Sam Mopal Sarma or SMS, as he was popularly known, the most prolific producer and director of Bollywood, was sitting in his studio holding his head in his hands. He looked a picture of despondency and depression.
His latest film Virachhan – a stinging saga of a vicious bandicoot had flopped miserably. This was his 12th flop in a row. A year or so earlier he had released his uber ambitious project Sam Mopal Sarma ke goley. To make sure the movie would scorch the box office he had taken the ultimate Shahenshah, Amit-abhi-bachha in a pivotal role. Yet the film had sunk without a trace.
Just as SMS gulped down his fourth peg of the evening, Vivek Sober Hai entered. SMS had given a break to Vivek in his movie Company and he had instantly become a star. However, with one stock expression and a hairstyle that would make any self respecting hair stylist commit hara-kiri, he didn’t last for long. After a string of flops he decided to become his mentor’s man ‘Sunday to Sunday’.
“Have you read the reviews of Udta Punjab?”
“No.” SMS looked up, hoping that the movie had been trashed by the reviewers.
“Every critic has given it a 4 plus rating. Besides, it is also raking in the moolah. It is going to be a monster hit.”
“Have you seen it?”
“I have it on my pen drive.”
“Great, let’s watch it right away.”
SMS saw the entire movie without a break. He then dismissed Vivek.
“I want to think,” he said rather tersely.
Next day SMS summoned his lackey.
“I have got a fantastic idea for a film. Inspired by the success of Udta Punjab, I am going to make a film - Soti Dilli!” SMS paused for impact.
“It sounds a bit weird,” Vivek said sticking to his stock expression.
“Don’t you agree that Dilli has more problems than any other city on planet earth – thefts, robberies, scams, suicides, murders, molestations and rapes and yet it continues its slumber – Soti Delhi is a perfect title for the state of bliss our capital city is always in.”
“What about the plot, SMS? I hope, your film is not a documentary aimed at a some unpronounceable festival in some unpronounceable town of some unpronounceable country!”
“It is going to be a mainstream film that will seduce the box office and charm the critics. It is a story of a 16 year old youngster, Munnu who works as a cleaner at a bus depot. One night he and his senior chance upon a girl travelling alone in a bus and rape her. The senior is caught and jailed for seven years. Activists and NGOs come out in support of Munnu. The courts are forced to take a lenient view considering Munnu’s tender age and he is sent to a remand home for three weeks. There he gets a chance to rape two more girls. When he comes out he becomes an expert at raping. He opens a coaching class and starts teaching youngsters the subtle nuances of rape.
One day he runs into a young girl, Chunni, the victim of a brutal gang rape. When she describes what was done to her, Munnu feels ashamed and undergoes a complete transformation. The next day he has to give a lecture before a huge crowd of young, wannabe rapists on the art and science of rape. He climbs on to the stage and starts raving and ranting about the ill effects of rape, how it can destroy individuals, families and the society at large. He asks his audience to take a pledge never to even think of rape, never to see a film or a serial which has a rape scene and even to ensure that the word rape is smudged out from the modern lexicon.
The crowd which has come to hear something totally different goes berserk and targets Munna. He manages to escape with Chunni’s help and the two of them disappear into the sunset. The camera pans across Dilli which goes on sleeping even as its underbelly continues to rumble with every imaginary crime.”
SMS looked at Vivek in anticipation.
“The plot is quite different. What about the star cast?”
“For the role of the heroine I shall cast a complete new comer. She will have no inhibitions in doing the boldest of scenes, of course for the sake of art.”
“And the hero?”
“I was thinking of casting Sillyman Khan – after all he has such an intimate knowledge of what a rape feels like.”
“That’s an awesome idea!”
“Have you thought about the music and lyrics?”
“Of course. The music will be rap. And for the lyrics I shall get a few slum kids to chip in?”
“I want the lyrics to be raw, like a festering wound – not the saintly, antiseptic ones like – jigar-kamar, chameli-hateli, upar-neeche, aage-peechhe, etc. The lyrics will not only include Punjabi four letter words as in Udta Punjab but also Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Bhojpuri ones. I may even think of applying for a tax concession since my film will be promoting national integration.”
“That’s a great idea,” Vivek said.
“I shall include sub-titles in different languages so that the people of one area do not miss the subtly suggestive profanity given in an unfamiliar tongue. Overall Soti Dilli will have the same edgy feel and the mind blowing angst which has made Udta Punjab such a raging hit.”
“What about the censors?”
“You mean Pahlaaj Naani? No issue. First I shall try to convince him that Soti Dilli is against the culture of rape and propagates respect for women. All the rape scenes will be shown in a very aesthetic manner with the sole purpose of drawing the crowds. Once the crowds come in we shall make sure that before they step out of the theatres they’ll start loathing the very word ‘rape’. If Naani continues to dig his heels in, I’ll scare him that I will approach the court which will cut him to size.”
“Better would be if you tacitly encourage him to order as many cuts as possible. You can then appeal to the court and the kind of expansive mood the judges are in, you are sure to get a reprieve. All this rigmarole will generate a huge amount of pre-release publicity which will draw the audience in hordes once the film hits the cinema halls.”
SMS looked at his assistant in awe. “My God! I never knew my Company could do this to you. Vivek, even you have managed to come up with a brilliant idea!”
A year later the film Soti Dilli was released to a fantastic response. The critics loved the audacious, dark and edgy film which had broken new grounds in Indian cinema. It received a standing ovation in almost every festival around the globe. It was also a smash hit at the box office and soon joined the 100 crore club.
Sam Mopal Sarma was besieged by producers to make a sequel. After a lot of thought SMS announced a prequel to Soti Dilli – it was called Sadti Mumbai !