[Setting: An old-fashioned room, two cushions at opposite ends, facing inwards, towards a fireplace. Fire crackles. Two fine gentlemen are seated on the cushions, gazing into the crackling flames. One is smoking Cigar, and the other one, adjusting his Dhoti. The Cigar-man, Hollywood, speaks.]
Bollywood: Namaste [joins hands].
Hollywood: It’s a pleasure to meet you, old friend.
Bollywood: Old? Oh yes, I remember. I’m just three years younger than you are.
Hollywood: That’s right. And yet, the gap seems to indicate decades – decades, of backwardness.
Bollywood: I… don’t think so. That’s just the way you look at it. I’m just as good as you are.
Hollywood: Yes, considering that most of the films we release are… let’s say, similar.
Bollywood: What are you trying to say?
Hollywood: You know what I’m trying to say.
(a tense silence)
Bollywood: You’ve got a sense of humour, I’ll give you that.
Hollywood: You still don’t, I’ll give you that. You show that you do not care, and yet, you do feel the anger seeping inside you right now, correct? Like always, you are unwilling to accept your mistake. Your flaw. Your biggest flaw. You don’t want to accept your mistake.
Bollywood: You, sometimes, inspire me.
Hollywood: I’m flattered. But that doesn’t change the facts.
Bollywood: Then why is it that more and more of you is treading on my land to shoot? What is so great about it if all you think of me is what you tell me you think of me?
Hollywood: Expansion. It’s what I do. That’s a fascinating country you have there. I like fascination. Unlike you, I like exploring unknown boundaries, that can sometimes be dangerous. Unlike you, I dare to think. To imagine. To create things that no one has imagined. To… awe.
Bollywood: Are you talking about Inception, by any chance?
Hollywood: Limiting yourself again, aren’t you? Inception is good. But that is not the only thing I have brought out. People forget productions like Twelve Monkeys. Donnie Darko. Great stuff. Like I said, people forget. They shouldn’t.
Bollywood: Small star cast, maybe.
Hollywood: Another flaw, my old friend. You believe star cast is everything. It isn’t. A good film is everything. Star cast just makes it look prettier. Doesn’t make it better, no way.
Hollywood: The Biggest hit on my side, Avatar. Did it have a star cast? No.
Bollywood: The biggest hit on my side… 3 Idiots…
Hollywood: Would it have worked as well if there was, instead of Aamir Khan, let’s say… Tushhar Kapoor?
Bollywood: I… don’t know. Maybe.
Hollywood: No one even noticed the presence of a certain Udaan. Why do you think so?
Bollywood: No… star cast?
Hollywood: Maybe. Or maybe it’s the mind of the viewers.
Bollywood: But I’m maturing! Guzaarish! Dhobi Ghat!
(Hollywood inhales deeply)
Hollywood: Yes, I give you that. But let’s face it, they didn’t do even a fourth as well as they deserved to. In this case, it’s the mind of the viewers. I won’t blame them. Decades of being taught to think in a certain way makes the mind convince itself that there’s nothing worth exploring beyond what is there in front of your eyes. Tell me, old friend, has anyone, ever, dared to dream in you?
(there is a moment of silence. Bollywood yells.)
Bollywood: YES! Vishal! Vishal Bhardwaj! Saat Khoon Maaf! What a brilliant idea for a movie, I say! And the promos look… brilliant.
Hollywood: Yes, I know. It is based on Ruskin’s book. I admire that guy, the Bhardwaj one, he’s a good director. He tries to explore. That’s who you need, you know, today.
Bollywood: You are sounding like a sycophant, you know.
Hollywood: “If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” – Shel Silverstein said so. Do you know what it means?
Bollywood: Yes, I know. I’m not dumb, you know. You are trying to be. Don’t avoid my question.
Hollywood: There wasn’t any. All you said was I’m a sycophant. Sound like one, at least.
Bollywood: Are you?
Hollywood: I’m from the US, ain’t I? I’m a superpower of the filming industry. If people listen, does that really imply I’m what you think I am?
Bollywood: You talk like you never make mistakes. Really? You don’t?
Hollywood: To err is human.
Bollywood: Oh, now human, are we?
Hollywood: Let us accept it, old friend. We are mere puppets in the hands of humans. They are the ones that define us. The ones on my side dare to dream, to explore. The ones on your side, might be beginning too, alright? But till now, they were not. Even the best films you produced, the biggest hits, they haven’t been DARING. They haven’t EXPLORED. Everybody makes mistakes! It’s what separated a good film from the bad. If I never made mistakes, I’d only be producing films, not good or bad. Because every one of them would be something you’ve never even thought of.
Bollywood: Then how am I any different, eh? Agreed, I make more mistakes than you do. But trust me when I say this, I am rising, ok? There will be a day when you shall be the one sitting where I am, right now. And I will be the one sitting where are at the moment. What will you do then?
(Hollywood gets up)
Hollywood: Stand up.
(Bollywood gets up. Hollywood sits on Bollywood’s cushion.)
Hollywood: Go take my place. There. Feel any difference?
Bollywood: What are you trying to say?
Hollywood: What I’ve been trying to imply for decades! Why do you think that I’m the ultimate that any industry can ever reach? Why do you aim to be me, when you can aim to be something else entirely? This is frustrating! Why is it that you think copying concepts of my films will do you any good? Can you tell me a single movie that you’ve copied, that has done well? Of course, there will be rare exceptions. But that’s beside the point. You don’t get it, do you? It’s not about who’s sitting in who’s chair. It’s about how high can you rise staying where you are! Why do you look at me and say, ‘Ok. That is who I’m gonna be.’ Why don’t you rise to a level where others will look to and say, ‘Holy wicked. That’s where I wanna be!’ That is your BIGGEST PROBLEM. You NEVER dare to dream. Bollywood, dream! Explore stuff beyond the boundaries! When somebody tells you not to cross a line, do it! Just to see what’s on the other side! Because one, there’s either something there that’s bad, or there’s something out there that’s so wickedly good, that you’ll be left gazing with eyes wide open. Are you listening? Dream! Dream! Think!
(Hollywood takes a deep breath)
Bollywood: You make sense.
Hollywood: And you think you can’t?
Bollywood: It is time.
Hollywood: Yes it is. Swear the oath. Promise me you’ll stick true to your resolution, the one that you will declare. Don’t, ever, think you are not big enough. So what if you don’t score at the Oscars? Doesn’t matter! Never give up! Never give in!
Bollywood: Thanks, Holly. You mind if I call you Holly?
Hollywood: No, Bolly. You mind if I call you Bolly?
(Both chuckle good naturedly. Bollywood rises. Takes a deep breath.)
Bollywood: I hereby swear my oath. I hereby adopt my new year resolution for 2011. And I promise to stick true to my resolution, for the rest of eternity. [Bollywood Takes a New Year Resolution].
Bollywood: Thank you Hollywood. You’ve inspired me.
Hollywood: Let’s hope I’ve inspired you, and not your movies.
Bollywood: Oh, and by the way, happy 101st Birthday.
Hollywood: Happy 98th. Go out there now. Shine.
(Bollywood exits through the door, comes back for a moment)
Bollywood: You know, there is one… Abhay Deol. Who explores.
Hollywood: I know. Don’t let him drift. He’s doing good.
(Bollywood nods. Exits)
(Hollywood gets up. Stares into the crackling flames again. Smiles.)
Hollywood: Time to get to work.