A small rectangular cabin. A man in a bohemian bandana, long hair, jeans and plain blue t-shirt. About mid-fifties. He sits on a plastic chair opposite his prospective employer, Nagesh, with a painting on his side. A small mandir, with a lit agarbatti, on the side of the entry to the chamber on the right. Evening. The desk is at the entry of the room itself, and behind it there is a pile of files. There is a low door leading to a little gallery behind, where new works are stored on exhibition.
Nagesh: This is what the company said in the email. (Gives him the laptop.)
Isaac: (Reading the email.) Jesus’ Crucifixion. Artist: Isaac Philip. Status: Rejected.
Nagesh: Read ahead.
Isaac: The painting is a scholastic work with a modern touch. It uses every day experiences to paint the setting of the morning, which holds larger than life objects.
(The frame moves to an abandoned location, with a patch of green on one side in the backdrop where a boy sits. Dialogue continues in voice over.) It has no image of thieves or other historical features, just a simple meadow, again created from the artist’s imagination, in which, at a distance from the crucifixion, in the background, a boy sits aimlessly looking at the sky.
(Frame moves to present. Dialogue continues.)
Artistically, I can’t find fault with it. (Close up of Isaac.) But the reason for rejecting the painting is Jesus’ look straight into the people’s eyes. There is a proud and animated look in his eyes. The painting, thus, uses too much artistic liberty and treats the subject in a historically incorrect manner. We have, however, accepted Naked Night for exhibition.
We look forward to your future submissions,
Wishing you all the very best,
Canvas for the Future,
New York City, 51, Fair Avenue.
Nagesh: If only you had not given the look on Jesus. I am sorry, I can’t hire you.
Isaac: Can you give me another chance?
Nagesh: We have hired someone else.
Isaac: I’ve known you for so many years, can’t you give me another chance?
Nagesh: How do I give you another chance?
Isaac: You already have a team, I know.
Isaac: Just give me, an opportunity. I will give my one hundred percent, that’s all I can say.
Nagesh: Jeremy – is that your name?
Isaac: Isaac Philip.
Nagesh: Isaac, there is a better painter than you. He has already been able to sell his painting. I can’t hire you.
Isaac: Friend – I wasn’t.
Nagesh: I am not your friend.
Isaac: Nagesh, I wasn’t attempting to ask for a reason. I thought it would be a nice gesture from you, since I’ve struggled for so many years in the industry. It was
Nagesh: Please leave sir.
Scene 2. Flashback
A woman in her mid-twenties, at home, tuned in on the radio. Dressed casually, in t-shirt and shorts, she sits in the centre of the room, on the bare floor, listening.
Man on Radio: It is raining, and the weather is peaceful, which is ruling over everyone’s heart. If you’re not busy this Sunday evening, do come out of your house to enjoy outside. Walk along the sea-facing drive, and enjoy something to eat or drink. You can find company in the sea, which has found a friend in us. You can spot a clown, as I had done on my way today, who is teaching people to laugh at their problems. You can witness the ships which are a symbol of man traversing through nature. You will see all kinds of people, each one different from the other, who like you have come here to view the sea and to enjoy the weather.
Isaac stands in a posh building lobby. It is raining. He takes off his raincoat, looks at the nameplate for a moment. He exits the lobby.
He stands outside the house for a moment. Finally rings the doorbell.
We see a woman wearing salwaar kameez, starched face, but wrinkled, hair just beginning to gray, deep into old age. She has a look of oppression, but a confident appearance.
Isaac: Yes, it’s me. Who would’ve guessed I’d be here, after…all that’s happened…
Jayanti: I hope nothing has happened. Are you fine?
Isaac: I’m fine.
Jayanti: Why did you come here?
Isaac: I don’t know. (Pause.) It’s a beautiful day. It’s been raining all day today.
Jayanti: People have learnt to fight, I think you should too. Please leave.
Isaac: I’ve come to tell you something. (Silence.) I’ve never believed in God, until today.
Jayanti: I thought you were a changed man.
Isaac: I tried to change, but I couldn’t. I tried reasoning that it’s for my painting. But I wasn’t telling the truth when I had said that day, that I’m a changed person, that I’m giving up my old self in the pursuit of art. I wasn’t lying to you, but lying to myself. I did it so I could become an artist, no doubt, but there was something greater that I didn’t understand, that I know now. I lost you, and I had converted to my original faith in Christianity. I thought by believing I would be doing my cause in art a favour. I didn’t realize I could be wrong. Now I know I was wrong. I used to be a free man who was unafraid to climb the walls erected by Time, and I had come close to eternity’s landscape. (Silence.) It was around 2 O’clock yesterday, that I decided to paint something. I didn’t know what I wanted to paint. Then an idea came, one after another, and I finally completed it. (Pause.) As I saw the painting after finishing it, I knew I had made my masterpiece. It had taken years of failure and humiliation, leading me to the point of insanity, to make it. I realized at that point that all these years I had been learning to paint, believing I was learning how to be free, learning how to better God at this game. It took creating something worthwhile to make me realize God exists. The question, finally, had an answer. It was what I had wanted all along.
Jayanti: Was it what you wanted? You may have painted a “masterpiece” but you’ve failed at all else. You failed at what you believed in, and you failed at what you wanted. If you ask me, you failed at love as well. That’s why what you do or say doesn’t matter to me. And that’s where you lost the battle. There is nothing you can say to me that will change that. So leave, and please don’t come back. I’m happy. I’ve been happy all these years.
Scene 4. Flashback
The young woman as earlier. Same setting as before.
Woman: Does one, truly, learn something? We look at our pasts, our present. Our life is somewhere ahead, in what we wish to become. Does one, truly, become it? Yes, because one wishes to become it. But, in the end, one has learnt nothing, become nothing outside of oneself, and everyone looks back, at that moment one can see clearly nothing but oneself.
EXT. ROAD OUTSIDE CHURCH. DAY
Outside church. Next morning. Clear day. Jayanti stands outside. Isaac enters, coming out of the church. Jayanti walks over to him.
Jayanti: Do you come here every Sunday? Since how long? (Silence.) Last night, I wondered what it’s like to live with the notion of having lied all your life, and living up to that precept every day. Nothing I could do could give me the answer, because I already knew it. The answer is that in the world of human beings, truth is not so simple as it is in science or mathematics. Our complexities are greater than the question itself. Life itself is the question. Sometimes I wondered if it wasn’t easier in school. I remember when I was a child, a teacher told me that childhood is the most beautiful phase of life. I remember her, even now, and what she said to me, though I never understood why she said that. Do you know why she did?
Isaac: That would depend on who the teacher was.
Jayanti: Just a biology teacher.
Isaac: I don’t know her, so I can’t tell you. I think, that’s the reason. To children, who said what is more important than the thing itself.
Jayanti: But you didn’t tell me anything when you left. And I still remember you.
Isaac: Perhaps, that’s what makes it beautiful. Like childhood. If you would’ve known the answer, you would’ve forgotten the teacher. But you remember her. It is not knowing the answer that makes life beautiful.
Jayanti: So why did you leave?
They walk for a while in silence, then disappear along the road.
EXT. BEACH. BEFORE SUNRISE
Isaac decides to paint the dawn the next day, and arrives at the beach before sunrise. Having nothing to do he recalls why he changed. At first, he can’t think properly.
We see a young man at a beach, as if it was a mere hour ago, distraught, angry, faithless, who eventually sits down to wait for the sunrise.
V.O. I am still a free man, despite believing in the truth; I have not changed, despite giving up my belief. I am giving up my belief in negating God, the state, and everything that follows, precisely because I believe. I want to be an artist. Art, though free, might require of me to give up my belief in anarchism as, in art, there can be any possibility. As an artist, then, since God exists, I have to believe in him, because my ‘self’ is only free through art, the possibility of freedom, which, being outside of me, I have no power over. Therefore, to believe in life, I must believe in God, if only temporarily.
Cut to. The Present.
The Sun is beginning to rise. Isaac realizes this and begins painting. He is in the back, near the rocks, ahead of him, a man enters the frame and can be seen looking ahead towards the dawn.
Ritwik Chaudhary is a theatre and literature student. He wants to do PhD., following which he will continue to write and do theatre. He is in final year BA in english from distance education. He is 26 years old.