Feb. 24, 2001
Air India 747 descends from the blue sky and lands at Hyderabad airport
in central India. Among the passengers is Sister Marion Smith,
an attractive though mousy, 26-year old Roman Catholic nun, wearing
a nun's collar, clutching a suitcase in one hand and her rosary in the
other. It's blazing hot as she descends the stairs onto the tarmac
and is immediately accosted by beggars wanting to carry her suitcase
to the terminal, but Marion won't let them.
headline of the Hyderabad Times newspaper is: "BELOVED MOVIE STAR
KIDNAPPED BY FAMOUS BANDIT." People are reading the paper
and moaning in pain, women are in tears, shrines are being erected to
the beloved movie star and flowers are strewn on them.
yet another part of Hyderabad, Saeed Devi, a suave, white-mustached
man in his 50s, and leader of the local mob, sits in an outdoor café
drinking a small cup of coffee, smoking a long brown cigarette and reading
the newspaper. Devi's men are seated at tables all around him,
all drinking coffee, smoking and reading the newspaper. As the
mass of humanity swarms past, many people nod or bow respectfully to
Devi, but he pays them no mind. As Devi finishes a section of
the newspaper, he casually drops it on the ground and someone promptly
comes by and picks it up. We see, crouching below the table, a
man is busily trimming Devi's toenails. Devi proclaims, "What
sort of world is it where our favorite movie stars are being kidnapped!
This is outrageous!"
Raji searches for a job, but there are none to be had. All the while Gupa keeps an eye on him.
Sister Marion works in a clinic. The lines of sick people stretch out the door and down the block, and each person is a bigger wreck than the one before. Many pregnant Indian women are getting ultra-sound tests to find out the gender of their unborn babies. If they discover they have a female baby they all immediately abort.
Gupa steps out in the open and asks Raji when he intends to go see Mr.
Devi? Raji says, "Never, I'm going straight."
Gupa says, "Let me rephrase my statement, Mr. Devi wants to see
you." Raji shakes his head, "I don't want to
see Mr. Devi." Gupa looks at him sadly, "You tell him
that, I won't."
Sister Marion kneels in the cathedral of St. Luke's, praying for guidance. Tears stream down her cheeks. She feels helpless and useless, is this what God really wanted of her? She lowers face in her hands and cries. Father Andrews watches and listens to the young nun's sobs.
steps up to Mr. Devi, who still reads the paper. Without looking
up, he asks if Raji has been able to find a job? Raji says, "No."
Mr. Devi nods, "And you never will. But, you could go back
to work for me." Raji shakes his head, "I'm going straight."
Mr. Devi lowers the newspaper and looks Raji in the eye, "You go
straight when I say you can go straight, got it?" Devi's
men all simultaneously lower their papers and look at Raji, who stares
directly back at Mr. Devi. Raji says, "It was while I was working
for you that I got caught and sent to jail, and I think you set meup."
Mr. Devi pours himself another cup of coffee from the ceramic coffee
pot, lights a new cigarette and nods, "I did. You were forgetting
your place. No one should ever forget their place."
Raji nods, "What you don't realize, sir, is that your place
is in the hospital."
Raji runs an obstacle course of vendors and tables and people, jumping over things and through stalls and under tables, and all the while Devi's thugs pursue, including the guy on a motorcycle. Raji turns down a crowded alley and the thugs come after him. People constantly have to be pushed out of the way to get by.
sitting patiently in traffic is Father Andrews and Sister Marion, neither
says a word. Sister Marion's eyes are red from crying. The
priest looks at her with great sympathy and says, "God works in
turns to Sister Marion and smiles, ready to introduce himself.
Marion begins to scream hysterically. Raji doesn't know what's
wrong with her, but suddenly must pay attention to his driving as he
turns down an incredibly narrow alley, going much too fast, causing
people to dive out of his path. In the rear- view mirror Raji
sees the motorcycle appear and begin to gain on him.
Raji takes Marion to his uncle's house at the edge of town. When they arrive no one is home. Raji's tells Marion that his uncle and aunt do not like him, then breaks the lock and they go inside.
Devi is back to his original position, sitting at the outdoor table
reading the newspaper, a new coffeepot before him. He lowers the
newspaper and his face is a bruised horror of a mess, his nose is bandaged
and his left eye is half-closed. A man steps up, bows politely
and tells Devi that Raji Shah has only one relative in Hyderabad, his
uncle, and gives him the address. Mr. Devi hands the address to
another man who takes it, nods and exits with several other men.
Raji concocts his plan while ransacking his uncle's house and making food. Marion and Raji have a nice meal, then Raji takes Marion out to the horrifyingly stinky outhouse, ties her up, gags her and leaves her there. There is a small window in the outhouse she can see through and watches Raji go back into the house. She then sees him get in the car and drive away. Marion looks around at her surroundings, at the bugs and the filth, and sees that the toilet is gurgling right up to the rim. She closes her eyes and tries not to breathe.
Raji gets into downtown Hyderabad when it's dark and sticks a ransom note on the church door with a knife. Father Andrews, with his arm in a cast and sling, opens the door and finds the ransom note. He reads it and it says that Raji wants a million Rupees, which is far less than is presently being asked for a movie star and is quite reasonable in his opinion, and instructs them to run an ad in the classified section of the newspaper if they accept his terms.
meanwhile, is bound and gagged in a horrible outhouse attempting to
not breathe and still remain alive. There are an incredible array
of insects, all of which now try to crawl on her. The toilet keeps
gurgling, the contents rising. She hears a car drive up, looks
through the window and sees Raji's aunt and uncle get out of a car and
go into the house. She can hear their muffled gasps of horror
at finding their home broken into and ransacked.
Raji stops at a friend's house he hasn't seen since going to prison. He and his friend drink a few beers, listen to Indian pop music and reminisce.
Marion sees another car drive up. A group of Mr. Devi's thugs get out, all carrying weapons. Her wide eyes watch as the thugs kick in the door and barge inside. The thugs beat up the old uncle and aunt, screaming, "Where is he?" The aunt and uncle reply, "Who?" then get beaten up some more.
Raji, somewhat drunk after quite a few beers, leaves his friend's place and drunkenly drives off, the car weaving.
the thugs get tired of the wrong answers and methodically kill both
the uncle and aunt in cold blood. The thugs then proceed to tear
the house to pieces while Marion watches. The fact that bugs are
crawling on her doesn't seem quite as important now, but it's still
disgusting. Marion hears a car go by, and sees the thugs stop
what they're doing and listen. The thugs have left her view.
Nothing seems to be happening, everything's gone quiet. As she
cranes her head for a better look, the door to the outhouse suddenly
opens and it's Raji.
Raji and Marion drive to the Godavari River, 200 kilometers north of Hyderabad. Both of them smell awful and keep the windows open. A deserted jungle follows the river for hundreds of miles deep into the interior of the country. Raji drives the car down a jungle road that gets thinner and thinner, then finally just ends. Raji and Marion cover the car with branches, then begin hiking through the jungle.
The thugs report back to Mr. Devi, saying they did not find Raji Shah. One of the thugs mentions the nun he saw in the car with Raji and Mr. Devi looks up and asks, "A nun?" He shows the thugs the front page of the newspaper, with the headline: "CATHOLIC NUN HELD FOR RANSOM." The article goes on to quote a church official as saying, "We don't usually pay ransoms, but instead put our faith in God." Mr. Devi scratches his chin deviously.
the sun sets Marion and Raji arrive at the river and camp for the night.
The setting is spectacularly beautiful. Raji says he's taking
a swim and washing his clothes and suggests that Marion do the same.
She says, "You mean, naked?" "I'm going to get
naked, you can do whatever you want. I'll go around that little
bend there and give you some privacy. I'll sing so you know I
haven't snuck up on you." Raji goes upriver a bit, ducks
into the bush and disrobes, then dives into the water and begins singing.
Marion stands there for a minute, then she too disrobes and gets into
the water. It's really good to wash off the horrible stink.
As Marion floats around, she moves in the direction of Raji's singing.
Finally, she gets to the little bend in the river and glances through
some foliage to Raji, happily swimming around and singing.
sit on the shore with a fire burning and make some food. The talk
and realize that they have a lot in common, considering how different
their upbringings. Their both twenty-six, neither has seen much
of the world or knows all that much, both have been cloistered away,
she in a convent, he in prison, and neither one has ever been in love.
is night and Marion and Raji are asleep, naked in each other's arms
in the moonlight.
next day, other bandits arrive back in the camp with the ransom money
that has been paid for Makuraj. There is great joy and happiness
among the bandits in Peeravan's camp as they split up the money.
of the bandits that just arrived tosses Raji a newspaper, saying, "Here.
I think they answered your ad."
and the bandits take Raji and Marion to their car, which they wouldn't
have ever found otherwise. They remove the branches, open the
doors and find a 15-foot Python on the seat. Marion nearly faints.
Peeravan laughs, grabs the Python by the neck and lets it go into the
jungle. "Pythons are good, they eat rats." The
drives into downtown Hyderabad, weaves his way through the back streets,
then pulls up in the alley behind St. Luke's Church. Raji and
Marion look at each other, then he gets out of the car, goes around
and forcibly takes her out.
Marion, looking pale and shaken, stands in line at the Air India counter
at the Hyderabad airport. Father Andrews accompanies her, holding
her suitcase. Marion gets her ticket at the counter, then she
and the Father silently head to the departure gate.
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