EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY
A TRAIN flies down the tracks.
SUPERIMPOSE: In 1947, the last act of the crumbling British Raj was to partition the Indian Empire into
Both the compartments and roof of the train are filled with passengers.
SUPERIMPOSE: This division displaced ten million people as Hindus and Sikhs fled to
On the roof of the train, a man wearing a prayer cap (MAQBOOL) kneels and prays with the other passengers on the roof.
SUPERIMPOSE: One million people died in communal violence at the borders of the new nations.
EXT. CROWDED TRAIN STATION - DAY
SUPERIMPOSE: Kufi: A short, rounded prayer cap traditionally worn by Muslims.
A ten-year old boy (BIR) is playing with a TOY TRAIN on the platform. A middle-aged woman (SANTOSH) is seated next to Bir, gazing into the distance. Behind them is a sign that says ‘
Bir pushes the train along the ground and it rolls a short distance before bumping into Santosh’s feet. Santosh looks down and with a smile on her face, hands the toy to Bir.
Ma, where will the train take us?
Son, we’re going to our new home in
But isn’t this
It used to be, but not anymore.
A train whistle blows and Santosh looks up. The train pulls into the station.
Bir, stay close to me.
Santosh grabs Bir’s hand and they stand up.
The train comes to a halt at the platform. The green and grey passengers from the crowded train start getting off even before the train stops fully and start making their way through the crowd. At the same time, the brown and yellow people on the platform begin to push their way onto the train. Angry shouts are heard as both sets of passengers push and shove. Santosh and Bir battle the crowd as they head towards the train.
In another part of the crowd, Maqbool is pushing and shoving his way away from the train. He gets shoved by a person wearing a brown shirt in the crowd and falls to the ground. Both his hat and bundle of belongings go flying.
CROWD MEMBER #1 (O.S.)
Get out of the way, old man!
Bir is visible through a gap in the crowd and he looks at Maqbool trying to reach his bundle. As Maqbool picks up his bundle and struggles to his feet, Bir lets go of his mother’s hand and runs into the crowd.
Bir! Come back!!
Santosh runs after Bir.
Bir catches up to Maqbool.
Maqbool turns around. Bir starts to hand an object to Maqbool...
Sir, you dropped your cap!
Bir drops the cap into Maqbool’s hand. As Maqbool looks back up at Bir, all he sees is Bir disappearing back into the crowd.
Santosh sees Bir in the distance, making his way towards her. She starts to move towards Bir. Abruptly, the crowd surges and starts to push Santosh towards the train and Bir away from it. Santosh makes eye contact with her son in the distance.
Grab my hand!
They struggle to reach each other. Then Santosh disappears from Bir’s view. He is pushed and shoved by the crowd. In several sections of the crowd, green and grey people are fighting the brown and yellow people with swords, daggers and staffs. Several people from both sides get wounded and collapse.
The surging crowd pushes Santosh onto the train.
In the midst of the crowd, Bir looks around frantically. He is pushed one way and then the next by the crowd. Through the crowd, he sees a figure in the distance.
He moves towards the figure. He grabs at the figure’s clothing once he is closer. The figure turns around and Bir sees that it is a young man wearing a white prayer cap. There is a dagger in the man’s hand and a dead body in front of him. The man moves to strike Bir, who dodges the blow. Bir turns around and starts to run away. The man follows him. Bir puts his hand to his face and feels blood from a thin cut on his cheek. Bir pushes his way through the crowd, glancing over his shoulder as he does so. As he looks around, he sees the silhouetted figures of green and grey people wearing caps all around him.
Bir trips and falls over another body. On his knees, he looks up and sees the train in the distance through a gap in the crowd. He jumps to his feet and starts to run towards the train.
He runs into another person. Bir looks up to see a prayer cap on the person’s head. Bir sees that the man is Maqbool. Maqbool grabs Bir, but Bir pushes him away and turns. As he turns, Bir trips over a stone and falls. He begins to crawl away from Maqbool on his hands and feet, but finds his way blocked by the young man with dagger. All around them are people wearing caps. Maqbool catches up to Bir and drags him to his feet. Bir closes his eyes as he sees a shadow swinging towards him.
Stop! - I know this boy.
Bir opens his eyes. The young man backs away and disappears into the mass of people. Bir touches his head and feels a prayer cap on his head. Bir sees that the crowd of people wearing caps is melting away from him. Maqbool’s hand is on Bir’s shoulder as he wordlessly leads Bir through the crowd. Maqbool is not wearing a cap anymore.
The train whistle sounds and it starts to move. Some members of the crowd struggle to get on the train, others fall behind. Maqbool and Bir run towards the train. Through the window, Bir glimpses Santosh in the compartment. Bir and Maqbool get close to the compartment’s entrance and Maqbool forces the boy on, who stands at the entrance, sandwiched between the legs of the other passengers. Bir looks back at Maqbool as he slows down and eventually stops. Bir takes off the prayer cap and looks at it. He looks back up in the direction of Maqbool, and watches him disappear into the crowd. Bir’s gaze lingers for a moment, and then he turns around and begins to make his way into the compartment towards his mother as the train pulls away from the station.