ANAMIKA

'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reworking a Hit

I don't really write stories; but am about to attempt to recast the climax of a story that is fast becoming quite a hit in my part of the world - Kerala. As to why I am about to tweak a very successful narrative, I have no answer.

What follows has the names of all principal characters in the 'base story' changed. It proceeds in synopsis manner up to the climax and then, a film script style takes over.

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Johnnie is a regular nice guy. He earns a modest and contented living as a small town photographer. One day, he gets drawn - totally against his intent - into a street scrap and is humiliatingly beaten up by a chap he doesn’t even know. Smarting at the rude assault, Johnnie swears he is going to track down and get even with the bully.

A short while later, he falls in love with a smart young girl named Liz. After a bit of going around, she reveals to him that the fellow against whom Johnnie has sworn revenge is named Dan and he happens to be her own elder brother.

Liz pleads with Johnnie: “my bro is a ruffian. Please don’t get into fistfights with him. Let us simply let things be and be happy together!” Johnnie is far from mollified to hear that – indeed, he appears to be taking her entreaties as an affirmation of his relative physical frailty. Liz understands; she says with resignation: “These Men…, well!”

Long story short, Johnnie accosts Dan at a street corner and says matter of factly: “I am Johnnie, the guy you once thrashed the lights out of. Now I want to return the favor!” and off they go!

The totally rule-free fight soon has the two on the ground, caked with mud and in a terrible tangle. A tight knot of people gather and egg the two men on. Both are now desperate, neither wants to give up. Dan seems to be tightening a vicious hold on Johnnie’s throat and the latter has caught his enemy’s leg in an almighty grip and is twisting it for all he is worth.

The crowd roars in the background, a close up of Johnnie’s face, struggling for a breath of air and yet giving it his all. A briefer close up of Dan's face. He is in unbearable pain and is just about to give up...

Dip to black. It brightens to a vaguely lit hospital ward. Dan laid up with his dislocated leg heavily bandaged. Liz stands by, glumfaced. A smiling Johnnie enters. He has a few scratches on his face but is otherwise fine. He places a bag of fruits and biscuits beside the cot. Dan watches helplessly with great unease.

Johnnie: Look, I am not one for fisticuffs; am no fighter. But I desperately needed to win this one fight. Else I would have basically died... And in case you still don’t know, Liz and I are seeing each other. Hope you are fine with our getting married.

Dan looks at Johnnie, too flabbergasted to reply. Dip to black.

A shot of the fight in its decisive moments thru a forest of legs as the crowd closes in. Close-ups of the faces of both warriors showing extreme strain and pain. Finally, Dan puts up his hand and screams: “I give up. Lemme go! Let me GO!!” The crowd roars joyously and tries to pull them apart. Slowly it dips to black with several voices calling with excitement and then, with increasing despair: “Johnnie! Hey Johnnie! Johnnie!!!”

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Acknowledgements: My gratitude to the authors of the base story is massive. The process of reworking their work into a 'twilight zone' climax has renewed long forgotten contacts with two Hemingway masterpieces: "... Francis Macomber" and "Snows of Kilimanjaro". And even more touchingly, I was transported half a lifetime back to the story of ancient Olympic Champion Arrachion that I read in 'Olympics and its Heroes' by Melwille Demello.

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Another pattern matching exercise: Michelangelo's visualization of Jonah (Sistine chapel) and the sculptural figure of Spartan hero Leonidas, a detail from the Cavallotti monument in Milan by early 20th century sculptor Bazzaro. To make the similarity more convincing, I have mirror reflected Leonidas.

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