This is a script I wrote for my Media Appreciation class.. The title was thrown at us and it was totally our call what we chose to do with it.. Well, this is what I did with it.. Now YOU deal with it ;)
p.s. Paharganj is a crazy crowded locality in Delhi, close to Connaught Place. Though it is better known as one of the entrances to the New Delhi Railway Station, the other being Ajmeri Gate.
R- It’s a weird assignment, if you ask me.
I- Well, since no-one has asked you, why don’t you drop it already?
R- No, but seriously! 11:30 Paharganj? What sense does that title make?
I- Absolute sense, perfect sense, no sense at all-how does that matter?
R- But it does! I mean, why 11:30, and why Paharganj?
I- Because 11:30 works just as well as 10:30 or 12:30..and Paharganj.. I dunno- maybe there’s some history there, or maybe not.. Personally, I think 11:30 Paharganj sounds appealing and impressive.
R- Paharganj makes you think of train stations for God’s sake!
I- What’s so wrong with them, I would like to know!
R- I dunno- train stations are so..so run-of-the-mill you know, so routine. Why couldn’t it have been 11:30 Palam, or 11:30 IGI?? Airports are so much more interesting- nothing ever happens at a train station..
I- That’s your pseudo-bourgeois upbringing talking. What happened to the film-enthusiast inside of you? Where’s your movie sense yaar? Remember "DDLJ"- the film climaxes on a train station-with Shahrukh fighting all those villainous young men and Kajol running the bloody length of the platform to join him- it’s a cult sequence in Bollywood!!
R- I thought you hated Shahrukh?
I- I’ve realized hate is too strong a word- hate leaves no room for an outside chance…but we digress…
R- Yeah, so coming back- I can’t say I’m convinced- 11:30 Paharganj is too vague for my imagination.
I- You’ve been a science student all your life, I can understand this obsessive need for definitiveness. You are designed to feel a little dissatisfied.
R- Maybe. So how do you explain it? The obscurity of the whole thing.. and how are you going to weave sense around it all?
I- I think the obscurity is the USP here.. like you said that the title makes you think trains and train stations- me too- and I have been trying to explore that avenue.. and because everything is so vague it is upto you how you negotiate the various permutations and combinations- the title is subject to individual interpretation- we don’t have to do it the clichéd way- we don’t have to construct a common story with a hero and villain and a bag of cash with a railway station as the backdrop- my story could be you and me, taking the metro to North Campus, talking about my assignment and what it means to both of us.
R- That way it might have some potential I can see..
I- Which is exactly why this angle intrigues me so much.. I mean- I’ve never ever thought of it like this before but listen to this- what do films in particular show us- how do they create train stations and by extension trains for us- not merely as sets or props which are there only as background- but almost like characters in the plot with a significant role to play. Like how easily trains and stations become metaphors for coming and going and that little time and space in between- or how stations are used as places where conflict is resolved.
R- Hmm..remember "My Best Friend’s Wedding"? That long overdue confrontation between Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney- confession of love and realization that love is lost- yeah, that happens in a train station..
I- Exactly, and "Before Sunrise"? How two strangers meet on a train, talk, feel connected, spend time together and promise to meet again at the same station where they are separating.. I’ve always thought that the anticipation and adrenaline has much to do with being in a place that is essentially suspended- neither here nor there..
R- But isn’t this getting a little philosophical? Like reading too much into things?
I- Yeah, it’s a scattered thought, which is why it makes so much sense.. I mean isn’t all cinema, good cinema a way to convey ideology?
R- Umm..that way you’d have to rope in books as well..you know..like literature?
I- Interesting idea.
R- Like "Harry Potter" for instance. In the last book- how Harry thinks that that in-between-place lodged in the middle of life and death is King’s Cross station- from where one could either move ‘on’ or go back and face one’s demons.
I- Excellent example.. I admit I hadn’t thought of that.
R- And what about recent examples from Bollywood. "Jab We Met" remember?? How Kareena says- It feels like something is going wrong..It feels..
I- ..feels like I’m missing a train!! Yeah!
R- I’m starting to get the drift of it now..
I- Yeah, you’re getting warmed up!
R- Any other interesting angles?
I- There’s one. We were talking about watching "Dolls" in class the other day.. that Japanese movie.. so about that- there is this certain hierarchy in all love relationships in the movie. Like there is this dominant partner and a subservient partner- and it seems that the latter has little to contribute to the love- but in the end it is the dominant partners who realize that for their life to have any meaning they must reconcile with the people they have abandoned..This idea in a strange way operates here as well…
R- Umm..I think I know where you are going- like how between trains and train stations, the former could be the dominant partners because they are more proactive and much action takes place there, I’m thinking "North By Northwest", but they always have to come back to stations because they are the actual binding factors between crisis and catharsis, tragedy and resolution.
I- My thoughts exactly!
R- Okay, I grant you- it’s a great perspective- very thought provoking..
I- It’s something, isn’t it? And imagine, what are the odds of movie-like stuff happening to real-like people- You and I, talking about 11:30 Paharganj and other banal things- in this sparsely occupied metro compartment. Think of the romantic possibility of it all!!
R- That might be a bit far-fetched for me you know!
I- Well, as Cary Grant says in “North By Northwest”- “Sorry Love, I’m sentimental!!"