This piece could probably do with a little explanatory preamble. A few years ago – 2011 to be precise – Bollywood made a film called Dear Friend Hitler. The director had claimed in an interview that Hitler had loved India very much, which was one of the reasons which had moved him to make the flick.
Now, if you’ve been reading me for any time at all, you’ll probably know how my brain works. So the first thing that happened when I read of this online (this was in 2010, when it was still in the making) was that I began constructing a storyline in my head, drawing heavily on the standard Bollywood fare of the 1980s-90s, which was marked as much for its utter and total disregard for historical facts as for its reliance on song and dance. Within literally minutes I had a melodramatic scene all set up in my head, which I wrote about on Multiply, which at that time was my blogging home and which had as yet not been murdered by greedy corporate ghouls out to make a fast buck.
As it happens, my idea about the film wasn’t exactly what the director did, but going by the reviews – which didn’t exactly fall over with praise, to put it mildly – I genuinely think my version would’ve been better. At least it might have made a fair comedy.
|Yes, that is meant to be Eva Braun!|
I’d better explain that while Hitler might not have loved India, there’s little doubt that the Hindunazis in India love Hitler. They model themselves after him, and thousands of copies of Mein Kampf are sold in India every year...as a self-help book.
I’m not kidding you.
Anyway, built around that scene, here’s a (partial) screenplay of Deer Friend Hitler, the first word having nothing to do with the members of the family Cervidae; it was deliberately chosen so that nobody can claim I’m infringing on their copyright or something.
|Not what this is about|
I’ll be using – as far as possible – a direct translation of the idiom of Bollywood flicks of the 80s and 90s to English. Yes, they really did say things like “Dog, open your ears and listen!”
In keeping with the actual Dear Friend Hitler film, all characters, including Hitler and Eva Braun, will be played by Indians. Blond wigs will be worn when thought appropriate – the more ludicrous in appearance, the better.
Of course, all resemblance to real historical persons or circumstances is a deliberate parody. I expect that is clear.
DEER FRIEND HITLER
[Scene 1 : An Indian town, circa 1942. A line of demonstrators appears in the distance, carrying Indian flags. These must be the modern Indian flag, not the version used by demonstrators during the so-called “freedom struggle”. As they march towards the camera in a straggling line, they shout slogans and wave their fists in the air.]
DEMONSTRATORS: British, quit India! Glory to Mother India!
WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR [in front, determinedly waving flag]: British go back to London! Listen to Mahatma Gandhi’s words!
DEMONSTRATORS: Long live Mahatma Gandhi!
[Camera pans to a roadblock, behind which a line of British soldiers stands. They’re commanded by a general. Let’s call him, um, General Dyer, after the British brigadier who commanded a massacre of Indian civilians in Amritsar in 1919; he’s the only British “general” whose name Indian audiences will know.]
DYER: Stop! In the name of the British government, you are ordered to return home immediately!
WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: We do not recognise your British government! Britain go back! We want freedom!
DYER: You Indians will never have freedom. This is your final warning.
WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: Long live India!
[The British soldiers open fire. The WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR is the last to fall, still clutching her flag to her breast.]
DYER: So will all Indians die who dare to rebel against our glorious British Empire! [Leaves with his soldiers.]
[Enter WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR’s son, let’s call him...come on, give me a name...OK, Bharat. That’s the name of the country in most Indian languages. It’s also a – rather rare – man’s name. He’s accompanied by his wife, YOUNG WOMAN, who at this point probably doesn’t require a name. I’ll make up one if I think she needs it.]
BHARAT [rushing frantically to WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR]: Mother!
WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR (raising head weakly): Son...don’t be sad. My blood is watering the nation’s holy earth...here, take this flag, hold it high. Son, listen carefully...
WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: Go to Germany. There is a brave man who loves India. His name is Hitler. Go to him and ask him for help. Give him this flag, stained with the blood flowing from the breasts of all these martyrs. Ask him to aid you in sweeping the British from our holy land.
BHARAT: I will, Mother. I will obey your divine command.
WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: Remember always that our nation is the greatest in the universe, and that we will one day rise to take our place at the top again. Never forget this.
BHARAT: I won’t, Mother, I won’t.
WOMAN DEMONSTRATOR: My blessings on your journey, my son. And now...I am...going. [Falls back dramatically, dies.]
BHARAT [yowling and throwing himself on her corpse]: Mummy! You can’t leave me and go away!
[YOUNG WOMAN takes the flag from BHARAT’s hand.]
YOUNG WOMAN: Is this the time for tears? Mother has given you a holy duty. Fulfil it. Or, I swear to you, I will myself go to Germany and to our great friend Hitler. I will give him this flag and tell him that since the men of our country are too weak, I, a woman, have come to him for help.
BHARAT: No, no, I will do it.
YOUNG WOMAN: Are you certain? If not, tell me now.
BHARAT [snatching back the flag and holding it aloft]: I am certain. Victory to Mother India!
BOTH: Victory to Mother India!
[Scene 2: The ashram of the Thousand Year Old Yogi. It consists of buildings around a yard in the centre of which is a banyan tree surrounded by a concrete platform. The Thousand Year Old Yogi sits on this platform before his devotees. He has a long, matted beard and hair coiled high on his head. As he talks, he keeps running a set of beads through the fingers of one hand.]
DEVOTEES: Bless us, Holy Saint! Bless us with your august words!
YOGI: The time has come for the world to see a new dawn, when the smiling face of Goddess India will rise again in the east, just as our great sages have prophesied, in all the scriptures. A great and glorious friend of India will help us drive away the cruel foreign rulers, and after that we will once again take our place as the leader of the world. After all, as we all know, this was the country that first invented the aeroplane and the atom bomb*, the country that is the fount of all the knowledge the others are only discovering now. The time has now come, my children, that...
[*Yes, this is an anachronism. So what?]
[Enter BHARAT and YOUNG WOMAN.]
BHARAT: Holy Saint! You must help us.
YOGI: What is it? Wait, I know. My child, you are going on a long and difficult journey, to find the great man who will help us shake off the foreign yoke. You have come for my blessing.
YOUNG WOMAN [to BHARAT]: You see? He knows everything!
YOGI: Yes, by the grace of the Lord Sarvagunasampanna, I have been granted divine sight. But you are going on a long and difficult journey, my child. The task before you is formidable.
BHARAT: That is why I need your blessing, Holy One.
YOGI: You will have it. But along with the blessing I will give you something more. [Rummages in a bag by his side and takes out a handful of dried herbs.] Here. Take this. It is the one and only Sanjeevani herb, which – as the Ramayana teaches us – can bring the dead back to life. Use it wisely.
BHARAT [overcome]: Holy Saint! [He and YOUNG WOMAN throw themselves down before the concrete platform.] Bless us!
YOGI [Holds hand not holding beads over their heads, blessing them]: Is there anyone among you devotees who is so brave as to go with this brave young man on a mission which will bring freedom to this land?
MOHAN [Devotee]: I’ll go!
YOGI: I declare you brothers. Go now, and come back with the flag of victory flying!
ALL: Glory to the Holy One! Glory to Mother India!
[Scene 3: Berlin. Outside Hitler’s Chancellery, which should look exactly like a block of Indian government offices except for a swastika mounted on the wall above the door. All visible vehicles will be modern Indian and will be driving on the left of the road, of course. A couple of guards in black uniforms with swastika armbands march back and forth outside. They should look as un-German as possible. Nepalis or Arunachalis would be nice. J]
[Enter BHARAT and MOHAN, carrying large bags but otherwise looking none the worse for their long and dangerous journey.]
BHARAT: Here we are, at last, outside our great friend Hitler’s headquarters.
MOHAN: Look, he has our ancient Indian symbol, the swastika, on the wall.
BHARAT: Didn’t I tell you he was our nation’s friend? We must meet him at once!
MOHAN: But how can we meet him? He has guards who certainly will stop us if we try to go inside.
BHARAT: Let’s try and see what happens. [Goes up to the nearest guard. Speaking Hindi, and then translating into English:] We need to meet our nation’s great friend Hitler.
GUARD No. 1 [atrocious Indian-accented English]: Who are you?
BHARAT [Hindi, then English]: We are from India. We have come to speak to our great friend Hitler, to ask him for help to free our country.
GUARD No. 1: I can’t let you meet him. How do I know you aren’t British spies?
BHARAT [returning to MOHAN]: You were right, the guard isn’t letting us pass. Do you think you should try to talk to them?
MOHAN: The same thing will happen.
BHARAT: Hmm. You’re right. I have it! We’ll sing a song. When they hear us sing they’ll know we’re who we say we are.
[They begin to dance and sing.]
BHARAT and MOHAN [singing, in Hindi]:
India – the Greatest
In the world – the best of all
India sent us here
Dear friend Hitler – hear us call.
India – from the Himalaya
Down to the deep blue sea
Full of wonder and the wisdom
Of ten thousand years of history.
India, our hearts beat for you
The greatest nation that has ever been
India, of all the countries anywhere
You are the undoubted queen.
[Hearing the singing, HITLER comes out and stands listening. He’s also in a uniform with a swastika armband.]
India, we left your shores
Shedding tears that we had to go
But our hearts were filled with joy
That you will be rid of the foe.
Mother India, you will be free
You will soon stand proud and tall
We have gone to bring you liberty
Dear friend Hitler, hear our call.
HITLER [clapping, speaking very carefully correct Hindi]: Wonderful, wonderful! I am so happy to meet you. I have spent my life admiring India, and waiting to meet Indians. I learned Hindi just for this day, but never thought I’d have a chance to speak it. Come in, come in!
[They follow him inside to a large office. EVA BRAUN is sitting to one side, reading a book on learning Hindi. She looks up as they enter. All the following dialogue is in Hindi.]
HITLER: My dear, these are two Indians who have come all the way from India to meet us. Isn’t this fantastic?
EVA: Oh, Adolf! I have waited so eagerly for this day! Come in, dear Indian guests, come in!
[They sit. She gives them tea and Indian samosas.]
HITLER: We even love Indian food and Eva taught herself how to make it. Now how can we help you, dear Indian friends?
BHARAT: Sir, it all began when my mother was cruelly murdered by the British General Dyer.
HITLER [gritting teeth]: Dyer, my ancient enemy! He shall pay for this! I will see him!
BHARAT: Yes, he murdered her and a lot of other innocent unarmed civilian protestors who were marching against the cruel British hold on our beloved land. [Wipes away a tear] My mother sent me this Indian flag for you. See, it is stained with her blood, the blood of martyrs, with which the cruel British water the soil of India.
HITLER [holding flag]: We shall avenge them! Your mother can rest in peace and India will be free! I promise.
EVA: Oh, Adolf! India calls to my heart and soul, asking me to help liberate her from the vile British.
HITLER: I was waiting for a sign. These valiant young men, who have come so far to us, are the sign I was seeking. I shall not rest now till India is liberated!
BHARAT and MOHAN: Dear friend Hitler!
EVA: Hear us, Mother India! We are coming to set you free!
[Scene 4: India. General Dyer’s office. A huge Union Jack hangs on the wall behind the general’s desk, above a collection of whips which he (presumably) uses to flog recalcitrant Indians into line. DYER and AIDE DE CAMP are talking.]
AIDE [laughing]: I’ve just heard that some troublemaking natives have gone to Germany to ask Hitler for help in throwing us out of India.
DYER: What makes you think it’s funny?
AIDE: Hitler is such a buffoon. How can he help them?
DYER [rising and striding up and down the room]: Hitler is a lover of India. He loves these natives and their religions and language and culture, their temples and towns and their ancient civilisation. He even uses their swastika as his symbol, and acknowledges that Indians originally invented everything that we know of today. He even learned their language so that he can understand them better!
AIDE: I am told one of these troublemakers is the son of one of the protestors you shot the other day.
DYER: I should have shot them all and left none alive. I’m too kind, that’s the problem.
AIDE: I did not know that Hitler loved these troublemaking, contemptible Indians.
DYER: He’s right though, that the Indians invented everything originally. But that was then. Now we are on top. We have our boots on their necks and we will never let them go.
AIDE: And he’ll help them against us?
DYER: Of course he’ll help them against us. He will do everything in his power to help them.
AIDE: He is a traitor to Western civilisation!
DYER: Yes he is. He is on the side of these inferior races, these natives. But he won’t succeed! [Snatches whip from wall and smashes it down on the desk.] I will crush these Indians once and for all! And I shall destroy Hitler, too!
AIDE [doubtfully]: Destroy Hitler? Do you really think you can manage that?
DYER: I am the one who can split a stone with a piece of glass. Anything I want to do, I can.
AIDE [saluting]: I will be by your side always, General!
DYER: Good, now this is what you must do... [Leans conspiratorially toward AIDE, murmuring orders.]
[Scene 5: India. A small temple at the YOGI’s ashram, empty but for the idol, which is garlanded with flowers and before which incense is burning. Enter YOUNG WOMAN, who by this time probably should be given a name. Let’s see...GANGA (the Ganges river). That should do.]
GANGA: God, I have just heard that the evil British general Dyer is soon going to Germany at the head of an army, to fight our dear friend Hitler and to destroy all hope of Indian freedom. Let me tell you something, God. When I agreed to send my husband and Mohan to Germany, I thought that you would protect them. But if something happens to them...
[Crashing noises of stage thunder as camera focuses on the face of the idol, repeatedly zooming partly in and out.]
GANGA [wagging index finger furiously in idol’s face]: ...then it will be you responsible for it, God! You!
[Repeat crashing noise of stage thunder and camera zooming.]
YOGI [entering]: Don’t be disturbed, my child. God never does anything but for good. Your husband and his friend will be fine. God sent them on his holy mission, and the British general will never be able to harm them, I assure you.
GANGA: Oh, Holy One. You are such a comfort.
YOGI: Go home, child, and focus all your energies on your husband’s mission. Fast for him, day and night. For do our holy scriptures not say that the wife’s duty is to fast for her husband’s welfare, and...
[Camera focuses on idol’s face as YOGI and GANGA exit.]
[Scene 6: Berlin. Hitler’s private quarters. As scene opens, EVA Braun is adjusting a sari which she has evidently just finished putting on. Enter HITLER in a Nehru jacket.]
HITLER [all following dialogue in Hindi, of course]: Eva! You look so beautiful.
EVA: I love this Indian dress. I shall never wear anything else again. Indian clothes are the best in the whole world!
HITLER: I love this Nehru jacket too.
EVA: You look so distinguished, Adolf. I hope you will wear it every day.
HITLER: Once India is free, I will visit that holy land, wearing this, and you shall be at my side. We will seek the ancient wisdom of that great country, you and I.
EVA: Oh, Adolf, I am quite overcome! You love India so much, just as I do!
My heart overflows with the love
To see you free
To see your head raised high
In freedom and liberty.
As long as the sun may shine
Wherever the clouds do fly
They will carry the message
India will never die.
Oh my darling, you love so much
That distant country, as do I
The forests that slope to the ocean
The mountains that touch the sky.
My love, my soul, my darling sweet
Someday that land we’ll see
Freed of oppression and humiliation
Standing tall in liberty.
Together we’ll sail the Ganges
Climb the Himalaya so mighty, high
Explore the wisdom and mystery
That grew under India’s blessed sky.
Someday, when the world grows weary
To India sailing we’ll go
And there we will remain together
Forever and evermore.
[The two GUARDS, BHARAT, and MOHAN burst in]
GUARD No. 1: The British army has attacked! Part of it is advancing from one direction.
HITLER: Quick, summon half my army to battle! Tell my generals to fight back and defeat them.
GUARD No. 1: Yes, sir! [Salutes and exits. Sounds of gunfire begin, with explosions.]
GUARD No. 2: Another part of the British army is advancing from another direction.
HITLER: Tell the rest of my generals to order the other half of my army to fight back and defeat them.
GUARD No. 2: Yes, sir! [Salutes and exits. More explosions and gunfire.]
BHARAT: Dear friend Hitler, we have heard that it is the vile General Dyer himself who is in charge of the British army. He killed my mother and has come seeking us here.
HITLER: Dyer! That devil! He will not get away alive this time.
EVA: He will be destroyed by your army, I am sure, Adolf.
MOHAN: I am afraid, sir, that he may try some trick. Your entire army is occupied now in defeating his forces, fighting on two sides, and in the meantime he may...
[Enter DYER, brandishing a revolver.]
DYER: Ha, ha, ha. Hitler, here you are, at my mercy. Prepare to die!
HITLER: Dyer, you have come, but you will not leave alive. [Snatches up pistol from nearby table.] I will take your dead body.
DYER: Dog, worm, open your ears and listen. I will kill you by your life. Aren’t you afraid, now that I am going to kill you?
HITLER: Idiot, only those fear death, who have not drunk their mother’s milk. Think of how you oppress all those poor Indians and you will see that you cannot escape their curses. How long do you think you can continue oppressing them without facing the consequences?
DYER: I don’t give a damn about these bloody Indians. They’re cockroaches. I should have killed them all earlier. Never mind, once I kill you I’ll finish them. Never forget that I am the one who can split a stone with a piece of glass.
HITLER: India is a great and proud country which shall soon prove itself to be the greatest and best in the world, the fount of Aryan culture. As for you, your country will vanish from the pages of history.
DYER [gritting teeth]: Dog! I will drink your blood and go.
HITLER: I will make you remember your grandmother.
[They both open fire. DYER’s bullet misses. HITLER shoots DYER’s gun right out of his hand with his return shot.]
HITLER: Now, Dyer, your time to face justice has come.
DYER: Wait. Come in, Aide, and bring the woman with you.
[Everyone looks, DYER with satisfaction, the rest with horror, as AIDE enters, dragging GANGA at the end of a rope tied around her wrists and holding a gun pointed at her.]
BHARAT: Oh no! Ganga, my darling.
DYER: Surrender to me, or the woman gets it. How could you ever forget that I am the one who can split a stone with a piece of glass?
GANGA: No! Don’t yield. Let them kill me, but don’t yield. The freedom of India is more important than what happens to me.
HITLER: How can I stand by and watch a woman harmed? It’s a matter of honour. [Begins to lower gun.] You are a cowardly swine, Dyer. You won’t get away with this.
DYER: No? We shall see. Put down that gun.
[HITLER puts it down on the table. DYER snatches it up.]
DYER: Now eat bullets. [Shoots HITLER, laughing.]
HITLER [clutching chest and giving Nazi salute]: Victory will be India’s! [Dies.]
EVA [throws herself on his corpse, screaming]: Adolf! Adolf, my love!
DYER [to AIDE]: Shoot her! Shoot the woman! [To others] I’ve been telling you over and over that I am the one who can split stone with a piece of glass, and you still don’t believe me.
BHARAT: And I am the one who can split your jaw with my fist. [Punches DYER, who goes tumbling.]
AIDE [confused]: Shoot which woman, sir? This one or that one?
MOHAN: Neither. [Punches AIDE, who also goes tumbling]. How dare you two try to harm my sister-in-law and kill our great friend?
[DYER and AIDE climb to their feet, raising their fists. They fight with BHARAT and MOHAN. Furniture splinters as each punch sends the four of them somersaulting, even though the blows clearly miss by fifteen centimetres.]
DYER [gaining upper hand, to BHARAT]: You Indians have failed. Hitler is dead. Give up now and you can live until your hanging.
AIDE [to MOHAN]: India never will be free.
BHARAT [snatching up DYER’s original gun, which he has found on the floor during the fight]: This is for India, for my mother, and for our dear friend Hitler. [Shoots DYER, who falls dead.]
MOHAN [snatching up HITLER’S gun, which DYER had dropped during the fight]: Now eat bullets yourself. [Shoots AIDE, who falls dead.]
BHARAT and MOHAN: The evil Dyer is dead!
EVA [sobbing]: So is my beloved Adolf.
GANGA: What will happen to us now? To the cause of Indian freedom?
MOHAN [untying her]: Please don’t cry, dear sister-in-law, all is not lost yet.
BHARAT [delving into his pocket]: The Yogi gave me these Sanjeevani herbs. [Applies them to Hitler’s chest, over the bullet hole.] They can work miracles!
[HITLER begins to breathe, then gasp and cough, and finally blinks and sits up.]
EVA: Adolf! You’re alive!
HITLER: Where am I? Oh, I remember now. Where is that rascal Dyer?
EVA: Oh, Adolf, our heroic Indian friends killed them both, and saved this wonderful young woman too. And then they brought you back to life.
BHARAT: It was only our duty.
GUARD No. 1 [running in]: Sir, the first half of the British army has been defeated.
GUARD No.2 [running in]: Sir, the second half of the British army has been defeated.
EVA: Oh, Adolf! We’ve won!
HITLER: So shall all British oppressors of
shattered and destroyed! India
BHARAT, MOHAN and GANGA: India will be free!
HITLER [gives Nazi salute]: Heil India!
ALL: Heil India! Heil!
[Fade. Credits roll.]
Copyright B Purkayastha 2014