Full-round weaving of Subplots

Pubali Chaudhury

Just One Scene
Rock On 2

Multi-layered Poetry


First Meeting Scene

This scene is the first meeting between Adi and Jiah. We are choosing this scene for discussion due to some rare quality of scenes which makes them memorable and unique – the poetry. This scene also captures some nuances deftly which is another merit but we will still discuss the poetry because that’s a rare thing which I believe a writer can’t force in the scene, it has to come naturally. The characters, their situation blossom in a tear-jerker moment, and if you ever had even close experience in your real-life the Goosebumps will shake you from within.  

Ruined and broken Adi (farhan Akhtar) staggers past Jiah where she’s recording a tribal’s song among local people nearby a steep gorge at Cherapunji. She observes a dishevelled man (Adi) walking towards the valley. The voice-over tells us that ‘She could feel his pain, because she’s also broken from within’. As an audience we don’t know what her pain is, but we assume there must be some heart-break in love. We will discuss this later again. She gets up with an apprehension and walks after him. Adi is pausing to catch his breath, behind a rock, when she comes and peeps to check him. Her first sentence is

Jiah – हेलो excuse me, जो भी तुम्हारी problem है उसका solution ये नहीं है.

That’s it. This one line tells us a lot about what is happening which is almost subtle all this while. Adi has ‘probably’ come there to commit suicide? and she stops him right at the weakest moment. This is a nuance I was indicating earlier. There is nothing filmy about him or her, all natural all subtle. Even Adi doesn’t seem very determined to do that (suicide) but instead he looks blank and contemplative. Her presence breaks the wall Adi had formed around him to isolate himself from the World. She pricks that film and he stops. Also the dialogue is so general like an adage yet it’s so colloquial.  

After listening to her, he starts walking back but collapses barely within a few steps. Jiah rushes to him and takes him to their tent and nurses him. He recuperates there till his family/friends come to take him home.

This is in fact a “PAY-OFF” which the screenplay shows before it even “SEEDED-IN” the ingredients of the scene which unfold later in the story.

Meaning here you reap the fruit but don’t know what seed were sowed. Later you learn - Jiah’s brother Rahul had committed suicide which had shattered her and changed her to this being who was seeking to escape to different parts to forget that pain. But that again comes in her face in form of Adi when he lurches towards the valley. We realize Jiah’s pain was this, which comes as a poignant surprise to us.

As an audience we have just seen, Adi’s labour of 5-years to establish a cooperative farmers movement destroyed in an accident. Disturbed by this Adi appears to be calling it quits (probably)?

But then there is another twist further seeded-in under the second layer of the narrative.

Adi is also running away from past memories to this remote region of Meghalaya and trying something altogether different – a cooperative movement. And when that fails, his hard kernel is broken to expose the soft core which can’t sustain all that pain and he is taking the final plunge! But he is saved.

The twist that is seeded in the lower layer here is another suicide which haunts Adi, because he thinks he was responsible for it. So he’s running away from that memory albeit unsuccessfully. There was a guy who wanted Adi’s recognition and was pestering him to listen to his Audio CD but Adi never had time and willingness. Frustrated by his failures that guy committed suicide – which shocks Adi because he realizes that guy was really a promising talent. This keeps haunting Adi even today – not only did he cause a loss of life, his few minutes would have saved a budding but exceptional talent!

How this connects the sub-plots is another beautiful but sharp  tie-up that both those suicides refer to single person RAHUL.

RAHUL was JIAH’s brother. Both JIAH and ADI are haunted by same experience and react differently to the situation. It ends up JIAH saving ADI for an act he felt responsible for.

The poetry here is – ADI who caused the suicide of JIAH’s brother is saved by JIAH from the same incidence.

That’s anti-revenge. That’s unintentional. It happens naturally, accidentally and touches you like poetry.

You understand all this is in retrospect when things unfold at later stages which makes it more effective.

Seed-in first and pay-off later is highly satisfying, but here it is Pay-off first and seed-in in the retrospect which is even more special.

Now let’s see...

The Scene as it unfolds on the screen

(Trying to get video of the actual scene)

Adi’s SUV has stopped abruptly. He tries to start but it doesn’t. He tries a few more times, but in vain. Frustrated he bangs the steering repeatedly and gives-up. Looks outside, thinks for a while and start walking. In distance we see a bon-fire and blurry images of few people singing some folk song.

Narrator - “कभी कभी ज़िन्दगी में ऐसे मोड़ आते हें कि इंसान खुद भी नहीं जनता की वो किधर जा रहा है. इन्ही हालत में आदि की मुलाकात पहली बार जीया से हुई अगर इसे मुलाकात कहा जा सके तो..”

A young girl Jiah who is recording the folk song as a tribal lady is singing, notices Adi and becomes alert. Adi continues walking towards the valley. Jiah’s eyes follow him.

Narrator - “शायद आँखों में ऐसी मायूसी और चहरे पर ऐसे दर्द को जिया पहचानती थी, दिल टूटने की आवाज़ वो लोग ही सुन पाते हैं जिनका अपना दिल कभी टुटा हो..”

Adi goes behind a huge rock as we see Jiah hurrying after him. She comes and peeps behind the rock and finds him standing there looking blank..

Jiah – हेलो excuse me, तुम ठीक तो हो ना?

She staggers closer towards him and stands against the rock with difficulty at the precipice of the valley.

जिया - तुम यहाँ से कूदने तो नहीं सोच रहे हो ना? देखो, जो भी तुम्हारी problem है उसका समाधान ये नहीं है..

Listening to that, Adi breaks down and tries to cover his face with his palms. He then gets up and starts walking back. But he barely walks a few steps and collapses. Seeing that Jiah comes rushing behind him and while trying to check what’s wrong, shots for help.

Jiah – Oh Shit, shit..help help somebody please help me!


The Scene as it was written in the script..

(Courtesy – Ms. Pubali Chaudhuri Story & Screenplay Writer Rock-On)


The bus comes to a halt. The last of the passengers are

getting off. The conductor looks at Adi and announces its the

last stop.

Adi gets off the bus and looks around the sleepy hamlet

plunged in darkness ... he starts walking aimlessly in the

direction that a couple of other villagers are going


A group of villagers are gathered around a small fire playing

music with traditional local instruments. A young girl,

wearing headphones and holding a mike is recording them,

immersed in the music herself. Some local drink goes around

the circle. There are a couple of foreigners/tourists also in

the group.

A couple of passengers from the bus, local themselves, join

the group. Adi happens to be trailing behind them and just

slumps down

He still wears a vacant look in his eyes. Adi feels a shiver -

a cold breeze blows by making the flames of the fire dance.

Adi takes a swig of the drink as the bottle is passed to him.

.. But his eyes are fixed on the flames burning in the

middle... some of the guys are sitting close to the fire,

warming their hands. Aditya inches closer to the fire ... he

seems to be captivated by the dancing flames as he stretches

out his hands towards the fire... his mind is somewhere else

and he comes too close to the fire- like the proverbial moth

drawn to the fire, he reaches out to touch it - a hand grabs

his and pulls him away... he seems to break out from his

trance and sees the girl holding his hand and looking at him


The others don't seem to have noticed Adi's flirtation with

the fire...but she had noticed and had a sudden hunch that

made her jump and reach out for him.

She now lets go of his hand and Adi turns and walks away…


The girl gathers her laptop and packs up the rest of her

equipment. Walks to a tent put up nearby. She stops to see

Adi sitting near the edge of the cliff overlooking the


JIAH.. Hello!

Adi remains quiet, gazing into the night… The girl walks up

to him and seeing him disheveled asks him.

JIAH (CONT’D)... not planning to jump off, are you ?

Adi looks into the darkness and says quietly, almost to


ADITYA - That would be too easy

She sees the bruises and cuts on his face. She settles down

beside him

JIAH - Yeah.. And selfish.

Adi looks at her at this. She continues

JIAH (CONT’D)...its the people left behind who face the real deal

She gets quiet and lights a cigarette. She means to share the cigarette with him and as she turns towards him she sees tears are running down his face.

Aditya feels embarrassed and conscious to be vulnerable in

front of a stranger. He gets up to leave but suddenly feels

dizzy. The cumulative strain, hunger and weakness makes his

feet unstable and he falls to his knees. The blanket comes

off and the girl sees his shirt in tatters and the burn and

blood marks on his back and chest… She grabs his arm and helps him sit up.

JIAH (CONT’D)God! What the hell happened to you!

Adi tries to scramble up.

JIAH (CONT’D) Wait... you can’t go like this.

She holds Adi and starts walking towards the tent.


Jiah is applying ointment on his wounds.

JIAH - What happened?

Adi’s body just lets go as he lies down... his body shivers

as he finally breaks down. The wounds burn as she applies the

lotion. He bites in the sting and mumbles incoherently

ADI - Lost…lost everything…all gone

She lifts him and holds him close…wipes his parched lips as

his tears run. She wipes his tears…he continues mumbling.

ADI (CONT’D) everything that I planned... the land..

She speaks softly to him, holding him closer.

JIAH - Shhhhh…its ok…everything will be ok…shhhhh…

Weariness begins to come over him. His eyes begin to shut. He

holds her hand tight...

JIAH (CONT’D) We all lose…its better to lose than to never have had… sleep now.

So saying she pulls a blanket over Aditya and caresses his

hair. Adi’s vision is now blurry as sleep overtakes his

fatigue... he seems to be drifting away. The girl starts

humming a tune... the same one that Aditya was listening on

Soundcloud. Adi murmurs through his sleep...

ADI - Wanderlust...

She looks at him surprised and continues singing softly as he

falls asleep…


What the Scriptwriter has to say about the scene..

“It is two strangers meeting for the first time when one of them has just suffered the trauma and shock of having lost everything that he has built over the past few years ...in a sense Adi is suffering the loss of his 'new beginning' and the other , Jiah, has her own scars but that is not revealed to audience as yet. 

Adi had heard one of Jiah's tracks on Soundcloud ( posted under an user name - 'wanderlust') before this encounter...but neither of them know who the other person is in this scene. But that's why he recognises the song she's humming just before he passes out. 

It is a 'stranger in the night' kind of moment - when you meet a stranger and suddenly your vulnerabilities are exposed.”
                                                                                                                                                                         – Pubali Chaudhuri



Now, there are some changes in the written scene and the one’s that’s on screen after going through the acting, shooting and editing phases. While what unfolds in front of us is a crisp 3-min scene, what’s written is a detail version which also seeds in trickles of the future relationship between the two, especially the interaction/chat in the tent. That’s the longer version of poetry which also has the hues of romance. 

The ‘Wanderlust’ reference was also a beautiful touch in the written scene which doubles up as a common ‘happy’ connection between them and also as an allusion to the ‘Rahul’ backstory.  

As usual it’s the director’s call how he wants the final scene, but either ways a great scene for us to study!!  

-Sanjay Sharma

Editor SWA Website

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