Log line :
The story of India’s murdering fraternity and the man who destroyed them, Colonel William Henry Sleeman.
Synopsis: Set during the British rule, a British officer stumbles upon the secret cult of Kali, the goddess of destruction, and the men who worshipped at her altar by killing hapless wayfarers and looting them. One such thug was Ferranghea who proudly claimed to have strangled 791 men, women and children. His capture sounded the death knell to the secret cult of thugs. Woven in this story is the love affair of Colonel Sleeman and his French wife, Amelie.
The story reveals the modus operandi of the thugs, their culture and their mind set. In the light of the situation prevailing currently when mass murder is acceptable in the name of religion this story is relevant today because it gives an insight into the mind set of the modern day thugs and the way to expunge them.
The screenplay is a bilingual, it is written in English and Hindi. There are two complete versions of the screenplay, one completely in Hindi and the completely in English. Of course, as is de regieur of multicultural works there is some overlapping of the two languages. l also have a shooting script which is different from this screenplay. Thugs is a period film set during the British raj ( 1830 onwards). The registration number in the Library of Congress is
Background: The British ruled India for nearly two hundred years. During their rule they brought about drastic changes in the lives of the Indian people. Their rule sowed the seeds of modernization. They brought a lot of changes.Even though the Indians were fighting for their freedom, they still can’t deny that whatever infrastructure today India has it’s due to their contribution and their way of administration. But all these aspects are not noticed as it has become customary to blame them for all their ills, in this process their good deeds are forgotten.
They eradicated Sati, the practise of burning widows at the funeral pyre of their husbands, and Thugee. In a common parlance, a thug is synonymous with a cheat, a cutthroat, a ruffian. In 19th century India, thugs were a class of professional thieves and assassins who used clever disguise and cunning to rob and kill people. Their gang operated virtually all over the country, even as far as south. But they were much more dominant in central and northern India.
Claiming a legendry origin, the thugs were drawn from both Hindu and Muslim ranks. They carried their trade invoking the the goddess Kali, Durga or Bhabani, who allegedly consecrated their operative weapons – a scarf, yellow or white in colour ( denoting their ranks in the gang ) which was used to strangle the victim and a pickaxe for digging his grave. While they carried their depredations over a wide area, there is no evidence to suggest that the Thugs had any central or even regional organization that was hierarchical, nor did they constitute a regional fraternity, much less a social order.
The widespread incidence of Thugee in the 19th century may be explained as a natural consequence of the anarchy or confusion prevailing in the preceding decades. The British tried hard to bring about efficiency in administration that was the result of the annexation of ‘native’ states by the British.
The modus operandi of the thugs was to disguise themselves as travelers, be-friend co-travelers, their prospective victims, and strangle them when off-guard. Their operation would extend over a number of days, the victims being hacked to pieces and buried. Their gangs operated during certain seasons, while masquerading as cultivators for the rest of the year.
The rich landlords and chiefs with whom they shared their booty usually patronized them. It is estimated that in the course of his career a thug, on an average, murdered 256 people. Other groups employed different methods such as Daturias and Megpannais.
Then a man came and he saw that this needed to change. He was William henry Sleeman. he was called Thuggee Sleeman. He was also shocked and shattered by the death of a girl whom he admired and had slowly fallen in love. When he found that it was Ferranghea who had murdered the girl and her father on their way to Banaras, he decides to take revenge. He thought this was social menace that had to go. So he went ahead with his plan and established a separate Thuggee and Dacoity Department. A real problem faced by it was the difficulty of securing convictions; to meet this lacuna, the law was amended in 1836, 1843 and 1851. Thuggee took a long time to die down. By 1840, 3689 of the clan had been tried; eight years later another 651 had been apprehended. By 1853 there had been reports of stray cases in the Punjab, for by then the evil had been virtually suppressed.
William Henry Sleeman, who was popularly known as Thuggee Sleeman was the person responsible for the eradication of thuggee from India. At Allahabad, on his way back from the Anglo- Nepalese war, he came across a document on Thuggee. From this point onwards he developed undivided interest on the subject. He also acquired during this period a good mastery over Hindi, Arabic and Persian. He was deported to serve in MP state. When he saw that the common people were not safe, he made a plan that he had to catch these thugs and make travel safer for the people.
Governor General Lord Bentinck promoted him and made him a captain and also the permission to deal with the thugs freely. He set up a cell and started the work. He was surprised that these killers didn’t leave a clue. He came to know that the landlords and the zamindars patronized these thugs. One such thug was Ferranghea who used to operate fearlessly and gave some part of the money to the rich landlord who guarded him. Sleeman started to investigate. The officials were not pleased with Sleeman’s interference. The district courts out of jurisdiction refused to help him.
During this a French girl called Amelie de Josephine falls in love with Sleeman.She is in awe of him. She had come to India from Mauritius. She had taken upon herself that she would slowly but steadily win him and she does succeed in winning his heart. They get married and settle down, but Amelie wanted to return to France. Sleeman promises that he will go only after finishing the work that he had taken upon himself. During his fight his enemies try every possible trick to get him out of their way.
They even send one of the thugs in disguise. He comes and tells Sleeman that he wanted to live a normal life. When Sleeman asks him how they operate and how they kill people, the ex- thug demonstrates the ways of their modus operandi. During this, he tries to kill him and Sleeman’s servant saves him and their plan is broken. After this incident Sleeman takes upon himself that he has to catch the thugs.
He starts tracking them down and also arrests the people that were supporting them. He makes it possible for the common people to travel fearlessly. At one point he captures Ferranghea and his team. He hangs all of them. And opens a school for their children and open up a way of living for their families.
Later he died during his journey to England.
– Researched and written by Bhagwan Shukla.
IN. TEMPLE OF KALI – MIDNIGHT
In a dimly lit sanctum, the stature of Goddess Black (Kali) with red tongue hanging out with a sword (khadag) in one hand and a human head with blood dripping in the other. There are about thirty thugs in the audience. The dress is Kutchi style with dhoti or aligarhi pajamas and kurtas without buttons (angrakhas). The people wear turbans of Tipu Sultan variety. The priest sits on a raised platform dressed in red silk dhoti wearing a similar wooden beaded necklace (rudraksh). A corpse lies on the pedestal.
A woman devotee dressed in white sits cross legged near the corpse. She sways with the eerie music with a spooky and scary background and atmosphere. She gets up, indulges in the dance macabre, and then sits down.
There are no other sounds (sound of owl screeching or ass braying or single jackal calling are considered inauspicious by the thugs) except for loud noise of drums (nagara) and then silence.
Oh mother, bless us so we could be
successful in what we are about to do. Oh mother, you are so powerful. Take away our worries.
It will be done. I need
Preparations are made for sacrificing a goat. The goat is sacrificed. The blood caste mark (tilak) is put on the foreheads of all the devotees. The devotees (Thugs) leave the temple.
EX. A ROAD THROUGH FOREST – DAY
There are a caravan of travelers on a road through forest. The caravan has four bullock carts for ladies and children and men on horses are armed with swords and spears. They are traveling from Surat to Benares. Two riders on horses ride ahead as scouts.
The passage of caravan is being carefully watched by two scouts of thugs. They look carefully at men, women, children, weapons, horses, and bullocks.
One of the bullock carts has a young, very pretty girl, ( Gauri ). With her sits an older woman ( Ma ). Opposite them is a little boy ( Sukhi ). The bullock cart is being driven by a middle aged man ( Babujee ). This is obviously a family. Gauri is dreaming, her eyes soft as she looks in the distance. The sound of laughter, that of a man and a woman, overlaps Gauri’s face.
EX. A SUGARCANE FIELD -DAY
Patne, a young, handsome man, holds Gauri’s ankle, as he slips on a thick brass anklet ( payal ) on it. Then he raises her feet to admire it even as Gauri smooths her skirt down.
Will you leave my foot !
No, No way. Once a girl’s hand is in
mine, there is no way I’m going to leave it, not in a life time.
Did I say leave my hand. I said let
go of my foot. Or else…
Or else ? Are you are going to hang
(putting her hand around his neck)
No, I will put a noose of my love around your neck, like this.
I hope it doesn’t happen that while you are putting the noose around my neck your Ma and Pa put another kind of noose around your neck and get you married.
Whenever you open your mouth it is
to say something gloomy.
My Ma and Pa are not like that.
They would give their life for me.
EX – A SMALL HUT- DAY
A resounding slap fills the air and we see Gauri standing with her hand on her cheek.
You whore, I send you to the fields
and you are having fun with that low caste Patne. Get away, I don’t even want to look at you. Go inside. If you as much as step out I will break your legs.
Gauri runs inside sobbing.
She came to tell you what is in her
heart and you beat her mercilessly. She’s young, if she does something crazy the whole village will spit on us.
I have a cure for that. I am going
to Surat to sell some stuff. You, Gauri and Sukhi, all of you, accompany me.
And this house, these fields, who
will look after them ?
Don’t worry about that. I will tell
Monu. If my brother is not there for me in difficult times, then he’s not a brother worth his salt.
We see Gauri hiding near the window listening conversation.
And tell his bride to fix Gauri’s
wedding with Mishir Panda’s boy. When I return after six months I am going to make sure that this wretch is wedded and sent off in her palanquin to her husband’s home. And we are well rid of her, I curse
the day she was born. (MORE)
The cheek of this wretch, to come and recount her love-story to her father.
(shaking her head)
To be born a woman is a curse. She Must have sinned in her previous life, that is why in this life she is born a woman.
(gives a deep sigh)
Well, we have this drum like a mill stone around our neck and we have to beat it , whether we like it or not.
EXT-A WINDING PATH IN FRONT OF THE HUT-DAY
From Patne’s P.O.V. we see bundles being loaded on a bullock cart even as Gauri sits with her mother and her little brother Sukhi in the cart. Her father stands by the cart talking to Moti, his brother.
I will see you after six months.
You talk to Mishir Panda about Gauri’s marriage. Everything should be organized by the time I come back . There should be no mistake in this and no delay.
There won’t be brother, don’t you
worry. Gauri is not only your daughter, she is like a daughter to me.
Babujee gets in the cart and makes clicking sounds to the bullock.
I touch your feet in reverence
BABUJEE Blessings . Be happy.
As the cart draws away, squeaking and swaying, Gauri’s eyes meet Patne’s. There are tears in both.
End of Flashback.
BACK TO PRESENT.
Gauri has tears in her eyes . The carts sway as they wend their way. The thugs look at each other, a message passes between their eyes.
EXT- CAMP OF THUGS – DAY
The scouts report to the chief (sardar).
SCOUTS 1 & 2
Hail to Ma Kali, Chief.
Hail to ma Kali? What news do you
Sir, twelve roosters, four hens,
two chicks, three bullock carts and six horseman. They are armed with spears and swords. They are all Hindu.
So are we. Hindus. Where should we
I think, near the Bairagiya stream.
And the plan, the same as before.
All the thugs change into pilgrim dress. They put on saffron clothes and put their belongings in open shoulder bags. Two of them have Ektaras (a single stringed wind instrument) on their shoulders. They have white or yellow scarves around their heads. The scarves denote their status. Yellow scarves denote gurus (teachers or heads) and white scarves, chelas (followers or students).
EXT. JUNGLE – DAY
Meeting of traveler’s scout with thugs.
THUG CHIEF Hail to Lord Rama.
TRAVELER SCOUT Hail. Who are you?
We are on a pilgrimage, sire. We
are from the village Bansukhiya. Where are you going?
TRAVELER SCOUT. The same
The thugs start singing a song in praise of God (bhajan). There are two lead singers and the others follow. The traveling scouts turn their horses and ride away.
EXT. CROSSING IN JUNGLE – DAY
The thugs and travelers meet at the crossing.
TRAVELER Where are you headed?
We are on a pilgrimage, my friend.
Our souls are burdened with many sins. The time has come to cleanse our sins. We will lay our heads on Shiva’s feet. Mother Ganges will wash away our sins.
How long will it take you to get to Benares?
THUG CHIEF About thirty days.
TRAVELER Where will you stay?
At Balkisun Panda’s place. He’s the
pundit from our village.
TRAVELER Where do you hail from?
Oh, same old, same old, Bansukhiya
village. Our village won’t change in a span of half hour.
All right then, lets move on.
It’s alright. You go ahead, we’ll
follow. It’s dusk now, anyway. We’ll set up camp.
The travelers move out. Reach the river front. Decide to halt for the night. Thugs also reach the same spot. Decide to halt some distance away.
EXT. CAMPS – NIGHT
Hectic activity in both camps. Camps are put up. Food is cooked and eaten.
INT. TENT – NIGHT
The travelers collect in a tent with two guards outside. Mehfil scene with drinks and a song by a lady at a party. OS they hear bhajan (devotional song) by the thugs.
Ah, what melody, what rhythm….
Their song, … it touches my heart. How well they sing. Let them join us.
Its not safe to hob nob with
They are unarmed , my good fellow .
Have you noticed ? They do not even have sticks to kill snakes. And we are armed to the teeth . How do you think they will harm us ?
Babujee goes to call them. Gauri, her mother and Sukhi are sitting away from the men folk. There is a sound of a jackal which startles her and she looks out of the tent. She sees a shadowy figure standing. It is Patne. Her eyes widen.
GAURI (To Ma)
Amma, I will be back. I have to go.
She makes a face as if she has to go to the bathroom. Her mother just nods her head. Gauri looks towards Sukhi who smiles and in low tones makes the sound of jackal calling. She looks at him with mock anger, gives a soft smile and goes out.
Gauri is walking stealthily when an arm reaches out and pulls her. Her scream is stifled by Patne’s hand. She looks at him and he slowly removes his hand from her mouth.
When I heard the jackal’s call I
knew it had to be you. What are you doing so far from home. If Babujee spots us he is going to strangle me.
There is nothing to worry about.
Your Babujee, in any case, will get you married to Misir Panda’s son. I won’t be able to see that.
So what will you do ?
At the next camp I want you to be
ready with your clothes. Next time you hear the call of the jackal then come to me.
They hear some noise.
It seems to me Babujee has come
back with those mendicants. I have to go.
She makes a move to go. Patne holds her hand.
Gauri, without you my life had lost
He pulls her towards him and embraces her. After a moment he pushes her away.
PATNE (CONT’D) Go now, don’t forget
Gauri smiles at him and turns to go.
INT.- TRAVELER’S TENT -NIGHT. Babujee comes with the thugs.
Ah, we are blessed. Come in, come
Thugs are cordially invited . Sixteen of them come . Four wait outside with guards and talk to them. Ten sit inside the tent . They are behind or near each male traveler. Four watch the women. Two keep their eyes on the door .
We heard your melodious song and
couldn’t resist inviting you to join us.
The blessings of Lord Siva is with
Reception formalities are observed . The thugs politely refuse drinks and eat only paan ( leaf with betelnut and tobacco )Thugs start singing Bhajan ( devotional song ) Suddenly the thug singer shouts .
THUG SINGER. Tambaku lao
(English translation) Bring the tobacco !!
I/E -TRAVELER’S TENT /SAME TIME
Gauri who has almost reached the tent hears the voice and the scuffle. She starts running. She reaches the tent just in time to see the thugs who are in the process of murdering all the travellers. Out come the scarves .There is a coin attached to each end. They are whipped around the neck of all the travelers including women and children. Gauri screams. Patne hears her scream and starts running towards the camp. Gauri is screaming. The thugs look at her. She turns to run. One of the thugs leaps out and catches her. The other thugs follow. The thug is going to squeeze her neck.
THUG CHIEF Stop.
The thug stops. The thug chief strides towards them and gives the screaming Gauri a resounding slap. She stops screaming.
THUG CHIEF (CONT’D) There is no point in screaming now,understand. You want to live, you have a choice. Marry me and you will live.
Gauri screams and pushes him away.
No ,no. Murderer. You killed Ma and
She looks at Sukhi and goes berserk, screaming. The thug chief tries to stop her by holding her shoulders and shaking her but she pushes him and runs and is overpowered by another thug. Patne reaches the spot at this time just in time to see a thug throw a hand kerchief around her throat and strangle her. Gauri’s eyes are looking at him even as she dies and Patne faints.
EXT / A LESS DENSE PART OF THE JUNGLE / DAY
Thugs traveling as business men run into Capt. William Henry Sleeman’s posse of fifteen riders with Capt. Sleeman in the the lead.
CAPT .SLEEMAN Who are You ?
We are business men returning from
Surat. We have our depot in Surat. We just sold our goods in Benares.
We will have to search your goods .
You are welcome to. Please go
In the search women and children’ clothes are found. The thugs are arrested.
We are men with families. We just
bought these clothes for our kids.
Tell that to the Judge.
I/E- COURT – DAY
Thugs are produced before a magistrate .
There is no concrete evidence of
any wrong doing on the part of the miscreants. No one has come forward to claim the clothes. So I order them to be released.
(to an officer sitting
next to him)
It’s unfortunate, they slipped through. There was no witness. They are definitely rogues.
Sleeman is on horseback with his posse. He looks suspiciously at the thugs, all of whom bow obsequiously to him.
Sleeman turns his horse and gallops away in a cloud of dust.
IN – MESS- NERBUDDA CLUB – JABBALPORE – NIGHT
Mess is lit with candles in chandeliers. English officers saunter in mess kits. Dresses vary with different units. Ladies in crinoline hooped skirts. A Gurkha band in attendance . A gaming table in the corner. Ladies sit in a corner.Talk is of Thugs,rajah.
I hear the Raja of Orcha plans to
have a huge ceremony to marry the stone to the shrub.
The tulsi to the shaligram, my Good
man. It is a religious thing.
LT. JOHNSON Bloody natives.
It is best not to make comments
about things which you do not know about.
Enter a pretty girl . Amélie Josephine Blandin de Chalain de Fontenne
Sleeman sees her and falls in love with her at first sight .
CAPT. SLEEMAN Now who could that be ?
LT. JOHNSON Wouldn’t you like to know.
Capt. Sleeman looks quizzically at him.
LT. JOHNSON (CONT’D) So would I.
On the other side of the room sits Amelie with her chaperone, Mrs. Bancroft. Amelie has noticed Capt. Sleeman looking at her and Mrs. Bancroft has noticed Amelie’s interest.
It does not behove a young lady of
good breeding of an illustrious family of Comte de Fontenne to be staring at any gentleman so pointedly. Decorum, young lady, decorum and restraint.
AMELIE (looking down)
But as soon as Mrs. Bancroft leans away to talk to another friend she looks towards Capt. Sleeman who glances towards her even as Major Augustin joins them.
So why are you gentlemen hanging
around. We invite the ladies to the mess so that the gentlemen will talk to them. I see so many of the pretty girls getting bored. Come I will introduce you to some .
He leads them to Miss Amelie and Mrs Bancroft. Mrs. Bancroft and Amelie notice the gentleman coming towards them. Amelie shifts with excitement. Mrs. Bancroft holds her wrist tightly.
Now, young lady, restrain yourself.
No unseemly excitement. Be like the lady your illustrious family of Comte. Blondin De Fontenne raised you to be. Decorum Amelie, decorum and restraint.
AMELIE Yes, madam.
The gentlemen reach them.
Mrs Bancroft , may I present Capt.
Sleeman and Mr. Johnson. And who may be the pretty lady whom I haven’t had the honour to meet ?
MRS . BANCROFT This is Amelie Josephine de
Fontenne. She is French, from Mauritius .
(get up and curtsies)
Bon Jour Monsieur .
MRS BANCROFT She knows no English.
That should be no handicap . These
gentlemen will soon learn French.
CAPT. SLEEMAN I know French .
I will learn soon but, please
Mademosielle, excuse me tonight
He bows. Amelie gives him a sweet smile. Here the conversation between Amelie and Sleeman can be in French for sometime. Amelie laughs at Sleeman’s atrocious French even as Mrs. Bancroft glares at her. Sleeman laughs at Amelie’s attempt to speak English.
Ah let us strike a bargain . You
teach me French and I will teach you English.
A funny interlude can be most improper English from Amelie and atrocious French from Capt. Sleeman.
So you’re interested in sugar cane.
Yes, I have brought some from Tahiti. Shall we go and see the fields tomorrow, say 8 in the morning. We will ride together to the fields.
Buglers announce the arrival of Governor General William Cavendish Bentick. Walks in Lord Bentick, sees Capt. Sleeman who clicks his heels and gives a short bow to Lord Bentick.
SLEEMAN (to Amelie)
Excuse me, Mademoiselle. I must meet Lord Bentick to discuss a very urgent matter. But please do reserve a dance with me.
(smiling and sitting down)
Oh, most certainly Capt. Sleeman. I will look forward to it.
Sleeman bows and moves to Lord Bentick
Well, sir , what have you been
keeping yourself busy with ?
Nothing in particular, My Lord. I
met some very interesting men who, I suspect, to be thugs.
Good Lord . How are you alive then ?
I said, suspect to be Thugs, sir.
But we have no proof.
Most interesting indeed. There have
been persistent representations from Bhadralok (gentlemen) from Calcutta to eradicate this menace. Come and see me this time in the afternoon tomorrow.
Lord Bentick moves on. Sleeman turns towards Amelie again. He is walking towards her and Mrs. Bancroft. She holds Amelie’s wrist in a way that it can not be seen by others.
It seems to me he is as enamoured
of you as you of him. But I expect you to conduct yourself with propriety and decorum. Unseemly haste is unbecoming of a lady of breeding from the family of Comte Blondin De Fontenne.
AMELIE Yes, Madam.
CAPT. SLEEMAN Mademoiselle, may I have the honour
of this dance with you ?
Mrs. Bancroft is holding onto Amelie’s wrist and smiles at Amelie willing her to refuse.
Oui, Monsieur. It will be pleasure.
She makes a move to get up and Mrs. Bancroft has no option but to release her wrist. Capt. Sleeman sweeps her away in his arms in an old fashioned waltz even as Mrs. Bancroft glares. Scene fades out leaving the couple in a swirl of dance.
INT – AMELIE’S BEDROOM- NIGHT
Amelie is being helped by an Indian maid to slip on her night dress. The maid buttons her and then slips on a Muslin bonnet. The dress she wore to the dance lies in a large heap on the bed. Mrs. Bancroft sits upright on a chair. Amelie listen to her with her eyes cast down.
I have never seen such disgraceful
behavior in my life ! What will I tell your father, the Comte Blondin de Fontenne. All the lessons of decorum and restraint went flying out of the window when you set your eyes on Capt. Sleeman. A most unsuitable man for you, he is 40 if he is a day and you a young chit of 18. This is insupportable.
Amelie turns around, her back to Mrs. Bancroft and faces the maid who is down in the floor taking out Amelie’s dainty slippers. The maid looks up at Amelie who makes a moue and a horrible face. The maid giggles. Amelie turns around to face Mrs. Bancroft, looking contrite.
MRS. BANCROFT (CONT’D) I think Lt. Johnson is much closer
to your age. And a very agreeable and personable gentleman. I forbid you to keep your tryst with Capt. Sleeman in the morning. Shanti will tell him you have the migraine. Is that understood ?
She turns around, her back to Mrs. Bancroft as Shanti ties the strings of her bonnet under Amelie’s chin.
No buts. I expect you to transport
yourself with the decorum and manner befitting an English lady.
AMELIE (under her breath)
But I am French.
She looks at the maid and waggles her eyebrows and rolls her eyes. The maid giggles.
MRS. BANCROFT (sternly to the maid,
trying to speak Hindi) Shanti, no hee hee. No Hans (Laugh). Jao ( go now ) Morning, six.
(holds up her fingers and counts). One , two, three, four, five, six.
Shanti holds the edge of her sari between her teeth and nods her head vigorously and runs out giggling.
MRS. BANCROFT (CONT’D) (sighs impatiently)
These native women.
She looks at Amelie, tucked in bed, making a pretty picture as curls escape her bonnet. Her eyes soften
MRS. BANCROFT (CONT’D) Amelie, you are from a noble family
of France. And I expect you to conduct yourself in a way which will bring honour to the family of Comte. Blondin de Fontenne Good night ,my dear.
She dims the light and goes out. Amelie sighs.
AMELIE (whispers to herself)
Capt. Sleeman. Her eyes close.
IN – AMELIE’S BEDROOM- MORNING
Mrs. Bancroft looks shocked as she looks at Amelie’s rumpled empty bed. Behind her Shanti giggles and Mrs. Bancroft glares at her. A breeze flutters the sheer curtains and she looks out to see, far off in the distance, Amelie on a horse, galloping away.
EXT.- SUGARCANE FIELDS- DAY
Capt. Sleeman watches as Amelie, sitting side- saddle on a horse, gallops towards him. She reins in her horse near him, her face flushed and pretty. Capt. Sleeman doffs his hat to her.
A very top of the morning to you,
Mademoiselle Amelie de Fontenne. Thank you for being here
Call me Amelie, s’il vous plait, if
you please. I would not have missed this rendezvous for anything.
Sleeman moves his horses towards the field and Amelie moves along with him on her horse.
Merci beaucoup, I am honoured. And
how is the formidable Mrs. Bancroft.
Amelie dimples at him.
Ah ! Mrs. Bancroft. Tres bien but
very, how should I put it, very
She pauses, wrinkling her nose, searching for a word.
SLEEMAN Annoyed ?
Oui. Annoyed. You see, Amelie does
not behave as a proper English lady should, no decorum, no restraint. She flies to meet the unsuitable Capt. Sleeman.
Sleeman laughs. He gets off the horse and helps her to dismount.
SLEEMAN (looks down at her)
It seems to me I have got you in trouble with the formidable Mrs. Bancroft.
Non, non. Amelie has no restraint,
no decorum. Amelie does not behave like a proper English lady. Because Amelie is French. Amelie’s blood is rouge. And
(she slips her hand into his)
Amelie likes the unsuitable Captain Sleeman.
Sleeman laughs and they started walking towards the field. Unknown to them a pair of eyes are looking at them intently as they approach the field talking and laughing.
(bending the stalk of a
See, Amelie, the Indian variety of sugarcane is very hardy and strong.
(her eyes twinkling)
Ah, but Monsieur, the Mauritius variety is sweeter.
When I met your father in Mauritius
I never got a chance to taste it.
AMELIE (tongue in cheek)
Maybe you went in the wrong season when it was still a plant. You have to wait till it is mature, n’est-ce pas.
Sleeman laughs. The eyes watching the couple widen as it spots a snake. There is a rustle and Sleeman grabs Amelie’s arm.
SLEEMAN Watch out, a snake.
Amelie gives a scream and clutches Sleeman. They both watch the snake slither away. Sleeman draws Amelie towards himself and they kiss. The eyes are watching. Amelie draws away when they hear the voice of her maid, Shanti.
Mem sahib, Mem sahib. Aap ko Madame
Mem sahib, Mem sahib. Madame is calling you.
Amelie rolls her eyes heavenwards. And Sleeman laughs.
I think I better escort you home to
save you the tongue lashing you are bound to get.
He helps her on her horse. Amelie looks at him and smiles
Bon, and I have the perfect
solution to save me.
Sleeman looks at her enquiringly.
You can ask for my hand in
Mrs Bancroft was right. No decorum, no restraint.
Sleeman laughs and mounts his horse.
I like you this way. Come, let us
go and face the dragon together.
Amelie kicks her horse gently on the side and they both gallop away, raising a cloud of dust. We can see the back of a man’s head watching them go and then the man rises and we see the two figures galloping away from his point of view.
INT.- AMELIE’S DRAWING ROOM -A LITTLE WHILE LATER
Amelie is siting in a high-backed chair, hands folded in her lap, eyes down, trying to look contrite as Mrs. Bancroft looks at her with pursed lips. Sleeman stands near the window trying to look serious.
Well, I never in my entire life,
faced such disobedience. What am I going to tell your father, Comte Blondin de Fontenne.
I am sorry, Mrs Bancroft.
MRS. BANCROFT (to Sleeman)
Capt. Sleeman, Amelie is but a child,
MRS. BANCROFT (holding up her finger
But you, as a responsible and mature officer of the British army would be expected to stay within the norms of acceptable behavior, particularly when dealing with someone as young, and may I add, and of a impetuous disposition as that of Amelie de Fontenne. A girl’s reputation is no trifling matter, Capt. Sleeman.
My intentions are strictly
honorable, Mrs Bancroft. (beat)
I would like to ask the hand of Amelie de Fontenne in holy matrimony.
Mrs. Bancroft’s expression is ludicrous and her jaw drops even as Amelie smiles and claps.
Bravo, Capt. Sleeman, bravo.
She quickly changes her expression to a serious one as Mrs. Bancroft glares at her.
Do I have your permission to court
her till a suitable date is fixed for the wedding ?
MRS. BANCROFT (raising her shoulders
I can’t see any possible objection to that. But, I have to ask the Comte. before any announcement.
Absolutely. Though I know Amelie’s
father and I am sure he would have no possible objection to this alliance.
He bows to both of them.
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) I will take your leave, Mrs.
Bancroft. Mademoiselle Amelie. Amelie smiles at him.
MRS. BANCROFT (graciously)
You may leave him to the door Amelie.
Amelie walks to the door and watches as Sleeman mounts his horse. He smiles at her and she smiles back and winks. He laughs.
SLEEMAN Au revoir Amelie.
He gallops away. Amelie walks in towards Mrs. Bancroft.
MRS. BANCROFT (looking at Sleeman
Well, he certainly has excellent manners.
And most personable.
EXT.-SUGARCANE FIELDS- A LITTLE LATER.
Sleeman is galloping near the sugarcane fields when the same man whose eyes had been watching Sleeman and Amelie suddenly moves through the fields and stands in front of Sleeman’s horse. The horse rears up and Sleeman controls it and looks up to see Patne.
What is the meaning of this. You
frightened the horse.
I am sorry , sir. But I have a
matter of great importance to convey to you, but in private.
First, you need to tell me who are
PATNE Sir, I am a thug.
Sleeman looks astonished.
You are very brave. Telling a
British officer you are a thug.
I was not always a thug,
circumstances made me one.
That’s what they all say. It seems to me they have gypped you of your share …hmmm.
No, it is not like that , sir.
Please listen to my story and then make a decision.
Patne sits on his haunches and his eyes look distance.
PATNE (CONT’D) (V.O.) The evil eye destroyed our life,
Gauris’ and mine. And the thugs strangled my love.
into the DISSOLVE TO:
His words overlap scenes of Gauri putting her arms around Patne’s neck, Gauri’s father slapping her as Patne looks, Gauri going away in the bullock cart, Gauri meeting Patne in the jungle, Patne watching Gauri being strangled. BLACK. Patne is crying and Sleeman looks at him sympathetically.
SLEEMAN (dismounting from his
I’m sorry. But what was the need to become a thug.
When I saw Gauri’s murder the world
went black. (MORE)
PATNE (V.O.) (CONT’D) When my eyes opened I saw an old
man splashing water on my face.
Patne’s eyes open to see a kindly old man splashing water on his face. He tries to get up
BABA Rest, my son.
PATNE (looking around)
He looks around. The jungle is silent except for the sound of few birds. Tears fall from his eyes.
Don’t weep, my son. Close by, near
the banyan tree is my hut. Eat something, you’ll gain strength.
The old man helps Patne to get up and they start walking. They reach a hut where the old man’s daughter is making rotis on a tawa ( tortillas on a griddle ) over an open fire. Close by sits her son, seven years of age, an open faced, cheery boy. They watch curiously as the old man helps Patne to walk and then to sit down with a rock as his back rest. Close by is a stream which can’t be seen but one can hear the splashing sound of the water falling on rocks.
BABA (CONT’D) (to his daughter)
Muniya, one roti for the guest, please.
The daughter gives a despairing look at the meagre dough.
MUNIYA Yes, baba
On a broken alumunium plate she places a roti and some green chutney and an onion and hands it over to Patne.
One is not enough for a young lad.
Give him one more. As it is my stomach is upset, a little warm water will help.
He says this even as Gauri looks pleadingly at him. Patne, who is busy devouring the roti (tortilla) sees this.
PATNE Baba, itna bahut hai.
(English translation) Baba, this is enough.
Enough ? We do not believe in
sending our guests home with a half empty belly.
And that old man went hungry to
fill my stomach.
We overlap his voice over a visual of Patne eating while the old man looks on with a gentle smile. His daughter looks on with her chin cupped in her palm. The little boy eats too.
BACK TO PRESENT.
All that is fine. But what is the
connection between this and your becoming a thug and then coming to me?
There is, sir. You have been so
patient so far, just bear with me a little more.
PATNE (V.O.) (CONT’D) The old man, not content with
giving me his meal and going hungry, also gave me his new blanket to use, while he shivered in the cold winter air.
Patne’s voice overlaps on a visual of the old man shivering in the cold while Patne lies with a blanket covering him.
PATNE (V.O.) (CONT’D) The old man’s kindness and concern
touched me so much that for a moment I wanted to stay back and make them my family but I had to find Gauri’s murderers so I left.
Patne’s voice overlaps on a visual of Patne embracing the old man and waving farewell to his daughter and her son and walking away on a path through the jungle.
PATNE (V.O.) (CONT’D) I started walking and reached a village where in a fair, I spotted one of the thugs from the gang.
Patne’s voice overlaps the action sequence of the dialogue. A village fair, spotting the thug who is mingling with the villagers with insouciance, laughing and slapping their back.
PATNE (V.O.) (CONT’D) As I walked towards him I thought to myself, how do I befriend him ?
Visual of Patne walking towards the thug.
PATNE (V.O.) (CONT’D) And then, there was an incident, I
know not what to call it, fate, providence ?
We see the previous voice over a tight shot of Patne’s eyes widening as he sees Sleeman with a posse of soldiers arriving at the fair and accosting the thug.
Hey you, come here.
THUG CHIEF (folding his hands)
Yes, your honor.
SLEEMAN What is your name ?
THUG. Khaderu, your worship.
Where is the rest of your gang ?
Please, please sir. We are poor people. I do not belong to any gang.
Don’t play the innocent with me,
you rogue. I know your type well. I
will see you hang. (MORE)
You have made life a living hell
for law abiding citizens.
Sleeman turns his horse and rides away as Khaderu glares at him , his expression ferocious.
BACK TO PRESENT.
I remember. I had caught them and
dragged the entire lot to the court but there was no witness. People are terrified. Bloody rogues.
Yes, people are terrified of them
and they of you. After you left I followed him and reached where his friends were gathered, just behind Bhowani’s temple.
Visual of Patne watching the thugs collected behind the temple and Khaderu gesticulating.
BACK TO PRESENT.
I told them that I had seen what
happened in the fair and that is why I had followed Khaderu till their place. That I used to work as a servant in your household. That you had accused me of stealing and beaten me and thrown me out. And now my only desire in life was to take revenge.
Simple, but effective.
Yes, but they don’t know that my
desire for revenge is from them, not you. If they ever come to know….
All right, tell me, when these guys
kill they do not leave a trace , no blood , nothing . How is that?
They do not use swords and spears.
Only their hands. Look at this, this is a handkerchief,there is coin tied to its one end. If you search them you will only find this. How can you incriminate them with this. It is no crime to have this, everyone ties their coins in handkerchiefs. Now, let me show you their trick. With your permission ?
The man goes behind Sleeman, flicks the hanky around Sleeman’s neck and tightens. Sleeman frees himself an kicks him in the shins .
Don’t show this trick again, fellow.
(grabbing the man and holding him in a vice like grip)
First things first . I think the safest place for you is the jail, safe for all of us at least.
Think about it, sir. There is no
better way to catch Ferranghea than through me.
LT. JOHNSON (O.S.) Capt. Sleeman. Capt. Sleeman.
We see Johnson and then from his P.O.V. we see only Sleeman’s horse. Sleeman, who is hidden by the sugarcane releases Patne from his grip.
All right, come to the office
(diving in the bushes)
Not in the office, sir. Ferranghea’s spies are everywhere. I will keep you informed.
He disappears in the field, just as Johnson reaches.
LT. JOHNSON (panting)
Captain Sleeman. Lord Bentick is here on an unexpected chukker. He wants to see you. Make haste, man.
He looks around.
LT. JOHNSON (CONT’D)
What are you doing alone in these
fields? A little bird told me that you had a rendezvous with another pretty bird. But you seem to be alone.
The pretty little bird has flown away. Leaving the not so handsome buzzard quite alone.
He starts walking towards the horse.
Don’t be modest, Sleeman. You are
in good favor with the ladies.
SLEEMAN (mounting his horse)
I was talking about you, not myself.
He kicks the horse and gallops away, leaving Johnson gaping in a cloud of dust.
INT. SLEEMAN’S OFFICE-DAY
Lord Bentick turns around when Sleeman walks in and salutes him. Major Augustin stands near him. A doorman ( chobdar) stands near the door.
God save the Queen, Sir.
God save the Queen, Capt. Sleeman.
What is this I hear, you had captured a party of travellers under the impression that they were thugs.
I am sure they were, your Honour.
We just had no proof. But, we may soon have that too if my source is to be believed.
We should go for their leaders,
especially the most dreaded of them all, Ferranghea. He is a holy terror.
Lord Bentick looks enquiringly at him.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN (V.O.) (CONT’D) The Zamindar of Narsinghpore had not paid land rent of RS 15000 for 6 years.So the troop jacked his house. In the house there was a guest lady who on the same day gave birth to a son, Ferranghea. He is the most dreaded Thug leader. No one has seen him. He works through agents.
Major Augustin’s dialogue overlaps over visual of British troops surrounding Zamindar Of Narsinghpur’s house while, in the house, a lady gives birth to a baby. A pair of hands hold up the baby.
He gave the British troops the slip
once, this time we have to catch him.
He works through agents. He has an
excellent spy system. I wouldn’t be surprised if what we are talking gets to him in a few days.
BENTICK/MAJOR AUGUSTIN (together)
EXT.- BEHIND BHOWANI’S TEMPLE-NIGHT.
We see the doorman of Sleeman’s office talking to the thug chief- Ferranghea. There is a bonfire burning. Some thugs are smoking the hookah. Patne fills a hookah, gives it to the old man and sits near him. The old man has blood shot eyes.
The company is getting vigilant.
Your name was mentioned two three times.
FERRANGHEA (getting annoyed)
That benchut (f— ) Sleeman. We’ll have to get rid of him.
That Bentick was also jumping in
The days of thuggee are over. You
all have ruined a hundred year old tradition. If you do not follow the path shown by Bhowani then this is what happens. Now you have begun killing women and children.
The days of Thuggee are not over,
Sleeman’s days are over. (to Patne)
Hey you, Patne, what happened to all your big talk about taking revenge from Sleeman. You joined our gang with the idea of killing Sleeman. And what have you done so far?
So far, I have filled tobacco in
the pipe, washed clothes, cooked meals. You allowed me to join the gang, showed me the trick of the handkerchief, but never took me along for any of your raids. Come on man, you need a stout heart to kill a man, not just tricks with piece of cloth. And to kill one like Sleeman, it is not a joke.
He speaks the truth.
(a Muslim thug)
Let’s take him with us, teach him the ropes.
We have to do the ceremony first.
Who was his guru ?
I taught him the trick with the
All right, let’s prepare for the
ceremony. Then, some fun and games. That Sleeman, M..F.., has blown my brains.
EXT.- BEHIND BHOWANI’S TEMPLE-A LITTLE LATER.
All the thugs are gathered in a semi-circle. The sacred pick- axe is placed on the ground, next to it is a pile of raw sugar.
Hail to Ma Kali. Mother look on us
with favor. We are about to set off on a mission in your service, protect us and show us the way. May all obstacles be removed so that we may get what we desire.
The old man sprinkles some water around the pick-axe.
OLD MAN (CONT’D) (shouts)
Jai Kali Ma..
ALL THE THUGS (shout)
Jai Kali Ma.
There is silence for a few minutes, then an ass brays from one direction, then another from the opposite. The thugs cheer.
DRIGPAL. (to Patne)
That is a good omen.
All the Thugs take some sugar in the palm of their hand and fling it in their open mouth. Patne does the same.
Now you have taken the pure sweet.
From now on your thirst will only be quenched with human blood.
We will leave for our mission after
four days. Till then Patne you will eat simple, wear simple clothes, sleep on the floor and will touch no woman. But before that one celebration.
EXT.- BEHIND BHOWANI’S TEMPLE-A LITTLE LATER.
JUMP CUT TO:
All the thugs are seated around the fire, drinking and singing.
MANY THUGS (singing with dholak- a
Bairagiya nala zulam zor . Jahan base hain teen chor . Jab tabla baje dhin dhin. Tab ek ek par teen teen .
Hell and Fury at the Bairagya stream , Three thieves live there and dream.
When the drums beat , one two three.
They all fall on one and he gets creamed.
Sound of laughter and excited talk. Patne looks at them with hate in his eyes.
GAURI’S MURDER BY KHADERU.
JUMP CUT TO:
Tears come into Patne’s eyes.
INT.- CHRISTCHURCH, JUBBALPORE- DAY There are tears of joy in Amelie’s eyes.
You may kiss the bride.
Sleeman lifts Amelie’s veil and as he gives a chaste peck on her cheek says
We are in the presence of many
Indians. For the time being this will have to suffice.
The guests clap. Sleeman and Amelie are getting married in the presence of all the English officers and ladies as well as some Hindu princes including the Raja of Orcha. Sleeman and Amelie walk down the aisle. The officers shake Sleeman’s hand and congratulate him and the ladies kiss Amelie. Mrs Bancroft hugs Amelie as she weeps copiously.
Oh, child. I will miss you.
AMELIE (comforting her)
Please don’t cry Mrs. Bancroft. I am just around the corner and will visit you every single day, if I can.
No, no. Your duty is now by your
husband and I wish you get all the happiness in the world.
(with a small smile)
I already have that , married as I am to mon cherie, William. I could want no more, except, maybe, to give him a son.
MRS. BANCROFT (looking shocked)
Amelie. Remember what I told you.
I know, I know, Mrs. Bancroft.
Decorum and restraint. (looking at Sleeman)
But it is very difficult to do that when you have got what you have desired for many lifetimes.
MRS. BANCROFT (more shocked)
Many life times. That is blasphemous. It seems to me that the Oriental culture is influencing you unduly. As the wife of an Englishman it does not behove you to talk native. Sleeman will not approve.
Ah, Mrs Bancroft , but I am French.
And William knows that the French are licensed to be exotic.
Amelie sees that Sleeman is looking towards her.
But, look, my husband calls. As a
dutiful wife I must obey him. (smiles at Mrs, Bancroft)
Do not worry Mrs Bancroft. I will not let you down. I will be a good Christian you will see.
Amelie sweeps away and clasps the arm that Sleeman is holding out to her and they both sweep out of the church.
EXT. LAWNS OF THE MESS-DAY-EVENING
The lawns are groaning with buffet tables, The ladies are in white and fanning themselves. The gentlemen are in full military regalia. The Raja of Orcha is in his finery and talks to Sleeman and Amelie.
My heartiest congratulations to
both of you. (MORE)
And I would like to extend a warm
welcome to both of you at my humble abode for the wedding of the tulsi with the shaligram in my kingdom
Amelie looks enquiringly at Sleeman.
It is a festival of great religious
significance among the Hindus. The tulsi is symbolic of Goddess Sita and the shaligram of Lord Vishnu. Am I right Raja Sahib ?
As always Captain Sleeman. You take
the trouble to study a culture which is foreign to you without any harsh thoughts to belittle it. History will remember men such as you and not only those who seek to conquer and exploit.
You are fortunate to be married to such a good man, Madame Amelie.
I know, Rajah sahib.
SLEEMAN (holding her hand)
Likewise, my dear.
Well, please remember my invitation
and do me the honor of your presence in my humble state.
Thank you Raja sahib, you are most
I will take your leave now.
He bows to both of them and walks away.
He didn’t eat anything.
The Rajah doesn’t eat anything
cooked by anyone other than by his
personal cooks. (MORE)
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) It is a caste thing. We are
considered low caste, you know, I think, the word they use in private is “melech” or defiled.
Yes, that does come as a shock to those of us who consider ourselves a cut above the natives.
(looking at Mrs. Bancroft) Don’t tell Mrs. Bancroft, she will be mortified.
Mrs Bancroft, sees them looking at her, waves and gives a superior smile. Amelie laughs happily. Sleeman looks at her lovingly.
I can not wait to make you mine.
Amelie drops her eyes and blushes.
INT.-SLEEMAN’S BEDROOM -NIGHT
Int / Bedroom / Night
Enter Capt. Sleeman and Amelie in the bridal chamber .
Thank God it is all over and you
are mine .
I am so happy . How I wish we could
go away to France .
By and by.
Your uniform intrigues me. What do
you wear underneath?
I will show you .
He takes off his boots.
Good God they are so heavy .
Sleeman takes off his coat with the medals jingling. Amelie tries it and stoops with mock gesture of being crushed under its weight .
Before I go any further I would
like to see how you look so puffed up.
Amelie takes off layers after layer of clothes. Sleeman gapes at her .
I have a feeling you are not there
at all. Or, maybe, a cat may jump out of you somewhere, sometime .
Ultimately Amelie stands in Bodice and split bloomers .
At long last . You are all so
practical and the gates of heaven are always open .
Capt. Sleeman takes the hand of Amelie and lifts her to the bed.
EXT.- BEHIND BHOWANI’S TEMPLE-NIGHT.
The thugs are gathered under a tree except for Drigpal and Kosari
So it is final. We’ll leave for
Murena village in three days. There is a wedding party on its way from Kundalee. The lughas have already dug the graves in our old place. That is where all the bodies will be buried.
It’s your first, so look and learn.
(he looks around)
And where are Drigpal and Kosari? It’s a wedding party, we need the enticers.
They were bored so they went for a
It’s a wedding party, what are you
going to do with the bride
The same what we do with the
Well, you are done for then. You
have started going against the wishes of the mother. This is the beginning of the end of thuggee.
FERRANGHEA Quiet, old man.
(shrugging his shoulders)
The zamindar of Narsinghpur has an insatiable appetite and we have to fill his coffers no matter what and he doesn’t care how we do it.
Kosari and Drigpal walk in. Kosari has a bundle in his hand.
FERRANGHEA (CONT’D) Where were you guys. We have to leave in three days and you are
I thought let’s get some practise before leaving.
But we didn’t get anything. Just a
waste of time.
KOSARI (opening the bundle)
This new blanket will serve us well in the winters.
Patne gets a flash of the old man and his blanket.
For this cheap blanket how many lost their lives?
We mixed so much of that poisonous
dhatura in the flour that an army could not survive so, I doubt if there are any chances for the old man, his daughter and that little boy. Curtains for all three.
All the thugs laugh and Patne looks agitated. He gets up.
Where are you off to brother. Hang
around a bit, we have many things to discuss.
Patne sits down reluctantly.
First learn the call of the jhirni.
He makes the sound of the wild beast calling.
This is the sound of the thugs to
warn each other of their presence.
He makes the sound and looks at Patne to repeat it. Patne repeats it but its obvious he is agitated.
PATNE (To Ferranghea)
Chief, please give me permission to leave. I have an upset stomach. There is a fellow who gives medicine in the village I will get some stuff that will help me.
I know who you mean, Dinanath,
Patne nods his head
FERRANGHEA (CONT’D) As long as the stuff does not
All the thugs laugh.
You have to eat simple, only then
will Ma Kali bless us.
Patne nods and leaves swiftly.
KHADERU (to Ferranaghea)
His stomach was fine till a moment ago, whatever happened to it suddenly?
As the time nears he is getting the
shivers. I hope he doesn’t shit in his pants on the day.
All the thugs laugh
This is thuggee, not a joke. You need a stout heart for it. Now we’ll come to know how deep run the waters. That M.F..
He spits on the ground.
Patne is running though the jungle till he comes to the old man’s hut. He sees that the daughter and her son lying dead but no sign of the old man. Next to them are the remains of the meal. He runs around trying to find him and finally follows the sound of the water. He finds the old man lying face down in the water. He drags him out and tries to revive him. Then he lifts him and places him on the shoulder and runs.
INT.- MEDICINE MAN’S ( DINANATH’S) HUT- NIGHT
The old man lies on a charpoy ( a bed ) while Patne wipes his forehead and tries to fan him with his white scarf.
It’s good you brought him right
away and saved his life. He should be walking by tomorrow.
Patne takes out some money and holds it out to him.
Please do me this favor. Please
keep him with you and send him off. I will pay whatever it costs. I have some urgent work.
DINANATH All right.
(looking at his white scarf)
I know what urgent work you have. Well, it’s God’s will.
Patne leaves and halts at the door and looks at Dinanath.
Don’t draw any hasty conclusions
about me. I am also God’s will. He leaves hastily.
INT.- SLEEMNAN’S DRAWING ROOM – DAY Amelie and Mrs. Bancroft are having tea.
So Shanti is getting married. Isn’t
she a little young to be getting married.
According to native custom she is
old. She is fifteen now and, according to her mother, she would like to have got her married by eight.
I would like to give her a little
something, she served me well. Excuse, moi.
She gets up and comes back a little later with a pretty pair of gold ear rings with a unique design which she gives to Mrs. Bancroft.
Please give her this as a wedding
MRS. BANCROFT (looking at it)
Charming. You are too generous, Amelie.
A trifle, pray do not make much of
it Mrs Bancroft.
Sleeman is seen arriving on horseback . He is holding a cage with a canary in it.
Ah, your dear husband. Looks like
he has a gift for you too. I better leave.
She gets up as Sleeman strides in with the cage and bird.
Good evening, Mrs Bancroft. How
nice of you to keep Amelie company.
MRS. BANCROFT (dryly)
Well, ever since the dear child has left me it is I who have been in need of company. But I must be off. I will leave the happy couple to enjoy their togetherness.
Do come soon again , Mrs Bancroft.
I will ask one of the men to escort
A man comes running out.
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) Memsahib ko hifazat se unke gar
chod kar aao.
Please leave Mem sahib to her residence with utmost care.
You are too kind Capt. Sleeman.
She leaves with the bearer. Captain Sleeman turns to Amelie.
A trifle for you, my dear.
Oh how pretty.
(her eyes cloud over)
But I don’t like to see birds in cages.
I know my dear. But its wings are
hurt. As soon as it is better you can release it. I know you will take good care of it.
Thank you, William. You have a kind
heart. And I do love you, mon cherie.
We show that Patne is watching sitting on a tree which is near the outer boundary wall. He has a cloth on his head which he has brought forward to hide the lower part of his face.
(bends down to kiss her)
I love you too, Dearest heart. And what about some tea for the hard working and tired husband.
AMELIE (squealing and jumping
Oh, how remiss of me. Forgive me. But I have with my own hands made some cutlets for you which you are sure to like.
(She goes in calling out to the cook)
A deer which is walking in the garden is startled when Patne moves and Sleeman looks up and sees him. Patne jumps down and hides behind the bushes. Sleeman goes towards the bushes which are concealing Patne.
(English translation) You?
Sir, the thugs have unleashed a
reign of terror on simple people. They have killed the family of the old man who saved my life. I saved the old man. They are heartless. They have no religion. I will send the old man to you tomorrow, he will tell you the whole story.
Will he be a witness against them?
Why not? Who is left in his life
that he should be afraid.
SLEEMAN Theek hai, bejh doh.
(English translation) All right, send him.
Patne suddenly ducks in the bush. Sleeman looks surprised.
AMELIE (O.S.) William, William.
Sleeman turns around.
Do come,your tea is ready.
Sleeman starts walking towards the house.
Sahib, Ferranghea plans to attack a
wedding party leaving from Kundalee.
Sleeman halts for a moment.
(English translation) All right.
He starts moving towards Amelie. From Patne’s P.O.V. Amelie throw her arm around Sleeman’s neck.
JUMP CUT TO: VISUAL OF GAURI THROWING HER ARMS AROUND PATNE.
EXT.-MANGO ORCHARD – BEHIND ZAMINDAR OF NARSINGHPUR’S MANSION -DAY
The Zamindar is sitting on a manji (Bed made with hemp twine). Next to him is an aluminium bucket filled with water and mangoes. The zamindar is picking out a good mango, feeling it to test it and then sucking it and then throwing it away on the side for some goats who are nosing it.
Showing your face after along time.
Just organizing myself, sir. The
festival season of Dushera-Diwali are in two and a half months, that is when we get busy.
Surely you haven’t been sitting
idle all this time. That is not possible.
(English translation) Sir.
A LITTLE GIRL’S VOICE (O.S.)
(English translation) Granpa, Granpa.
A little girl about 8 comes running and sits next to the zamindar. He strokes her head.
We are planning her wedding soon.
The boy, his family are good but they want a good dowry.
Do not worry. For the little one
we’ll risk out lives. Nothing but the best for her. You’ll be very happy.
ZAMINDAR (waving a dismissal)
All right, keep it in mind. You have been evading the issue for some time now. Don’t forget I have to pay a lot of middlemen to look the other way.
FERRANGHEA (bowing his head in
supplication with his
You are our saviour, Lord. As long as you are looking out for us no one in the area of Narsinghpur can harm a hair of our head.
The zamindar waves him away and takes out a mango and offers it to his grand daughter.
I/E.- COURTYARD OF FERRANGHEA’S HOUSE – DAY
Ferranghea’s mother sits on a khatiya (hemp twine bed).His Wife is sitting by a choolah (baked mud open fire) and his boy, (five ) sits near the mother eating some puffed rice from a alumunium bowl. His foster-brother,Jhurhoo, stands near the well, drinking water from a brass lotah(vessel ). Finally he rinses his mouth with the water and spits out some of it. From his P.O.V, we see Ferranghea come in, bending his head to enter the low slung doorway.
JHURHOO Paye lagee, bhaiyya
(English translation) Touch your feet in reverence, brother.
Khush raha, Jurhoo Kya khabar ?
Bless you, be happy, Jhurhoo. Whats new ?
Ferranghea goes towards his mother to touch her feet even as his partially veiled wife looks at him through the corner of her eyes and his son runs towards him.
Ferranghea touches his mother’s feet who blesses him, picks up his son and swings him up.
What can I say, the expenses are
much more than the earnings. It’s becoming difficult to make ends meet. It has also come to my hearing that Sleeman is asking questions about us.
May he burn in hell. Can’t a soul
earn his bread in peace without his interference.
The zamindar is on my case too. Nothing satisfies that M..F..If tomorrow’s wedding party yields
something then I will fling it on his face.
If your wish is fulfilled then I
will offer sweets at the temple of chausat yogini.
What should we do about Sleeman?
We have to fix him. According to
our rules we cannot touch a defiled one such as he but a new member has joined our gang who wants to settle a score with him. We’ll use him.
May the devil rot his guts. Ma Kali
sees everything, he will have to answer for his sins.
While she is speaking Ferranghea is looking from the corner of his eyes at his wife who is also giving him side long glances from he veil. She stirs the pot simmering on the fire, covers it and walks towards a room.
Ma, I will just freshen up and
(walking towards the open
You do that, I will take out the food for you.
I/E.- COURTYARD OF FERRANGHEA’S HOUSE – A LITTLE LATER
Ferranghea, Jhurhoo and Ferranghea’s little son are seated in a line eating from three brass thalis (large plates) with little brass bowls (katoris)filled with appetising food. The mother is making the rotis (tortillas) and as they puff up she places it in each ones plate. The wife sits behind Ferranghea and is fanning him with a bamboo fan.
(smiles at the three of
them, head bent, eating) Look at you two, the spiting image of Lord Ram and Lakshman. May the divine mother bless you both and give you a long life.
If they are Ram and Lakshman, then
what I am ?
You, you are Hanuman, my little
monkey God. They all laugh.
We’ll have long life when Sleeman’s life is cut short.
We’ll fix him . I will arrange for that.
CHOBDAR ( DOORMAN ) Huzoor aapse ek aadmi milna chata hai ?
Sir , there is a man to see you .
Send him in. And send Salamat Ali
to take down his statement.
The old man who had saved Patne’s life comes in. Sleeman waves to him to sit on a chair.
(siting on his haunches)
Main yahin theek hoon. (English Translation)
I am all right here.
Salamat Ali comes and sits unobtrusively in the corner and starts writing down whatever the man says.
Tell me, what do you want to say.
Yes, I know, your family had, I mean the thugs had…
They are ruthless sir, they can
pluck out the heart of anyone.
Can you tell me what happened ?
EXT.- OLD MAN’S HUT- DAY
The old man’s daughter is sitting near the choolah ( baked kiln ) and stirring some lentils in the pot. Next to her is an aluminium thali ( large plate ) in which there is a little dough which she divides into two balls and starts making the roti ( tortillas). On a nearby tree the blanket waves in the wind. The old man is sitting on the haunches looking in the distance and the little boy is playing in the mud with a stick, watching some ants march and then changing their direction with a piece of leaf. Drigpal and Kosari come near them and sit down.
(English translation) Greetings, baba.
Jeete raho, beta
(English translation) Live long,my son
We are travellers baba, we’ll rest
a while, cook our food, eat and be on our way.
Of course, my son. Eat, rest a
while, there is water to drink too.
In the mean time, Kosari has taken out flour in a big plate. He gets up and starts picking up sticks to light a fire when the old man’s daughter brings two plate with lentils and a tortilla in each for the old man and the little boy.
Tell them he can make his rotis on
the choolah, there is still some fire left. There is some water too to knead the dough.
Old man takes the plate from her hand and taking out the little bowl of lentils gives it to her.
Give this dal to them. I get gas with it.
She gives him a look of exasperation and gives the lentil to Drigpal and then goes inside the hut. The boy has sat down next to his grandfather to eat.
OLD MAN (CONT’D) (to Kosari)
There is a fire there, son, why don’t you cook on it. There is some water too. And taste the dal, my daughter makes an excellent dal.
The daughter comes out with a green chilli and gives it to the old man. The old man and the little boy start eating. Kosari stops looking for sticks and comes back and starts taking out the flour from a cloth shoulder bag. He also mixes some dhatura ( poison) in one part of the flour quietly. Then he takes the dough and slaps it between his hands to make a thick tortilla and places it on the griddle. He brings the first one and gives it to the boy.
OLD MAN (CONT’D) (touched)
There was need to do that, son.
There was no need for you too,
father, to give us fire to make our rotis, to give us water, to give us that dal.
Hey, give baba one too and one to the little girl.
You are a guest, and a guest is
God, it is written. I was only doing my duty.
Kosari gets up and gives a roti to the old man who breaks it in two and gives one half to the little boy.
OLD MAN (CONT’D) Enough, I am full, I can just have
half. You are good souls, may the Lord look out for you.
Kosari takes the roti he had already placed on the griddle when he had come to give the other to the old man and gives it to the daughter who starts eating it. The old man gets up.
OLD MAN (CONT’D)
I will drink water and come.
The old man goes slowly and we follow him to the little stream which we could hear in the back ground. He bends down to drink the water, his eyes roll up and he faints. BLACK.
I found my self at the medicine man
when I woke up.
Why did you not come to us?
When I came back to my hut I found
that the wolves had taken my grand son’s body to a nearby bush. And my daughter corpse was in the hut. All for one blanket.
He begins to sob. Sleeman is overwhelmed by the man’s sadness. He gets up and paces the floor.
Why did you not come to us ?
Sahib, I did go to the village people and they all said, you have already lost your daughter and grandson, nothing will bring the back. Close the matter here or the village will be troubled by the Company officials for no rhyme or reason. I would not be able to live in peace where I do now.
Why do you want to live there? We
would have settled you somewhere else.
OLD MAN (breaking down again)
I don’t want to leave the place which holds my fondest memories. What else does an old man have to live for, but his memories.
(putting his hand on the
You will get justice, don’t you worry. Describe those two men, please.
We see the doorman’s impassive face.
EXT.- BEHIND BHOWANI’S TEMPLE-NIGHT.
The village men had told that old
man not to go to the Company officials. Has he gone senile ?
It seems to me some one has instigated him.
If I find that man he’s had it.
What will happen to us. Sleeman has
You both be alert. Now something
has to be done about Sleeman. Where is
He has gone to the village. Said he
had some urgent work.
FERRANGHEA (spitting on the ground)
That M..f…, he is not worth a
penny and HE has urgent work. (MORE)
FERRANGHEA (CONT’D) (to Khaderu)
Go and call him.
FERRANGHEA (CONT’D) (to the rest of the gang)
Get ready, everyone, we have to leave. We have the news that the wedding party has left.
EXT.- ROAD- A LITTLE LATER IN THE DAY
Capt. Sleeman and Lt. Johnson are waiting by the side of the road with a posse. A little to the distance we can see a village.
Your man told you the wedding party
is going to leave from Kundalee and your men found out from the headman it is leaving at four. But from here to their destination the thugs can attack anywhere. They will probably choose not to attack if they see us.
I don’t want them to attack. I just
found out that the wedding party is of Amelie’s maid, Shanti, whom she loves dearly. So I want your men to escort them till the their village, some forty miles away.
Far off in the distance they can see a cloud of dust.
All right I will send two sepoys
with them and tell them to be alert.
(he calls out)
Hari Singh, Nar Bahadur.
Two men fall move forward.
LT. JOHNSON (CONT’D)
Tum log us baraat ke saath jao unko
une gaon tak pahuncha doh. (English translation)
Both of you will accompany that wedding party and escort them to their village.
They turn their horses and gallop away towards the crowd coming towards them. Sleeman and Lt. Johnson also turn their horse and the rest of the posse follows them.
EXT.-MANGO ORCHARD-DAY- A LITTLE LATER
The little wedding party,comprising of twelve men and two palanquin carriers is moving slowly escorted by the two sepoys. It is very hot and dusty and most of the men have their mouth covered with the edges of the turbans It is hot and all of them are sweating. They pass by a mango grove.
ONE OF THE MEN.
It is very hot. I think we should rest a while.
All the men turn towards the orchard. The palanquin is put on the ground and an old woman, head covered emerges from it. One of the men pours out some water from a surahi (a mud vessel with a spout) and gives it to her in in a kulhar ( baked mud cup). She hands the cup to the bride in the palanquin whose bangled and hennaed hand emerges to take it.
MAN 2 (to the sepoy)
Thanedar sahib, why don’t you come down from your horse and have a drink of water. I could fill a pipe with tobacco for you.
(jumping off the horse)
That will be fine.
I am all right here.
There is an almost imperceptible shifting of men. Man 2 gives water to the sepoy and picks up the pipe.
MAN 2 Tambaku lao
(English translation) Bring the tobacco.
There is a sudden activity. One man springs on the sepoy sitting on the horse and brings him down. Another man brings down the man who has raised his head to drink the water by pouring the water down his gullet rather than touching the vessel with his lips.
They both flick the scarf around the neck of the two men while two hold his arms and one sweeps his feet from under him. Within seconds the men are dead. Then a man removes the end of the turban from across his face. We see it is Ferranghea.
FERRANGHEA (looking at the sepoy who
was killed when drinking
This one at least got a drink of water, Sleeman is not going to be so fortunate.
He goes and touches the feet of the old woman who pushes back her sari from her face to reveal she is his mother.
Live long , my son. Now, please
hurry, your bride is restive sitting in the palanquin for so long. She was going to make the pickles and at this rate its not going to happen.
FERRANGHEA (to his men)
Hurry. Where have the lughas dug the grave?
TWO MEN (LUGHAS) (one pointing to a
(English translation) There.
All right,let’s take the bodies
there. Hurry up, the real wedding party will be here soon.
The men pick up the bodies and we follow them to see them break the joints, make gashes in the body.
LUGHA I (to the other)
Have you made the gashes deep enough. Or the stomachs will fill with air and the bodies will rise and break the earth. And then there will be hell to pay.
LUGHA 2 (sarcastically)
Do you think I am a green horn? We have been lughas for many generations.
LUGHA 1 (placatingly)
All right, all right. I just asked.
The lughas pack the bodies neatly in the grave. Then they cover it with the mud and put stones and some bramble on it.
ONE OF THE LUGHAS Now, no animal can get to these
Are you going to grow roots there.
The other wedding party is on its way.
BOTH THE LUGHAS
They both run towards the voice. The mother gets in the palanquin and the men take their positions. We can see a wedding party in the distance comprising of two palanquin bearers and six men, one of whom seems to be the groom with a yellow turban. As the second wedding party comes by Drigpal raises his hand to stop them. Kosari stands next to him
(with tears in his eyes)
Please stop brother. A huge calamity has befallen us. The bride has fainted due to the heat and her maid has no idea what to do. That girl works in the zamindar’s house, he will flay us alive if we don’t do something.
The men of the second wedding party look at each other.
We usually make the person sniff a
shoe when someone faints.
Then , my child, please do
something about it. We’ll place
your palanquin next to it. (MORE)
We are men and we can’t go near the
One senior member of the second wedding party nods his head.
All right, Let’s see what can be
Please follow me.
He moves into the grove, the second wedding party following him. When they reach the spot they place the palanquin next to the other one. The same bangled and hennaed hand is out of the palanquin. Khaderu is sitting with a pot of water. You can see almost an imperceptible shifting of the thugs.
Please drink some water.
He starts to pour out the water in a kulhar. (an earthen cup). Some of the men move towards him. Ferranghea is sitting on his haunches and smoking the pipe which makes a gurgling sound as he drags in the smoke in his lungs. He is watching the procedure keenly. Then, satisfied, he looks at the embers in the pot and shouts.
FERRANGHEA Tambaku lao
(English translation) Bring the tobacco.
The thugs spring into action and in moments all the men of the wedding party lie dead.
SHANTI (V.O.) Ee hosh mein aa gail.
(English translation) She has come to her senses.
SHANTI (CONT’D) (V.O.) Ee hosh mein aa gail.
(English translation) She has come to her senses.
Have a look why nobody speaks.
Shanti emerges from between the palanquins. She looks at
the gruesome scene before her and screams. BLACK.
Capt. Sleeman, Lt. Johnson and a posse of sepoys are trotting on the same road where earlier we had seen the wedding party. They pass the mango grove where the killings had taken place.
This is amazing. How can two sepoys
and a complete wedding party disappear like this ?
It’s definitely the work of the
thugs. They are wily creatures.
Well, we need proof, bodies,
witnesses, anything. Otherwise it will be difficult to apprehend them. My Patne has also disappeared since that day and Amelie is distraught at Shanti’s disappearance.
Well, you will need solid proof. My
Lord Bentick is not very popular with the natives for getting rid of the sati system. Good lord, burning a woman on her husband’s pyre, can anything be more barbaric! So, he does not want any more flak from the people, especially the feudal ruling class.
I understand his apprehension. We
will not take a step forward without ample proof.
Not to mention, the rumblings in the ranks. A lot of the officers think you are on a wild goose chase.
More like a wild boar hunt.
Ferranghea is like a wild boar turned mad, goring everything in its path. (MORE)
And he is going to get his just
desserts. Now if I can only find Patne ?
I/E.-COURTYARD OF FERRNAGHEA’S HOUSE-NIGHT
Ferranghea and Jhurhoo sit on two low wooden seats. (pidhas ). His wife places two bowls of rice pudding in front of them which they eat by placing their mouth on the edge of the bowl.
(wiping his mouth with the
back of hand)
That was great sweet you made.
There is no difference between the
kheer made by mother’s hand and that made my brother’s wife.
MOTHER (coming out of an
That is because bhabhi is another name for mother. She takes care of you as a mother would.
Mother, can you bring those earings
we got in the last raid, you know, the wedding party. I am going to the zamindar and I will give it to him
The mother goes inside and comes back and gives the ear ring to Ferranghea. It is the same that Amelie had given to Mrs Bancroft to give to Shanti.
FERRANGHEA (CONT’D) (getting up and touching
his mother’s feet)
Acha, pai lagin Ma.
I touch your feet in reverence.
Jug jug jiya.
(English translation) Live , many lives.
Jhurhoo gets up and touches his brother’s feet. Ferranghea holds him by the shoulders.
Don’t worry about any thing as long
as your brother is alive.
As he is going out his son comes running in. Ferranghea lifts him and throws him in the air as the mother looks fondly
You will bring glory to your
family. May you become a bigger thug than me.
The mother cracks her knuckles on the side of her fore- head even as she looks at them fondly. Ferranghea puts the boy down and moves out swiftly. From a distance he looks back and sees the boy standing there looking at him. Ferranghea smiles to himself and moves on.
INT.-SLEEMAN’S BEDROOM -NIGHT
Amelie is looking very pretty attired in a gown. She is putting on her necklace but the clasp doesn’t seem to close.
SLEEMAN (coming towards her)
May, I ?
He helps her with the clasp and it clicks into place.
May I be the first to compliment
you on how fetching you look tonight ?
How about other nights?
You are incorrigible Amelie.
What about the day ? I won’t know
when I look the most fetching so that I can persuade you to, no will you to, plant the seeds of your passion in me so I can gift you with a son.
By and by Amelie. I will be happy
Oh, but I want a son, just like
you. Ah, I am so desperate. (she puts her arms around
Cherie, forget that silly party and let’s try right now. You never know, today may be our lucky day.
Sleeman laughing and removing her arms from around his neck.
When we come back, I promise. But,
we have to go. There are a lot of important dignitaries, including the Raja of Orcha and the Zamindar of Narsinghpur. I want to meet that man for I believe he is in cahoots with the thugs.
Oh then we must. I know how
important this is for you. It’s been some time since the disappearance of Shanti and we are nowhere near solving that puzzle. And whatever happened to your informant?
Patne ! That is the biggest riddle.
He just disappeared. I hope they have not found out and killed him. That will be a big setback.
Amelie picking up her purse. As she goes out the canary in the cage, hanging in her balcony tweets. Amelie goes towards it and taps on the cage while the bird hops.
Oh, le peau oiseau. You will soon heal and I will set you free.
Sleeman looks at her affectionately. She comes to him,links her arm through his and they both go out of the room.
IN – MESS- NERBUDDA CLUB – JABBALPORE – NIGHT
Bearers move around the guest comprised of a largely English crowd except for a few Indian dignitaries among them the Raja of Orcha and the Zamindar of Narsinghpur who is with his grand daughter. Lt.
Johnson, Major Augustin, Mrs Bancroft are all present. Amelie talks with the ladies and Sleeman is with Major Augustin and Lt. Johnson.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN (jocular)
Well, Sleeman, caught any thugs recently. I tell you man it’s just a bee in your bonnet.
Well, the two sepoys are still
unaccounted for and still no sign of Amelie’s maid and the wedding party.
Oh you know these sepoys. A.W.O.L.
without any reason, now that the festival season is around the corner. And as for the maid, probably ran off with her boy friend and the rest of the wedding party too ashamed to say any thing about it.
Well, I hope you are right but I
have a feeling in my bones it is something much more macabre than that.
Oh pooh, just your imagination
working over time. It happens if you stay in this heat for so long. I believe you had the fever twice already.
Beg your pardon sir but Capt.
Sleeman had malaria. That is from mosquitoes.
Yes, yes, and they induce delirium.
Sleeman winces and looks at Lt. Johnson Whose eyebrows have gone up. Then he shrugs.
Excuse me sir. I see the Zamindar
of Narsinghpur there. (MORE)
I would like to go and meet with
him on some pressing matter.
Still chasing the golden hind, eh.
Don’t tell me you think the zamindar is mixed up in this thug nonsense.
I have my suspicions, sir but no
proof. Unfortunately,my informer has disappeared, God knows where.
MAJOR AUGUSTINAll right, go ahead then. But don’t step on any toes. It is a sensitive
issue and the Governor general is pussy- footing too, what with the religious sensibilities of these natives.
Sleeman moves away.
In another corner Amelie is sitting with a group of ladies and Mrs. Bancroft.
Marriage suits you Amelie, I have
never seen you look so flushed and happy.
LADY 1 It must be love.
Yes, it is love, or as we French
say, le grand passion.
Well, I hope we will be seeing
evidence of the grand passion soon, in the way of some little posies. What would you like Amelie, a girl or a boy.
A boy, of course, just like my dear
William. I have even thought of a name, I am going to call him Arthur.
That’s very sweet dear.
And what if it is a girl? I think
girls are so sweet.
She points with her fan at the Zamindar of Narsinghpur’s grand daughter.
LADY 1 (CONT’D)
Isn’t she sweet ? Dressed just like
her mama in a sari and pretty jewelry.
Amelie looks to where she had pointed at the little girl and her glance falls on her ear rings. They are the same ear rings she had given to Mrs. Bancroft to give Shanti. She gasps.
Any thing the matter, my dear ? You
have gone quite white.
AMELIE (stammering) No, no. I, just,
She sees Sleeman walking by and gets up hastily.
Excuse me, a moment, ladies. I will
be back. I have just remembered an urgent message I had to give my husband.
The ladies look curiously at each other as Amelie walks away. They see her talking to Sleeman, gesticulating furiously.
These French. Always so excitable.
Well, it is good to be passionate about something. I could never be
well disposed towards the a certain kind of cold fish, found among the English.
The lady makes a moue with her mouth and looks miffed. Amelie walks back and joins them. From her P.O.V. we see Sleeman walk towards the Zamindar. The zamindar smiles gratuitously as Sleeman walks towards him.
ZAMINDAR (folding his hands)
Namaste Sleeman jee. It is my good fortune to be seeing you.
Namaste, zamindar jee, my pleasure
too. And how is everything in the Narsinghpur area. No untoward incidents of thuggee and dacoity I hope.
How is that possible, in your raj,
Sleeman sahib? Nobody would dare ?
And yet there are many reports
filed of missing persons, in spite of the reluctance of the populace to come to us.
People have nothing better to do.
Sleeman sahib but file reports. Husband runs away with another woman, file a report. Servant goes away without telling the master, file a report.
What about children ? I hear there
is a marriage party that disappeared from your area. The bride was not more than fifteen. And yet, no one came to file a report?
Perhaps, she ran away with her
lover and the brides party is too ashamed to come forward.
Yes, that is the story doing the
rounds. But it is a little too pat and I am inclined to disbelieve it.
Sleeman looks at the his grand daughter.
My little grand daughter.
(to his grand daughter)
Sleeman uncle ko namaste kaho. (MORE)
ZAMINDAR (CONT’D) (English translation)
Say hello to Sleeman uncle.
LITTLE GIRL. (folding her hands)
Namaste. Your ear rings are very
pretty. I would like to get a pair for your Auntie. Where did you get them ?
LITTLE GIRL. (shyly)
Dadajee ne diye.
Dadajee gave me.
Sleeman looks quizzically at the Zamindar whose face blanches.
I will have to ask her mother. And I will certainly let you know.
SLEEMAN You do that.
Now if you will excuse me. I must go and pay my respects to the Raja of Orcha.
He leaves the Zamindar fuming, an ugly look on his face.
We see the same ear rings held aloft and then as the ear rings goes out of focus we see Ferranghea’s face come into through it.
Yes, I found these earings in the
wedding party raid. What happened,
We see Jhurhoo standing next to him.
ZAMINDAR (gnashing his teeth)
I have no idea but that Sleeman was unnaturally interested in it and asking one too many questions about it.
I will ask the village folk about
this. But we’ll have to do something about Sleeman.
Do what you have to but don’t drag
my name in your affairs, understand.
FERRANGHEA Yes sir, rest assured.
The zamindar stalks away. Ferranghea glares at him.
FERRANGHEA (CONT’D) (to Jhurhoo)
When it comes to sharing the loot, he wants the largest share. And just because there is some danger he is the first rat that deserts the sinking ship.
That is the difference between
family and others. I will never leave your side brother.
He bends down to touch Ferranghea’s feet who hold him by the shoulder and hugs him , tears of emotion running down his cheeks.
FADE TO BLACK.
WE SHOW A TIME LAPSE OF SOME MONTHS WITH FERRANGHEA’S GANG ATTACKING TRAVELLER’S, SLEEMAN AT THE HEAD OF HIS POSSE ACCOSTING MEN WALKING ON THE ROAD, READING, TRYING TO PUT HIS POINT OF VIEW ACROSS TO LORD BENTICK, AMELIE PLAYING WITH THE CANARY, LOOKING AT CHILDREN LONGINGLY, FERRANGHEA AND HIS FAMILY, FERRANGHEA WITH THE OTHER THUGS SINGING OR MAKING A SACRIFICE.
INT.-SLEEMAN’S BEDROOM -NIGHT
We hear retching sounds coming from Amelie’s bathroom. Sleeman sits out side looking worried. She comes out, her cheeks flushed, her forehead damp.
I have called for the doctor.
Oh William, it could be something I
(she smiles happily)
Could it be ? Do you think ?
That’s why I called the doctor.
There is a knock on the door.
Sir, the doctor is coming up
SLEEMAN Aane doh.
(English translation) Let him come.
He goes and opens the door and a doctor comes in.
Good evening doctor. We are sorry
to impose on you at this late hour.
It is no imposition. Please lie down.
Amelie lies down and the doctor takes her pulse and asks her to open her mouth and show her tongue. She looks hopefully at him. Sleeman smiles .
As I suspected, it is amoebiasis.
It’s the drinking water, you know. I will write down the name of medicines.
(scribbling on paper)
And, remember, plenty of fluids, light food and plenty of rest.
I will take your leave Madame. Bon nuit.
That’s so kind of you doctor but,
ever since I married William, it is Good Night.
That’s what she says doctor. But when it comes to her precious language she is like a tigress defending her cub.
Well, in the absence of my own cub
I guess it will have to be the language.
Ah, yes. Madame desires a child.
Some times the stress of wanting something precludes the having of
Why don’t you take Madame to a restful environment. The marble falls at Bheraghat on the banks of the River Narmada are a spectacular sight. I believe they are called the Dhuandhar falls or the smokey cascade.
I think that is a very good idea.
As soon as you are a little better we could go for a camping expedition. We could ask Mrs. Bancroft too and some of the other ladies.
I will take your leave now.
Sleeman gets up to escort him.
DOCTOR (CONT’D) (raising his hand)
Pray, do not be bothered, Stay with your wife. I will ask one of the servants to show me out to my carriage.
What was the name of the falls the
good doctor told us about?
Dhuandhar falls – which means like
a smoke, falls which fall like smokey cascade.
EXT.DHUADHAR FALLS-RIVER NARMADA-DAY
We see the falls from Amelie’s P.O.V. and she turns around and walks towards the tents where many English ladies are seated on chair or dhurees, the gentlemen standing around hob- nobbing and a host of nujeebs, sepoys, bearers and servants waiting on them.
What a splendid idea on the part of
Captain Sleeman. This is a sight I would not have missed for the world.
Yes, indeed. Quite spectacular.
(to Amelie who has joined them)
Thank you, my dear, for inviting us all. Now, we know why the good Captain Sleeman loves you, it is your sweet disposition.
(Looking at some of the
English children playing
with the sepoys)
Yes, indeed. They make a happy couple and I am sure, soon will be a happy family.
Amelie’s face falls and Mrs. Bancroft glares at Lady 2.
What is the hurry, I ask you. They
have hardly been married a little more than three months.
Well, she is young, to be sure, but
Captain Sleeman, would surely like to get on with it.
Of all the vulgar remarks, Eliza.
It shows a lack of breeding on your part.
(giving an artificial
Oh, have I offended anyone. I am so sorry. I have been trained to speak my mind and not simper and skedaddle like some of us here.
LADY 3 (to Lady 4)
Does she have a mind to speak of, I ask you.
Well, if she did, she wouldn’t be
making statements like that.
But Poor Amelie, it is mortifying,
particularly when she herself is so keen.
Captain Sleeman is seen to be walking towards them.
Yoo, hoo Captain Sleeman. This way.
Yes, Mrs. Bancroft. At your
I say, Amelie is looking a little
peaky. Maybe, it is time to go back to the camp.
Sleeman looks at Amelie concerned.
Yes, she is a little drawn, may be
it would be best if she went back. The others could follow later.
He holds out his hand to Amelie
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) Come Amelie, my dear.
Amelie takes his arm and he escorts her to a horse.
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) ( to the groom )
Mem sahib, ko hifazat se unke kheme mein pahuncha doh.
Take the mem-sahib safely back to her tent.
Maybe I should come with you. You are looking tired.
Oh William, don’t fuss so. You go
and look after the guests. I will be fine.
She kicks the horse and it moves with the groom (syce) holding the reins. Sleeman sighs and goes back to the party.
Amelie is enjoying her ride watching the scenic beauty of the banks of the River Narmada. On the other side of the bank she can see the multitudes who have come to participate in the Kumbh mela ( an annual fair when people take a dip in the holy waters ).
She reaches her tent, gets off her horse and goes in. Her canary is hanging on one side of the door way. She dismisses the groom and goes inside and lies down on her bed. Her eyes close. Suddenly she gets up with the sound of her canary chirping . She goes out and sees a mendicant standing outside.
MENDICANT (holding out the bowl)
Ma, bhiksha ?
Some alms, mother.
Amelie hesitates, then goes inside and comes out with some money which she goes to put in his bowl. The mendicant grabs her hand and tries to pull her away. Amelie screams.Sleeman and the rest of the party who hear the scream hurry towards the tents. Sleeman is galloping in front and the men behind. Hearing the hooves of the horses the mendicant leaves Amelie and runs away. Sleeman reaches Amelie’s tent, springs off the horse and rushes towards her. The groom also comes running.
SLEEMAN (to the groom)
Where were you ? Why did you leave the memsahib and go ?
Saheb, I wanted to go to the bushes, I mean,
SLEEMAN (cooling down) Haan, haan, I know
what you mean.
By the time the rest of the party has reached. The ladies rush to Amelie to comfort her.
This is a serious matter, Sleeman.
For a native to touch an English woman, it is unheard of. This all due to your thuggee nonsense. I say leave the natives alone, let them stew in their customs.
I beg to disagree, sir. We are not
here merely to rule but to rule sagaciously.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN Well, see what comes of such
poppycock ideas. Your wife is molested and..
I agree with my husband Major Augustin. If the French had a few more sagacious men such as William maybe they would have been in the happy position that the British are. And there are always risk in the line of one’s duty.
Hear, hear. Spoken like a wife of a
Yes, all that is all right but what
do we do now ?
Oh, please don’t break up the party
on my account. The sadhu has been chased away and will not dare show his face.
SLEEMAN But Amelie, my dear..
Look William, I think he was after
(she hold up her hand to
show the bracelet)
But even if he was a thug with a grudge against you, don’t you think it is better to stay here and show we are not scared.
She speaks the truth.
Well, it is true, the common Indians are, by and large, a civilized lot. I mean you can send these children into the fair without any thought that they will harm them. But these thugs are something else. And many of them do don the disguise of sadhus and fakirs.
Well, then it is decided, we will stay.
Well, after lunch, a little walk by
the banks of the river is what I have planned for everyone. Say around 3.30.?
LADY 1 (excited)
Maybe, we can visit the fair?
No, no, no. Madame. There is a high
risk involved there. We don’t have enough nujeebs to take care of you and the others.
Let’s cross that bridge when we
come to it. For the time being it’s time for lunch. Major Augustin, I have some hot curry for you, just the way you like it.
Most excellent, the hotter the
All of them go towards a large tent where a sepoy is waiting to open the flap of the tent. They all file in laughing and chattering excitedly.
EXT.- BEHIND BHOWANI’S TEMPLE-A LITTLE LATER.
Ferranghea, Jhurhoo, the old thug, and the other thugs are gathered. The mendicant who had attacked Amelie is there too.
FERRANGHEA (giving him some money)
Well, you have done as we wanted. You can go now.
If there is anything else I can do
let me know.
No, our objective was only to scare
them . Let’s see how much courage dear Mr. Sleeman has to continue his investigation against us .
You have attacked his wife. You
know Ma Kali doesn’t like attacks on women.
And what about him , trying to
snatch our livelihood from our mouth, what about that eh ?
KHADERU Theek kaha.
(English translation) Absolutely
Well, let’s not waste time arguing.
What’s the next plan of action?
I have heard Nizam’s brother
Salabat Khan has left Punjab with two servants. He is carrying a lot of items worth looting.
Then what are we waiting for ?
Let’s be off.
Well, the jamaldehi thugs have
tried heir best but he is not falling in their trap. And he is armed to the teeth.
We’ll have to go a long way. But
the rewards will be rich.
So what, you go brother,I will look
after the work here.
Now that white boy must have cooled
Well if he hasn’t cooled down I
have some more buckets of cold water to cool him down.
He spits on the ground as they all laugh.
EXT.-ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER NARMADA.- DAY
The English party is sauntering. On the other side of the bank a fair can be seen with men and women in colorful costumes. The English women are wearing long gowns. The men walk together.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN (to Sleeman)
I say old chap, you better cool down on your activities. These thugs are dangerous fellows, don’t want anything to happen to Amelie.
That’s exactly what they are hoping
for. On the contrary, I’m going to speed up the process. If I could get some proof, some hint. I really don’t know where my informer has disappeared.
A group of native women pass them by. They are wearing half saris, their legs uncovered and they are all balancing a pot on their head. When they see the English ladies they giggle and looking at the men they giggle and cover their faces with the edge of their sari.
MRS. BANCROFT (shocked)
I say, what is the point of covering your face when the legs are on display for all to see.
Well, Mrs. Bancroft, all legs look
alike so, maybe they think there is no point in covering them. You do distinguish a person by his or her face.
Well, I for one feel that
displaying your legs is quite shameless.
LADY 3 (to lady 4)
Provided you have legs worth the display. From what I hear our dear Eliza’s quite the bow legged one.
Lady 4 titters.
Oh look a temple. And look at the statues.
They all look towards the statue of Shiv and Parvati with snakes coiled around the neck of Shiva.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN Blasphemous.
That is the Lord of Destruction,
Shiva with his consort, Parvati from the trinity of Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer and the regenerator. One could probably compare them to our Adam and Eve and the snakes to the snake mentioned in the Testament.
You are very up to date with the
Oriental culture, Captain Sleeman
I like to think that we are here to
improve the quality of life of the people as best as we can and not merely rule.
Hear, hear. Captain Sleeman. I hope
the Indians realize their good fortune in having men like you here.
Oh, people can be very ungrateful.
What was it that Mark Anthony said over Caesar’s dead body,
Oh yes, I remember, The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
Well, I believe in doing my duty as
best as I can. The rest is up to the people. I am really not looking for any medals.
Oh, Captain Sleeman, you are so
LADY 4 (to lady 3)
Which is more than what Eliza can claim to be.
She signals with her eyes Eliza’s ankles on display as she lifts her gown high above the ground and Lt. Johnson goggling at it. Lady 3 titters.
SLEEMAN (spying a boat on the
banks of the river)
Anyone for the mela, the fair, I mean, across the river. There is a boat there and he can ferry us across.
AMELIE (clapping her hands
Oh, lets. It will be so much fun.
LADY 2 (to lady 1)
Amelie is quite the child bride for our Captain Sleeman. No wonder he is so gaga about her.
MRS. BANCROFT (raising her eyebrows at
lady 2’s girlish gown) Well, maybe we all don’t fancy mutton dressed as lamb on our plates.
Lady 2 makes a moue of displeasure. They all follow Sleeman towards the boat and are helped up into it by the gentlemen. Sleeman picks up Amelie by the waist and puts her in the boat and then clambers in after her. The boat moves slowly in the waters towards the fair. As the oars dip in the water we can see hear the sound of laughter of the English party.
EXT.- ROAD- DAY
A Moghul officer- Salabat Khan – is riding on a fine Arab horse. He has a bow and a quiver of arrows, a pistol tucked into the waist band of his trousers and a sword by his side. Two helpers ( the cook and the butler) ride on inferior quality of horses. They spot six men sitting on the side of the road, weeping copiously. The men are all bearded in the approved Muslim style. Next to them lies a body shrouded in white cloth. The officer stops.
SALABAT KHAN. Kya hua, kyun ro rahe ho? (English translation)
What happened? Why are you crying?
What do I tell you ? This calamity
has befallen us. We Are soldiers on our way home when our companion could not bear the rigors of the journey and collapsed. He is dead and we, illiterate, buffoons that we are, do not know the correct way to bury the body. If you could be kind enough to read some verses of the Koran-e-Sharif then we could bury him. (MORE)
MAN 1 (CONT’D)
Please sir, all the Mussalmans of
the world will bless you for this kind deed.
SALABAT KHAN (getting off the horse)
All right. You get some water to do the wazoo.
(to the butler)
Naushad, take out the carpet.
The soldiers take out the water and place it next to the carpet which the butler has unrolled and placed near the grave. Salabat Khan sits on the carpet and washes his hands, feet and face. Two soldiers sit on either side.
SOLDIER 1 (to butler)
Why don’t you go and stand with the others so that sahib can read the verses in peace.
The butler goes away and stands with the cook and the other four soldiers. Salabat Khan starts reading his verses. When he lifts his neck and raises his hand in supplication one of the men whip the hand kerchief around his neck and the other helps him. In a moment he is dead. The other soldiers take care of the butler and cook. The soldier who was crying copiously and had entreated with the officer removes his beard. It is Meer. The others, too, remove their beards. They are Ferranghea, Khaderu, Drigpal, Kosari and another thug- Gopal, not of their gang.
We Jamaldehi thugs used to think we
are the cat’s whisker’s but you guys have beaten us this time.
Thugs have their own way of life.
And we have to help each other, that is our duty and our religion.
Well, thugs are thugs, Hindu or
Musalman, we are all brothers. It is a religion above all religions. The way of the Thugs.
Let’s leave the talk for later an
get rid of the bodies first. (MORE)
FERRANGHEA (CONT’D) (to Kosari and Drigpal who
are going through the
effects of the victims) Well, after sweating out in the heat have we got anything out of this nayamat ?
Kosari and Drigpal bring some jewelry, a bag of coins and the officer’s weapons.
(to the others)
All right, lughas. Do your work and hurry.
The others get to work. They break the joints, slash the bodies and put them in the grave already dug. Then they light a fire with some brambles and sticks which they stamp out.
I challenge any M..F.. who sees
this spot to guess that there is a stout soldier and his tweedle- dee and tweedle- dum buried here.
All the thugs laugh uproariously.
I/E.-ZAMINDAR OF NARSINGHPUR’S HAVELI-DAY
Sleeman is standing outside the Zamindar’s mansion with a posse of soldiers.Inside the zamindar is rushing around, slipping on his kurta ( shirt) while his wife finds his shoes and while he sits on the bed holds it while he slips his feet in.
Now, what the dickens is the
matter? Why has Sleeman descended on us? He has made my life living hell, ever since he arrived here.
Why don’t you go and find out ? Maybe it is nothing important.
You don’t know these white folks.
They don’t go anywhere without a reason.
He gets up and almost runs outside. His wife follows him, covers her head with a sari edge and pulls it forward to cover her face. She stands behind the door, partially visible while the Zamindar runs out to Sleeman.
ZAMINDAR (CONT’D) We are blessed Sleeman sahib. Please do come into my humble
Not today, zamindar sahib. Some
And to what do I owe the pleasure
of your company at my humble abode ?
I was on my way and passing by when
I remembered the ear rings your grand daughter wore the other day. My wife liked them very much and I would like to buy then for her. You told me your wife had bought it from some where.
(Then he raise his voice a bit and says to her)
Namaste, respected sister-in -law.
The zamindar is stupefied.
Namaste, brother. He must have
forgotten, he gave me the ear rings.
Sleeman looks quizzically at the Zamindar
Let me be frank with you zamindar
sahib. I don’t like to play games. Those ear rings belonged to my wife and she had given it to her maid who has, since then,disappeared. Now what do you want me to make of it ?
The zamindar is rattled.
You better tell me the truth. It
will be better for you.
Ferranghea gave me those ear rings
as a gift. I have no idea where he got them.
SLEEMAN (kicking his horse)
I am sure you do. But we’ll deal with that later.
He gallops away with his posse behind him.
ZAMINDAR (turning around and
Who told you to stand here and listen to our conversation. You have ruined everything.
The wife flies inside, the zamindar following her .
ZAMINDAR (CONT’D) Is anyone around, go and call
I/E.- COURTYARD OF FERRANGHEA’S HOUSE
Ferranghea is pacing up and down while Jhurhoo stands, arms akimbo,on one side. The mother sits on a raised platform ( takth) and is cutting vegetables with an old fashioned slicer. Ferranghea’s wife is stirring a pot on the fire. The little boy is playing with a kite trying to make it fly.
I should have understood. That
zamindar has no morals or ethics.
He is going to burn in the fires of
hell, the godless soul.
Now what will we do, that zamindar
has given your name to Sleeman.
But he has no evidence against you.
Once our name is written in the official records then they have means and ways to get evidence.
The boy who is running around falls down and starts crying. Ferranghea picks him up and lifts him and hugs him.
I am not worried for myself but for
him. I know what is the lot of a child without a father, I have lived through that.
MOTHER Jug, jug jiya bachwa.
(English translation) Live long , my son.
If you were not around I know what could have happened to us.
FERRANGHEA There is only one way.
They all look at him.
FERRANGHEA CONT’D) The death of Sleeman.
EXT.- SUGARCANE FIELDS- DAY
Sleeman is riding when a man suddenly comes before him.
SLEEMAN (shocked) Patne!
PATNE Jee, huzoor.
(English translation) Yes, sir.
Sleeman jumps off the horse and walks to the side of he road, holding its bridle. Patne follows.
Where were you , all these days?
I was in hiding, tying to save my life .
Tell me clearly, what happened?
It happened like this , sir.
Patne is walking on the road, singing a folk song when he sees Dinanath (the medicine man) coming on a mule.
Ram, Ram, Dinanathjee.
( getting off the mule)
Ram, Ram Beta . How are you and how is the old man ?
He is fine now, and it is all due
I had spent a total of five ruppees on his
Yes, yes. I will come to your house
and clear the dues. I am sorry, I was a little late in settling the accounts but I was a little short.
No problem. It’s fine. The good
intentions take care of bad debts, sooner or later.
Dinanath get on his mule slaps it on its rump to move on.Patne looks at him, scratching his head when Jhurhoo comes out of the sugarcane fields. Patne almost jumps out of his skin.
You frightened me out of my wits,
Oh, I had just gone to the fields
for the usual, you know what I mean.
Patne nods his head.
But what work did you have with
that old medicine man and why was he asking you for five rupees ?
Woh, aisa hua ki…..
(English translation) It happened like this…
KHADERU (O.S.) Jhurhoo, Hey, Jhurhoo.
Jhurhoo looks to see Khaderu running towards him. Jhurhoo also runs towards him.
JHURHOO Kya baat hai ?
(English translation) What happened ?
Make haste. Ferranghea is calling
you. He is very angry. And he wants Patne.
We see he two men running in one direction and Patne turns and runs in the other direction.
BACK TO PRESENT.
I thought Ferranghea has come to
know something so I took to my heels.
And what have you been doing since
In this country when you have no
way to make ends meet, what do you do ? I, too, became a sadhu.
Patne grins. Sleeman laughs.
You are a rogue, but a likeable
What did you say, sir ?
SLEEMAN Maine bola ki tum badmaash ho, par mujhe pasand ho. I said you are a rogue, but a
likeable one.Now that you mention sadhu, a sadhu had attacked Amelie sahib.
Sir, Ferranghea has a network
all kinds of ruffians. Many a times they have donned the guise of holy man to attack people and catch them in their web.
Well, his days are over. We have
proof that he was mixed up in the murder of Shanti and her wedding party.
Sahib, Ferranghea is a very devious
fellow. He is not going to be captured so easily.
And the problem is that you too are
not there to give us information about his activities.
I know what I will do. I will go
and ask Dinanathji, that medicine man, if Ferranghea or any of his men met him and asked about me. If not, I will join their gang with some trumped up excuse.
Yes, you do that.
(to Patne, in Hindi)
Haan, aisa hi karo.
There is just one snag.
Sleeman looks at him inquiringly.
I don’t have the one rupee to give
Sleeman laughs, takes out a ruppee coin from his pocket and tosses to him.
To catch Ferranghea, I can spend a
million, this is nothing.
He spurs his horse and gallops away in a cloud of dust. Patne watches him go, a lonely figure on the road.
EXT.- SLEEMAN’S GARDEN -DAY
There are peacocks and a deer roaming around the garden as Amelie sits beneath the shade of a large umbrella with Mrs. Bancroft, having cucumber sandwiches, little tea cakes and a tea served by a bearer from a silver tea pot.
MRS. BANCROFT (dabbing her mouth with a
lace edged napkin ) Delicious, my dear. You really do have a gem of a cook.
Please have one of these wonderful
tea cakes, Mrs Bancroft. They are tres bien.
MRS. BANCROFT No, no, my dear. I am quite
stuffed. Not another morsel.
Amelie rings the bell. A little boy comes running out.
Go and tell the cook that sahib is
about to come. He should make a fresh pot of tea for him. And some nice cutlets.
(To Mrs Bancroft) William loves cutlets.
They hear the galloping of hooves and Sleeman comes in. He jumps off his horse and comes and kisses Amelie.
SLEEMAN (to Mrs Bancroft) Good evening. Madame.
(as she makes a movement to get up)
Oh , please don’t leave on my
I have some urgent work in the
office and, perhaps, you could keep Amelie company for some more time.
Oh, William, but you just came
Duty calls, my dear. I think we are
on to something as far as that rascal Ferranghea is concerned.
That dreadful man. I have heard some blood curdling tales about him.
SLEEMAN (dryly ). Probably, all quite true. Well, I have got the measure of him this time. He is not going to escape justice.
MRS. BANCROFT Amen to that.
William, will you be home for
dinner? I have made some excellent Russian salad and some very good chops for you.
Well, I may be a little late. But
keep some for me. I have to take care of this matter once and for all. Can’t have the natives living in fear of these unholy monsters.
INT.-TEMPLE OF KALI-NIGHT
Ferranghea is standing with his hands folded in front of the image of Kali along with all the thugs including Patne. The priest is holding up the a large brass plate with the flame of several earthen oil lamps (diya) in front of the statue.
Oh, Ma Kali. You are all powerful.
Hear the pleas of your devotees. (MORE)
Remove the obstacles that stand in
their way and what they desire.
CUT TO :
The priest puts the caste mark (tilak ) on their foreheads with the blood of a goat sacrificed in front of it.
The thugs file out.
EXT.- BEHIND KALI’S TEMPLE-A LITTLE LATER.
If Ma Kali is with us, then neither
Sleeman nor the whole east India Company can harm a hair of our heads.
That is possible only if you tread
on the path shown by Ma Kali.
We follow the path of Ma Kali. I am
a pure Muslim but I have never gone astray from the path Ma Kali has shown us.
Yes, and Bhowani will help us to
get rid of the demon Sleeman just as she destroyed the demon Mahisasur, and prove to us she favors us still.
(shouts) Jai Kali !
ALL THE THUGS (shouting)
Jai Klai ! Jai Klai! Jai Kali.
FERRANGHEA (turning to Patne)
Well, Patne, the time has come for you to be avenged.
(taking out a dagger from his pocket)
This is the sacred sword of Ma Kali, take this and go forth and sacrifice Sleeman in the name of Kali.
Yes, my son. Ma Kali will bless
OLD MAN (CONT’D)
When the demon, Raktabeej, was on a
killing spree and Ma Kali was trying to rid of the world of this menace but unable to do so because every time she killed him, from the drops of his blood two more sprang forward. Then, Ma Kali, tired, created two men from the sweat of her brow and tearing of a portion of her skirt gave them the sacred hand kerchief, the rumal. she gave one of her ribs, symbolised by this dagger and a teeth, symbolised by this
(showing the pick axe) Symbolised by this pick axe.
Come, now let us get ready for the
This time when you taste the sacred sugar you will become the biggest thug in the world for you will get rid of Sleeman.
The Thugs place the pickaxe on the ground with the raw sugar next to it. The pick axe is anointed with water and seven red dots of powder. The old man mumbles some prayers. All the thugs fling the raw sugar in their mouths. A crane calls
That is a very good omen.
KHADERU Let’s celebrate then.
All the thugs move about. We See Patne going to a lonely corner and spitting out the sugar.
EXT.- BEHIND BHOWANI’S TEMPLE-A LITTLE LATER. We see the thugs singing around a fire.
THUGS Bairagiya nala zulam zor,
Jahan base hain teen chor. Jab tabla baje dhin dhin Tab ek ek par teen teen.
(English translation) (MORE)
THUGS (CONT’D) Hell and Fury at the Bairagya
stream , Three thieves live there and dream.
When the drums beat , one two three.
They all fall on one and he gets creamed.
INT.-SLEEMAN’S BEDROOM -NIGHT
A hand holding a dagger is making repeated cutting blows on a mound on a bed suggestive of a sleeping person.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN (pacing the floor)
I told you, man, don’t needle these men, these thugs. That Ferranghea is a dangerous fellow.
(Here the doorman pricks his ears and is listening with an impassive face )
They had the guts to attack you in your bedroom !!!
I don’t want this to get out. I do
not want them to think I am scared.
Don’t think, sir, we should make
provisions for some extra security for you and Amelie.
No, no. No extra security. I don’t
want to give them the pleasure.
Fools rush in where angels fear to
Maybe, ours not to question why,
ours but to do and die.
So you agree you travel in the
Valley of Death.
Why be frightened of something
which is inevitable ?
MAJOR AUGUSTIN (shaking his head)
Better you than me, man, I tell you.
Lt. Johnson looks on with admiration at Sleeman.
SLEEMAN It’s time to call (He raises his voice ). Chobdar ( doorman )
DOOR MAN (coming in)
Jee, huzoor ( yes, sir )
Go and tell Ferranghea that I want
to see him n the office.
Jee huzoor. (Yes, sir )
Doorman goes away.
I never liked the fellow. Gives me
Oh, I am sure he is a part time thug too in cahoots with Ferranghea but for the time being he serves my purpose.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN (with grudging admiration)
You are one hell of a fellow, Sleeman. Hats off to you, man.
Just doing my duty, sir. Nothing to it.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN (turning to go)
Well, I better appraise My Lord Bentick of all the goings on here. Good day, Captain Sleeman.
Captain Sleeman and Lt. Johnson both salute the major smartly.
SLEEMAN/ LT.JOHNSON (together)
Long live the Queen.
MAJOR AUGUSTIN (turns back and salutes)
Long live the Queen.
FERRANGHEA (with hands folded)
You are our protector, sir, help us in our moment of hard times.
I warned you many times , don’t drag me in your mess. But you won’t listen.
It was not my intention at all, my
Lord. But that Patne ruined everything. He went to finish Sleeman and did not even bother to check if the man was in his bed or not. Just slashed at this quilt and came back.
He is a duffer and you are a bigger
( holding both his ears)
My lord, now we have made a mistake, please help us out.
ZAMINDAR (shaking his head)
It is wisely said that it is better to have a wise enemy than a foolish friend.
(bowing his head with his
hands folded )
Jee Huzoor ( Yes, my lord )
Well, something will have to be
done. Or we’ll both sink together. You are like a mill stone around my neck.
FERRANGHEA (bowing his head)
Much obliged, my Lord.
You can hide in the tunnels of the
temple at Narsinghpur.
FERRANGHEA (lying down in supplication)
It is my good fortune that you are my protector.
Zamindar looks at him with contempt and anger, turns around and walks away. Ferranghea raises his head and watches him stride away with hate in his eyes.
FERRANGHEA (CONT’D) (whispering to himself)
I will see you in hell.
I/E.- COURTYARD OF FERRANGHEA’S HOUSE
Ferranghea’s family is collected. His mother is crying copiously, his wife sobs, his brother ( Jhurhoo ) is emotional, his son stands and watches puzzled.
Why are you all crying? Father is
going on a journey. When he returns he will bring many nice things, clothes for us, toys for me, ear rings and bangles for ma.
Ferranghea lifts the boy and hugs him close to his chest . His mother wails a little louder and his wife’s sobs increases.
May the devil rot Sleeman’s guts. He has destroyed the happiness of family.
Brother, how long will you remain
in hiding in the tunnels?
As long as it takes,then,I think, we will have to find a new place to ply our trade. It seems to me our ways are lost here.
Baba, what will you get for me this
FERRANGHEA (tears start out of his
Well, I hope, I can bring good fortune and freedom for you, my son.
He puts his son on the ground and walks away.
EXT- FIELDS – NEAR A STREAM – DAY
A gang of 40 Thugs with Ferranghea in the lead make their way through the forest . They halt at noon. Ferranghea takes his lotah ( vessel for bathing ) and goes with Khaderu, his body guard, to the river for a bath. As he pours water over his head with a lotah (vessel) an owl screeches on the tree. Khadheru listens with awe on his face. He wraps a towel (cloth) around his waist and runs to Ferranghea.
KHADERU Bhaag Chalo
(English translation) Lets get out of here.
Didn’t you hear the owl screech
It’s a bad omen. We have to beware.
That omen is for tomorrow, not
today. I am going to make a killing today. Before going into the tunnels we need to get a big amount, God knows when we will get the opportunity again.
Let’s get out of this place ,
master. That f— Sleeman is going to kill us. What’s his problem? We have mouths to feed. We are just doing a job. Why is he on our case. Devil rot his guts.
Both return to their group. Group walks on. They stop for the evening and have a meal. Ferranghea ties his horse and goes towards the village.
I/E – VILLAGE HEADMAN’S HOUSE- DAY
The headman sits in his court-yard surrounded by a few other villagers.
What’s new chief ? I hope the thugs
have not been bothering the people.
No , all is quiet and peaceful
Yes , not likely , the Company has
taken strict measures to keep them in check.
PATEL Where are you going ?
We are travellers on our way to
There is an uproar in the village .
Pakado, pakado thug hain. Maro.
Watch out , they are thugs. Don’t let them escape .
Ferranghea comes out. Looks. His horse is fleeing and the police are chasing the thugs. Ferranghea runs after his horse and catches up with him in the fields. He mounts his horse and gallops off.
Five of the thugs are standing in front of Sleeman, their hands tied. One of them is Khaderu. The other is Meer.
So , you are Ferranghea’s gang
members. I know your type. With these hands you have butchered many innocents. All for money. Many women are widowed due to you. Many children have been orphaned. You are criminals. Don’t you go to hell for committing murder?
Never. We only do it on orders from
Don’t ghosts of your victim haunt
Never, Devi protects us.
You are a Muslim, aren’t you? Then,
how come this belief in Devi?
Devi is mother to us all, whether
Hindu or Musalman.
(to Lt. Johnson, standing
Bloody rogues. Criminals like this have no God but their own criminal intent.
(to the thugs) (MORE)
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) Ferranghea kahan hai? Where is
The thugs are silent.
DURGA-ONE OF THE MEN We have no idea, sir. He is in
hiding somewhere. Maybe Jhurhoo will know.
Khaderu Gives him a glare.
SLEEMAN Who is Jhurhoo.
(scared and stammering)
Chobdar. ( Doorman)
Doorman comes running in. He is a little nervous too.
Jee , huzoor. ( Yes, sir )
Tell the sepoy to take them away
and lock them up in the Jubbulpore jail.
Jee Huzoor. ( Yes, sir )
He runs out. The sepoys come running in and roughly take the prisoners out.
SLEEMAN (to Lt. Johnson)
I have an idea.
I/E- NARSINGHPUR TEMPLE-TUNNELS-DAY
Ferranghea enters the temple, bows his head devoutly and then swiftly opens a door behind the statue , goes inside. There is another wall but just beside it is an opening which is just bricked up with loose stones. He pushes the stone inside, leaving a gaping hole, climbs in and puts the stones back in their place. Ferranghea runs through the tunnels, panting. We see a posse with Lt. Johnson in the lead, galloping.
INT.- CHRISTCHURCH, JUBBALPORE- DAY Amelie is praying.
AMELIE (V.O.) Le Bon Dieu,
A few words of the prayer are heard in French and the same is translated in English and overlapped with the following words in English
AMELIE (CONT’D) (V.O.) Come to our aid Dear God in this
hour of need. Protect us, my Lord. Help my husband to fulfill his mission. And God, if it is not too much trouble, can I have a son? But, I don’t want to worry you, if it is not part of your plans, but just telling you what is in my heart. I think that is allowed, n’est pas? Merci Beaucoup, Lord.
Amelie makes the sign of the cross and gets up and goes out of the church as bells ring.
INT.-SLEEMAN’S BEDROOM -NIGHT
Amelie and Sleeman have just made love. Amelie is lying in Sleeman’s arms.
Sleeman looks at her, a loving expression on his face as she speaks her heart out.
I went to the church today. To pray
to keep you safe from Ferranghea and his gang. I am very scared for you.
Tear come to her eyes. Sleeman wipes her tears.
Don’t be, my darling. Your husband
is well able to look after himself. In fact, more than that I’m worried about you.
Oh no. Please don’t fear for my
safety stand in the way of your duty.
Thank you, my darling . You are
I have to be. I am the wife of a
brave British officer.
That you are and such bravery
should not be without its rewards.
AMELIE (turning to him)
Oh yes, You can reward me right away.
(laughing and taking her
in his arms)
I was thinking in terms of a little camping holiday in a little mango orchard.
Ooo, la la . Sounds delicious. I
Several tents are pitched in an orchard. Amelie walks in the orchard admiring the trees laden with fruits. There is flash of green as two parakeets fly by. Far off in the distance the horizon is red with the flame of the forest trees. One can hear the sound of the koel (cuckoo) calling. Amelie walks into the tent where hangs her cage with the canary in it. Sleeman is getting ready.
Some breakfast for you, mon cherie?
That will be wonderful. But,
something light, if you please. It’s too hot to eat anything heavy.
What about a cool mango lassi ?
Perfect. What else but a mango lassi if you are in mango orchard.
AMELIE (ringing her bell)
The cook comes in.
For sahib, one mango lassi.
Jee, mem sahib. ( yes, Madam )
He goes out.
So, any progress in the matter of
SLEEMAN (looking at his pocket
Even as we speak, Lt. Johnson is on the first leg of our mission to apprehend Ferranghea.
I/E.- COURTYARD OF FERRANGHEA’S HOUSE- DAY
Lt. Johnson knocks on the door. Mother opens the door. Lt. Johnson questions her. She shakes her head to say no. Lt. Johnson gestures her to stand to the side. Sepoys go in and come out with Jhurhoo. The mother hugs Jhurhoo and cries. The sepoys escort Jhurhoo. The mother runs behind the cavalcade as it gallops away.
Jhurhoo stands in shackles in front of Sleeman.
You will be tried and the gallows
are waiting for you.
Jhurhoo looks scared.
It will be better for you if you
tell us Ferranghea’s whereabouts.
JHURHOO I do not know sir.
He ran away, leaving you behind and
you are still trying to shield him.
I am speaking the truth, my Lord.
Maybe the zamindar has an idea.
Doorman comes in.
Kya hai ? ( What do you want ? )
Sir, his mother and sister in law
Doorman goes out and comes back with Ferranghea’s mother, wife and his son.
Have mercy, my lord, my son is not guilty of any crime.
You asking me to be merciful to
someone who has not shown a shred of compassion to any human being?
The mother is quiet. Ferranghea’s wife puts her hand on her sons head and gives him a little push forward.
Please think of this little soul.
And what about the many souls which
your husband has despatched, widowed many women, orphaned many children.
The wife keeps quiet.
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) Chobdar ( doorman )
Doorman comes running in.
Jee huzoor ! (yes sir ! )
Tell the sepoys that they will
remain here till such a time that Ferranghea is not found. They should be made comfortable.
DOOR MAN Jee Huzoor ( yes sir )
Doorman goes out. Sepoys come in and take them all out, both women crying and Jhurhoo, wiping the tears from his eyes.
SLEEMAN (to Lt. Johnson)
And now for the Zamindar.
I/E.- TUNNEL OF NARSINGHPUR TEMPLE- DAY
Zamindar and Sleeman stand in the temple. Sounds of stones being dislodged can be heard. After a minute there is a shout, a scuffle and then Ferranghea is brought out by the sepoys.
(trying to look shocked)
What is this I hear? Sahib here is telling me you are a thug !
SLEEMAN (to the sepoys)
Take him to the Jubbulpore jail. (To Ferranghea)
Your family is safe with us.
Ferranghea glares at Sleeman.
I/E MANGO ORCHARD- A TENT-WHICH IS SLEEMAN’S MAKESHIFT OFFICE -DAY. Sleeman is on his seat. Ferranghea, chained and shackled, is brought into the office by the sepoys. Sleeman reads his file and does not even glance at Ferranghea . After 10 minutes.
Your friends have told us
everything. They have become King’s evidence. It will be better if you too tell us everything.
Ferranghea keeps quiet.
You are a criminal . You will be
tried and the gallows are waiting for you . Your wife will be widowed , Your children will beg from door to door. Khaderu will sleep with your wife. And he will make her sweep his floors. Your wife and children will go through what you have made others suffer. Eternal damnation will be your lot.
Ferranghea keeps quiet
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) (to everyone in the room)
Tum sab log bahar jao. (English translation)
All of you go out.
They all go out. Sleeman takes out his watch and puts it on the table .
If you want to save your life you
can become a state approver. Yes or No, you have exactly one minute to decide .
Silence as the watch ticks. At the end of one minute .
FERRANGHEA Haan ( yes )
How many have you killed ?
791. Pity you did not allow me the
When was the last incident ?
FERRANGHEA Three months ago.
SLEEMAN Where ?
Exactly where your tent is pitched.
SLEEMAN Show me.
The group is led to Captain Sleeman’s tent.
SLEEMAN (CONT’D) Darling we want to discuss
something . Do you mind going to the mess tent.
But don’t take too long, I want to
Digging starts. First some rags are pulled out. And then five bodies are taken out including a child. Thus they dig at three places and take out 21 bodies. While they are digging Patne comes and stands on the side. Ferranghea glares at him and spits on the ground. They dig a grave. There is a skeleton with a Hansli (anklet ) the same Patne had given to Gauri. Patne looks at it and his face blanches. He sits on his haunches and cries. Sleeman looks at him sympathetically.
INT – A HALL – DAY
Seated around a table are six generals, six civilians. The meeting is presided over by Lord Bentick. Enter Captain Sleeman. Sleeman opens out a map.
Here is a map of the territory over
which thugs operate. We have been following them, taking them in piece meal operations; warning other thugs and allowing them to escape or lie low. A concentrated effort is required . We would require at least 3000 troops. The area is divided into six regions each commanded by a Lt. Col. Completion of the operation will take at least two years. We start combing the area from 15th October. Operations go right up to monsoons. After monsoons we operate again in October. The job is that we search all suspicious travelers , follow them right up to their abodes. Establish their identity ,if not prosecute them.
If Captain Sleeman would kindly
leave us to confer.
Captain Sleeman goes out.
LORD BENTICK (CONT’D) Well, gentlemen. Here we have an
excellent plan. It is our duty to free this country from these parasites. Captain Sleeman is a devoted man who should be in charge
Not in his present rank .
He should be a Colonel at least .
So we are agreed upon to entrust
this work to Capt. Sleeman. ( He calls out )
Chobdar , Captain Sleeman ko Salaam
Chobdar, ( Doorman ) Request Captain Sleeman to come in.
Captain Sleeman enters
LORD BENTICK (CONT’D) Colonel Sleeman….
(Sleeman is shocked )
We have decided to entrust the work of thuggee extermination to you .
Thank you , my lord but I am too
junior to be promoted so fast.
That is for us to decide. You can choose your team and troops. Best of Luck, sir.
TIGHTENING THE DRAG NET. FOUR BATTALIONS COMB A FOREST AREA. THERE ARE TWELVE COMPANIES UNDER THE COMMAND OF THE MAJOR. VARIOUS AREAS ARE ALLOTTED TO THEM. THEY MOVE TOWARDS A PREDETERMINED POINT. THEY SURROUND TRAVELERS AND THUGS ALIKE. FERRANGHEA ESTABLISHES THEIR IDENTITY. HE POINTS OUT TOWARDS THE MEMBERS. SOMETIMES NAMING THEM SOMETIMES INDICATING INCIDENTS. PRISONERS ARE QUESTIONED DEEPLY BY INTERROGATORS.
INT.- JUBBULPORE PRISON- DAY
Thugs are locked up in groups of ten in the prison. Jhurhoo is in one of the groups. Ferranghea is not there. A Jailor comes in
JAILOR. Jhurhoo, kaun hai?
(English translation) Who among you is Jhurhoo?
JHURHOO Main, Huzoor.
(English translation) It is I , sir.
Come on, your mother has come to
Jhurhoo goes out with the jailor.
INT.- ANOTHER ROOM IN THE PRISON- DAY
Ferranghea’s mother looks at Jhurhoo in shackles and starts weeping. Jhurhoo goes and touches his mother’s feet. The mother puts out her hand to bless him
MOTHER Jug, jug,ji…..
(English Translation) Live long…..
She starts crying again.
Don’t cry mother. Send of your son
to the gallows with a smile and pray to Ma Kali that I am born your son in every life.
I could not repay the debt a son
owes to his mother of the milk she fed him for him to be thus. Forgive me I am helpless.
Mother cries. Jhurhoo turns around and walks away
EXT. – PRISON GROUNDS – EVENING
Fifty Thugs are going to be hanged . It is the Evening before hanging .
They sing :
Bairgiya nala zulam zor Jahan base hain teen chor . Jab tabla baje dhin dhin Tab ek ek par teen teen .
(English translation) Hell and Fury at the Bairagya stream,
Three thieves live there and dream.
When the drums beat, one two three.
They all fall on one and he gets creamed.
EXT -GROUND – DAY
Ten platforms . A hangman steps forward to put the noose around Jhurhoo’s neck. He lifts his hand to stop him.
Hey , don’t touch me with your
filthy hands. You low caste, we will not even drink water from your hands.
He puts the noose aronud his neck and shouts.
JHURHOO (CONT’D) Jai Ma Kali
ALL THE THUGS (shouting)
Jai Ma Kali
In this way each thug puts the noose around his neck , shouts Jai Kali, echoed by those left behind and swings.
EXT. JUBBULPORE JAIL -DAY
Ferranghea is in shackles. His mother, wife and son are there to see him off. He touches his mother’s feet who cries and hugs him. His wife touches his feet and cries. Ferranghea hugs his son and looks up at Sleeman.
We are off, sir. But what about our
We will take care of them.
The rest of the film is only in visuals with a voice over
A Banner with Felicitation Ceremony. (Abhinandan samaroh) written on it. On the dais are a Collection of Indians who praise Sleeman for the good deed done.
Visual of Thugs being sent to jail or hung or on a ship sailing to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Because of Ferranghea’s capture and
the extraordinary work done by Captain Sleeman 400 thugs were hung and 3000 sent to jail .
Visual of thugs making carpet.
NARRATOR (CONT’D) (V.O.) Many were employed in a factory to make carpets.
A school with children studying, one of the children is Ferranghea’s child.
NARRATOR (V.O.) (CONT’D) The thugs children were sent to school.
Visual of Amelie and Sleeman travelling, happy. Sleeman hard at work, writing with mounds of papers.
NARRATOR (CONT’D) (V.O.) Sleeman and Amelie left for Sagar in 1831 where he was appointed magistrate. He filed in his report on thuggee and as a result the Department of Thuggeee and Dacaity came into being.
Visual of Village of Kohka and Sleeman meeting Baba Haridas. Sleeman going to temple with Amelie.
NARRATOR (CONT’D) (V.O.) In 1832 Sleeman met Baba Haridas
who advised the childless Sleeman to visit the temple of the Devi. Soon after Sleeman and Amelie had a son, Arthur Henry Sleeman, after four years of marriage.
Visual of town of Sleemanabad.
NARRATOR (V.O.) (CONT’D) A grateful Sleeman distributed 100
acres of land to the villagers of Kohka which came to be known as Sleemanabad.
Visual of Devi temple and bell. A lamp burning.
NARRATOR (V.O.) (CONT’D) Sleeman also presented a bell to
the temple and made arrangements to keep a lamp burning in his name. This lamp burnt bright till the year 1996.
Visual of flame guttering and then dying off.
NARRATOR (CONT’D) (V.O.) The lamp extinguished in the year of 1996.
Visual of just the smoke of the flame rising.
NARRATOR (CONT’D) (V.O.) Of such fickle metal is fame
wrought and so short is the memory of a grateful nation.
Story & screenplay – Bhagwan Shukla
Story & screenplay by
Registered with the Library of Congress – PAu3-074229
PAu003074229 / 2006-10-13