Drama

Sceenplay: Aquarium

By Balu George

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Interior – Restaurant – Afternoon – Cochin.

Two men in their mid-thirties are seated at a table having lunch. One is Paul, who runs an aquarium store and the other is Rajeev who works in an I.T company. They are childhood friends. Paul is wearing a T-shirt and jeans and has a lazy look about him. He is our protagonist.

Rajeev

My wedding anniversary is coming up.

Paul

Congratulations. What are you getting your wife?

Rajeev

` A necklace.

Paul

Diamond?

Rajeev

No Swarovski. They look like diamonds.

Paul

Ha Ha. Always the miser. Did your son believe that the IPad you bought for him from Bangalore got misplaced by the Airline?

Rajeev

Well these are tough times. How is the aquarium business going?

Paul

Decently.

Rajeev

What about Mr. Dsouza?

Paul

Same as usual. A pain in the ass.

Rajeev

Let us take a walk. What do you say?

Paul

Yeah man.

Both of them exit the restaurant.

Exterior – Convent Street – Afternoon.

Rajeev and Paul walk down the street chatting when Rajeev spots a bookshop.

Rajeev

Let us go in and have a look. I heard the new Chetan Bhagat book is out.

Both of them enter the store. It is quaint and done up in a tasteful manner. The books are divided section wise ranging from literary fiction, fiction and romance to philosophy. A girl in her late twenties is seated at the counter. She wears spectacles and is dressed in a churidaar. She looks up from the counter, where she is absorbed in a book. They approach the counter. She is Liz.

Rajeev

Is the new Chetan Bhagat book out?

Liz

No. It will be available only next week. You can take a look around to see if there is anything else you like.

They start walking around, browsing books. They come upon the book, Sacred games.

Paul

Hey this is the Netflix series book.

Rajeev turns the book around and looks at the price.

Rajeev

Geez. This price is too high. I will get this for half the price on Amazon. Wait, let me take a click so that I don’t forget the name.

He takes out his mobile and takes a photo. He hears a raised voice from behind.

Liz

What do you think you are doing?

Rajeev

Cool down lady. Just taking a picture.

Liz

So that you can order it off Amazon. Get out of my shop now.

Rajeev

Your book shop will go out of business soon. Everything is online. Why do you even bother?

Liz moves in close to Rajeev.

Liz

Get out now.

Rajeev

No I won’t get out.

Paul steps in between them trying to cool things down.

Paul

Sorry Ma’am. We will get out now. My apologies on behalf of my friend.

Paul drags Rajeev out. Then goes into the shop again.

Paul

I am terribly sorry.

Liz

No it is all right.

Paul walks out. Rajeev is still furious.

Rajeev

Mark my words. All physical shops will close their shutters soon. Everything is available online. All of them will shut down

Paul.

But one. Aquarium shops.

Rajeev

Aquarium shops are already online

Paul

No man, what I mean is that my customers are loyal.

Rajeev

Cash is king.

Paul

No man. She is kind of cute isn’t she?

Rajeev

Ok I got to go.

Fade out:

Exterior – Paul’s house – Evening.

Paul enters the front yard on his bike and walks in through the door. It is a double storied building with a faded look to it. He goes in to find his sister (Manju) his nephew (Rohan) and niece (Reba) inside the house. His father, George is seated on an armchair reading the paper while his mother (Mercy) is in the kitchen.

Reba

Look Rohan, Ammacha (Uncle) is here.

Rohan

Hi Ammacha.

Paul

Hey guys. How are you?

Manju.

Amma, your favourite kid is home. Why don’t you prepare tea for him, the glorified fish seller?

Paul

For God’s sake I am not a fish seller. I don’t sell dead fish to eat. I sell live fish to be placed in aquariums. And it is a business.

Manju

Fish is fish. You are 35, barely support yourself, and is balding.

Paul looks alarmed.

Paul

Who said I am balding?

Manju

You are.

Paul

Appa (Father). Am I?

George

She is just teasing you. You are not going bald.

Manju

Appa, when did you go bald?

George

35.

Paul looks alarmed and moves into the bathroom and checks his forehead to see whether there are any signs of balding. Paul walks out.

Paul

I am not balding.

Manju

Whatever. You wish. Ok. I have to go home. Rohan’s entrance exam to school is coming up. He has to prepare.

Manju goes into the kitchen says goodbye to her mother and leaves but not before asking Reba and
Rohan to give a kiss to their uncle. Paul takes out a 100 note each and gives it to them.

Fade out:

Interior – Morning – Paul’s house.

We see Paul having breakfast. He steps out of the house dressed in his usual t-shirt and jeans and walks to work. His store is located on Jew Street. It is a quiet street housing a few trading companies, Paul’s store and the store of Mr Dsouza his competitor who also runs an aquarium store. He is an Anglo-Indian settled in Cochin. He is always impeccably dressed in a white shirt tucked into black pants and always wears a cap. He is around 70 and walks with a cane. Both their stores are opposite to each other and they can see into each other’s shop through the glass doors. There is also a tea shop selling banana fry, Vada and other Kerala snacks along with tea on the street run by a man called Biju.

Paul opens the shutter of his shop. He sees Dsouza walk up the street to his store. Paul mutters under his breath and opens the door and steps in.

Montage:

Paul seeing Dsouza opening up his shop.

Paul sitting at the desk reading the paper and looking at the clock.

A lady enters Pauls shop. Paul gets up.

` `Lady

Do you have Goldfish?

Paul

Yes Ma’am.

Lady

How much?

Paul

300 per fish.

Suddenly there is a loud voice from outside the shop. Dsouza is standing outside his shop with a loudspeaker.

Dsouza

Goldfish for 250. Goldfish for 250.

The lady looks at Paul, exits his shop and moves to Dsouza’s shop.

Paul mutters under his breath. Then sits down on his chair and continues reading the paper. After some time has passed he sees a man enter Dsouza’s shop. The man is standing next to the aquarium which holds betta fish. It is sold by Dsouza for 200. They both send spies into each other stores to know the prices. Paul smiles, grabs a loudspeaker placed beside his desk and steps out.

Paul

(On loudspeaker)

Betta fish for 150. Betta fish for 150.

Exterior – Tea stall – Evening.

Paul is seated on one of the benches laid outside the tea shop having tea talking to Biju who is in his mid-fifties.

Biju

So what is the count today?

Paul

12 for him, 10 for me.

Biju laughs.

Paul

See you tomorrow. Got to go.

Biju

Bye.

Interior – Bookshop – Saturday morning.

Paul enters the bookshop. Liz looks up from the counter and smiles.

Liz

Have you come to take photos or buy books?

Paul laughs.

Paul

No I just want to look around. Thanks.

Paul walks along the bookshelves, stealing glances at Liz who is absorbed in a book.

Liz looks up, gets up and walks to Paul.

Liz

So what kind of books do you read?

Paul

Tintin.

Liz laughs.

Liz

That is not a book. It is a comic. I like them too. What else do you like?

Paul

Well I like Phantom, Mandrake, and Lothar.

Liz

Woah, those are old comics.

Paul

Yeah I know. My father was a newspaper agent. So he would keep one copy of these comics to himself. He has this huge collection, all neatly bound.

Liz

Wow, that is cool. What do you do?

Paul

I run an aquarium store.

Liz

That is interesting.

Paul

Thanks. Do you own this store?

Liz

No. I am the manager cum cashier cum salesgirl.

A man walks into the shop.

Liz

Ok I got to go. Come around.

Paul

Sure.

Interior – Liz’s house – Evening.

Liz’s father (Thomas) is a retired military officer while her mother (Daisy) is a homemaker.

Daisy

How was your day?

Liz

All right. Can I have a coffee?

Daisy

Yeah. Well there is something your father and I would like to talk to you about.

Liz

What?

Thomas

You are 29, Liz.

Liz

So?

Thomas

You need to get married. We are getting old.

Liz

Not now.

Thomas looks at Daisy.

` Thomas

A boy is coming to see you this Sunday.

Liz protests.

Liz

I don’t want an arranged marriage. I will find someone.

Thomas.

Maybe this boy is the guy you are looking for. If you don’t like him you can always refuse. You know we won’t force you into anything. He is the vice-president of an IT frim

Liz thinks it over.

Liz

Ok. One time. And by the way I don’t care whether he is a vice president or president.

Fade out:

Interior – Restaurant – Saturday Morning.

Rajeev and Paul are seated at a table having lunch.

Paul

So did your wife like the gift?

Rajeev

Yeah, she did.

Paul

What did she get you?

Rajeev

A fake Nike shoe

Paul laughs.

Paul

You deserve that you idiot.

Rajeev

So how are you?

Paul

You remember that girl from the bookshop?

Rajeev

Yeah.

Paul

Well I went there again. We stuck up a conversation. She seems nice.

Rajeev

She is arrogant. That is what she is. But considering the fact that you have never been with a woman I give you permission to go ahead.

Paul

(Sarcastically)

I don’t need your permission. But thanks. By the way man, do you think I am going bald.

Rajeev examines Paul’s head.

Rajeev

Maybe. Or it maybe just that you have a wide forehead?

Paul

(Heaving a sigh of relief)

It must be that.

Rajeev

I am going to Vietnam next month.

Paul

You?

Rajeev

Her father is sponsoring it.

Paul

No wonder.

Fade out:

Interior – Liz’s house – Sunday morning.

Liz’s family is seated on a couch. The boy’s family is seated on another couch. Daisy gets up.

Daisy

Would you like tea or coffee?

Boy’s mother

Coffee please.

The boy’s phone rings and he excuses himself.

Boy’s Mother

We really don’t have anything to ask or say to you. You youngsters talk and decide on your future.

 

Liz smiles. The boy walks back into the living room.

Thomas

You both can go and talk in the other room.

Boy

Sure Uncle.

Liz gets up and leads the boy into her room. Both of them sit on the bed. There is an awkward silence.

Boy

I am a workaholic with lot of conference calls and business meetings. So I will be home only late at night.

Liz

Ok.

Boy

Do you have any questions for me?

Liz

Yeah.

Boy

Shoot.

Liz

Do you smoke?

Boy

No. Shoot.

Liz.

Do you drink?

Boy

No. Shoot.

Liz

Do you read books?

Boy

No. Shoot.

Liz

Do you cook?

Boy

No. Shoot

Liz

I don’t have anything else to ask.

Fade out:

Interior – Liz’s house.

Thomas and Daisy wave the boy and his family off. Daisy turns around to Liz.

Daisy

So tell me Liz. Did you like him?

Liz

No, he wants me to shoot him.

Daisy looks puzzled.

Thomas

What?

Fade out:

`

Interior – Bookshop – Next Sunday – Morning.

Paul walks into the bookshop. Liz looks up and sees him.

Liz

Hey you are back.

Paul

I am.

Liz

What brings you around?

Paul

I thought I would buy some books.

Liz smiles.

Liz

We don’t sell comics.

Paul laughs.

Paul

No some, serious reading. What would you recommend?

Liz

Well let’s have a look around.

They walk around the shop looking at books. Finally she selects a Harry potter for him.

Paul

Is this a thriller?

Liz

Kind of. It is a good way to get started, considering you have not read much.

Paul

Ok. Let me try.

Liz

Come around after you have read it and I will select some more books for you.

Paul

Ok. Thanks. See you soon.

Paul walks out of the shop.

Montage:

Paul at his store trying to read the book and dozing off. A lady enters the shop and immediately Dsouza is out of the shop with his loudspeaker. Paul desperately tries to keep the lady from leaving the shop but she does.

Paul lying in bed trying to read the book and giving up.

Interior – Bookshop – Next Sunday Morning.

Paul enters the book store and approaches Liz.

Liz

Hey. So did you finish it?

Paul

I am a hopeless case. I read 10 pages.

Liz laughs.

Liz

I like your honesty. Do you want to have lunch next Saturday?

Paul

Yeah sure.

Liz

Ok. Will see you next Saturday at Grand’s.

Fade out:

Interior – Paul’s house- Evening.

Paul enters the house to find his sister and her kids at home.

Paul

Hey kids.

Reba and Rohan

Hi Ammacha.

Manju

Now Rohan. Concentrate on your studies. Your entrance exam is coming up.

George

Don’t put pressure on him. Did I place any pressure on you two?

Manju

No wonder Paul became a fish seller.

Paul

For God’s sake I run an aquarium business.

Manju

Yeah right. Ok Rohan. Who is the Father of the nation?

Rohan

Mickey mouse.

Reba laughs.

Manju

I will give you a beating. Be serious. What is the spelling of Kerala?

Rohan

K

Manju

Good.

Rohan

A

Manju

No. E.

Rohan

KER

Manju

Good.

Rohan

U

Manju

No. A

Johan

KERAL

Manju

Good. Last letter.

Rohan

I.

Reba rolls on the floor with laughter as Manju places her hands on her head.

They are about to leave.

Manju

Paul, I think you have lost some more hair.

Paul

Go to hell.

Manju

Reba, your Ammacha is going bald soon.

Reba laughs.

Fade out:

Interior – Restaurant – Afternoon.

Liz is waiting outside the restaurant. Soon Paul arrives.

Paul

Hey. Hope I am not late.

Liz.

No, I am just early. Let us go in.

They enter and Liz excuses herself to go to the washroom. A man seated at one of the tables mistaking Paul for a waiter asks him for a glass of water. Liz looks amused and leaves to the washroom. Paul goes to the cooler and gets the man a glass of water. Liz comes back and they sit at a table.

Liz

I see you got him his glass of water. Why?

Paul

What does it matter?

Liz laughs.

Liz

You are such a nice guy.

Paul

Thanks.

Liz

So how did you get into the aquarium business?

Paul

My grandfather’s place was near the backwaters. I used to go fishing with him and developed a fascination for fish. Hence.

Liz

Interesting.

Paul

Yeah. It is an odd profession to be in. What about you?

Liz

I studied literature. But it had always been my dream to work in a library or a bookshop. Just be around books. Hence.

Paul

Interesting. So I am assuming you own a lot of books.

Liz

Yeah about 700 of them.

Paul

Wow

The camera tracks away leaving them deep in conversation.

Exterior – Convent street – Late afternoon.

Paul and Liz are walking along the road when Paul spots a coconut vendor standing nearby. There is only one coconut left on his cart.

Paul

You want coconut water?

Liz

Yeah. It is very hot. I wouldn’t mind one.

They approach the vendor.

Paul

Only one left?

Vendor

It is very hot Sir. It is much in demand. You want the last one.

Paul

Yeah.

The vendor looks behind Paul. Paul turns around to see Dsouza and his face contorts in anger.

Dsouza

One coconut water please?

Vendor

This Sir has already bought it.

Dsouza

How much is the price?

Vendor

25

Dsouza

I will give you 35.

Paul

(Angrily)

40

Liz

Leave it Paul.

Dsouza

100

Paul

150

Dsouza

200

Paul

300

Dsouza walks away. Paul smiles. Dsouza turns around.

Dsouza

The price of a Goldfish.

Paul gets angrier. Dsouza walks away coolly.

Liz

What was that all about?

Paul

Nothing. It is long story. India vs Pakistan story.

Liz

What?

Paul

He has an aquarium store near mine.

Liz laughs.

Vendor

Here is your coconut sir.

Paul takes 20 Rs. from his purse and gives it to the vendor.

Vendor

300 Sir.

Paul

What? Ok here is 300.

FADE OUT:

Interior – Restaurant – Sunday afternoon.

Rajeev and Paul are seated at the table having lunch.

Rajeev

Well I have got some news for you.

Paul

What?

Rajeev

I bought a few fishes for my aquarium.

Paul

You too Brutus. Why? You could have bought it from me.

Rajeev

How much does a Goldfish cost at your place?

Paul

300.

Rajeev

I got it for 150.

Paul looks amazed.

Paul

From where?

Rajeev

Fishkart.com

Paul

What?

Rajeev

I warned you right? Everything is available online now. This is a new company set up which sells fish online at a low price. I warned you didn’t I? Have your customers reduced?

Paul

Yeah a bit.

Rajeev

Buck up son.

Paul sits there looking worried.

Interior – Pauls house – That evening.

Paul is at his computer checking out Fishkart.com. Paul is alarmed seeing the low cost at which they are selling. His Mother calls out to him from the living room.

Mercy

Hey Paul. The kids are here.

Paul walks out into the living room.

Manju

Hey fish seller.

Paul does not respond.

Manju

We bought some fishes for our aquarium.

Paul

Good. I would not have even given it you for free.

Manju

No need. Have you not heard of Fishkart.com?

Paul looks stunned.

Manju

You have lost more hair fish seller.

Fade out:

Interior – Liz’s house – Afternoon.

Another boy has come to see Liz. The usual routine is followed. Daisy goes to the kitchen to prepare tea and the boy and Liz walks into his room. The boy is handsome, but wears a lot of gold. A gold bracelet, a heavy gold chain .etc. He works in Dubai. They sit on the bed.

Boy

How are you?

Liz

Good and you.

Boy

Good. I work as a manager at a jewellery store.

Liz

Obvious.

Boy

Oh you are smart. It is ok. I like intelligent girls.

Liz

Nice.

Boy

You have got a lot of books.

Liz

Yes.

Boy

Do you read them?

Liz

No I eat them.

Boy

Ha Ha. I like smart girls. Do you know how to play chess?

Liz

No.

Boy

I will teach you. Every morning before going to work I like to relax by playing a game of chess.

Liz

Nice.

Fade out.

Exterior – Liz’s house – Morning.

They wave off the boy and his family. Daisy turns around to Liz.

Daisy

So tell me Liz. Do you like him?

Liz.

He wants me to make breakfast for him in the morning and then play chess with him. No I don’t like him. There is this guy I like by the way. I am going to ask him out.

Daisy sighs.

Liz goes into her room and calls Paul.

Liz

Hey Paul.

Paul

Hey Liz. What is up?

Liz

Do you want to meet at Marine drive next Saturday evening?

Paul

Yeah Sure.

Liz.

Ok see you then.

Paul

Yeah.

Fae out:

Interior – Paul’s room – Night.

Paul steps into the bathroom and looks at the mirror. He is horrified to see that the entire front portion of his head is bald. He screams and finds himself on the streets. Dsouza is raising his stick at him and laughing. So is Biju. So is Liz. He looks up and sees a huge hoarding of Fishkart.com.

Paul wakes up startled. He was dreaming. He goes to the bathroom, washes his face and goes back to sleep.

Exterior – Tea stall – Evening.

Paul is having tea.

Biju

What is the count today?

Paul

3 for him. 2 for me.

Biju

What is happening?

Paul

They have started selling fish cheap online.

Biju

Oh. Everything is online now. But tea stalls will never go online.

Paul

Yeah. You are a lucky man. Anyway got to go. See you.

Biju

Bye.

Exterior – Marine drive- Saturday evening.

Liz and Paul are seated on a bench.

Liz

I like you.

Paul

I like you too.

Liz

So the thing is I really like you.

Paul

I do too.

Liz

So do you want to come over and see my parents?

Paul

What?

Liz

Do you want to date?

Paul

Yeah on second thought I don’t want too.

Liz

Yeah me too. I have this gut instinct which tells me you are the guy for me.

Paul

Yeah me too. We will make a good couple. All right I will come and meet your parents.

Liz

My dad is a bit crazy. So handle him carefully.

She gets up and kisses him on the cheek.

Fade out:

Exterior – Paul’s shop – Morning.

Paul steps out of the shop and places a board outside showing the marked down prices off his fishes.

He goes back in and sits and reads the paper. He looks out and sees outside Dsouza’s shop a board showing prices off his fishes at prices lesser than Paul’s. He steps out. Dsouza sees him and raises his stick at him. Paul swears and goes in.

Exterior – Tea stall – Evening.

Paul is having tea.

Biju

What is the count today?

Paul

4 for him. I for me.

Biju

Oh.

Paul

By the way Biju, do you think I am going bald?

Biju examines Paul’s head.

Biju

Maybe.

Interior – Liz’s house – Morning.

Paul is seated on a chair. Thomas and Daisy are seated on a couch in front of him while Liz stands beside them.

Thomas

My daughter tells me you run an aquarium store.

Paul

Yes Sir.

Thomas

Why?

Paul

It was my childhood dream Sir.

Thomas

To be a fish seller.

Paul

I run a business Sir.

Thomas

Yeah right. Kids dream of becoming scientists, engineers and doctors. Whoever heard of somebody wanting to become a fish seller?

Paul

I run a business Sir. I am not a fish seller.

Thomas

Yeah right.

Paul looks at Liz and fidgets in his seat.

Thomas

Tell me, how much do you earn in a month?

Paul

Around 30,000 sir.

Thomas

Sale or profit.

Paul

Profit sir.

Thomas

How do you expect to support my daughter on a meagre 30,000 Rs?

Liz

Pa, I also earn money. We will be able to run a household smoothly.

Thomas

So you say. Anyway how can I be sure you make 30,000 a month?

Do you have any proof?

Paul

No sir.

Thomas

I need to be sure you make 30,000 a month.

Paul

I will bring you and show you 90,000 after 3 months. I need three months because the business has slowed down a bit.

Thomas

You can borrow money from your parents and show it to me. How do I trust you?

Paul

You have to trust me sir.

Thomas

Do you have a CCTV in your shop?

Paul

No Sir.

Thomas

Well install a CCTV in your shop.

Paul

Why Sir?

Paul

Each time a customer comes and buys something I want visual proof of the sale. You have to hold up the Sales invoice up in front the camera. Then only I can be sure.

Paul looks exasperatedly at Liz.

Paul

Ok Sir.

Exterior – Liz’s house – Evening.

Paul

Is your father mad?

Liz

Yeah. Anyway do you really earn 30,000 a month?

Paul

I used too. But with Fishkart.com coming up my revenue has reduced.

Liz

I don’t care whatever money you make. I will run away with you.

Paul

No need. I will come up with something.

Interior – Restaurant – Afternoon

Rajeev and Paul sit at the table having lunch.

Paul

Show me a way out buddy.

Rajeev

I can’t come up with anything man. But this is your best chance to get married.

You are balding man.

Paul looks alarmed.

Paul

You told me I had a wide forehead, so it must be that.

Rajeev

Yeah I thought so too. But sorry man, you are really balding.

Paul slumps down on the table.

Fade out:

Interior – Paul’s store – Morning.

Paul and a CCTV installation guy together install the camera on top of the front door. Paul sighs.

Later – A man enters the shop and asks him for 5 fighter fish. Dsouza steps out of his store with a Loudspeaker. Paul excuses himself from the customer goes out, picks up a stone and shows it to Dsouza. Dsouza warily steps back into the shop. The man buys the fish and leaves. Paul goes in front of the camera and waves the sales invoice in front of it.

Exterior – Marine drive – Evening.

Paul and Liz are seated on a bench.

Liz

Is business picking up?

Paul

No Liz.

Liz

Has the CCTV been installed?

Paul

Yeah.

Liz

I have an idea.

Paul

What?

Liz

Why don’t you hire some actors and locals to come into the shop and pretend like they are buying fish?

Paul looks at Liz.

Paul

Might work. But from where do I produce 90,000 Rs? And you have to pay these locals.

Liz

How much savings do you have?

Paul

About 50,000.

Liz

Really? Only that much?

Paul

Yeah. I don’t believe in saving.

Liz

I will lend you money.

Paul

No I won’t accept.

Liz

Why are you so proud Paul? All men.

Paul

I will spent my savings.

Exterior- Tea stall – Morning.

Paul is talking to Biju.

Paul

So this is the problem Biju. Her old man is crazy. I need some locals and at a low cost.

Biju

Let me see.

Interior – Paul’s store – Morning.

Two kids walk into the store and buy some fish. After they leave Paul wearily lifts the sales invoice in front of the camera and waves it at it.

Biju comes to the shop and calls him out.

Paul

Did you get someone?

Biju

There are some union labourers in the locality. I have spoken to them. They have agreed to come in and buy fish. They will come in decent clothes.

Paul

How much do they want?

Biju

They want 200 per visit.

Paul

Ok.

Biju

They will hand over the fish to me. You can take it in later.

Interior – Paul’s store – Next morning.

A man walks into the store, and buys a fish. Paul sees him off, lifts the sales invoice and waves it at the camera cheerfully. The man walks out goes to the tea stall hands over the fish and collects 200 Rs.

This scene is repeated 4 or 5 times a day with different men. Dsouza watches all this jealously from his shop.

Exterior – Marine drive – Evening.

Paul and Liz are seated on a bench.

Liz

So it is really working.

Paul

Yeah. I am thinking of coming over to your house at the end of this week and showing your father the C.C.T.V grabs.

Liz

Yeah. That will be great.

Paul

By the way, do you think I am balding?

Liz

You have a wide forehead.

Paul smiles.

Interior – Liz’s house – Morning

Paul is seated on the couch with a laptop on his lap. Thomas walks into the room.

Thomas

So? Did you achieve the target?

Paul

Yes Sir. The sales have hit a new high.

Thomas

Show me the video.

Paul shows him the laptop, with the edited montage of customers coming in and buying the fish and Paul raising the sales invoice in front of the camera. Paul is beaming joyously.

Thomas sits and watches.

Paul

Is that enough Sir?

Thomas

Let us go out.

Paul

Why Sir?

Thomas

I want to show you something.

Paul

Ok Sir.

They walk out into the car shed which is an extension of the house.

Thomas

Last month, one of these beams showed a crack.

Paul

Ok Sir. You should get it repaired.

Thomas

I did.

Paul

Good Sir. You must always be careful.

Thomas

You idiot. The same workers who came to fix the beam are the ones buying fish from your store. You bloody fraud.

Paul looks embarrassed.

Paul

I had no other option Sir. Fishkart is eating into my business and I really love your daughter.

Thomas

Do you really love her?

Paul

Yes, I do.

Thomas

Then I will give you another 2 months. You are running a business. Come up with something.

Paul

Thank You Sir.

Thomas

By the way are you going bald?

Paul

No Sir. I just have a wide forehead.

Fade out:

Exterior – Tea stall – Morning

Paul is seated on the bench having tea when his phone rings. It is Rajeev.

Rajeev

Hey man.

Paul

Hey.

Rajeev

I have some news for you.

Paul

What?

Rajeev

My father in law is building a mall.

Paul

Yeah, you had mentioned it to me.

Rajeev

Well the thing is he wants to place a huge aquarium with exotic fishes at the mall.

Paul

Wow.

Rajeev

So I have talked to him. And he is willing to give him the contract. But he wants at least 100 pieces.

Paul

Oh. I don’t have enough money to buy so many pieces. Exotic tropical fishes range anywhere between 1500 to 3000 Rs. Man, I don’t have any luck. It will come to around one lakh. I don’t have the money.

Rajeev

I can lend you 50,000.

Paul

You?

Rajeev

Yeah man.

Paul

Thanks. I will try to arrange the rest of the money.

Rajeev

I will talk to my father in law.

Paul

Thanks a ton man.

Rajeev

Anything for an old friend.

Paul turns around to Biju at whose stall he took the phone call.

Paul

Biju do you have 50,000 to lend me?

Biju

Unfortunately no. I am building a house and all my money is caught up in it.

Exterior – Marine drive – Evening.

Paul

So I need to find another 50,000 to get the contract.

Liz

I can lend it to you.

Paul

No Liz. I told you earlier too right. I don’t want us to get off on the wrong foot.

Liz

Ok. Whatever. Do something.

Paul

I will.

Interior – Paul’s house – Same evening.

Paul enters the house. Manju and the kids are there.

Manju

Hey fish seller.

Paul

(Irritated)

Will you quit?

Manju

So I hear from mother you found a girl.

Paul

Yeah. So what?

Manju

What does she do?

Paul

She works in a book shop.

Manju

Comic shop?

Paul

(Derisively)

Ha Ha.

Manju takes a packet from her purse and hands it over to Paul.

Paul

What is this?

Manju

50,000 Rs. Ma, told me about your contract.

Paul is moved and goes and hugs Manju.

Paul

Thanks.

Manju

Go get the girl.

Paul laughs.

Manju

I think you have lost more hair.

Paul laughs. Then goes into the bathroom and check his head in the mirror.

Fade out:

Interior- Johar & Co – Wholesaler dealers in fish- Morning.

Paul is seated with Mr Johar in his office. He is a balding middle aged man.

Paul

So I want a variety of tropical fishes which I have put in this list.

Paul hands over the list to Mr Johar. Johar looks it over.

Johar

All this have to be ordered from outside the country.

Paul

That is all right.

Johar

Have you brought the money?

Paul

Yes.

Paul hands over the money.

Johar

It will take two weeks.

Paul

That is all right.

Fade out:

Interior – Paul’s store – Morning.

Paul calls up Rajeev.

Paul

Hey man. I have arranged the money and placed the order.

Rajeev

Great. Do you want to meet this weekend?

Paul

Yeah sure man.

Rajeev

Ok.

Exterior – Marine drive – evening

Paul and Liz are seated on a bench.

Liz

Wow. You really did it.

Paul

I did.

Liz hugs Paul.

Fade out:

Paul is standing inside the church in a wedding suit. He is smiling. Liz is walked down the aisle by Thomas who is not very happy. They reach near Paul. Liz and Paul look into each other’s eyes. As the priest is about to start the ceremony, Thomas shouts.

Thomas

Wait!

Everybody looks at him. Thomas steps near Paul, takes hold of his hair and pulls. His hair comes off and his bald head is revealed.

Thomas

He is bald. He wears a wig. Fraud.

Liz screams and walks away.

Paul wakes up startled. He rubs his face and then goes back to sleep.

Exterior – Medical Trust – Evening.

Paul is standing outside the hospital looking despondent when his phone rings.

Interior – Paul’s House – Night.

Paul rings Liz.

Paul

Liz can you meet me urgently tomorrow morning at our usual place.

Liz

Yeah sure. What is it?

Paul

Nothing. Will talk tomorrow.

Exterior – Marine drive – Morning.

Paul is seated on the bench. Liz approaches him and sits beside him.

Liz

What?

Paul

I can’t marry you Liz.

Liz

What? Are you crazy? Why?

Paul

Yesterday, I visited the hospital.

Liz looks alarmed.

Liz

What? Is there any problem?

Paul

Yes.

Liz

What?

Paul

My dermatologist has confirmed I am going bald.

Liz bursts out laughing.

Paul

It is not that only.

Liz

What else?

Paul

That order I placed with Johar & Co.

Liz

Yeah.

Paul

The exporter from Indonesia cheated them on the consignment and Johar is unwilling to refund my money. I am screwed.

Liz

It does not matter to me whether you are bald or not. And I am sure your business will pick up.

Paul

I can’t Liz. I don’t want to be a burden on you.

Liz gets angry.

Liz

Do whatever you want idiot. I am going in for an arranged marriage.

Liz storms off.

Exterior – Paul’s house – Terrace.

Paul is seated in the terrace, having Old Monk and weeping.

Interior – Next Morning – Paul’s store.

Paul looks dishevelled and is seated at the table having swigs of rum. He sees the loudspeaker near his table and kicks it away, swearing.

Biju come into the shop.

Paul

What Biju?

Biju

Dsouza wants to see you.

Paul

I don’t want to see that old scoundrel. Tell him to go take a hike.

What does he want from me?

Biju

He has a proposal for you.

Paul

What proposal?

Biju

Come and meet him. He will tell you.

Paul

I am not coming.

Biju grabs Paul and drags him out of the shop.

Exterior – Tea stall – Morning.

Dsouza is seated on the bench. Paul grudgingly goes and sits near him. Dsouza orders tea for both of them.

Paul

What do you want old man?

Dsouza

Did you hear about Fishkart?

Paul

Yeah those bloody scoundrels.

Dsouza

How much rent do you pay for your shop?

Paul

15,000

Dsouza

I pay 15,000 too.

Paul

So?

Dsouza

We are eating into each other’s business right.

Paul

Yeah we may be.

Dsouza

That trading company at the end of the street has shut shop. The owner is an old friend. He is going to the U.S to live with his daughter.

Paul

So?

Dsouza

He has offered to rent it to me for 8,000 Rs. He needs someone he trusts and he trusts me.

Paul

Why are you telling me all this?

Dsouza

I am suggesting a merger.

Paul

What?

Dsouza

A merger. We will set shop together. 50 – 50 share.

Paul thinks it over.

Paul

(Muttering under his breath)

Beggars can’t be choosers.

Dsouza

Deal?

Paul

Deal.

One month later

Interior – Paul & Dsouza Aquarium shop – Evening.

The shop is full of different kind of aquariums. There is a healthy crowd. Dsouza is seated at the counter while Paul is showing the customers around.

At one corner of the shop there are some book shelves. On the book shelves are comics and all kind of books picked from Liz’s personal collection. Liz is seated behind the counter happily talking to 2 kids.

Kid-1

Are these comics for sale?

Liz

No you can lend them. What are you looking for?

Kid-1

Adventure stories.

Liz

Well Hardy boys is good.

The camera tracks away to Paul.

His phone rings.

Paul

Yes Manju.

Manju

Hey fish seller.

Paul

Yeah right.

Manju

Your nephew cleared his entrance exam.

Paul

Wow. That is great.

Exterior- Aquarium store – Night.

Dsouza, Liz and Paul step out and Paul closes the shutter.

Paul

See you tomorrow, Old man.

Dsouza

See you tomorrow scoundrel.

Dsouza walks away. Paul gets on his bike with Liz behind him and they ride off.

The End.

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Categories: Drama

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