces the
crowd and begins to read in an orderly mundane fashion.
PRIEST
Let us commend Joel Perreira to the
mercy of God. May the Almighty give
his family the strength to cope
with this dear loss. Let us know
observe two minutes of silence for
the soul of this young man.
17.
The words strike his ears as his mind dissolves to his time
with Joel.
BEGIN FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
EXT. MARINE DRIVE - NIGHT
JOEL
Life’s too short to think what’s
good and bad for you.
INT. GOKUL BAR - NIGHT
JOEL
I come here whenever I’m happy. I
drink to the joy in life not in
grief.
INT. GOKUL BAR - NIGHT
JOEL
...see where I am now. (smiles)
Riding in a Mercedes and drinking
with a rich kid.
Joel begins to cough incessantly. He ends by coughing up some
blood.
JOEL (CONT’D)
...The body is just cleaning out
some impure blood.
INT. CONGRESS HOUSE BROTHEL - NIGHT
SHAMPA
(playfully)
Forgotten me, haven’t you?
JOEL
(getting closer to her)
Marry me?
Akash chuckles keeping a distance from the couple.
EXT. ROAD - DAWN
Akash and Joel laugh hysterically.
18.
EXT. MARINE DRIVE - DAY
JOEL
I won’t be seeing you again.
END OF FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
INT. HOUSE - NIGHT
Akash opens his eyes to see the commotion around him. As the
priest leaves, people begin chattering among themselves as if
they had been eagerly waiting for the two minutes of silence
to end. The crowd slowly starts dispersing as Joel lies in
the center of the room, alone.
EXT. MARINE DRIVE - NIGHT
Sitting on the ledge with his legs hanging in mid-air Akash
looks on as the sea envelopes the setting sun within itself.
Continuing to stare into the horizon,firmly holding onto a
cigarette, Akash takes a long drag.
FADE TO BLACK.
19.

2 Minutes of Silence is a coming of age story set within the vivid vibrance of Bombay but with a strong pinch of reality. It was the last script that I wrote as an exchange student of film production at York University,Toronto

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Sharat Kumar

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