THE LAST LEAF

2nd Draft Inspired from "The Last Leaf" by O. Henry screenplay: Bhavani Iyer Vikramaditya Motwane

Registered at the Film Writers Association! Reg # : 107296 ! 15/02/2005! !

FADE IN: 1 EXT / INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING TITLES BEGIN An abstracted view -- very blurred, smoky. of white. Undulating waves

Slowly getting clearer as the vision opens up. Snowflakes. Pristine purity. A blanket of white over the landscape. And slowly coming into vision is a breath-takingly beautiful barren tree. PAKHI (V.O.) 'What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make another beginning..' Moving farther away from the tree, through the glass of a window, into a room, where the tree forms a fitting bookmark outside the window. The room gets increasingly focussed. A fireplace, a shelf of books, farther and farther into the room, until one reaches a desk. A dried rosebud, a beautiful old clock, a paper knife, a pen-stand, ink, sheaves of paper. And on a singular sheet of paper --- Words, fingers, pen scratching on paper. The words etch out on the paper. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'This isn't a story of love. Love takes away too much, destroys too much, hurts too much... It's easier to hate. So, this is a story of hate -- a hate that was stronger than love...' CLOSE UP of the pen as an ellipsis is formed after the words. On the third dot -- the ink blot slowly dries as it permeates into the paper. TITLES END FADE TO BLACK 2 INT / EXT. THE HAVELI & TOWNSHIP -- VARIOUS PAKHI (V.O.) 'This story that began a while ago.. A time when India's independence was still a much-loved new-born..' FADE IN Images of a small flag-hoisting celebration, people wearing khadi.

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PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'It brought a lot of changes.. Some good, some not..' A small shop being robbed by petty thieves. PAKHI (CONT'D) 'In the tiny township of Siliguri, in the outskirts of Bengal, many things changed..' Visual of the township. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'The zamindars, who'd ruled small towns, almost like their own kingdom, were now kings only of their own abodes...' Pakhi's mansion/ haveli lit beautifully by the evening sun. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'And they drowned their sorrows in an excess of culture, books and music..' Strains of music as we move closer to the haveli. CUT TO: 3 INT. THE HAVELI -- NIGHT The music gets stronger, mellifluous. A musical soiree is on. Several people listening intently, very elite. The mood is beautiful, candles, lanterns, flowers, opulent. An all-male gathering in the center of the room. The womenfolk, exquisitely dressed are sitting separately in the balcony overlooking the atrium. PAKHI (V.O.) 'My father, Zamindar Bikramaditya Roychowdhury was no different..' ZAMINDAR ROYCHOWDHURY is sitting at the vantage seat of the host, listening to the music, absorbed. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'Like any other Indian, Baba rejoiced when the British left Indian shores. What he missed was like-minded companions that he could discuss books, poetry and music with... But money makes up for a lot of things.. And of that, we had no worry..' The Zamindar looks toward the gathering with a dissolute air. He looks up towards the balcony and a smile breaks over his face. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'The only thing that worried Baba was me...'

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The enchantingly beautiful young Pakhi, about twenty one, sitting in the balcony, smiles at her father. Music plays on. ZAMINDAR (O.S.) (urgent note) Pakhi's had another attack of asthma... CUT TO: 4 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is sitting on a large armchair, gasping for breath. elderly maid, PISHI MA is holding her hand. An

The Zamindar enters the room with urgent strides, an elderly doctor, DR. GUHA following him. ZAMINDAR She was fine this evening... The doctor takes Pakhi's pulse. She looks feverish, struggling to breathe. Dr. Guha administers an injection. The Zamindar looks on, terribly worried, almost close to tears. He moves away, looking out of a window, agitated, helpless. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (almost under his breath) I can't bear to see my child like this, time and again! DR. GUHA You know how it is, Zamindar babu. As long as medical attention is close by, there is no cause for worry. The Zamindar doesn't reply. He looks at Pakhi, who's breathing is getting slightly easy now. She reaches a hand out in his direction, her eyes still closed. The Zamindar walks close to her and clasps her hand. CUT TO: 5 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- DAY The zamindar is looking among the large groaning shelves of books. A gramophone is playing a lovely melody. PAKHI (V.O.) 'Ours was a very different world.. Sheltered, escapist... Baba had his world of books and music...' Pakhi is sitting at the window-seat, a pen in hand, book on her lap.

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PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'And I had my writing.. I wrote anything that came to mind.. Short stories, poems, thoughts.. Rather immature, but I was getting better.. And someday I would write a book.. lots of books.. I'd be a famous writer.. Then I'd meet someone wonderful and live happily ever after.. I lived in my dreams.. It was a fairytale existence..' CUT TO: 6 EXT. THE HAVELI LAWNS -- EVENING Pakhi and her father walking along the lawns, talking. almost lyrically beautiful sunset. PAKHI (V.O.) 'Life was simple, self-contained, like a placid lake..' CUT TO: 7 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING The hand stops writing. Leans back -- anticipatory almost. An

PAKHI (V.O.) 'Nothing is constant, not strife.. not peace.. The tranquility of my life was about to be hit by a storm..' CUT TO: 8 EXT. TOWNSHIP STREETS -- DAY Golden dust rising from the street as a lovely old vintage car is traveling the streets of the township. At a juncture, it takes a turn and enters a long lane. Pakhi is sitting in the back seat of the vintage car, looking out, humming a tune. Almost simultaneously, another car, rather dusty and not in great shape, coming from the opposite direction, turns into the same lane. The two cars travel alongside for a considerable distance. Pakhi looks to her left with curiosity. The two cars are almost adjacent now. Exactly the same moment, VARUN SHRIVASTAV, a good-looking young man driving the other car, looks in her direction. Their eyes lock. Sheer chemistry. Pakhi reddens, but doesn't look away, holds his gaze. Suddenly, the young man's face breaks into a smile, utterly charming. Disarmed, Pakhi looks away, blushing. As the two cars reach a two-way fork, Pakhi's car turns to the right. Shooting a look over her shoulder, she smiles at him, without meeting his eyes.

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Varun looks in the direction of the car driving away, taking his eyes from the road. The next instant, he sees a tree looming in front of him. Veering left, he loses control of the car. The car goes into a tremendous spin and finally stops, crashing against the tree, smoke rising from the debris. PAKHI (V.O.) 'And all it took was one moment.. one person.. one accident..' CUT TO: 9 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT (Song plays in the background -- enchanting, wistful) Pakhi is sitting by the window, writing onto a book on her lap. But she is distracted, writes a few words and then, a faraway expression. Image of the young man's smile. Pakhi blushes again at the memory and smiles. Image of her smiling back at him through the car. The car spiraling out of control. Pakhi's expression changing into alarm as she watches from her car. Pakhi's fingers crossed in a quick prayer. Varun lying on the ground, half within the car, an abstract smile spreading on his face upon seeing Pakhi, bent over him in worry. VARUN (abstract)

Hi...

Pakhi giving him her hand to help him out. Long curtains trailing into the room, moonlight filtering. TIME LAPSE as morning dawns, early morning light now filtering through. He just left... DR. GUHA (O.S.) CUT TO: 10 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM -- DAY Pakhi turns to look in dismay at Dr. Guha, who's at the door. She turns back at the empty bed.

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DR. GUHA Checked himself out... Seemed in an awful hurry.. But he was pretty ok.. Nurse here ran a couple of tests.. I don't think there's any cause to worry. Pakhi nods, absently, disappointed. PAKHI Thank you, Uncle.. She walks away from the doctor, in characteristic swift strides. A sudden thought makes her turn back. PAKHI (CONT'D) Did he say what his name was? CUT TO: 11 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY & CORRIDOR -- AFTERNOON VARUN (O.S.) Varun Shrivastav... Pakhi looks up with a start. She's arranging some books. She puts down the books in her hands in a hurry, and rushes towards the door. VALET (O.S.) I'll let Zamindar babu know.. Down the corridor, she sees the main door. Varun is standing by the door, half of his face in clear vision of Pakhi. Pakhi is surprised, happy, curious. A moment later, he enters and approaches down the corridor, led by the valet. Hurriedly, she steps back. He passes by her room and disappears into the house. Pakhi stands at the door of the room, flustered, uncertain, contemplating what to do next. Just then, the valet walks past. PAKHI (feigning nonchalance) Binod da, did I hear someone come in? VALET Yes.. A stranger.. Never seen him before.. He wanted to meet Zamindar Babu.. He said he's a.. (struggling) A... CUT TO:

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INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- EVENING ZAMINDAR Archaeologist. He's got a letter from the Archaeological Survey of India.. They would 'greatly appreciate it if I would help him..' He laughs. While speaking, the zamindar stands at the table, perusing some books, while Pakhi is ticking off a list. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) Looks like they've sent all the books this time! Quite a miracle.. (digressing) I invited him for dinner tonight... Pakhi turns away from her father to hide her expression, happy, excited. She walks towards the other end of the room, in rapid strides, like always. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (gentle exasperation) How many times do I tell you... You're not running a race! Slow down.. You're not a hyperactive kid anymore.. Be a lady... CUT TO:

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INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING Pakhi is sitting in front of the mirror. Bangles, kajal, saree, perfume, anklets, the works... and finally the hair. Pakhi is getting ready. Very sensual, very feminine. Periodic looks at the clock. Time seems to move in slow-motion.

PAKHI (V.O.) 'Time was always my adversary.. It just took so long to pass.. Or maybe, like Baba always said, I was always in too much of a hurry..' A clock begins striking. Continues into the next scene. CUT TO: 14 INT. THE HAVELI - LIVING ROOM -- NIGHT The antique clock finishes striking eight. Pakhi descends down the stairs, ladylike, lovely, almost ethereal. Varun is sitting on a couch, a small bandage at his temple, and another in his hand. His gaze moves to the stairs and he gives a start, transfixed for a moment, surprised to see Pakhi. He slowly gets to his feet -- an almost involuntary action. Pakhi smiles, a small smile as she reaches him.

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PAKHI You must be Varun Shrivastav... VARUN (flustered) Er, yes... I.. PAKHI My name is Pakhi... VARUN Nice to meet you... Both fall silent. Awkward, but rife with chemistry. VARUN (CONT'D)

Yesterday, I...

Just then, the zamindar walks towards them from another room. ZAMINDAR Ah, I can see you both have met. Pakhi, this is the gentleman I was telling you about... My daughter, Pakhi.. Pakhi nods formally, hiding a smile. PAKHI Nice to meet you.. CUT TO: 15 INT. THE HAVELI - DINING ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi, the Zamindar and Varun are sitting at the dining table. Dinner is being served by quiet efficient servants. ZAMINDAR (a fond look at Pakhi) She would like to call herself a writer.. (teasing) She's not half bad... I am a writer! PAKHI And I am good!

The zamindar laughs and smiles at her fondly. ZAMINDAR (to Varun) By the way, I'd also like you to look at some of our own family heirlooms... I hope your bosses at the Archaeological Survey won't mind.. VARUN Not at all.. I'd be honored...

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ZAMINDAR I always thought archaeologists were these old musty people... Aren't you a little too young to be one? VARUN Not really. Actually, I am a trainee still. But they allowed me to come here and lead this expedition because it is my hunch that something much older lies below the surface of that temple site... ZAMINDAR And what if you're wrong? And you don't find what you think there is? VARUN (shrugs, smiling) I guess I'll just call it bad luck, and leave. My superiors won't be happy.. But I'm hoping that won't happen.. (pause) I know that your family has owned the land for years.. And I'm really grateful for your cooperation and help. The Zamindar nods imperiously. ZAMINDAR Where are you staying? VARUN There's a guest house in town.. It's close to the temple site too. The zamindar nods. Varun winces slightly as he picks up a dish and his bandaged arm hits the table. ZAMINDAR I meant to ask earlier.. (pointing to his bandages) What happened? Pakhi and Varun exchange glances, she looks down, her face flushed. VARUN I met with an accident yesterday... Where? In this town... ZAMINDAR VARUN

ZAMINDAR Oh, really.. With another car? remember the make? (MORE)

Do you

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ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) Not too many people here have cars.. can find out who it was.. Pakhi looks at Varun. VARUN No, I don't remember the make...

We

PAKHI (cutting in hurriedly, to distract) Which book will you start reading, Baba? ZAMINDAR (immediately distracted) Oh, I don't know.. I'll let my mood decide. Incidentally, they haven't sent Paradise Lost and Regained both in one volume like I requested... I'll have to write to them again.. (to Varun) Books and music. My only two vices! Pakhi and Varun exchange a look, one of relief. worked. The distraction CUT TO: 16 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- NIGHT A gramophone is pulled out of its jacket. The zamindar looks is putting on the gramophone. Pakhi and Varun are sitting close by. Pakhi has a cup of tea in her hand, Varun a glass of wine. The gramophone begins whirring. The zamindar comes to them and settles in his large armchair, and picks up his glass of drink. Music begins playing softly now. Pakhi smiles at her father at the choice of music. The zamindar smiles back. ZAMINDAR (to Varun) This is Romeo and Juliet composed by Tchaikovsky. He began working on the composition in 1870... But that didn't do well, and he agreed with the critics that it lacked something.. Tchaikovsky kept making modifications and changes until in 1880, ten years after his first reworking of the piece, Tchaikovsky rewrote the ending, finally giving the piece a conclusion that he was proud of... They listen on as the beautiful music plays on.

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ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) It's a wonderful musical interpretation, and somehow the soul of the play shines through with such incandescence.. Are you familiar with the play? Pakhi throws a mischievous glance at Varun. PAKHI (quoting) "It was the lark, the herald of the morn.. No nightingale. Look love, what envious streaks, do lace the severing clouds in yonder east..." ZAMINDAR (continuing) "Night's candles are burnt out and jocund day, stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops..." VARUN (unexpected, with flourish) "I must be gone and live, or stay and die.." Pakhi and the zamindar look at Varun, stunned. VARUN (CONT'D) Yes, I am familiar with Shakespeare. But Milton is one of my favorites. I have read Paradise Lost and Regained several times. I think Milton has gone beyond Dante, though he adopted the un-rhymed epic verse from Dante himself. The zamindar and Pakhi listen, rapt. VARUN (CONT'D) In Dante's Divine Book of Comedy, I personally was pretty much lost several times while reading Purgatorio and Paradisio.. The object of literature, divine or otherwise, is to be understood, don't you think? Milton, on the other hand... Varun trails off, as if suddenly conscious of having spoken a lot. VARUN (CONT'D) I'm sorry.. Literature is a passion.. and I tend to get carried away... ZAMINDAR (clearing his throat) Where did you say you were staying? CUT TO:

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EXT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- EVENING Varun is standing at the door of the outhouse. Servants are taking in bedding and other stuff to make the place inhabitable. He looks rather serious. Next to Varun is another young man, dressed nattily, DEBDAS MUKHERJEE. Given to impersonating Dev Anand, ever so often, in speech and manner. DEBDAS We're actually staying here...? Not in some dirty smelly old guest house, like always?! I must say, Varun babu, I'm impressed. Looking about, Varun's eyes fall on Pakhi, who's standing at the balcony of her room, watching them. Seeing him look at her, she colours and with a smile, retreats. Deb watches the exchange. eyebrow. Catching Varun's eye, he raises an

DEBDAS (CONT'D) Diversion or distraction? VARUN (curtly) Neither.. Let's get on. In half hour, Zamindar babu is showing us the site.. CUT TO: 18 EXT. THE TEMPLE SITE -- DAY The Zamindar and Pakhi, accompanied by a senior, quiet, respectable man, MAJUMDAR meet Varun and Deb at the entrance of the temple site. ZAMINDAR This is Majumdar, our family friend. He handles all our finances.. His daughter Devi and Pakhi have grown up like sisters... Varun and Deb nod in acknowledgement. VARUN This is my friend and associate... DEBDAS (cutting in) Debdas Mukherjee... Varun looks at Deb in amusement. As do the zamindar and Pakhi.

DEBDAS (CONT'D) (self-deprecating, laughing) Yes.. My parents have a strange sense of humor!

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They all laugh and enter the site. CUT TO: 19 INT. THE TEMPLE SITE -- DAY The zamindar, Majumdar, Varun, Deb and Pakhi are walking through the temple site. Outside, magnificent carved pillars and ruins and they walk through all that towards a shrine, which is rather large, and spectacularly beautiful. Pakhi is walking with her father, watching Varun, surreptitiously. ZAMINDAR (talking as they walk) For as long as I've known, this site has been like this... We haven't done anything to build any newer structures.. just kept it clean.. He gestures towards, what seems very well-maintained ruins. VARUN That's great! The soil and the climate of Bengal encourage rapid growth of thick vegetation which is destructive to deserted buildings. (light laugh) Of course, in demolishing ancient cities and temples, man plays a much bigger part than Nature ever can! The zamindar reciprocates with a laugh. They've reached the shrine by now. They begin walking up the steps. ZAMINDAR Our family has been taking care of this shrine for centuries now.. A stunningly beautiful idol is visible, kept under lock and key. Deb shoots a look at Varun. Varun meets his glance. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (pointing) This idol belongs to my family. I think it is about three hundred years old... Varun pulls out his camera from a bag and looks askance at the zamindar. May I? The zamindar nods. ZAMINDAR Would you like a closer look? VARUN

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Varun nods.

Majumdar brings out the keys. They're now within the shrine.

A key snaps the lock open.

Photographs of the idol, the shrine -- all seen from Varun's POV. He moves close to the idol and points to something. VARUN Look at this loop at the back of the idol? It was meant to hang from the walls of houses in newly emerging trading cities in ancient Bengal.. This idol is much older than you think... (looking at Deb) I'd place it around 2nd century AD.. The zamindar raises his eyebrows in surprise. He exchanges a look with Majumdar. Pakhi looks at Varun, who is now talking about something else to the zamindar. VARUN (CONT'D) We shall begin work from tomorrow... The workers shall be here by eight in morning... Voice trails off. CUT TO: 20 EXT. THE HAVELI LAWNS -- NIGHT On a projector set up in the lawns, a Bengali movie is on! Deb is watching with a woebegone expression. Several other people are watching with rapt attention. Pakhi and a friend, DEVYANI are sitting with her father, right across Varun and Deb. DEVYANI So, this is Varun babu.. Pakhi 'Sshhs' Devyani, darting a look at her father, who's engrossed in the movie. Devi looks at Deb and Varun. DEBDAS (to Varun) In our world, watching a movie means going to the theater! Here, the theater comes to you! Long live zamindars! Varun laughs. DEBDAS (CONT'D) (complaining) They could've at least got a Dev Anand film...

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VARUN (amused) Maybe they thought, why get the original when there's already a copy!! (with bite) Debdas Mukherjee.. Deb laughs easily. They begin watching the film again. couple is having a fight, speaking rapid-fire Bengali. DEBDAS I can see this everyday in my house.. My parents do a better job!! Varun bursts into laughter. Looks from people around. He quietens, self-conscious. He catches Pakhi's eye. She smiles at him. He smiles back. DEBDAS (CONT'D) (looking at the screen) You'd better start learning the language though! CUT TO: 21 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is sitting on her window sill, a book in her lap, pen in hand. Rabindra sangeet is playing softly on the radio. Pakhi looks at the outhouse. A radio is being tuned and finally begins playing a popular Dev Anand number. Pakhi smiles. She moves to her radio and tunes it. The same song plays now. CUT TO: 22 INT / EXT. THE HAVELI / TOWNSHIP / TEMPLE SITE -- DAY / NIGHT (Song plays on.. Through the montages) Pakhi pulls back the curtains of her window and looks down. Very early morning. Varun and Deb are getting into their car/ jeep. Deb in the driver's seat. With a flurry of dust they're off. CUT TO: At the temple site, the zamindar holds a ceremonial coconut, as a pandit applies tikka on it. Several workers standing around -alongwith Varun, Pakhi, Debdas, Devyani, Majumdar and some villagers. A cheer goes around as soon as the coconut is broken. CUT TO: The Zamindar is showing some heirlooms to Varun, who inspects them gravely with a connoisseur's eye. A

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Deb is looking watchfully. CUT TO: Pakhi and her father are driving back from somewhere. They pass by the temple site that Varun is working on. Several workers are digging, clearing etc. The zamindar puts a hand on the driver's shoulder, asking him to stop. CUT TO: Pakhi and the zamindar walk through the debris/rubble towards Varun, who looks taken aback at this surprise visit. Also a tad uncomfortable. CUT TO: Varun and the Zamindar are listening to some music playing on the gramophone. Silent. Letting the music wash over. Pakhi smiles from the door as she passes. CUT TO: Varun and Deb are sitting outside the outhouse, lying on a khatiya of sorts, looking at the night sky. From the window of her room, Pakhi is watching the same sky, book in her lap, pen in hand. CUT TO: Early morning. Pakhi and Devyani are plucking flowers, their hair open and still wet. Pakhi looks covertly in the direction of the outhouse. Devyani catches her look. Pakhi looks away, flushing. CUT TO: Pakhi is walking down the corridor in rapid strides, like always. She looks in as she passes the library, her gait suddenly mellow, lady-like. She smiles covertly. The moment she passes the room, down the corridor, her pace is brisk again. PAKHI (V.O.) 'A lot of things were changing.. And I didn't understand it.. But I didn't want to..' CUT TO: On the dining table, Varun is speaking. The zamindar listening to him attentively. Pakhi looks at Varun, not really listening. CUT TO: Pakhi is sitting in her room, writing in her book. She puts her pen down, and switches off the radio.

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The song ends. CUT TO: 23 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- NIGHT The zamindar is sitting in his usual chair. He puts down his glasses and a official looking document and rubs between his eyes. Pakhi is making a cup of tea for him. PAKHI (V.O.) Some changes weren't so pleasant.. Baba's ancestral farmhouse was taken over by the Indian government.. We've been paid handsomely for it, of course.. The Zamindar Abolishment Act was likely to be passed any day.. Baba took all of this badly... Pakhi looks at her father, who seems lost in thought. the cup down, she sits by her father's chair. ZAMINDAR (a note of bitterness) Nothing is the same anymore.. 'Zamindar babu'... will soon be just a word.. meaning nothing.. Pakhi holds her father's hand. PAKHI 'Zamindar babu' is still the most respected man in town.. The most revered... ZAMINDAR That's all I have left today... If I lose that respect, I've lost all... PAKHI (gently) And we have each other... Isn't that all that matters? She holds her father's hand reassuringly. The zamindar looks at his daughter and a slow smile dawns on his face. ZAMINDAR Let's go for a picnic tomorrow.. Visit the farmhouse one last time... (trying to cheer up) We'll ask Varun babu to join us too... CUT TO: 24 EXT. TOWNSHIP STREETS / FARMHOUSE -- DAY PAKHI (V.O.) 'Picnic, for a zamindar, had an altogether different definition...!!!' Putting

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A vintage car comes into view, and drives away. And another. It's a majestic sight.

Then another.

The motorcade enters the verdant greens of a lovely farmhouse. CUT TO: Servants bring out picnic tables, lay out mats to sit upon, umbrellas are unfurled. Activity. All reek of leisure. CUT TO: Everyone is by the lakeside. line is readied. It's a beautiful sight. A fishing

Pakhi with Devyani. Varun with Deb. The Majumdar and Pishi Ma, the valet, and other assorted servants. The zamindar takes the fishing line from the servant with austerity and flings the line into the lake to a spontaneous burst of applause. CUT TO: Everyone is actively watching as the zamindar sits watchfully, waiting for a fish to bite. CUT TO: A small amount of restlessness. The zamindar is not as alert as before, still waiting for the fish to bite. The sun at a different angle signifies the time lapse. CUT TO: 25 EXT. FARMHOUSE LAKEFRONT -- DAY Deb, sitting under the shade of a tree, chewing a blade of grass, removes the newspaper over his face. DEBDAS Man, can you hear my stomach?! Sounds like the Ustaad Allah Rakha... On a particularly energetic day!! Varun looks at him humorously. VARUN We'll have to wait until the first ceremonial fish is caught... Tradition, you see? Debdas plucks another blade of grass and begins chewing, petulantly. DEBDAS At this rate, I'll turn into a cow!! CUT TO:

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Meanwhile under another tree, Pakhi and Devyani are sitting, very lady-like. PAKHI (humorous) I really hope some poor fish will decide to put us out of our misery soon! Pakhi watches Varun from out of the corner of her eye. notices. Varun babu? DEVYANI Devyani smiles impishly. CUT TO: Deb looks towards the women and addresses Varun, who's looking at the fruit hanging from the tree above them, intently. DEBDAS Newton already did that.. And besides, even if it falls we won't be able to eat it.. Tradition, you see?! Varun smiles a 'Touche'. His eye catches Pakhi's that moment and she looks away, hurriedly. Deb looks at Varun shrewdly. DEBDAS (CONT'D) I hope you know what you're getting into... CUT TO: Pakhi looks at Devyani, in affront. PAKHI I'm not getting into anything, Devi... You're being silly.. Am I? DEVYANI I've seen the way you look at him... Devyani

Pakhi looks at her with a start.

PAKHI (hotly) I don't look at... (then stopping) What's wrong with the way I look at him? DEVYANI (laughing) There's nothing wrong... Nothing at all.. Just that when you're doing this.. (imitates Pakhi looking out of the corner of her eye) ..you know you're in for trouble! CUT TO:

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Varun sits up and begins dusting grass off his sleeves. VARUN (crisply) You're being ridiculous... But why does that not surprise me?! DEBDAS Hey, don't get mad at the messenger..! ! I'm just telling you what you already know.. CUT TO: Pakhi shakes her head, annoyed. PAKHI I don't know anything. You're just being really silly... CUT TO: Debdas gets up dusting himself, suddenly somber. DEBDAS You just need to stop running away from facts... CUT TO: I'm not! PAKHI CUT TO: You're crazy! VARUN

Just then, a cheer goes up from the servants around the zamindar. A fish has caught the bait. CUT TO: 26 EXT. FARMHOUSE LAKEFRONT -- EVENING The mood is quieter now, the golden evening light forming a strange hush around everyone. A small bonfire is burning. The flickering flames are enchanting. Zamindar and Majumdar are talking. Varun and Deb, Pakhi and Devi are sitting close to each other. Something diverts Deb's attention and he moves away. Just then, Majumdar calls out to Devi, who leaves too. Varun and Pakhi are left alone. Sudden surge of awkwardness. Varun smiles stiffly at Pakhi. Pakhi smiles back -- easily, naturally. VARUN Thank you for saving me... and taking me to the hospital..

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PAKHI (smiling) You would've done the same.. But when you left from the hospital so suddenly, I thought.... She trails off, then looks at Varun and remedies hurriedly. PAKHI (CONT'D) Baba is very fond of you... VARUN He's an amazing man... PAKHI (nods, with pride) He is. He's always been my hero. He almost instinctively seems to know the right path in life.. (laughing) He gives a bad name to the traditional villainous zamindar.. To all the people in our little town, he stands for all that's honest and fair and just... Varun's expression alters slightly at her words. PAKHI (CONT'D) You must travel a lot because of your work... Yes... VARUN Small silence.

PAKHI Do you like what you do? VARUN I love the thrill of the unknown.. PAKHI The unknown frightens me.. I need knowledge.. I need to know.. VARUN You can never know all... Small silence again. Pakhi speaks up after the pause. PAKHI Don't you feel bad about leaving some place behind? VARUN I do... But there's always a new tomorrow to look forward to. Just then, the zamindar calls out to Varun. with an excuse. Varun leaves Pakhi

22. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Pakhi watches Varun -- her feelings shining in her eyes. CUT TO: Servants are loading luggage back into the cars. CUT TO: 27 INT. TOWNSHIP STREETS -- EVENING The motorcade of cars is making its way back in similar fashion as it arrived. Impressive, decadent. CUT TO: 28 INT. ZAMINDAR'S CAR -- EVENING The zamindar is sitting with Pakhi in the back seat. in the front with the driver. ZAMINDAR (wistful) So many memories attached to that place... I'll miss it.. He sighs. Pakhi puts a hand over her father's. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (clearing his throat) Ah well.. Nothing is permanent.. Not even your company, Varun babu.. I'll be really sorry to see you go this month end.. Pakhi's expression changes. view mirror. Her eyes meet Varun's in the rearVarun is

PAKHI (trying to be casual) This month-end? Varun looks at Pakhi thru the mirror. VARUN Yes... That's the time I've been given by my bosses to complete my work here... Pakhi is silent. She looks out of the window at the darkness outside, suddenly subdued. CUT TO: 29 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is sitting by the dressing table combing her hair. PAKHI (V.O.) 'The month end.. It was just three weeks away.. Time, like always, was against me... But what could I do?'

23. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Pakhi looks out of the window and looks at the outhouse. contemplating the blank canvas is visible.

Varun CUT TO:

30

INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- NIGHT Varun is standing in front of the blank canvas, contemplatively. Debdas sighs exaggeratedly at Varun and shakes his head. DEBDAS I'm tired of lugging this wretched thing around! Why don't you give up your silly notions of being a painter and just throw it away? Or for heaven's sake, throw some paint over the damn thing and get it over with! It's driving me crazy!!! Varun smiles, nonchalant. VARUN I'll paint it... Someday, I'll paint it... And you watch, you skeptic, my painting will be a masterpiece! Yeah, sure! breath.. DEBDAS Forgive me if I don't hold my

Varun stands looking at the canvas. CUT TO: 31 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT POV: Pakhi looks at Varun studying the canvas and suddenly her face lights up. CUT TO: 32 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- MORNING PAKHI I want to learn painting... The zamindar looks up at Pakhi, who's giving him his cup of tea. And pouring out her own cup. Painting? ZAMINDAR What's this sudden new craze?

PAKHI It's not new, Baba... Remember how I've always been fascinated by painters.. The zamindar furrows his brows. ZAMINDAR (after a thought)

No...

24. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI Baba! You never listen when I talk! Just the other day I was telling you how I wished I could paint... ZAMINDAR Didn't you study art as part of your...? PAKHI (cutting in) That was so basic, Baba!! wasn't...

My main subject

ZAMINDAR (cutting in) All right, all right.. I'll ask Majumdar to arrange for an art teacher.. Maybe Devyani could learn too.. PAKHI No.. Devyani isn't interested in art.. And Baba, why ask for a teacher.. No teacher? ZAMINDAR So how do you plan to learn?

PAKHI (casual tone) I believe Varun babu is an excellent painter.. He is? ZAMINDAR

PAKHI Yes.. He has this big easel in his room. I guess he intends to paint something in his time here.. ZAMINDAR But would he want to teach you? he's here only for a short.. Besides

PAKHI (interrupting) He could teach me something.. And once I am a little better, you could ask for an art teacher to come over. Do you think you could ask Varun babu? CUT TO: 33 INT. THE HAVELI - DINING ROOM -- MORNING Varun chokes over his cup of tea and looks at the zamindar in surprise. Debdas looks taken aback. Devyani is amused. Pakhi doesn't look at Varun.

25. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

ZAMINDAR I know you have a busy schedule.. But a couple of hours a week.. Deb tries to catch Varun's eye, but Varun is looking at the zamindar -- deliberately avoiding Deb's gaze. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) Devi beta, I thought you could also join Pakhi, if you're interested... Pakhi looks at Devi with large eyes, willing her to say 'No'. DEVYANI No, kaka.. I'm not particularly interested in painting.. ZAMINDAR (to Varun) Just teach her a bit.. Let's see if she's good enough.. And more importantly, if she'll see it through to the end.. Pakhi looks at her father in mock-annoyance. laughs. The zamindar

Deb looks at Varun, his mouth unsmiling, shaking his head in slight chiding. CUT TO: 34 EXT. THE HAVELI -- MORNING Varun and Deb are walking towards the outhouse. DEBDAS What was the big idea of not telling Zamindar babu that you didn't know how to paint? VARUN I didn't want to upset him.. And how difficult can painting be? DEBDAS You haven't touched that damn canvas for the last three years. You really want me to answer that question? Varun laughs. DEBDAS (CONT'D) (shaking his head) Archaeologist to art teacher! In less than a week. You do travel fast! Do you even own paints? They now enter the outhouse. CUT TO:

26. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

35

INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- MORNING Varun and Deb are picking up bags etc, ready to leave for the site. DEBDAS (conversationally) Do you know that this outhouse is actually called 'master moshair baadi'? Teacher's quarters? Uh huh.. VARUN

DEBDAS Of course, Pakhi never had any teacher here.. She studied in Shantiniketan.. Varun looks up at Deb, sharply. DEBDAS (CONT'D) English Literature, I believe... VARUN (sarcasm) You seem to be full of information.. Who's your source? The grocer in town? Devyani... DEBDAS

VARUN Ah, Deb's Devi...!!! A match made in heaven.. DEBDAS Unlike you, I'm not crazy! They move out of the outhouse CUT TO: 36 EXT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- MORNING They get into the jeep. Deb in the driver's seat.

DEBDAS The daughters of zamindars don't have much freedom.. The only male they interact with, other than family, is the teacher. Master moshai. And they usually end up falling in love with him... Varun is visibly irked by Deb's remarks. VARUN What are you trying to get at?

27. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

DEBDAS (serious now) You and I both know what this whole exercise is about, so don't play innocent! The girl is falling in love with you... The jeep drives off in a cloud of dust. CUT TO: 37 EXT. THE TEMPLE SITE -- DAY Varun is sitting on a chair, his feet on a table, reading attentively. The book -- 'How To Paint Landscapes'. A worker comes upto him with a large package and places it on the table. WORKER All the stuff you asked for, Varun babu. Some colours are missing, but I got everything else... Varun nods and gets back to reading. Deb, standing close by, smiles ruefully and shakes his head. CUT TO: 38 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING Pakhi is looking at the clock which shows five pm. On the bed, clothes are strewn all around. Just then Devyani enters the room. She looks in the direction of Pakhi's gaze at the clock. DEVYANI What time does your painting class start? Seven o clock... PAKHI

Devyani sits next to Pakhi, looks at the bed full of clothes and shakes her head, a gentle look on her face. PAKHI (CONT'D) (tentative) Do you think I'm being a fool, Devi? Devyani looks at Pakhi, taken aback by the tone of her voice. No. DEVYANI

PAKHI What if he is just being polite because I'm the zamindar's daughter? What if he doesn't even notice me that way? What if... what if he already has someone...

28. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

DEVYANI I think Varun babu is decent enough to have told you if that was the case... No, I don't think it's that... PAKHI You know, he doesn't say much about himself. I don't know anything at all about... DEVYANI (cutting in) Now you'll get the time and the opportunity to know... And let him know you.. It's only a matter of time.. It's very easy to love you, my dear.. PAKHI But why would he love me? Maybe he sees me as just a simple silly small town girl.. Foolish, unsophisticated.. DEVYANI (firmly) You're neither silly, nor foolish.. (trying to be light) Unsophisticated, well maybe.. But as long as I'm around to help you... Now what do you wear when you begin classes in love? Devi picks up a saree, its folds winging through the air. CUT TO: 39 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- EVENING Varun almost forcibly takes his eyes off Pakhi. Aware of her appearance, yet a little shy, Pakhi is breath-taking. Pishi Ma is sitting in a distant corner -- the chaperone, knitting something. Clearing his throat, Varun looks at the canvas set up on an easel in front of him. VARUN Have you done this before? Er, I mean, learned painting of some kind in Shantiniketan.. PAKHI (glowing smile) You know I studied in Shantiniketan...! VARUN (cornered)

Er, I...

PAKHI Yes, I learnt a little bit.. The basics..

29. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Varun busies himself with the bottles of colors, clearly nervous. PAKHI (CONT'D) I hope I wasn't being too forward, asking Baba to request you to teach me.. Varun looks at her, stares for a moment longer. between them is evident. No, not at all... VARUN The attraction

Pakhi stands next to the easel, a respectable distance from Varun. VARUN (CONT'D) So.. What would you like to paint? PAKHI I thought, Portraits?! Color drains off Varun's face at the thought. VARUN Well, why don't we start with landscapes? Pakhi looks at him, quizzically. VARUN (CONT'D) (assuming confidence) It's easier to get your brush-strokes confident with landscapes first.. Portraits require a finer command... Pakhi nods. Varun picks up a pencil. And shows her a page torn out of a book which has a rather simple landscape painting. PAKHI This is too simple! I want to do something more complex.. I guess you don't trust me.. Let me show you... She picks up a pencil, holding it in a very assured manner and begins drawing. PAKHI (CONT'D) This is the bay just off the place where your excavation site is.. VARUN (out of his depth)

Oh..

Pakhi steps back and looks at the easel, a nice outline of a landscape, wooden bridge et al. VARUN (CONT'D) Oh, you know this much already...

30. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI Now to paint on the leaves... Would you like to show me? VARUN Er, er... Mix Green and a bit of black together...! He takes a brush, holding it stiffly and draws very amateurish leaves. Pakhi looks at Varun in surprise and her expression changes as slowly realization dawns. She bursts into surprised laughter. PAKHI You don't know how to paint!!!! Varun 'SHHHH's her, looking towards Pishi Ma. VARUN (whispering) Please don't let zamindar babu know... Pakhi laughs, very amused. PAKHI (impishly, whispering too) I won't if you won't... Varun looks at Pakhi. She holds his gaze. Electric. CUT TO: 40 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Devyani looks at Pakhi. Pakhi is plaiting her hair. sitting in front of the mirror. DEVYANI You're teaching him?!!! Pakhi winks at Devi. PAKHI Someone has to learn, and someone has to teach for the classes to go on...! CUT TO: 41 INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- NIGHT Deb looks at Varun, shaking his head, admonishing. DEBDAS You must be kidding! CUT TO: They're

31. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

42

INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi has a faraway expression in her eyes, a smile that wouldn't quit her face. PAKHI I can't wait to start.... CUT TO:

43

INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- NIGHT VARUN She said she'll come to the site.. From tomorrow. Deb looks at Varun, and laughs -- half amused. DEBDAS Don't tell me I didn't warn you... CUT TO:

44

INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Devi meets Pakhi's eyes over the mirror. DEVYANI What did I tell you... He feels the same way that you do.. CUT TO:

45

INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- NIGHT VARUN I've always wanted to learn painting... That's all there is to it... Deb laughs and gets back to the book he's reading. DEBDAS You're playing with fire... You're wrong! VARUN CUT TO:

46

INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT PAKHI (smiling) You're right... CUT TO:

32. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

47

INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is lying on her bed, book in her hand, unable to sleep. She gets up from her bed and walks to the window. Varun is awake too, brush in hand, looking at the blank canvas. Then, shaking his head, not ready, he puts the brush down. Pakhi smiles to herself, terribly happy. CUT TO:

48

EXT. MOUNTAINSIDE -- DAY / EVENING (Montages -- Song sequence) Pakhi and Varun are at the mountainside, Pakhi has a brush in hand. She is explaining something to Varun as she mixes colors and dabs it on the canvas. Hands, brushes, paints, palettes.. Fingers brush each other, hands accidentally meet.. Through all of this, a painting of a lovely grand majestic tree -- lush with leaves, is taking shape. PAKHI (V.O.) 'Every morning was a wait.. Every evening a celebration.. Time just flew like the wind..' CUT TO:

49

EXT. TEMPLE SITE -- EVENING Stones -- lots of them, different size and shapes neatly arranged on a table. Pakhi and Varun are standing by the table, Pakhi holding a stone in her hand and looking curiously. Devyani is standing nearby -- looking around her. Deb seems uncomfortable with their presence. It's only the four of them. Pakhi's car with a driver, and Varun's jeep in the distance. Pakhi puts back the stone she's been looking at. VARUN Have to send that for carbon-dating... A process by which you can tell how old any object is... And it's place in history.. PAKHI I hated history in school! it!! VARUN I never studied history! Pakhi looks surprised. Deb looks at Varun. You must love

33. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI An archaeologist who never studied history?!! VARUN (easily) I took up archaeology because my uncle was an archaeologist. He would visit all these fascinating places and I always wanted to do that... Also it's wonderful to know about the way people lived.. and that somewhere, somehow we're linked to them still... Pakhi smiles at his words. DEBDAS (to Varun) I'll see you later. I need to go to town to get some equipment for the extra workers who start tomorrow.. Pakhi throws a meaningful glance at Devi, indicating that she should leave too. DEVYANI (to Deb) I need to go to the town market.. Can you please accompany me? I need to pick up some big parcels... Deb looks at Varun, a serious look of warning about things going the way they were. He nods to Devi and walks towards the jeep. PAKHI Er, you could take my car.. (to Devi) The driver will take you.. Varun babu can drive me back home.. DEBDAS (pointed look at Varun) He's not famous for his skill behind the wheel! PAKHI I'm willing to take a chance.... CUT TO: 50 EXT. MOUNTAINSIDE -- LATE EVENING Pakhi and Varun are standing in front of the breath-taking scenery. The easel is set, paints laid out, but they're watching the scenery -- enthralled. Varun is silent. Pakhi looks at him, then speaks tentatively.

34. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI I hope I didn't presume too much, barging in on you like that.. It's a wonderful day, just right to set out painting... So I thought.. VARUN (small smile) It had to be today...? Pakhi utters a short laugh. PAKHI Yes... I'm always in this awful hurry. Baba calls me Pakhi Express! He keeps asking me to slow down.. But I feel there is so much to do.. and so little time to do all that in.. So much to live for.. VARUN What do you live for? PAKHI And writing! (hurriedly) And painting too. But writing is my first passion. I want to write loads of books and become famous by the time I'm twenty five.. Baba has promised that he will devote an entire shelf in the study to my books! Someday I'll sit by a beautiful cottage in the mountainside and just write and write and write... Baba. Varun smiles. Pakhi's eyes shine as she speaks of her dreams.

PAKHI (CONT'D) What do you live for? Varun laughs. Doesn't reply.

PAKHI (CONT'D) (prodding) Tell me.. What do you live for? VARUN (rueful smile) A dream that someday I'd stop running... A wish that I'll go see Chandratal Lake someday.. And a desire that I'd paint my masterpiece someday.. PAKHI You will do all of that.. And very soon.. They are quiet for a moment. question. Pakhi turns to him and asks a

35. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI (CONT'D) Do you parents approve of your decision to join your uncle? A shuttered look comes over Varun's face, but he composes himself within a moment. VARUN I wouldn't have listened to them anyway.. (seems to be talking almost to himself) I don't know whether what I wanted to do was right or wrong.. But now, (shrugs, back in control) This is all I know.. Pakhi looks at him, a little perplexed, not knowing what to make of him still. PAKHI I'm sure the path you've chosen is the best for you.. Varun looks away, doesn't reply, doesn't meet her eye. He gets up abruptly and looks at the golden sky that's approaching dusk. VARUN It's getting dark.. We'll come again another day.. CUT TO: 51 EXT. TOWNSHIP STREETS -- EVENING Varun is driving. It's the twilight hour. The mood is quiet -introspective for Varun, puzzling for Pakhi. Pakhi is coughing slightly. Finally Pakhi breaks the silence. PAKHI Er, is everything ok? Varun nods, changing gears rather forcibly. Pakhi is quiet, coughing intermittently. They drive on for a while, then Pakhi breaks the silence again. PAKHI (CONT'D) Did I say something wrong? Varun, engrossed in thought, shakes his head in the negative. PAKHI (CONT'D) I don't usually think before speaking, it's a problem, really. I'm sorry if... Varun is about to say something when Pakhi has a small coughing fit. She drinks water out of a bottle.

36. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Varun looks at her to check if she's okay, when there's a loud bang and the steering tilts in his hands. Damn! VARUN Got a flat... CUT TO: 52 EXT. TOWNSHIP STREETS -- NIGHT It's very dark now. Varun pulls the cover of the boot down and wipes his hands on a rag. He opens the car door and gets in. Sorry about... VARUN

He trails off, looking at Pakhi in shock. She is trying terribly hard to breathe, a very bad attack of asthma. Varun holds her hand, puts his hands around her shoulder, helping her sit up. What happened? Tell me... VARUN (CONT'D) Pakhi... what's wrong?

Gasping for breath, Pakhi points to a small bag. Varun picks it and opens the bag. It's a first aid bag, with syringes, vials for injection etc. He looks at Pakhi in shock. Pakhi points at a injection. Still in shock, but level-headed, Varun pulls out the injection and fills a syringe. Holding it, he looks at Pakhi. She gives him her arm. Varun rolls up her sleeve and injects the liquid in her arm. Putting away the syringe, Varun sits with his arm around Pakhi, holding her hand. Terribly intense. Slowly, Pakhi's breathing returns to normal. Varun lets go of her and gets back to his seat. He puts his coat around her to keep her warm. Very tender. They stay sitting thus for a long while. They drive back. Music begins. Both Pakhi and Varun are silent, lost in their thoughts of the strange intimacy that just transpired. CUT TO: 53 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT The zamindar is pacing up and down as the doctor writes a prescription. Pishi Ma is watching, concerned. Pakhi is lying on the bed, wan.

37. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

DOCTOR (to the zamindar) Here's the prescription. No cause for worry. (to Pakhi) Take it easy for the next couple of days. I'll see you at the hospital this weekend for your usual check up.. ZAMINDAR Thank you, Doctor.. The doctor leaves the room. out. Pishi Ma follows him to usher him

Alone now, the zamindar looks at Pakhi, anger tinged with worry. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) Why were you alone? Why was Ram Saran not with you? How could you be so irresponsible, Pakhi... PAKHI Baba... I just wanted to.. ZAMINDAR And why wasn't Devi with you? I told you I don't want you going anywhere alone.. What if...? PAKHI I wasn't alone, Baba... Varun babu.. ZAMINDAR (snapping) What the hell would Varun babu know? Is he a doctor? A surgeon? A specialist? (gently) PAKHI

Baba..

ZAMINDAR (not letting her speak) And what if Varun babu didn't know how to give the injection? Do you know... PAKHI (gently, holding her father's hand) Baba... It's okay... He knew. The zamindar looks at Pakhi for a long moment -- love, worry, fear all fighting for expression on his face. How is she now? DEBDAS (O.S.) CUT TO:

38. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

54

INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- NIGHT Varun is slumped on his bed, looking at some abstract point in the ceiling, smoking a cigarette. Deb is looking at him. Varun looks out of the window towards Pakhi's window. VARUN She was better when we got back.. I guess, she's all right now.. Deb looks at Varun, intently. VARUN (CONT'D) She's not like other girls... DEBDAS (fierce) Damn right, she's not.. She's the zamindar's daughter.. Varun doesn't reply, continues smoking, looking at the stars on the night sky. Stars, distant, twinkling. Varun babu... ZAMINDAR (O.S.) DISSOLVE TO:

55

EXT. THE TEMPLE SITE -- DAY Rocks. Shattering. Hammering all around -- systematically, wearing them down. Mirroring Varun's state almost -- as he watches, standing in a trench, smoking absently, an intent look about him. Varun babu... ZAMINDAR (O.S.)

Varun looks up with a start and sees the Zamindar standing above. Varun immediately throws away the cigarette and clambers up the make-shift ladder. CUT TO: 56 EXT. THE TEMPLE SITE -- DAY The zamindar and Varun are walking, away from the din towards a quieter part of the site. The zamindar somehow seems tired, frail, older. ZAMINDAR (awkward, but sincere) I want to thank you for what you did yesterday.. VARUN Please zamindar babu.. Don't mention it...

39. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

The zamindar looks absently around. ZAMINDAR That's why I don't let her go out too much.. I.. she.. (pause) She's all I have.. when she was about five, her mother was struck with tuberculosis.. Pakhi got infected too.. Her mother died within a year.. Pakhi was spared.. But her illness developed to very acute asthma.. Added to that, she has lymphoma, a condition of the lungs which can anytime veer towards something more dangerous.. And if she gets an asthma attack and doesn't get her shot in time.... He trails off. Varun awkwardly tries to console him.

VARUN She will be fine, zamindar babu... ZAMINDAR God bless you, son. Varun is very uncomfortable. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) I'll take your leave now. You need to get back to your work. The zamindar turns and walks away. turns back towards Varun. Takes a few steps. Then

ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) What you've done today is beyond gratitude.. Please feel free to ask anything.. Nothing will be too big.. The zamindar walks on towards his car. Varun looks at him, very disconcerted. He turns and sees Deb standing, watching him. DEBDAS (gesturing to the envelope in his hand) There's a letter from Bajpai Uncle... CUT TO: 57 INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- EVENING Varun and Deb are packing a suitcase, putting in clothes, some photographs taken etc. DEBDAS Have you told Zamindar babu? CUT TO:

*

40. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

58

INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- EVENING Varun knocks on and opens the door of the library. He is taken aback to see Pakhi sitting on an armchair, a shawl around her, a book on her lap, looking at some nebulous distance -- lost. She gives a start as she sees Varun. VARUN I was looking for Zamindar babu... (pause) How are you feeling? PAKHI (smiles, awkward) Much better now. Thank you... Thank you for that day... VARUN (waving it away) Like you said.. You would've done the same.. I am glad you're all right... PAKHI Did you want to see Baba about something important? He's gone to meet his lawyer. He'll return by night.. VARUN Well.. I wanted to tell him that we're leaving for Calcutta for a day.. Oh... PAKHI

VARUN Please give him the message, if I'm unable to meet him. Varun turns to leave. Pakhi fights with herself, but unable to hold back, calls out. Will you call me? PAKHI

Varun turns and looks at her -- a strange expression on his face. PAKHI (CONT'D) (blushing) From Calcutta, I mean.. If you get some time off from work... Varun nods curtly and without saying anything more, turns around and leaves. CUT TO:

41. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

59

INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- DAY Pakhi stands in the balcony of her room, watching as Varun and Deb drive away in their jeep. Pakhi turns back and walks into her room. Back in her room, she sits down by the window and begins to write. Words. Pen. Paper. PAKHI (V.O.) 'I felt like part of me had gone away... I was lost, moorless..' On the white sheet of paper. BLEACH OUT

60

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM -- EVENING A white coat moves away as Dr. Guha walks towards a desk and places the vial for tests later. Pakhi then goes through an array of tests, relevant to the time. X-ray, ECG.. As the tests are on, the doctor is talking to the zamindar. DR. GUHA I'll change her medication slightly, since winter is approaching and the air will be laden with pollen.. The zamindar nods, looking at his daughter, disturbed, worried. DR. GUHA (CONT'D) (as he's conducting some test) By the way, did you hear about Sujoy Mukhopadhyay? ZAMINDAR (not paying complete attention)

No...

DR. GUHA Poor man is shattered! The zamindar looks at him, surprised. ZAMINDAR What happened? (to Pakhi) Wasn't his daughter's engagement sometime soon? What's her name...? PAKHI Payal... Next Friday...

42. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Well, it's off... Why?

DR. GUHA ZAMINDAR

DR. GUHA She ran away with some guy that she was in love with... The zamindar is shocked. ZAMINDAR Didn't Sujoy know? DR. GUHA (shrugs) I guess not.. He'd arranged for her marriage with a very good family.. But now he's got no face to show the world.. All because of this new-found freedom that everyone wants to give girls... ZAMINDAR (with dignity) Freedom is a wonderful thing, Biswas.. Our country has won it after a hundred years.. I think it's high time the womenfolk were entitled to their's... DR. GUHA Yes, but look where it landed poor Sujoy... ZAMINDAR Each person is different.. Unfortunately when misused, anything can get a bad name.. My daughter has all the freedom I'd give a son.. But I trust her implicitly.. (emphasizing, almost to himself) Each person is different... The doctor nods his assent and moves away. father, who seems suddenly lost. PAKHI Are you all right, Baba? CUT TO: 61 EXT. ZAMNDAR'S CAR -- EVENING The zamindar and Pakhi are in the car, traveling. looks out of the window, rather disturbed. The zamindar Pakhi looks at her

ZAMINDAR My biggest fear in life is the day I have to bid you goodbye.. The day you'll leave me and start a life of your own..

43. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Baba...

PAKHI

ZAMINDAR (raising his hand) I know it has to happen.. I have to experience this loss, this knowledge that my little girl is not going to be with me always.. Pakhi looks at her father, caught in emotion. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) But, my child, I want to tell you one thing.. Don't keep me in the dark.. You and I are friends.. we've always been, right? Pakhi nods. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) When you meet someone... tell me.. (voice close to breaking) Don't do what Payal did... That would break me.. Pakhi holds her father's hand in a firm reassuring grip. are silent for a moment, both gathering their composure. They are now passing by the temple site. missing Varun. They

Pakhi looks at it,

PAKHI (V.O.) 'I knew what Baba meant.. I wanted to tell him too.. But what would I tell him, when I knew just one side of the story...? I knew only my feelings...' CUT TO: 62 INT. BAR -- EVENING BAJPAI What do you feel, Varun? Varun gives a start as he looks at UNCLE BAJPAI, a thin welldressed elderly kindly-looking man -- not having heard him at all, lost in thought. DEBDAS (explaining) Bajpai Uncle was saying we should try to aim to finish by next weekend... Varun nods, abstractedly. Their table is strewn with photographs, documents, some reference material etc. Bajpai picks up a photograph and looks at it closely.

44. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

BAJPAI (looking at Varun) By the way, great job.. VARUN (smiles, sardonic) Thank you. I learnt from the best.. He then looks away, lost in thought. long moment, then speaks, kindly. BAJPAI It's not worth it, son... Varun looks at Bajpai, surprised he should know. at Deb and realizes Deb must've told him. Then he looks Bajpai watches him for a

BAJPAI (CONT'D) It's not fair on her either. You belong to different worlds.. It's best that you move away now. Or you'll only cause hurt.. Am I right? Varun doesn't reply. He looks at a wall. There's a amateurish painting of a landscape. Varun laughs, a short bitter laugh.. VARUN (scathing) The world conspires...!!! On the landscape. DISSOLVE TO: 63 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING PAKHI (V.O.) 'Time just seemed to move so slowly... Seconds felt like hours... Minutes like days... and hours felt like infinity..' Pakhi stands by the window, watching the blank canvas visible through the outhouse window. The door is still locked. CUT TO: Only Pakhi and her father are having dinner. Strangely silent. Empty. Pakhi looks at the seat where Varun usually sits, missing him, but not letting on to her father. CUT TO: It is morning. Pakhi and Devyani are collecting flowers for the puja in the lawn as usual. Pakhi looks at the locked door of the outhouse. Devyani catches her look, smiles in understanding. CUT TO:

45. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Pakhi is walking down the corridor. stretch endlessly.

The space around seems to CUT TO:

Night.

Pakhi is sitting by her window, looking at the outhouse. CUT TO:

64

EXT. VICTORIA MEMORIAL -- DAY Varun and Deb are sitting on a bench, feeding pigeons. DEBDAS There's a bus leaving in an hour's time.. VARUN (feeding pigeons, not looking at Deb) Let's stay another day... Deb looks at his friend, not reacting. CUT TO:

65

INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is sitting by the window, book in her lap, looking at the empty outhouse. PAKHI (V.O.) 'Three days had passed... And he hadn't called either... I was getting worried..' CUT TO:

66

INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- MORNING Dusty morning sunrays hit Pakhi through the curtains. She's fallen asleep on the window ledge. She opens her eyes and looks at the ceiling for a moment. She then looks outside the window. The jeep is parked. her face. She jumps up, a wide smile spreading on

PAKHI (V.O.) 'There was no doubt in my mind now... I was in love. Unbearably. Irrevocably. just had to know what he felt...'

I CUT TO:

67

INT. THE HAVELI -- MORNING Pakhi is pottering by a vase at the first landing of the stairs, arranging flowers but evidently waiting to encounter Varun. The moment she sees Varun coming towards the stairs, she stops what she's doing and takes a step towards him..

46. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Varun babu..

PAKHI

Varun stops at the bottom of the stairs and smiles at her, but his manner seems rather withdrawn. VARUN I was going to meet your father about your family heirlooms.. Pakhi moves down the stairs. PAKHI I thought you said you'd return in a day.. VARUN Yes, but some work came up.. Pakhi's smile falters. This is not the answer she's expecting. She stops at the second stair, looking down at Varun. PAKHI (tentative) Did you miss not painting? Not really.. VARUN There was no time...

Pakhi gets more upset, but tries not to show. PAKHI So, we meet today at the same time? VARUN I'm sorry, but I can't.. I have to send some photographs urgently to my bosses.. I gave them to develop yesterday, I'll get them this evening... Tomorrow then? PAKHI

VARUN Tomorrow, I will be going into town to pick.. PAKHI (interrupting, temper rising) Day after, the day after that... Next week? Varun looks at her and speaks emotionlessly. VARUN I leave next week. Pakhi looks at him, the truth hitting her like a ton of bricks, tries to compose herself, willing herself not to let her emotions out.

47. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

A moment later, she moves away and walks past him. a deep breath.

Varun takes CUT TO:

68

INT. THE HAVELI - DINING ROOM -- NIGHT Varun, Deb, Pakhi, Devi are at dinner. unnaturally quiet. DEBDAS Won't zamindar babu join us? PAKHI (curt) He's gone out to meet a friend.. The attendants begin serving dinner. They begin eating quietly. DEVYANI (politely) Did you find any books of interest at the book store, Varun babu? PAKHI (to Varun, almost conversationally) You must get Shakespeare's Hamlet.. VARUN I already own a copy.. PAKHI (not letting him complete his sentence) You'll find the character of Hamlet very interesting.. He spurns the love of Ophelia, the woman who loves him beyond anyone else.. And whom he loves as much... Why do you think he did that? VARUN (quiet, playing along) Because he believes that he will only hurt her more, if she enters his terrible life.. PAKHI But he did worse... She went mad with hurt and killed herself! "Oh woe is me.. T'have seen what I have seen, see what I see.." Deb and Devi watch the two, fighting out a very private battle. Just then, Pishi ma comes to Pakhi's side and puts down a bowl. PISHI MA Your favourite dessert, Pakhi di.. The mood is tense,

48. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Pakhi gets up from her chair and putting down a napkin, speaks, addressing no one in particular. PAKHI Please excuse me.. I'm not feeling too well... Varun looks at her as she walks away. CUT TO: 69 INT. THE HAVELI - CORRIDOR -- NIGHT Varun catches up with Pakhi and holds her by the elbow. What is wrong? What is wrong?!!! question... VARUN PAKHI Ask yourself that

VARUN I'm not the one over-reacting... PAKHI I'm over-reacting? You go away saying you'd return in a day, you don't come back for three days... You tell me you'd call.. But you don't... You have no thought towards me and how worried I'd be... VARUN (disquietingly calm) Why would you be worried...? PAKHI Because... (trails away, hurt at having to spell things out) You know the reason... Why do you want to make me say it? Varun looks at her, impassive, trying not to react. PAKHI (CONT'D) Why are you behaving like this? Like what? VARUN

PAKHI As if there's nothing between us.. Don't you feel anything for me at all? Varun doesn't reply. Slowly, Pakhi's temper cools, and she looks at him, shocked into quietness.

49. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

You feel nothing?

PAKHI (CONT'D)

VARUN I'm leaving this place in a week.. PAKHI (ignoring his words) You feel nothing? Then what was all that time we spent together for? Why did you do that? VARUN (angry) You wanted to learn painting.. PAKHI And you agreed to teach me.. Despite not knowing how to hold a brush! Why did you do that? VARUN (snapping) Because I'm a damn fool, that's why! PAKHI So all of this was just a game? VARUN (angrier) Yes, it was!!! I was just playing a game. There now, you know the truth.. Tears fill her eyes at the hurt and humiliation of unrequited love. She watches as Varun turns and walks away. CUT TO: 70 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is sitting on her chair, writing in her diary, her pen scratching on paper, angrily. There's a knock on the door and Devi enters. She reaches Pakhi and sits next to her, silently, without saying anything. PAKHI Don't say anything, Devi... I don't want to hear anything... She continues writing, but tears fall down her face now. She wipes them away angrily, and continues writing. Devi watches her. PAKHI (CONT'D) I don't blame anyone. I was the fool.. Her anger dies as hurt and pain take over. Her face crumples, but she continues writing. A moment later, she throws the pen down and turns to Devi.

50. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI (CONT'D) He doesn't care about me, Devi.. That's not true.. DEVYANI

PAKHI He just told me that... I've been such a fool... She wipes away her tears angrily. PAKHI (CONT'D) I won't let him hurt me like this.. He has no right.. She moves towards the open window and shuts it with all her might. CUT TO: 71 INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- NIGHT Pacing up and down, smoking a cigarette, Varun looks at the shut window of Pakhi's room. Deb observes his friend's turmoil. CUT TO: 72 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is writing in her diary. PAKHI (V.O.) 'I was in pain.. I couldn't think straight.. I just wanted to disappear somewhere, so no one could see me.. or witness my humiliation... Every time I saw him, I saw a love that would never be.. a world that I would never belong to...' CUT TO: 73 INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- EVENING Varun is sitting with an abstracted look about him. packing up suitcases and talking. Deb is

DEBDAS I'll leave after dinner, take care of the arrangements at Calcutta. I'll return in the morning, and then we can leave tomorrow night with the rest of the stuff.. Varun doesn't reply. DEBDAS (CONT'D) I just hope that...

51. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

He trails off as he notices Varun's demeanor. DEBDAS (CONT'D) (kindly) Leave it.. You're doing the right thing.. It would've never worked... Varun gets up and walks out of the room. CUT TO: 74 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- DAY Pakhi is sitting with her father, going through some letters, when there's a knock on the door. It's Varun. Pakhi turns away. The zamindar beckons Varun warmly, asking him to enter. VARUN (to Pakhi) The air between Pakhi and Varun is

Hello..

Pakhi nods and moves away. very strained.

ZAMINDAR (going through some papers, to Varun) I've received a letter asking me whether I would like to sell the rare heirlooms I own.. (snort) He promises me a very good price.. People have no respect for history, do they? Varun makes a noncommittal reply, then clears his throat as if to say something. VARUN I came in to tell you that I'm leaving tomorrow... Pakhi stiffens the moment she hears the words, but doesn't turn to Varun. ZAMINDAR Oh, is it one month already? VARUN Yes sir.. I was wrong, after all. We found nothing.. The whole exercise has been futile.. ZAMINDAR Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. But we are so happy to have had the chance to know you.. It's strange how life brings such different people together and makes them part of each other's lives.. Even if for a short while.. We'll miss you terribly..

52. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Varun darts a look towards Pakhi, then turns to address the zamindar. VARUN A van will arrive tomorrow and we'll load all the rocks and findings at the site. I really can't thank you enough for your hospitality.. (pause) I hate to do this.. But I have to... Pakhi still doesn't turn back. CUT TO: 75 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi looks at the closed window of her room. Contemplative. Then, deep breath, decision made, she moves to the window and opens it. The jeep is in gear. Pakhi watches as Varun bids goodbye to Deb. The jeep drives off. Varun stands alone, in front of the outhouse for a moment, then goes in. Music begins. Through the window of the outhouse, Pakhi can spot a couple of suitcases, all neatly packed. The blank canvas is where it was. She stands still for a moment, and then, her decision made, she walks out of the room.. She walks down the stairs, through the large corridor, outside the house, down the driveway and finally stands in front of the outhouse. She hesitates for a moment, then knocks on the door. Music stops. CUT TO: 76 INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- NIGHT Varun opens the door and is shocked to see Pakhi. He lets her in. She enters and stands by the window, shivering slightly in the cold air of the night. Varun gently pulls her away from the window and closes it, so the chill stays out. They stand facing each other. hand in his. Music begins again. Varun reaches out and takes her

53. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Very sensual.

They're in each other's arms.

They make love. CUT TO:

77

INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- LATER Pakhi is sitting by the closed window on a chair, scribbling something on a piece of paper. Varun looks at her, and goes close to her. Pakhi sees him looking, smiles shyly at him and goes back to scribbling. This is a very different Varun -- warm, affectionate, all defenses down. VARUN What are you pretending to write? PAKHI I'm not pretending.. I'm writing a story. What's it about? It's a story. Is there a boy? Pakhi nods. And a girl? Pakhi nods again. Are they in love? VARUN (CONT'D) VARUN (CONT'D) VARUN PAKHI VARUN

No...

PAKHI (looks into his eyes)

VARUN (holding her gaze) Are they going to fall in love? Pakhi looks away, flushing. I don't know. PAKHI

VARUN What is he telling her now? Pakhi doesn't reply, looking at his eyes.

54. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

VARUN (CONT'D) Is she angry with him? (softly) PAKHI

Yes..

VARUN And what is he doing? PAKHI He is too close for her comfort... VARUN So what does she do? PAKHI She tells him that... VARUN Does he move away? No... PAKHI

VARUN Has he told her that she's the most beautiful girl he's ever seen in his life? PAKHI (looking into his eyes, intense)

No...

VARUN Has she told him she loves him more than anything in this world? No... PAKHI

VARUN When is she going to tell him? Pakhi doesn't reply. When? He touches her lips. VARUN (CONT'D)

Pakhi doesn't reply, overwhelmed. Varun moves his face close to her to kiss her. She moves away and gets up. He holds her hand. Don't go... VARUN (CONT'D)

PAKHI It'll be morning soon.. I have to..

55. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

But he holds onto her hand, not letting go.

On their hands. CUT TO:

78

EXT. THE HAVELI -- MORNING Morning light bathes the haveli beautifully. CUT TO:

79

INT. THE HAVELI - ZAMINDAR'S ROOM -- MORNING The zamindar is sitting on a chair, reading his newspaper and having tea. He looks up at a knock and is surprised to see Pakhi. PAKHI Good morning, baba... ZAMINDAR Good morning... You're up awfully early.. Pakhi flits about the room in nervousness, straightening this and that. PAKHI These flowers are two days old.. I must tell Pishi Ma to ask the servants to take care.. She moves away with the vase, places it at the door, then turns back and straightens the bed covers. ZAMINDAR (exasperated) Will you please sit down?! me dizzy!!

You're making

Pakhi slows down and sits on the chair opposite her father and picks up a newspaper. The zamindar looks at her closely. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) Pakhi.. what is it? Pakhi continues looking at the newspaper, not knowing how to start. She looks up and sees that the zamindar is waiting, patiently. Mustering courage and a deep breath later, she begins. PAKHI Er, Baba... Remember that day when we were traveling back after my check-up.. You told me something.. ZAMINDAR (racking his memory)

I did...?

56. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI You said that er... you said that if there was anything in my life, I should come and tell you first... The zamindar looks at her quizzically. father's eye.. Pakhi doesn't meet her

PAKHI (CONT'D) Baba, there is someone.. Realization dawns on the zamindar, and a slightly shuttered expression falls on his features. Pakhi goes silent, looking at her father now, slightly uncertain of his reaction. ZAMINDAR (after a long pause)

I see..

Pakhi is silent, waiting. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (stern, taciturn) Who is this someone? PAKHI (after a moment)

Varun...

The zamindar looks at Pakhi, not too surprised as if she was just confirming what he already suspected. Rather thunderous expression, revealing nothing with his tone though. ZAMINDAR Tell him I want to meet him... CUT TO: 80 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- LATER The zamindar looks up as Varun knocks and enters the door. Pakhi is sitting on a chair close by. She looks at Varun and then at her father. ZAMINDAR (to Pakhi) Go to the other room.. But Baba.. PAKHI

Go..

ZAMINDAR (authoritative)

Pakhi looks at Varun and leaves the room, standing however outside the door, her fingers crossed in prayer, walking up and down in nervousness.

57. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) Pakhi told me about the two of you... Varun doesn't reply. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) She's untouched by the world. She doesn't know any artifice or pretense. But I know better... (pause) You are meant to return to god-knows-whereyou-came-from this morning.. Am I right? VARUN (quietly) Yes, sir.. ZAMINDAR So, if you leave this morning, what is to happen of her? Varun looks at the zamindar, not protesting, not speaking. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) I told you the other day, she's all I have.. I can't bear to have any one.. ANYONE... hurt her in any manner.. Varun is quiet. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) We know nothing about you... To Pakhi, it doesn't matter. But it does to me... Varun is silent, meeting the zamindar's gaze levelly. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) Where are you from? Bombay.. VARUN

ZAMINDAR Your background... Education? I'm self-taught.. Archaeology? VARUN ZAMINDAR

VARUN Turned from hobby to interest to profession. Your parents... ZAMINDAR

VARUN They died in an accident when I was four..

58. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Family? I have none... The zamindar goes silent.

ZAMINDAR VARUN His manner thawing.

ZAMINDAR (quieter now) I have no problem with you, son.. You're a wonderful person.. I've seen ample proof of that in the last month.. You haven't abused our trust or hospitality in any manner.. (pauses, then continues) But I'm just a father. No man will be good enough for my daughter... I still don't approve of this.. But I promised you that you could ask me for anything you wanted... I didn't know you'd ask me for the most precious thing in my life... The zamindar smiles at Varun as he says the last words. looks very uncomfortable. Sir... VARUN Varun

ZAMINDAR Let me finish.. I need some more answers. You are aware of Pakhi's health? Yes, Sir.. VARUN

ZAMINDAR If she hadn't spoken to me this morning, would you have...? VARUN Yes. I wouldn't have left before I did that... ZAMINDAR Will you marry her? Varun looks at the zamindar, looks down, takes a deep breath and then answers. Yes, sir... VARUN

Outside, Pakhi smiles in utter happiness. CUT TO:

59. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

81

INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- DAY Deb is standing in front of Varun, aghast. DEBDAS You're getting married? VARUN (looking Deb in the eye) The engagement is tomorrow... DEBDAS (shocked) What? And when were you planning on telling me all this?! Varun is silent, takes a drag of his cigarette. DEBDAS (CONT'D) As it is Bajpai uncle is not very pleased because we couldn't carry out... VARUN (cutting in) That wasn't part of the plan.. He knows that... DEBDAS Yes, but now this... How will... (breaks off) Why? VARUN (shakes his head) I don't know... What's going on? don't know... DEBDAS Is there something I

Varun is silent, harassed.. Keeps smoking, looking out of the window. DEBDAS (CONT'D) What is it, man? We've known each other for more than six years now.. We've never had any secrets before.. What is it? Do you love her? I don't know... VARUN

DEBDAS Then why did you agree to this... this marriage? Isn't it wrong... to Pakhi? Her father?

60. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

VARUN (raking his fingers through his hair) I didn't know what to say.. DEBDAS So what? What are you trying to say? I don't understand! I don't understand you at all. We were meant to leave tonight... Everything is scheduled.. And... VARUN (cutting in, snapping) Life doesn't happen like we schedule it.. Accept that!!! Both angry, they stand looking in opposite directions. pause later, Deb speaks up. DEBDAS Where is the engagement? VARUN The temple site... Deb looks at him, sharply. Varun interprets the look and shakes his head in the negative. Deb looks away. CUT TO: 82 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- DAY The zamindar is sitting on his large imposing chair. Majumdar is sitting on a chair by the table. The zamindar is dictating a letter. ZAMINDAR 'Thakur Bikramaditya Roychowdhury is happy to invite you for the engagement of his daughter... no, his only daughter Pakhi Roychowdhury to Varun Shrivastav...' He breaks off and addresses Majumdar. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) So what if he's not a Bengali... Those times are gone.. We're in the 1950s. Caste and such stuff don't matter anymore.. Poor boy has no parents.. But he's a wonderful chap.. We've all seen that. And that's all that should matter... Majumdar nods in assent. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (continues dictating) Where were we? A long

61. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

MAJUMDAR "..to Varun Shrivastav..." ZAMINDAR Yes.. on Shukla Paksh. Indian month blah..., the twenty first of November.. He talks to Majumdar. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) It is rather short notice.. Just two days away.. But those who can't make it for the engagement can come for the wedding, what do you say? Of course... MAJUMDAR

ZAMINDAR (dictating again) 'The wedding will be on the auspicious day of the ... Indian blah... December 15th.. I would like to share my joy and happiness with my friends and relatives... I would be honored if you grace the occasion with your presence and bless the happy couple..' Yours, Etc. Etc. MAJUMDAR (getting up) Is there anything else, Babu? Suddenly, the zamindar looks lost, he hasn't heard Majumdar at all. Zamindar babu... MAJUMDAR (CONT'D)

The zamindar turns to look at Majumdar, very emotional. ZAMINDAR She's really going away, Majumdar... Majumdar puts a hand on the zamindar's shoulder. A moment later, the zamindar squares his shoulders and gets up from his chair. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (clearing his throat) Let's get started now... So many things to do.. CUT TO: 83 EXT. THE HAVELI -- DAY The haveli is bedecked with flowers. Guests have arrived. Children playing around, women moving around importantly.

62. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Rangoli being made.

Children.

Lots of laughter, sound, music. CUT TO:

84

INT. HAVELI OUTHOUSE -- DAY Deb, watching all of this from the window of the outhouse, turns to Varun, who's sitting on a chair, smoking, dressed very elegantly. Are you...? DEBDAS

Just then, there's a knock on the door and a little girl enters. LITTLE GIRL (taking Varun's arm) Come, they're calling you... A moment later, an older woman enters, and shooing the kid away, smiles at Varun. LADY Everyone is looking for the son-in law... Varun smiles and gets up from his seat. CUT TO: 85 INT. THE HAVELI -- DAY The zamindar is calling out instructions. a priest setting up puja stuff. A pandal is put up, CUT TO: 86 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- DAY Alta is being applied on Pakhi's feet. Another woman is taking care of her hair. Devi is sorting bangles. Pakhi looks very happy, blushing, smiling. Her hands are next in line for alta. Hands outstretched, she looks in the direction of the window. Devi, who's standing there now, nods. Pakhi smiles, excited, anticipatory. CUT TO: 87 INT. THE TEMPLE SITE -- DAY The place is beautifully bedecked. Pakhi enters the puja area flanked by friends and other women. She stands next to Varun as the rites are read. She steals a glance at him. His expression is grim, remote. But catching her look, he smiles, warm, tender. She lowers her eyes.

63. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

The engagement ceremony is over, heralded by conch shells and shower of confetti and roses. The zamindar watches the proceedings, proud, sad. CUT TO: 88 INT. THE TEMPLE SITE -- NIGHT Guests are slowly moving away. The place is being cleared of people. Pakhi and Varun are talking to someone. The person is called away. Snatching the moment, Varun takes Pakhi aside, away from prying eyes. PAKHI (protesting, laughingly) I'm going to get a bad name! Varun doesn't say anything. He holds her hands and looks as if he's about to say something. Just then, the zamindar passes by them, but doesn't see them. The moment is lost. Varun looks deep in Pakhi's eyes for a long moment, then kisses her on her forehead. Very tender, gentle. And then he turns and leaves. Pakhi stands, looking at him, her eyes welling up with tears. CUT TO: 89 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is asleep on her bed, still wearing all her jewelry and dress clothes. Even in her sleep, she is smiling. PAKHI (V.O.) 'I was so happy that I was frightened.. Frightened that I might wake up and realize that all of this was just a dream... But it wasn't... I couldn't thank God enough..' FADE OUT: MORNING Pakhi gets up and stretches on her bed. She looks at the clothes she's slept in and smiles at herself. She then gets off the bed and stands by the window, looking out. She sees the blank canvas. Smiles in anticipation of the future. CUT TO: 90 INT. THE HAVELI -- MORNING The place is abuzz. Pakhi watches as the zamindar is standing wearing a coat, being fitted for it. The tailor is nipping and tucking at the suit.

64. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

The zamindar, impatient with the inactivity is talking to Majumdar, giving instructions to servants. Devi is getting some rangoli done. ZAMINDAR (to Majumdar) Get the silver idol of Kali out from the store room. We'll install it today in the puja room, after the havan.. (to servants) Ask Pishi Ma whether the havan samagri has been bought... And send Ram Saran to fetch the pandit at twelve... Pakhi walks to her father and puts a hand on his arm. to her and holding his hands out, asks. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) What do you think? Pakhi smiles at him affectionately, and taking his hand takes him aside. PAKHI Sit down and breathe now... You're behaving like Pakhi express!!! Servants milling all around, ladies taking charge of arrangements, Pishi Ma calling out instructions. In the midst of all this, Pakhi sits her father down. Majumdar moves away from the room, up the stairs. Just then, Pishi Ma reaches Pakhi and the zamindar, stands in front of them, looking troubled. PISHI MA Babu... The police are here... The zamindar and Pakhi look at each other, surprised. As does Devi, who stops her rangoli. Two uniformed police officers enter the room. The zamindar walks upto them. ZAMINDAR Bose babu.. What brings you here... BOSE, about fifty, shrewd, world-weary eyes, shakes hands with the zamindar, respectfully. The other officer joins them. BOSE This is my associate, Devidayal. The zamindar nods. BOSE (CONT'D) There's been an unfortunate development. The temple site has been looted... He turns

65. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Looted?!

ZAMINDAR (puzzled)

BOSE We have reason to believe that this is the work of a gang.. They've pulled off similar scams in other parts of the country.. Master criminals.. ZAMINDAR What is there to loot at the site? just... It's

BOSE Pillars, etchings, anything of value... And the idol in your shrine.. ZAMINDAR How can that be? The shrine is always locked.. and only I have the key.. and only last evening, we had the engagement ceremony there.. BOSE Who all are living in your house at present? ZAMINDAR Well, my daughter and I, servants who've been with us for over two decades, yes, there is one new servant we hired a few days ago, but he's from Pishi Ma's village... Then there's my son-in-law tobe who lives with his friend in the outhouse... But how could anyone...? Pakhi beckons a little kid who's playing. PAKHI Go to the outhouse and ask Varun Dada to come immediately.. BOSE What's your son-in law's name? ZAMINDAR Varun Shrivastav.. Do the police have any idea about how this happened? BOSE And his friend's name... ZAMINDAR Debdas Mukherjee... But will you tell me who did this? How did this happen? BOSE (deep breath) They dug a tunnel... From the temple site to underneath the shrine...

66. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Majumdar is at the head of the stairs. MAJUMDAR (calls out) The zamindar doesn't listen, looking

Babu!!!

Devi looks at her father. at Bose in shock.

BOSE Varun Shrivastav, alias Narayan Maurya, alias Mohan Das, alias Raj Saxena... and several more-- about six feet tall, athletic, good- looking, very knowledgeable about a host of things especially literature and archaeology.. A shocked look comes over the zamindar's face. stunned. Devi looks on in shock. Pakhi looks

BOSE (CONT'D) Debdas Mukherjee, aka Vijay, Guru, Basant.. about five ten, curly hair, dresses like Dev Anand... ZAMINDAR (shaking his head) There must be a mistake... Majumdar hurries towards them, shocked, out of breath. MAJUMDAR Babu... We've been robbed! is wiped clean! The store room

--

Pakhi and her father look at him, shocked beyond words. Just then, the little kid Pakhi had sent to fetch Varun comes to them. She tugs Pakhi's hand. LITTLE GIRL Didi... There's no one in the room... But this letter was stuck on the door... Pakhi takes the letter with trembling hands. She opens it and begins reading. Everything is now from Pakhi's POV. Shaky, abstracted. VARUN (V.O.) 'I know you can never forgive me for what I'm about to do... You showed me the possibility of a different life, an infinitely better one... But I don't think I'm worth it.. Neither am I worthy of your forgiveness.. I don't regret anything I've done in life so far.. But from today, I will live with the guilt of having hurt you for the rest of my life... Thank you for the painting lessons.. But I don't think I'll paint again..'

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The letter flies from Pakhi's passive hands. Pakhi watches her father as he sits down on a chair, heavily. Images/ Montages. Varun talking about Milton. Varun taking photographs of the shrine, of the idol. impassive eyes. His

Varun telling the zamindar 'I'm here just for a month'. Varun's discomfort when Pakhi lands at the temple site. Varun saying he never studied history. Varun in a trench, from a different angle now, giving a start as he sees the zamindar standing above. Varun telling Pakhi he was going away for a day. Varun trying to tell Pakhi something at the engagement. Through all of this, a tunnel being dug... and them getting closer and closer to the shrine.. and the idol. Varun and Deb loading the van, first with the stones, small findings lined along the periphery. Then with the pillars, the stone henges, the idol from the shrine. Frightening coldblooded efficiency. Varun and Deb getting into the van. Varun looking out of the window as the van travels, a very pensive hunted look on his face. PAKHI (V.O.) 'The truth is always right in front of us... But we see what we choose to see... and remain blind to everything else...' ON Varun's face, DISSOLVE TO: Pakhi looks at her father, then at the letter on the floor, then at the twinkling ring On her finger. FADE OUT. INTERVAL Shock, inability to react. On Pakhi's face.

91

EXT. THE HAVELI -- NIGHT A strange stillness fills the air. Despite lamps burning within, there's a dark brooding air about the haveli.

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ZAMINDAR (O.S.) 'Thakur Bikramaditya Roychowdhury is deeply regretful to inform you...' CUT TO: 92 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- NIGHT The zamindar is dictating a letter to Majumdar. The stance and seating similar to a few scenes ago, but the mood decidedly opposite. The zamindar looks lost, broken, terribly vulnerable. ZAMINDAR ...that the wedding of his daughter has been canceled, due to unforeseen circumstances.. The zamindar breaks off and clears his throat which has gone rather rough. Majumdar waits silently, sympathy etched in his manner. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) You know, good people shouldn't suffer like this.. But they say that the followers of the Devil are always taken care of.. It's those who follow the right path who get hurt all the time... Pakhi, about to enter, stops at the door and waits. She looks at her father, visible from the half-open door. She looks sad, pained but moreso at his grief, which is almost palpable. ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (dictating again) Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience caused ... He trails off, lost again. up. Babu... A moment later, Majumdar speaks MAJUMDAR

ZAMINDAR (coming out of his thoughts) You take care of the rest, Majumdar. really not upto it..

I'm

MAJUMDAR All right, babu. But we need to look at the account books soon.. The Zamindar Abolishment Act has taken away all our lands.. And now that the heirlooms are gone too... He trails off, not wanting to complete the sentence. listening, looks on grimly. Pakhi,

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MAJUMDAR (CONT'D) It's not serious, but we need to be sensible.. The zamindar is silent for a long time. ZAMINDAR (almost to himself) How did all this happen? One moment I had everything.. everything a man could desire.. And the next, everything is over? He is silent for a moment. Then,

ZAMINDAR (CONT'D) (pulling himself together) Look at me, crying like a child who's lost his candy! We still have this haveli. I am alive, healthy.. much better off than so many other people.. (Getting up) Mail this letter. And in the morning, we'll sit and go over the accounts books. Everything will be fine. After all, tomorrow is another day.. The zamindar gets up from his chair and walks towards an old gramophone. He puts on a record. Wonderful classical music. Majumdar looks at his employer, not fooled one bit. later, he leaves. A moment CUT TO: 93 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- LATER Pakhi enters the library. The zamindar turns to look at her as he pours a drink into his glass. A smile, very efforted. ZAMINDAR How are you, my child? He walks to his chair, with the bottle of alcohol and settles it on the table next to his armchair. He sits down and gets comfortable. Pakhi sits on a chair next to him, watching him. Music soaks over them. The zamindar drinks, introspective, thoughtful. Suddenly the room seems too big, its largeness too enveloping. PAKHI (very close to tears) I'm sorry, Baba... The zamindar smiles at Pakhi, gently, sadly.

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ZAMINDAR It's not your fault.. None of us could've imagined.. Pakhi kneels next to the zamindar's chair. PAKHI (softly) I know you're hurt.. All our land is gone, and all our heirlooms.. We have nothing anymore. And we've lost face... Friends and relatives will have something to point a finger against you now.. And that is all thanks to me.. ZAMINDAR If they're true friends, they will always be with us.. And relatives, who needs them? Like you said, we have each other.. And that's all we need.. Don't you agree? Pakhi holds her father's hand and kisses it, terribly moved. The music washes over them again. Melancholic, moving, achingly beautiful. The zamindar takes another swig from his glass, emptying it in a gulp, shutting his eyes, holding back his pain. Pakhi looks at him, and unable to take it anymore, gets up and walks towards the door. At the door, she turns back. Her father is lost in his world of music and the escape of his drink. CUT TO: 94 INT. THE HAVELI - CORRIDOR -- NIGHT (Music continues) Pakhi walks along the corridors of the haveli. There is an emptiness about the place, a bleakness, that wasn't there before. CUT TO: 95 INT. THE HAVELI - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi stands by the window, looking down at the outhouse. blank canvas is still there. The

A shutter appears over her eyes, her features. She sits at the window seat, looking at the night sky. Like she'd done several hundred times before. Music from the library filters in. CUT TO: Music is stronger. glass. The zamindar takes another gulp from his

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As he puts the glass on the table beside him, tears escape his tightly-shut eyelids. CUT TO: Pakhi sits at the window, looking at the sky, dry-eyed. continues. TIME LAPSE Morning dawns. Everything is silent, except for the chirping of early birds. Pakhi is in the same position at the windowseat. She looks at the clock in her room. It's a few minutes before six in the morning. She gets to her feet. CUT TO: 96 INT. THE HAVELI - LIBRARY -- MORNING Pakhi looks in through the half-open door and sees her father, still on the armchair. She enters the door. The zamindar's empty glass is lying on the floor. The record is whirring, played through. She reaches her father and takes his hand, to wake him up. A sudden change comes over her face. She looks at her father, places her hand on his chest. Another shutter falls over her face as she realizes that her father is dead. Music begins. CUT TO: 97 INT. THE HAVELI-- DAY Music continues. A shok-sabha at the haveli. The entire village seems to have turned up to pay their respects. Pakhi is sitting in a corner. Next to her, Devi is crying quietly. Majumdar wipes his tears. Only Pakhi is dry-eyed. PAKHI (V.O.) 'When I was eight, Baba had taken me to watch an old mansion of ours being razed to the ground. The systematic demolition was fascinating. First one floor, then the other.. And within moments, the entire place came crashing down.. Watching it, I wondered what that building must've felt like... Now I knew..' People are walking off, expressing their condolences to Pakhi. Everyone is kind, sincere. Dignified grief. CUT TO: Pakhi is sitting in the library. The chair that her father used to sit at, looms emptily. Facing her are Majumdar and a man who looks like a lawyer. Music

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The man explains something as he puts papers in front of Pakhi. Majumdar adds his remarks. Pakhi reads the documents and then signs on them. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'I felt like I was signing away my right to all my memories. But I wanted to do it.. Baba, who gave life to those memories, wasn't there anymore.. I had nothing to hold me there now..' First one, then another. On signature. DISSOLVE TO: Pakhi is standing at the door, outside the haveli. Luggage is being loaded into a car. Devi and Majumdar stand next to her. Devi is in tears. All the luggage loaded, the driver now gets into the car. Pakhi looks at Devi and hugs her, fiercely. Majumdar hugs her. And opens the door of the car for Pakhi, one last time. Pakhi gets in. The car drives off. Devi and Majumdar wave. The

Pakhi doesn't look back. The car passes by the outhouse. blank canvas stares at her through the open window, as if mocking. Pakhi averts her eyes.

CUT TO: The car now travels along the road, and passes the place where she first met Varun in his car. I/C Varun looks at Pakhi and smiles. I/C Pakhi shakes her head firmly, not allowing herself to think. CUT TO: The car passes through the archaeological site where Varun worked. She doesn't look, keeping her eyes straight ahead. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'I was glad I was moving.. There was a small cottage Baba had bought in Spiti, years ago. That would be home now.. Here, too many memories tied me to the past.. And I wanted to cut off all ties with what was. I wanted to look at what could be.. towards the future..' Music continues. The car travels on. The landscape changes from dusty plains to clearer mountains. Beautiful, breathtaking.

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CUT TO: 98 EXT. THE COTTAGE -- DAY Pakhi gets off her car and looks at the cottage, which is almost picture-postcard-like in its prettiness. SHYAMA, an elderly dignified-looking maid greets her warmly, affectionately. The driver carries the luggage inside. Pakhi stands looking about her... At the cottage.. DISSOLVE TO: The same view. The cottage now looking lived in, smoke rising from the chimney. CUT TO: 99 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- AFTERNOON The room is simple, neat. A large window looks out at the lawns. A table is set beside the window. Large shelves for books. Pakhi is unpacking. She removes books from a box and places them on the shelves. In the box, she suddenly comes across some painting stuff.. Brushes, paints. A hunted look comes over her face. PAKHI (V.O.) 'The things we love most are always denied to us.. or taken away from us.. First my dream of falling in love and living happily ever after.. Then Baba.. But everyone experiences the loss of a loved one.. In death or in life.. Pakhi puts up a painting that we've seen earlier in the haveli library. She places a radio on a table. She puts up a framed photograph of her father on the table. And a single rose-bud in front of it. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'My grief wasn't unique, neither was my pain.. I'd always hated people who glorified their troubles.. I didn't want to become one of them. Bitter, self-pitying.. I just had to make my peace with life and move on...' Finally, she pulls out a sheaf of papers from one of the boxes and places it on the table. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'At least I had something to build from.. My writing. (MORE)

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PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) The dream I always had, of writing a book, living by a mountainside, looking out of the window at snow-capped peaks and tall trees, would come true... All wasn't lost...' Pakhi sits at the table. She picks up a pen and sits, holding the pen poised over the sheet of paper. The blank piece of paper stares at her. She switches on the radio. The song from 'Baazi' plays. A hunted look comes over Pakhi's face, and she switches off the radio. Complete silence. TIME LAPSE It is darker outside the window now. Pakhi is still sitting at the table, looking at the paper in front of her. The paper is still barren of words. CUT TO: 100 INT. THE COTTAGE - DINING ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is sitting at the dining table. All alone, she seems dwarfed by the large table. She is playing with the food on her plate, disinterestedly. Shyama enters with dessert and chides her for not eating well. Pakhi smiles and makes an effort. CUT TO: 101 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi gets up from sleep, the room lit only by moonlight. She sits by the table, looking at the blank sheet of paper. No words, still. CUT TO: 102 EXT. MOUNTAINOUS LANDSCAPE -- DAY/ EVENING Pakhi is walking along the lovely pathways and lovely winding roads, framed by trees. Strangely silent.. CUT TO: 103 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING Pakhi is again at the table. Golden light from the window bathing her. She is staring at the blank sheet of paper. She moves the pen, almost by sheer will. Some words find themselves on the paper. The next moment, she scratches them out... Just then, there's a knock at the door. SHYAMA Dinner is laid, Pakhi Di.. Shyama is at the door.

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Pakhi nods. PAKHI Thank you, Shyama.. I'll be there.. Shyama leaves. Pakhi looks at the blank sheet of paper. CUT TO: 104 INT. THE COTTAGE - DINING ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is sitting at the table, playing with the food on her plate -- lost in thought. Shyama watches Pakhi, and a moment later speaks up. Pakhi Di... Pakhi looks up, startled. SHYAMA (CONT'D) (very hesitantly) Can I ask something? PAKHI What is it, Shyama? SHYAMA Zamindar babu... how... (trails off) Pakhi goes very still. to fight her tears. Looking at a fixed spot, trying hard PAKHI SHYAMA

A heart attack...

Pakhi gets up from her seat, gives a strained smile in Shyama's direction. PAKHI (CONT'D) You can go home now, Shyama.. Take care of your son.. I hope he gets better soon. I'll see you tomorrow morning.. Pakhi leaves the room. Shyama watches her, in concern. CUT TO: 105 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is sitting on the table, her pen moving over the paper forcibly. Frustrated, she rolls up the paper into a ball and throws it to the ground. Fingers holding the pen, the ink spreading over paper unsure, uncertain, scratched out. Paper rolled into a ball, lands on the floor.

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CLOSE ON: The ball of paper lying on the floor. Off-screen sounds, pen scratching on paper, angry tearing of the paper and another ball lands on the floor. Then another. And another. Finally, Pakhi sits on the table, slumped, breathing heavily. Her vision slowly gets blurred by tears -- the first tears since her father's death. Wiping her face, angrily, not allowing herself to cry, Pakhi sweeps some books off the table. The books land on the floor beside the balled up pieces of paper, which seem to almost mock her. Tears blur her eyes, but she wipes them away, still not letting herself cry. She moves to the shelf, throws some books off them. Picks a book, begins shredding pages, throwing the pages into the wind outside the window. She picks up another book, tears it wildly, more aggression. Then another, and another. All the time, her anger reaching towards a violent crescendo. As the last book falls from her hand, half inside the house and half outside into the ground below the window, she slumps onto the chair, breathing terribly labored. Her eyes fall on the photograph of the zamindar.. Tears fall down her face again. And this time she makes no attempt to stop them. Allowing herself to grieve over her father's death for the first time.. Slowly, her breathing gets more and more labored as the tears fall unstoppable.. And she blacks out. BLEACH OUT 106 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- DAY An X-ray slowly comes to focus. DR. TSERING, a quiet mild-mannered man in his 50s looks at the X-ray against the white wall -- concern writ large on his face. Pakhi is lying on the bed, under the covers. coughs shake her frail body. Intermittent

Dr. Tsering puts the x-ray on the bedside table and looks at Pakhi, who has her back to him and Shyama, looking out of the window. Shyama is watching, concernedly. DR. TSERING (clearing his throat) Pakhi.. I have the reports of your x-rays and scans and blood tests.. (pause, deep breath) I'm afraid the news isn't very good. You have tuberculosis.. Pakhi closes her eyes at his words momentarily, then opens them.

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Pakhi's POV- Slowly the view from outside the window comes into focus, and along with the snow-capped peaks in the distance, she now sees the tree outside the window. Tall, magnificent but somehow bereft because of the leaves that are falling -- almost like a gentle rain -- off it. Meanwhile Dr. Tsering keeps speaking, but his voice is almost like an indistinct drone to Pakhi. DR. TSERING (CONT'D) TB isn't something to be taken lightly, even with normal patients. But keeping in mind your medical history and your lung problem... frankly, you're in a very delicate state. The slightest neglect can have devastating consequences. SHYAMA Don't worry, Doctor.. I'll make sure she takes complete care.. Pakhi continues staring at the tree, fascinated. Watching as the leaves fall, one by one -- carried by the breeze. Behind her, Dr. Tsering's words seem almost incoherent. DR. TSERING (to Shyama, in the background) She needs to take these medicines regularly.. Complete bed rest.. And food at regular intervals.. Medical science has advanced, and there is a cure now, even for TB.. But complete care is a must.. Dr. Tsering looks at Pakhi's unresponsive back. DR. TSERING (CONT'D) The best thing for you, my child would be to get admitted to a nursing home.. Pakhi doesn't react. in the negative. He looks at Shyama, who shakes her head

DR. TSERING (CONT'D) (sighing, to Shyama) Well.. Please make sure she takes her medication.. And give me a call anytime.. Good bye, Pakhi.. He touches Pakhi's shoulder and leaves. Pakhi lies there, staring at the tree outside, with a strange feverish fascination. CUT TO: 107 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EARLY EVENING Pakhi is lying on her bed, coughing intermittently, in almost the same position that she was.. But the light is different. It is now early evening..

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She's looking out of the window. Shyama enters the room and seeing the tray of food lying on the bedside table untouched, exclaims. SHYAMA Your lunch, Pakhi di...!! I'll heat it up.. You need to take your medicines.. Pakhi doesn't react, her eyes fixed on the tree. SHYAMA (CONT'D) (looking at Pakhi, worried) Pakhi di... Pakhi doesn't reply. About to say something, but thinking the better of it, Shyama takes the tray of food and leaves the room. Pakhi looks at the tree, a couple of more leaves fall. DISSOLVE TO: 108 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- LATE AFTERNOON The sky is a deep gold. A snow-storm seems to be on course. Consistent snowing outside. Shyama enters the room. Pakhi is lying on the bed -- just like earlier. SHYAMA It's been two days, Pakhi di. This is not good for you... PAKHI (snapping) Leave me alone. Please.. Hurt, Shyama quietly moves towards the door. about to move out, Pakhi speaks. PAKHI (CONT'D) I'm sorry, Shyama.. She breaks off, coughing. features softer now. Shyama stands at the door, her Just as she's

SHYAMA You owe it to yourself to take care of yourself. You know your health better than anyone else.. This is not good.. She stops. Pakhi doesn't reply for a long moment. staring at the tree, she speaks. Then, still

PAKHI See this tree here? When I came here, it had a lot of leaves... that even autumn couldn't tear away.. And then, they began falling again.. Nature wants the tree to wither away.. That's its destiny. Try as it might, the tree can't fight it.. (MORE)

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PAKHI (CONT'D) The leaves fall of their own accord.. pulled away from their home, the tree by a force beyond their control.. Shyama listens, a worried look coming over her face. Pakhi turns to Shyama, feverish face and eyes shining with strange light. PAKHI (CONT'D) This tree symbolizes my life.. and its leaves my breath.. The day the last leaf falls, my breath shall stop.. And I'll die.. Shyama looks shocked. In the distant sky, dark clouds gather. Another leaf falls off the tree. We follow it's descent right until it hits the ground. CUT TO: 109 EXT. TOWN STREETS -- EVENING Varun picks up a fallen leaf from the ground and twirls it between his fingers. He looks in the direction of a grandlooking old mansion. Lost in contemplation. Shall we leave? DEBDAS (O.S.)

Varun snaps out of his thoughts and turns to look at Deb. He nods and they begin walking out the gates of the property. DEBDAS (CONT'D) I spoke to the caretaker of the monastery.. No one comes here during winter. Told him we were antique dealers.. His voice trails off as Varun and Deb walk away.. CUT TO: 110 INT. TEA SHOP -- EVENING Varun and Deb are sitting at a table, warming their hands on cups of steaming tea. They're the only people there. Varun is pointing to a map laid out on the table. VARUN There's a trap door here on the east end of the garden leading to the cellar.. we might have to dig our way in.. But this is the best way. No effort.. We just need to know the best time.. A young waiter comes upto them.

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WAITER Looks like you're new in town, babu. You should get back to where you're staying as soon as possible. Looks like today will be the first snowfall of the season... It can easily turn to a snow storm.. Best to stay indoors.. Outside, the sky is strangely dark and the wind is howling ominously now. Varun and Deb exchange glances. CUT TO: 111 EXT. TOWN STREETS -- EVENING Varun and Deb walk on. on the street. Only two or three people are walking

And suddenly, one man they've passed by does a double-take and looks at them with a surprised expression on his face. The man is Inspector Bose. He takes a moment to place them and begins following them. Varun and Deb walk ahead, swift strides. Suddenly as they pass a shop window, Varun notices Bose behind them. He looks at Deb and indicates the reflection on the window, even as they continue walking. They slow down. As does Bose. They pick up their pace. Bose does ditto. They now reach an intersection. Varun gestures with his eyes that Deb take the other fork, while he takes another. Bose watches the two of them split and hesitates a moment, wondering whom to follow. He then follows Varun. CUT TO: 112 EXT. PAKHI'S COTTAGE -- EVENING Lights come on in the cottage, one by one. CUT TO: 113 EXT. TOWN STREETS -- EVENING Varun turns into an alley. Bose reaches there and looks to see an empty street. He's lost Varun. He looks around -three roads ahead of him. He makes a decision and runs swiftly into one, his gun now in his hand. From a small alley, Deb walks almost right into Bose. They look at each other for a moment. Deb turns and breaks into a run. Bose is in pursuit. CUT TO:

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114

INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING Pakhi is sitting on a chair by the window, looking at the tree outside. Shyama arrives, and stands at the door. Pakhi turns on hearing her. SHYAMA (looking worried) Can I get you something, Di?

Tea...

PAKHI No, thank you Shyama... You'd better go home now. Good night.. She looks out of the window. On the sky, dark clouds gather. CUT TO: 115 EXT. TOWN STREETS -- EVENING Varun scales over a fence and jumps onto a dirt road, when he turns to see Deb running, and close on Deb's heels though separated by too many bushes/ trees/ encumbrances is Bose, gun in hand. Bose now sees Varun also ahead of him. over his face. A grim smile breaks CUT TO: 116 EXT. PAKHI'S COTTAGE -- EVENING Shyama shuts the main door of the cottage behind her and walks ahead. She looks up at the first storey, where Pakhi's window is. She looks at the tree in front of it and sighs, disturbed. She then walks towards the gates. CUT TO: 117 EXT. TOWN STREETS -- EVENING Varun and Deb now reach a blind alley of sorts, a tall wall looms ahead of them, tall hedges on both sides of them. Varun swiftly, with the agility of a cat, scales the wall with the help of a creeper running all along it, and gets on top of it. He looks impatiently as Deb, a little behind turns into the alley. But right on Deb's heels is Bose. Deb climbs onto the wall, holding the creeper. Stop right there. Deb keeps climbing. BOSE Don't make me do this...

Bose takes a deep breath and shoots. CUT TO:

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118

INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING Pakhi watches as snowflakes now fall down the landscape outside her window. CUT TO:

119

EXT. TOWN STREETS -- EVENING Varun watches Deb's body, fallen on the snow, dead. He meets Bose's eyes with a cold expressionless look, cuts the creeper and jumps over to the other side. Bose stands by the wall, looking at the fallen creeper, knowing there was no way he could scale it now. He looks at the fallen Deb. Snowflakes falling upon the blood on the snow, covering it within moments. CUT TO:

120

INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING Pakhi is sitting on her chair, lost in thought. CUT TO:

121

EXT. TOWN STREETS -- EVENING Bose watches as some policemen place Deb's snow-covered body onto a stretcher and take it into a van. A small crowd gathers to watch. Shyama passes by, looking at the crowd in curiosity. CUT TO:

122

EXT. TOWN STREETS -- EVENING Roadblocks are being placed and oncoming vehicles stopped, by waving flashlights. Snow is falling. Policemen are looking into every vehicle. head, running his hand through his hair. Bose shakes his

BOSE We need to find him before nightfall... A local inspector, wise-looking, practical, shakes his head. INSPECTOR I don't see how we can do that.. Within moments, it's going to be dark.. Looks like we'll have to wait until tomorrow.. Bose shakes his head, talking into a walkie-talkie..

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BOSE All exit points are sealed? CUT TO: 123 EXT. TOWN STREETS -- NIGHT It is terribly dark. In the cold light of the moon, Varun is seen -- walking swiftly along the road, hunching to shelter from the heavy snowfall. In the distance looms a magnificent tree and a cottage alongside. Pakhi's house. CUT TO: 124 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT A coughing fit assails Pakhi. As it passes, she gets up from her chair and walks towards the table. She runs her fingers over the photograph of her father, touching the rather withered rosebud in front of it. She looks at the blank sheets of paper on the table, which seem to stare at her, mocking. Outside the window, snow is falling at an alarming rate. Pakhi opens the window and stands as the violent cold air hits her, whipping her clothes about. Suddenly, Pakhi hears a sound from the hall. Alert, she moves towards the door -- heartbreakingly frail, vulnerable. She coughs, serious now, thanks to her exposure to the cold air at the window. PAKHI (calling out) Who is it? CUT TO: 125 INT. THE COTTAGE -- NIGHT A window suddenly bursts open in the foyer, snow bursting into the house, the wind making a terrible howling sound. Pakhi moves down the corridor, towards the stairs, coughing very badly now, breathing hard, an oncoming asthma attack. The wind from the open window makes any sound almost impossible to be heard over it. Shyama? PAKHI

She walks down the stairs, coughing and struggling to breathe, the asthma attack controlling her completely.

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Varun stands in the long verandah along the door. Gun in hand, moving swiftly along the wall. The only sound is the terrible wail of the howling wind and the snowstorm outside. Varun reaches the window and closes it. trap the wind outside. Finally managing to

His back to the foyer, he leans against the wall, panting, breathing heavily. All is silent. Suddenly the door between the foyer and the verandah opens. Varun whirls around, gun poised in hand. Pakhi looks at him.

They look at each other, shocked. Pakhi is struggling to breathe, holds the knob of the door and slumps to the floor. (Everything is now from PAKHI's POV.) She is lying on the floor, perspiring for lack of oxygen. Varun kneeling beside her, holding her arm, his face grim, tense. He puts his arm around her shoulder. Images of the past flash in front of her. The present and the imagined interlock, until she's not sure which is which. Past: Varun putting his arms around her shoulder, looking at her, shocked about her attack. I/C: Pakhi pushes Varun away. Varun persists, overpowering her easily. He picks her up. The ground lifts from under Pakhi. She continues resisting him, feebly -- struggling terribly to breathe. They go up the stairs. CU: A hand pulls open a drawer. I/C: Past: Varun pulls out the bag of medicines. I/C: Present: Varun loads a syringe. Pakhi is on the bed -- a heartwrenching sight, unable to breathe -- a terrible wheezing sound coming from her. I/C: Past: Varun lifts the sleeve of her blouse. I/C: Present: An injection is administered on her forearm. I/C:

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Past: Varun is holding her close as Pakhi passes out in his arms. CUT TO: 126 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT A lamp is burning by the bedside. Pakhi is sleeping on the bed, terribly weak, her breathing still labored. We see her from the POV of Varun, off-camera. Pakhi moves on the bed, and slowly opens her eyes, slowly getting oriented. She realizes that she's in her room, and that her hand is being held by someone. As her eyes travel in the direction of the person, her face freezes in shock. Varun is looking down at her. VARUN (sincere, but expressionless) How are you feeling? Pakhi recoils as if stung. pushes him away. Pakhi... She jerks his hands off her and VARUN (CONT'D)

PAKHI (fierce, furious) Don't say my name! Don't you dare say my name.. What are you doing here? Varun is silent. Offering her a glass of water. the glass off his hand. Pakhi knocks

She moves to the phone, dials a number. The phone is not working, lines down -- just static. Furious, she throws the phone off the table. Get out!! PAKHI (CONT'D) Get out of here!!!

VARUN I can't. I need a place to stay until the storm blows over... Pakhi looks at him incredulously. Here!!! out!!! PAKHI You want to stay here!!! Get

She begins breathing heavily again..

86. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

VARUN (looking at her, intent almost cold) Please.. You don't want another attack.. I can't leave. I'll go in the morning... Pakhi sits on the bed, holding her chest, trying to breathe easy. No! PAKHI This is my house! I won't let you...

She breaks off, coughing. I can't leave. VARUN I'm sorry.

PAKHI (sarcasm) All right! Stay! Stay for as long as you want... But let me warn you, there's nothing here that you can steal.. nothing of any worth.. So why waste your time? VARUN I just want to spend the night. gone in the morning. I'll be

PAKHI (complete sarcasm) Oh, just one night?!!! Why didn't you tell me earlier? VARUN (not reacting) I can't leave. He moves away from her. Suddenly, his eyes fall on the writing table and he sees the photograph of the zamindar with the rosebud in front of it. He turns to Pakhi, his eyes questioning, knowing the answer but not wanting to accept it. PAKHI (trying to keep emotion from her voice) He couldn't take it.. More than the loss of money, it was the loss of face, of dignity.. (bitterly) He died of a broken heart.. and broken trust.. Varun is silent.

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PAKHI (CONT'D) Now you know... All is lost. And I can't bear to look at you a moment longer! Go away from here. Find another house. Another place. Destroy some other life! You've done all you could here! (getting more and more worked up) Leave me alone. Please. She moves to him and pushes him, hits him with all her feeble might. Varun holds her hands, overpowers her easily. I can't. VARUN

Slowly, Pakhi's strength saps, she stops fighting. PAKHI (incredulous, bitter) Nothing touches you, does it...? Varun looks at her for a moment, then letting her go, turns and walks to the window. Varun looks at the photograph -- and then away, out of the window at a nebulous distance. Terribly shaken. Runs his hand through his hair. Deb's death. Now knowledge of the zamindar's. Silence. CUT TO: 127 EXT. THE COTTAGE -- NIGHT The snowstorm rages on, angrily, noisily. CUT TO: 128 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Utter silence as both Varun and Pakhi sit on different corners of the room, lost in their own worlds of anger, pain and shock. Pakhi sits on a chair, looking out of the window at the tree, which is barely visible. TIME LAPSE The first rays of sun hit Pakhi and she opens her eyes, fallen asleep on her chair, a blanket around her. As she slowly gets oriented, she looks about her. Varun is nowhere to be seen. Knocking on the door slowly gets distinct. Open up. VOICE (O.S.) It's the police! CUT TO:

88. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

129

INT. THE COTTAGE - HALLWAY -- MORNING Two policemen stand at the door, talking to Pakhi. POLICEMAN ... on the loose since last night. There have been roadblocks put, so he doesn't skip town. But we're warning all residents around here.. Please lock your doors well, and don't open the door to any stranger. Pakhi looks at them, quiet, silently acquiescing. POLICEMAN 2 (to the first, as they turn to leave) Are you sure he isn't injured... If his friend was shot dead, surely... Pakhi suddenly stops closing the door midway. PAKHI (calling out) Someone was shot? POLICEMAN Yes... They were two of them. We got one. Shot dead. On the spot. The second got away. Didn't even turn back when his partner was shot... They turn back and walk on. Pakhi stands at the door, and turns into the house. She spots Varun stands by the door to the foyer. Deb? Varun doesn't reply. PAKHI Pakhi gives a short hard laugh.

PAKHI (CONT'D) Just when I thought there were no further depths you could fall to, you prove me wrong... Just then the door opens and Shyama steps in. SHYAMA Di, what were the police...? Before she can finish, taken completely by surprise, Varun points a gun at Shyama -- in a motion so swift the gun seemed to appear out of thin air. Shyama looks at him, stunned. Pakhi looks at the tableau -Varun, gun in hand, Shyama's stupefied expression. And shaking her head, walks away.

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Shyama looks at Pakhi's receding back, clueless about what was happening. CUT TO: 130 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- DAY Pakhi is sitting on the armchair, by the window, gazing outside -almost disconnected from the proceedings. Shyama is standing by a wall, watchful, alert, angry. Varun is putting the telephone back on the table and checking the connection. He gets a dial tone. He dials a number. Gun in hand, he keeps a watchful eye on Shyama as he speaks into the phone. VARUN Uncle... It's me, Varun. me out of here... You need to get

He continues talking into the phone, but his voice fades off as we stay with Pakhi who's watching the falling leaves of the tree, back to her earlier state of mind. Shyama watches Pakhi, disturbed. SHYAMA (to Varun) You won't get anything here... And what kind of heroism is this -- holding two women hostage? The police will be here soon and... VARUN (looking at Pakhi) The police were already here.. They're not likely to disturb us very soon... Shyama looks askance at Pakhi, her unspoken question about why Pakhi didn't turn Varun in -- realizing, knowing there was a lot more between them than she knew. SHYAMA (to Varun) Who are you? Pakhi waits for a moment, looking at Varun, wanting to know his answer. When Varun doesn't reply, she laughs dryly, humorlessly. PAKHI Like Lord Vishnu, he's called by many names!!! Shyama looks on, completely foxed. CUT TO:

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131

EXT. THE COTTAGE -- AFTERNOON Two policemen get off a jeep and station themselves close to the gates of Pakhi's cottage. A senior officer gives them some orders and drives off, the jeep full of more policemen. Varun is talking on the phone, standing by the window, hidden from outside view and watches this. His gun is lying on the table. It is evident that he is in charge, but Pakhi is holding her own, not browbeaten. VARUN (into the phone) I don't think I can make it to Delhi tomorrow, Mr. Mahajan. I am caught up in some business here in Bombay... I shall call you as soon as I get there.. He hangs up and meets Pakhi's eyes. coldly. Pakhi stares at him,

Shyama enters with a tray containing a single plate of food and places it on a table in front of Pakhi, decidedly ignoring Varun. Shyama silently gestures towards the plate. small gesture of denial. Varun notices. Pakhi makes a

PAKHI Lies are a way of life for you, aren't they? There is silence for a few minutes. Then Varun speaks.

VARUN Very often the life you lead is not the life you choose.. Pakhi looks at him with scorn. PAKHI Ah, I now see the man holding a gun to your head! VARUN I've been living this life for too long.. I know no better. PAKHI I've heard that before.. VARUN (calmly) Yes, but you don't understand what it means.. PAKHI I don't?! Well, what can I say? a simple small-town girl.. I'm just

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VARUN I was brought up among pickpockets and petty thieves in Bombay.. My first crime was when I was five. I entered a house through a small window, that only a child could enter.. And opened the main door so that the gang could steal... Pakhi is drawn, despite herself. interested. Shyama looks at Varun,

VARUN (CONT'D) (matter-of-factly) I was a fast learner. And I always wanted to be better than anyone else.. If I was brought up like you, I might've been a winner in life.. The most adventurous archaeologist, perhaps.. But I wasn't.. I became the most daring criminal! Pakhi is silent. Varun looks at her.

VARUN (CONT'D) It's all about survival.. You need to live.. PAKHI (almost to herself) Sometimes, you don't.. She looks out of the window. A light snow is beginning to fall. Varun looks at her, not following, then at Shyama, who has a worried expression on her face. CUT TO: 132 INT. THE COTTAGE - KITCHEN -- AFTERNOON Shyama enters the kitchen with Pakhi's untouched tray and sees Varun standing by the kitchen counter, eating a fruit from a basket. His gun is on the platform. Shyama meets his gaze, then turns and walks away, not saying anything. CUT TO: 133 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING It is getting darker. Varun is sitting on his chair, exhausted from all the happenings of the previous day. His eyes are closed, and his head drooping with sleep -- terribly vulnerable. A hand picks up the gun from the table it's lying on and advances stealthily towards him. Stopping by his chair, the hand rises to clobber him on the head when Pakhi speaks up. No... PAKHI

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Shyama, holding the gun -- her hand poised in the air to hit Varun looks at Pakhi surprised. PAKHI (CONT'D) Baba always used to say that life has it's own way of evening itself out.. He's done wrong.. He'll pay for it. It's not upto you or me to decide his punishment.. If there is justice in this world, his punishment will find him.. And Pakhi turns away, not wanting to answer the unspoken question in Shyama's eyes. Sensing something, Varun gets up. He sees the gun in Shyama's hand. Shyama throws a look towards Pakhi, who's standing with her back firmly upon them. Quietly, Shyama hands the gun back to Varun. CUT TO: 134 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING It is dark outside. Pakhi is sitting by the window, watching the snowfall. A couple of leaves fall off the tree. SHYAMA I can't let you stay here with this... PAKHI (cutting in) Go home now.. It's beginning to snow harder. I'll be fine.. (a look at Varun) Nothing more that he can do.. Nothing at all.. SHYAMA (looking at Varun, but not addressing him) But will he let me leave? PAKHI Ah! Can someone who knows only how to betray trust, place trust in another person? That's really a difficult decision.. (looking at Varun) No point in appealing to the finer sentiments of one who doesn't have any.. (to Shyama) I wish you luck, Shyama... Though I never had any.. Varun looks at Pakhi, a shuttered expression in his eyes. CUT TO:

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135

INT. THE COTTAGE -- EVENING Varun stands as Shyama opens the door. SHYAMA I won't tell the police.. or anyone.. Just don't do anything to her.. VARUN (bitterly) Don't worry. No harm will come to her.. In fact, I'm hoping to be gone by tomorrow.. I've done enough damage to last her a lifetime.. SHYAMA (looking up the stairs) I don't know how long that lifetime is going to last now... When you've lost the will to live, nothing can help. Varun looks at her, nonplussed. SHYAMA (CONT'D) (distraught) The doctor said she has TB.. She doesn't take any medicines.. Doesn't eat.. Her life hinges on the leaves of the tree. She believes that the day the last leaf falls, she will die.. She sits by the window and watches the leaves fall and waits... For her own death... Varun looks at Shyama, shocked by what he's just heard. CUT TO:

136

INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Varun is talking on the phone. Pakhi is looking out of the window, coughing intermittently. The wind is howling. Snow falling heavily. VARUN (into the phone) Looks like a big snowstorm.. Yes, maybe the only opportunity for me to escape.. All right... Mall Road Junction. Ok.. He hangs up and looks at Pakhi. VARUN (CONT'D) I will be leaving tomorrow morning at five.. Pakhi doesn't react. Varun stands by the window, a very disturbed look on his face.

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VARUN (CONT'D) I know you will never forgive me. shouldn't.

You

Pakhi doesn't reply. Looks at the tree, shedding leaves. Varun looks at the tree and then at Pakhi, very disturbed, shaken. VARUN (CONT'D) (stiffly) I am really sorry. Pakhi doesn't say anything. Music Kicks in. On the leaves and snow falling outside the window, CUT TO: 137 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Music Plays On. Pakhi is lying on the bed, sleeping. Varun watches, for the first time his guard down -- not cold, not alert. He continues watching her. The night passes. TIME LAPSE Daybreak. Varun looks at the sky, first light of dawn. But the snowstorm is still raging. One last look at Pakhi, still sleeping and he leaves the room. He opens the main door and steps out cautiously. sight. No one in CUT TO: 138 EXT. THE COTTAGE / TOWN STREETS -- MORNING

Music Plays On. In the watery light of the early hour, Varun walks out of the main door. As he walks to the gate, he looks at the tree outside Pakhi's window. He walks out of the gate of Pakhi's cottage. Snow falling on his shoulders and head. Through the pathway, trees all around. glance. Down the street.

Without a backward

Until he reaches a tiny road intersection, with one sign pointing Mall Road. On seeing the sign, his strides now grow slower. his features set but troubled. He walks on,

95. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

He turns the road. In the distance, a man is standing by the edge of the road, under a tree. A car is parked beside him. Varun walks on -- getting closer and closer to the man. The man looks in Varun's direction. Varun looks at the man, and walks towards him, slow deliberate steps. Suddenly, Varun's face clears -- having arrived at a decision. The man, within arm's distance now, looks at Varun and is about to speak. Varun looks away and turns back. He walks along the road, farther and farther from his pick-up and escape. He passes through the same snow-capped trees, winding long roads, that he'd walked down just moments earlier. CUT TO: 139 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- MORNING Pakhi looks up, surprised to see Varun standing by the door. VARUN It's still not safe.. I'll stay a couple of more days. Pakhi shrugs. PAKHI (looking out) There is a room downstairs.. It is dark and snowing outside -- not like morning at all. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'I didn't know what strange game of Fate had brought him back into my life.. What it meant, what it would lead to... I didn't want to know. I just wanted to be alone in my misery.. I didn't want an audience.. Especially not him.. But I couldn't bear to turn him away.. And anyway, it didn't matter anymore. Nothing did..' Varun stands a little behind Pakhi, both of them looking at the tree now, as a few more leaves are shed. CUT TO: 140 INT. POLICE STATION -- DAY Bose looks at the snow falling ceaselessly outside his window, and shakes his head in angry resignation. BOSE He hasn't skipped town so far, that's certain. He's likely to try today.. (MORE)

96. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

BOSE (CONT'D) Just the right opportunity for him to make his escape.. The local Inspector looks at Bose. INSPECTOR Or maybe not. Maybe like us, he's unable to get out either... BOSE (pointing at the map spread on the table) He has to be around here somewhere.. Some abandoned house.. Which we've somehow overlooked.. (sudden thought) Can I get a list of all the houses and the owners' and which houses are inhabited and which ones are empty? The inspector gestures to a constable to do the needful. INSPECTOR A lot of records were lost in a fire last year.. But we have details about most of the houses... BOSE Most isn't good enough... The constable is browsing through a filing cabinet. out of the window at the terrible snowstorm. Bose looks CUT TO: 141 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- AFTERNOON Varun enters the room with a tray containing two cups of tea. It's snowing heavily. Wind, gale blowing violently outside the window. Pakhi is watching transfixed. VARUN Guess Shyama couldn't step out in this weather.. He hands a cup to Pakhi. doesn't take the cup. She shakes her head in the negative,

Varun sighs, and leaving his too on the tray, sits on a chair. They sit in silence. After a long pause, Pakhi speaks up. PAKHI Did you ever love me? VARUN (after a long pause) If I could turn back time, and change things, I would...

97. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Really? it?

PAKHI (hard laugh) That changes everything, doesn't

VARUN I do not expect you to forgive me, Pakhi.. PAKHI (snapping) Don't say my name! Please... Don't say my name.. Varun looks at her, holding her gaze. Silence. Electric. Pakhi moves away and sits by the window. She's hurt, hurting, trying to hold herself together, but fraying around the edges. PAKHI (CONT'D) (angry, hurting) Did you ever love me? VARUN I don't know what 'love' means.. Love is a luxury in my world. Your father's warmth towards me, your tenderness... all that felt unreal. I couldn't relate to it.. Because I've never experienced it.. PAKHI And yet you chose to abuse it.. VARUN I have no justification for what I do.. I do this because I'm no good at anything else.. I had to become like this, because I had to live.. PAKHI So, crime is the readymade solution for poverty? VARUN (scornful) It's wonderful to sit on a cloud and debate about the rights and the wrongs, Ms. Roychowdhury.. You haven't known a single day of deprivation, so you will never know what it is like to be me.. PAKHI I may not know want. But I do know several people, who worked in my father's house, served in his land, who were poor. Their honesty could be vouched for.. They didn't take the easy way out.. VARUN I don't know about anyone else.. I know about me.. (MORE)

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VARUN (CONT'D) I know that if I had someone to hold my hand and guide me right, I wouldn't have been where I am... But believe me, if I've ever been truthful in my life it's when I say this... I never intended to cause so much hurt to you or your father... He pauses, takes a long breath and then continues. VARUN (CONT'D) When I came to your town, with a mission of unearthing the idol in the centuriesold site owned by a zamindar, I had no idea all this would happen... I drove in to check the scene... And the first person I saw was you... Two cars passing. Pakhi looking into Varun's car. turning the same instant. Eyes locked. Varun

VARUN (CONT'D) Little did I know that you'd be that very zamindar's daughter.. And that things would go so well.. The zamindar asking Varun, 'Where did you say you were staying?' VARUN (CONT'D) Our mission was very clear.. We had to get the idol. The archaeological expedition was just a front.. Varun taking pictures, Varun and Deb studying maps, photographs. VARUN (CONT'D) .. to dig a tunnel that would get us inside the shrine.. to the idol.. The workers digging. VARUN (CONT'D) And then things happened.. things that I didn't understand, that I had no control over... Zamindar asking Varun to teach Pakhi painting. Hands, painting. Pakhi and Varun watching the landscape. The car ride, Pakhi's asthma. The intimacy. VARUN (CONT'D) I tried to hold back.. Varun in the bar in Calcutta. But I couldn't... Coming back. Coldness to Pakhi.

VARUN (CONT'D)

Pakhi and Varun making love. The zamindar asking him if he'd marry Pakhi. The engagement.

99. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

VARUN (CONT'D) Stealing from your home was not part of the plan.. Deb and I resisted it. But... (pause) Why did all that happen? I don't know.. I really don't.. Like I wrote in that note... PAKHI (cutting in, bitterly) The note.. Yes, thanks a lot for that note. Otherwise, I would never have believed that you did it.. I wouldn't have believed the police, the reports, nothing.. I would've just believed that you would never have done something to hurt me.. That you were innocent.. The world was conspiring against you, framing you.. VARUN Sometimes, life doesn't give you a chance.. Like with Deb.. I had no choice. I had to leave him.. You may not understand.. PAKHI (cutting in) I guess what you're saying is one can't fight Destiny.. That tree out there is meant to wither away and die. Winter wills it.. Nature wants it that way.. And there's nothing that the poor tree can do about it, is there? VARUN But come Spring, Nature wants the same tree to blossom.. Nothing is final.. Nothing is permanent.. PAKHI Does that mean there's still hope for you? (gently) And for you... VARUN

They are both silent for a long while. Gently.

Then, Pakhi speaks.

PAKHI You never answered my question. ever love me? Varun looks at her, holding her gaze.

Did you

Not replying. CUT TO:

100. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

142

EXT. THE COTTAGE -- EVENING The snowstorm rages. CUT TO:

143

INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING Pakhi looks at the tree. An inscrutable expression on her face as the tree is almost bare of leaves, save a handful. The light in the fireplace has gone off. Varun notices. CUT TO:

144

EXT. THE COTTAGE -- EVENING Varun puts the axe down and stacks the firewood neatly. He leans on the axe for a moment. A leaf drops and passing close to his face lands on the ground. Varun looks up at the tree. Suddenly, a strange look comes over Varun's face. CUT TO:

145

INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Varun walks in with a pile of firewood fireplace. He shakes the snow off his shivers slightly. He works to get the the flames rise, he warms his hands by and places them in the head and shoulders and fire going. And once the fire.

Pakhi sits by the window, not paying any attention. CUT TO: 146 INT. THE COTTAGE - VARUN'S ROOM -- NIGHT In the feeble light of a lantern, Varun is painting something. CUT TO: 147 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Pakhi is lying on her bed, in the dark, unable to sleep. tray of food lies by the bedside table, untouched. She coughs intermittently. A storm is raging outside. Lightning, thunder, Nature's fury at its most violent. PAKHI (V.O.) 'I was tired... scared... Of what, I didn't know.. I wanted death. I was waiting for it... But a strange fear rain through my blood.. I wanted to sleep.. perchance to dream..' A

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Pakhi lies on her side, her back to the window -- her fingers trembling strangely. She coughs, long, persistent. CUT TO: 148 INT. THE COTTAGE - VARUN'S ROOM -- NIGHT His hair slightly wet as if just out from a bath, slightly shivering, Varun warms his hands by the fire. He listens to the faint sounds of Pakhi coughing, a serious expression on his face. He looks towards the window of the room. A flash of lightning illuminates the tree in a different perspective, but a few leaves are still visible. DISSOLVE TO: 149 INT / EXT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- MORNING The aftermath of the storm is visible outside the window -broken branches, fallen leaves, a broken tree... But a single leaf on the tree hangs valiantly. Pakhi, standing by the window, looks in surprise at the tree. She looks pale, dark circles due to sleeplessness underlining her frailty. CUT TO: 150 INT. POLICE STATION -- DAY Bose, runs a harrowed hand through his hair. Clearly, he hasn't got much sleep. Outside the window, the wind begins howling again. Snow falling. BOSE There must be some record of these old houses... What about calling the municipal corporation? They must surely keep some records.. INSPECTOR Constable Karma left early this morning to look. Meanwhile, why don't you try to catch some sleep? BOSE (laughing) My vacation's been shot. My wife's already not talking to me.. I might as well get some thing done... (looking out the window) How much longer will this bloody storm last? CUT TO:

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151

INT. THE COTTAGE -- DAY Varun is talking on the phone. VARUN A couple of days more.. Yes, I know, Uncle.. He breaks off with a slight cough. VARUN (CONT'D) No, I'm fine.. I can't talk now. call you.. I'll

Pakhi is sitting on her chair, trying hard to breathe. Varun looks grimly at single leaf, which is trembling violently in the wind. CUT TO: 152 INT. THE COTTAGE - VARUN'S ROOM -- NIGHT In the feeble light of a lantern, Varun is painting something. CUT TO: 153 INT. POLICE STATION -- NIGHT A constable comes in with a file and hands it to the local inspector. The inspector looks and then hands it to Bose. Outside, the snowstorm is raging. CUT TO: 154 EXT. THE COTTAGE -- NIGHT Varun, shaking and shivering in the snow, picks up a pile of wood and walks towards the house, throwing a look at the tree. A single leaf is holding on. CUT TO: 155 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Fire burning warmly in the room. It is dark, except for the moonlight streaming from the window. Pakhi is sitting on the chair, thin, vulnerable. Varun in another chair. The mood is softer, gentler. PAKHI I think you should leave tomorrow morning. The more you stay on, the more time runs out for you... (a pause) Mine already has.. Varun looks at her and at the leaf, which is fluttering in the strong wind.

103. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

VARUN I always saw you as a very strong person.. PAKHI I thought that too.. Life, very often, proves us to be terribly wrong. There is silence. VARUN (almost despite himself)

Why?

PAKHI I needed to take charge. Life didn't allow me to.. I thought death would.. VARUN So, Death is the readymade solution to all pain then? PAKHI Maybe when you have nothing to live for.. VARUN What did you have to live for, back then? Baba... PAKHI

VARUN Sooner or later, he would've left you.. Hope... PAKHI

VARUN ..which rules eternal.. You can still find it.. You.. Varun is silent. VARUN What you loved was an illusion... I am not that person.. This is me.. Terrible, dark, ugly.. He goes quiet for a moment, looking out of the window. VARUN (CONT'D) I keep that part well-hidden, under several wonderful masks.. because I'm ashamed.. I'm afraid of being loved because I don't know if I'm capable of returning that love.. PAKHI

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He looks at Pakhi, and a slow smile spreads over his face. She's fallen asleep. He picks up a rug from the bed and covers her up. He stands, looking at her for a long minute. He then turns to the tree and watches the leaf, which seems almost ready to fall in the stormy night outside. He walks out of the room. TIME LAPSE Pakhi is sleeping in the armchair, the storm raging outside her window. CUT TO: 156 EXT. THE COTTAGE -- NIGHT Varun is piling up wood, looking up at the tree. CUT TO: 157 INT. THE COTTAGE - VARUN'S ROOM -- NIGHT In his room, Varun sits, shivering by the fire, rubbing his hands together to generate warmth. CUT TO: 158 INT. POLICE STATION -- NIGHT Bose is scanning through the print of names and addresses. And suddenly stops at one name. BOSE Thakur Bikramaditya Roychowdhury? CUT TO: 159 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- MORNING On her chair, Pakhi opens her eyes languidly. She looks at the shawl around her and realizes Varun must've covered her. She looks towards the window, her eyes widen in surprise. She gets up from the chair and walks towards the window and stands looking out. A tree close-by has fallen down, dry shrubs all over the lawn. But the single leaf is still safely hanging on the tree. PAKHI (V.O.) 'Life seemed to be playing some strange game.. Two nights of a storm that blew down everything.. even big strong trees. But the leaf hadn't fallen.. What did it mean?'

105. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

Varun enters the room and watches Pakhi looking at the tree. A cough escapes him. Pakhi turns. Varun offers her a glass of juice from the tray he's brought in. She shakes her head in the negative. Just then, Shyama enters the room. SHYAMA Di, how are you? I was so worried... But I just couldn't get out... She suddenly stops short on seeing Varun. I thought... SHYAMA (CONT'D)

Varun shakes his head, and smiles at Shyama -- a fleeting hint of the charming young man we've seen earlier. Shyama melts, but not visibly so. A coughing fit assails Pakhi. Varun swiftly moves to get her glass of water. She puts a hand out, stopping him. Shyama notices. Varun looks on, at the leaf outside the window, grimly. And suddenly, he notices a few policeman approach the house, led by Bose. Varun looks at Pakhi, who's also seen them. Shyama notices the exchange. Just then, there's a smart knock on the door. Shyama moves towards the door. Pakhi looks towards the balcony on the other side, a curtain protecting it. CUT TO: 160 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- DAY Bose enters Pakhi's room, followed by Shyama. Two other policemen following him are asked by Bose to wait by the door. Nodding at Pakhi, he respectfully takes off his cap. Good morning... Pakhi nods. BOSE (CONT'D) How have you been? Pakhi doesn't reply. BOSE (CONT'D) I am very sorry to hear about your father. Pakhi nods, dignified. BOSE

106. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

BOSE (CONT'D) You must know about the hunt for the criminal who's escaped three days ago.. None other than the man who robbed your family... Varun Shrivastav.. Or Narayan Maurya, or Mohan Das, or Raj Saxena... Bose takes out a photograph of Varun's. And shows it to Shyama. Shyama looks at Pakhi. A look transpires between the two women. BOSE (CONT'D) (to Shyama) Have you seen this man? SHYAMA (shaking her head, with dignity) No, Sir.. I don't think I have.. BOSE (to Pakhi) I don't think anyone must hate this man as much as you... PAKHI Hate is a very strong emotion, Inspector. I wouldn't say that... Bose's eyes rove the room. He walks around, trying to be unobtrusive. Standing by the window, Pakhi watches, holding a chair for support -- visibly weak, but annoyed at the intrusion. BOSE I hope you lock the windows and doors at night... Someone might just be lurking somewhere and you might not even know it... And considering your health... PAKHI I am ill, Inspector, not dumb.. She begins coughing slightly, all the moving around, making her weak. Bose looks at the tray with a pitcher of juice and two glasses, and the slices of toast on it. PAKHI (CONT'D) (thinking on her feet) I'm expecting Dr. Tsering... BOSE I wonder, how would you react if you saw him again? Pakhi is silent. BOSE (CONT'D) After all, you almost married him.. Shyama looks at Pakhi, all the pieces falling in place.

107. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

BOSE (CONT'D) Would you turn him in, considering all that he's done to you and your family? Or would you abet him -- for old times' sake? I wonder... Pakhi watches Bose, resolutely, not reacting to his probing. Outside on the balcony, Varun stands, shivering in the cold, holding his chest, trying not to cough. BOSE (CONT'D) Have you seen him around here, in the last couple of days? Pakhi looks at the photograph for a long moment. looks at Bose straight in the eye. No, I haven't... PAKHI She then

BOSE Can I look around the house, if you don't mind? He walks about the room and is about to reach close to the balcony. PAKHI My word is not good enough for you, Inspector? BOSE I don't mean that at all... PAKHI Am I under suspicion? BOSE No, not at all, madam.. PAKHI Then I suggest that you stop looking around my house. And if your questions are done, please leave. I need to rest. BOSE (nods) Thank you for your time.. I'll call on you if anything else comes up.. (moves towards the door, suddenly turns) May I ask you, madam, what is your illness? PAKHI I believe that I don't have very long to live.. (MORE)

108. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI (CONT'D) The good doctor would like to dissuade me on that, but I don't think he is likely to succeed... Does that answer your question? Bose is quiet for a moment. He looks at Pakhi kindly.

BOSE I would like to think you're wrong, Ms. Roychowdhury. I am sure you will get well very soon. Good day.. Bose moves out of the door. Shyama follows him out. CUT TO: 161 EXT. THE COTTAGE -- DAY Bose turns back towards the cottage. BOSE Get half a dozen men stationed around here. He was in this house... And is likely to come back.. if he's not already in.. Tap the telephone lines in the house... CUT TO: 162 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- DAY Varun enters the room, and sneezes thrice consecutively. VARUN Thank you for not giving me away.. PAKHI (laughs selfdeprecatingly) I don't know why I'm doing this.. I want to see you pay for what you did.. I want to hate you so completely.. And I should hate you.. But... (trails off) I don't want to get into what's right and wrong or who's at fault. That won't bring things back... Silence. Then, Pakhi speaks again. PAKHI (CONT'D) I think you should leave now.. The inspector suspects something. He will be back, I'm sure. VARUN I'll need to make a phone call sometime today.. I'll know then when I can leave.. Pakhi doesn't reply. Varun coughs again.

109. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI (only half-joking) Maybe you should stay away from me.. Looks like you're coming down with something. Please help yourself to something.. (gesturing the bedside table) All the medicines in the world there! Varun pours a glass of juice for himself and hands a glass to Pakhi, who's sitting in her chair. A moment later, Pakhi accepts the juice. Varun smiles. They sit in silence, finish the juice and toast. Shyama enters to take the trays away. She looks at the glass in Pakhi's hand, the plate by her side. She looks moved, thankful. As she passes Pakhi, Pakhi looks at her. Thank you... PAKHI (CONT'D)

SHYAMA (smiling, motherly) He did what I perhaps never could have.. Nothing else matters.. She indicates the empty glass in Pakhi's hand. glass on the tray in Shyama's hand. Shyama leaves the room. Pakhi puts the

Pakhi looks at the leaf.

PAKHI I have stopped trying to understand life... It plays such games with us.. And I'm tired of running.. (to Varun) Do you ever feel that way? VARUN (after a long pause)

Yes..

(laughs) But my feet keep running.. PAKHI I want to ask you something. is your name? VARUN (laughs) Atmanand Tripathi.. Pakhi bursts into laughter, for the first time in a long while. Varun smiles, happy to see her laughing. PAKHI (smiling) Changing names was a sensible idea.. your uncle? The one who was an archaeologist? What really

And

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VARUN Uncle Bajpai. He's the brains behind our outfit.. The connection with archaeology.. When I was ten, I robbed an archaeologist who visited Bombay, by the Gateway of India. I found these strange stones and tiny hammers in his bag.. I was fascinated for life... He looks at her, smiling. The gazes lock. Chemistry.

Pakhi...

VARUN (CONT'D) (serious)

Her smile fades, she looks away. PAKHI I think you need to go.. Make that call.. Please... CUT TO: 163 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING The light is fading, but no lamps are lit in Pakhi's room. Putting down the phone, Varun looks at Pakhi, who's watching the leaf flutter in the strong breeze, enthralled. There is silence. PAKHI (breaking it, finally) CUT TO: 164 INT. POLICE STATION -- EVENING Bose has headphones around his ears. He looks at the local inspector. Outside, a terrible snowstorm is raging again. BOSE Tomorrow morning... Around seven.. That's when he plans to leave. Call the men back. Get a good night's sleep. We'll catch him on the run tomorrow.. CUT TO: 165 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- EVENING PAKHI Where will you go now? Hyderabad... VARUN

When?

111. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

PAKHI And get back to what you always did? VARUN I don't know.. Life is so full of ironies. I keep traveling from one place to another.. I've been to almost every city, more than two dozen small towns in the country.. Except the place I've always dreamed of... Chandratal Lake.. I always wanted to paint... My masterpiece! But... It's like some power keeps us from having that one thing we desire more than anything in life.. Pakhi smiles at him. He holds her gaze.

VARUN (CONT'D) I want you to be well... I want to think of you and know that you are happy... PAKHI (bitter laugh) Why do you care? And anyway, it's not likely to happen.. I'm living on borrowed time.. VARUN You'll live a long happy life.. I know that.. PAKHI (suddenly angry) I wish I was like you.. I wish I could walk away as if nothing ever happened, and tell myself 'Oh, she'll be happy'. If that helps you get over your guilt, great, go ahead! VARUN My guilt is something I'll live with all my life! I hope and pray that the retribution your Baba believed I'd get comes to me soon.. I know I will pay for what I've done.. I know any apology is ridiculous.. I have taken someone's life, killed him, as it were, with my bare hands.. And I'm doing that even now.. But what do I do? What do you want me to do, Pakhi?! What?!! Pakhi looks at him, intense, hurt, seeking. PAKHI (her voice close to breaking, terribly vulnerable) I want you to tell me that I mattered... In some small way, maybe... But I wasn't just a pebble that sank to the bottom of a lake without leaving a ripple..

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Varun looks at Pakhi, unflinching, straight into her eyes. VARUN Will you believe me if I told you the truth? Pakhi looks at him, doesn't reply. VARUN (CONT'D) I hate myself much more than I can ever love... What worth is my love to someone like you? I cannot even dream of having you in my life.. I don't deserve you.. A strange note enters his voice. VARUN (CONT'D) The last three days have made me see what I really am.. Watching you sit here, looking out of that window and waiting for your life to end made me realize how terrible I really am.. I feel disgusted at myself that I could drive someone like you to this point... He sits in front of Pakhi's chair and takes her hand in his. Pakhi doesn't protest. VARUN (CONT'D) Your life is worth so much more.. Don't give anyone this kind of power... PAKHI What do I live for? VARUN Yourself... Live your dream.. Write books.. Become the world-famous writer you always wanted to be.. You have the power to make it come true.. PAKHI (close to tears) So, it all ends.. Once again.. Varun is quiet, holding her hand. Pakhi's hand shivers in his. She is shaking. Varun puts his arms around her. She holds him tight. PAKHI (CONT'D) I'm so afraid of being alone... VARUN You won't be alone.. Ever.. I promise.. His arms tighten around her. CUT TO:

113. The Last Leaf, 2nd Draft, 1-2-2005

166

INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- NIGHT Varun gets up, and looks at Pakhi who's lying on the bed, next to him. She is sleeping, peacefully, breathing easily. Awash with tenderness, he touches her face. Pakhi coughs in her sleep and turns over, holding his hand. Gently and slowly, Varun disentangles his hand from Pakhi's firm grip. He looks towards the window, at the tree. A streak of lightning illuminates it. The tree is bare of leaves. The last leaf has fallen. A cough rises up in Varun, but he holds his chest, not coughing -lest the sound wake her up. Slowly he moves towards the door of the room. CUT TO:

167

INT. THE COTTAGE -- NIGHT Varun walks down the stairs, with purpose - coughing intermittently. He reaches the main door and opens it. CUT TO:

168

EXT. THE COTTAGE -- NIGHT Varun looks at the tree which is completely bereft of leaves, strangely despondent-looking. Strings of twine, almost invisible, hang from one particular branch. Varun is coughing heavily now. about him, he is shivering. The wind is blowing his clothes

He moves to a wall, where we've always seen him chopping wood. He picks up a ladder, which so far has always been an abstract shape in the background and moves it to the tree. He places it against the tree and slowly climbs up the ladder, shivering, coughing all through. He reaches the top of the ladder and puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out something. In his hand we now see several painted leaves. An unexpected and violent cough makes him lose his balance slightly. The leaves fall off his hand. He manages to save just one. He ties the single leaf on a string hanging from the tree, knotting it several times to secure it. He begins coughing again. This time unable to retain his balance, he falls off the ladder to the ground. Snow begins falling on him. Coughing, shivering, he tries to get up and move but is unable to. Finally he gives up. Crawling, he's reached the tree.

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He sits under it, holding his knees -- trying hard to breathe -his breath forming little rings of vapour in the terribly cold air. And suddenly, the vapourous breaths stop. The single leaf is strongly fighting the wind. Snow continues falling. CUT TO: 169 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- MORNING Pakhi is sitting on her bed, a strange calmness about her. She looks at the clock beside her bed. It's half past seven. There is a sadness about her, but also fatalism. PAKHI (V.O.) 'He had left again.. Perhaps this time, forever.. But I wasn't surprised..' She runs her fingers over the bed. Knowing last night was the last she'd see of him. Loneliness grips her heart. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'We're all meant to walk the paths that are destined for us.. Maybe his path and mine were just meant to cross each other at strange points, but never to walk together...' She looks at the tree. The leaf is still there, holding on valiantly. A sad smile breaks across her face. There's a knock on the door. Shyama is at the door, with a tray of tea. Expecting to be sent away, she stands in the doorway, hesitant. PAKHI (CONT'D) Good morning, Shyama.. Shyama enters the room, hesitant. PAKHI (CONT'D) I was being so silly, wasn't I? Shyama smiles, touches Pakhi's hand, glad that her mistress was out of her self-imposed sentence. PAKHI (CONT'D) Will you join me for a cup of tea? Shyama smiles broadly. She pours out a cup of tea for Pakhi.

Pakhi takes the cup and walks towards the window. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'Some dreams are meant to remain just that.. (MORE)

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PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) Dreams.. Not meant to be tainted by reality..' She walks towards the window, and stands looking at the tree. PAKHI'S POV: She looks down, and sees something lying at the bottom of the tree, covered in snow. A horrified expression spreads over her face. The cup drops from her hands and shatters to pieces. Shyama looks up, surprised. Pakhi turns from the window and runs out of the room. CUT TO: 170 INT / EXT. THE COTTAGE -- MORNING Pakhi runs down the stairs, down corridors, throws the door open and rushes towards the tree. As she nears it, she falters, slowing down. She walks to the tree and finally reaching it, crouches below it. She puts her hand out. Lying on the ground, snow fallen over him, is Varun. Pakhi places her hand on his chest. His breath has stopped, he is dead. She looks up at the tree, and sees the leaf tied to the branch with a string. Fallen close to Varun are several other leaves, dried up but painted to look green still.. Pakhi's fingers touch the painted leaves. PAKHI (V.O.) 'He had painted his masterpiece...' As she watches the leaf, and at Varun's face in her lap, tears fall down Pakhi's face as she breaks down, for the first time. Helpless, all alone, clutching at the leaves fallen around him.. The first ray of sun breaks through the clouds. Shyama watches from a distance -- tears falling down her face. Bose stands by the gate, with about a dozen policemen looking at Pakhi -- fatalistic. PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) 'I had loved him and hated him more than I can ever express.. But I'd never understood him.. Neither in life... Nor in death... And thus a strange story of love and hate ended.. (MORE)

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PAKHI (V.O.) (CONT'D) and a strange new life began... A life that I had no right over.. Because my life was his redemption..' CUT TO: 171 EXT. CHANDRATAL LAKE -- EVENING Pakhi is sitting by the breath-taking lake, set amid the awesome snow-clad mountains all around. She places an urn on the jewel-like waters of the lake. PAKHI (V.O.) 'He could rest in peace.. All his dreams were fulfilled.. His masterpiece, Chandratal lake, and my life.. Now it was my turn.. Apart from my life, he'd given me another gift -- words... And fulfilled another promise. I would never be alone...' CUT TO: 172 INT. THE COTTAGE - PAKHI'S ROOM -- MORNING Pakhi sits on the table, writing. Fingers, words. speed, as if a dam had been broken. Breakneck

PAKHI (V.O.) 'We only live, only suspire.. Consumed by either fire or fire..' On the tree outside the window, which we finally see in conjunction with Pakhi. It is brilliant hued in all the glory of spring -- the turning of life's infinite circle. FADE OUT THE END

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