Saturday, June 05, 2010

ash and sin: the sequels

(extracts from an internal memo at a famous production studio discussing possible sequels to Paap ko Jalaa Kar Raakh Kar Doonga)

The first sequel should be called राख को बुझाकर खाख कर दूँगा and it should accommodate enough pulpy violence and high drama to ensure that fans of the first film are not disappointed. While doing this, the film must also attempt to include a metaphysical meditation on the themes of morality, guilt and rage: one of the ways that this could be achieved is using a conversation scene featuring the top two starrers jogging and working out on a foggy morning in some hill station; the conversation could include an explanation of the title (which suggests that dousing of ash is not only possible but also effective in eliminating the presence thereof); this literary liberty could be reinforced by the diegetic use of the Gulzar/R. D. Burman classic मेरा कुछ सामान (translation: some of my goods) as our heroes trade nested flashbacks, suggestive looks and gulps of Vat 69. The inclusion of a rape scene is crucial in order to secure an advertising partnership with a leading dealer in saris and a swimsuit chain -- the substitution of inner wear with a suitably tasteful swimming outfit would, I believe, be an acceptable compromise. In order to reach a larger audience, we must ensure that this scene is filmed in pitch darkness and we must rely on effective sound design as well as some suitable lines of dialogue to let the audience know what is happening ([name of sari dealer] की साड़ी को फाड़ते हुए बुरा लग रहा है मेरी जान मगर क्या करूं ... and [name of swimsuit chain] का swimsuit?? तुम्हारी पसंद तो लाजवाब है जान-ए-मन)...

The second sequel must offer less violence and fewer salacious acts and be made for the younger college audience. It must have a tragic ending but otherwise maintain a lighter tone from the start. It will be challenging to balance essential narrative elements such as the destruction of the nuclear family, the corruption of the joint family, the morally compromising temptations rife in middle-class life, the obligatory presence of a pure villainous entity and the defoliation of damsels as well as two item numbers that must feature the matriarch of the household (the producer has been kind enough to relax this need in the first sequel; we will need to express our gratitude for this creative freedom). We could learn a thing or two from masters such as Alfred Hitchcock, who managed to explore personal themes and ideas and fulfill creative aspirations while making films that appealed to a large audience and were commercially viable. In keeping with the goals of the film and in order to remind audiences of the heritage of the film, I believe पाप से राख तक would be an appropriate title.

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