CHAPTER 13: PREPARING FOR THE HUNT
Cut to Delhi. Saket arrives with a suitcase. He looks the same as he did in Calcutta a few months ago, but with dark glasses for anonymity (like Pandey did in Bombay). He enters a certain Hotel Marina and registers under the name K. Bhairav (Kaal Bhairav, perhaps – An angry form of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction.). He is assigned room number 43 and he proceeds towards it. Govardhan, a local follows him to his room and tries to get close. When Saket is angered and asks him what he really wants, the local replies that he can get girls from any state if Saket wants. Saket turns the offer down. Govardhan hands Saket his visiting card in case if he were to change his mind. Saket takes it and dumps it in the dustbin inside after Govardhan leaves.
It is morning and Saket immediately gets down to work. He arrives at Gandhiji’s staying place where tight security has been provided and a lot of Gandhians have arrived. He is here to survey the place so that he can execute his work perfectly. As he enters, he sees a group of protestors raising cries against Gandhiji. Saket doesn’t seem to know the reason and enters the villa. We see a fasting Gandhi talking to Nehru and Moulana Azad. As Saket enters, we also notice a group of, what it sounds like, plotters discussing the course of action. Saket does not hear all this as he is busy looking at Gandhi. He sees Azad and Nehru leaving after the chat. He also notices that there is a small cabin behind the stage on which Gandhiji would be addressing his followers everyday. He starts making the plans. He goes around the central building for the access to that cabin.
There are goats running around in the compound. This reminds us of Abhyankar’s comparison of Gandhians to goats in Calcutta a few months ago. He approaches a man lying on the cot near the cabin. He learns that the cabin is a servant’s quarter and belongs to the man who is lying there. He asks him if he can go in and take photographs of Gandhi from inside as he delivers his speech. The servant asks him to go inside but warns him about the darkness I the room, again signifying secrecy. Saket gets near the ventilation over the stage and gets on the rickety cot beneath it. He can hear some men on the other side trying to fix the microphone. He makes sure that he gets a good view of the stage and comes out of the room. He learns from the servant that another group has also asked him to let them in for photographs. The servant milks money from Saket as he belonged to a different group. Saket has his suspicions. He pays up and walks towards the stage.
As he walks, we can see two tense men discussing something about one of their men backing out. We also learn that one of them is called Nathu, the man who would go on change the course of history. Saket, oblivious to the discussion, goes towards the stage. Just then he sees a large crowd coming along with Gandhiji singing a song. Saket is angered, visibly, at Gandhi, his Ravana. Ironically, the song being sung as Gandhi arrives is in praise of Rama! A visibly weak Gandhi is being carried by his followers on to the stage.
Saket feels a pat on the back. He turns back and is shocked to see Uppili Iyengar, his father-in-law standing behind him. He is euphoric at meeting Saket. He informs him that everybody is soulless at home. Also that his aunt has passed away after his uncle. Saket is shocked but regains composure after reminding himself of his Sanyasa. Apparently he has misconstrued the telegram and thinks Saket left the home to serve Gandhiji in Delhi. He is happy that he left the house for a good cause and introduces Saket to Mr. Subhash Goyal (Om Puri), an influential industrialist who is arranging a meeting between Uppili Iyengar and Gandhiji.
Gandhiji starts delivering a speech which is announced loud by one of his followers, Dr. Susheela Nair, following the failure of the microphone, denoting that Gandhiji’s fast had made him so weak so that he is not even able to speak loud. As Gandhiji speaks about Muslims still being slaughtered in Calcutta, even after his continued attempts at peace, Saket notices somebody in the servant’s cabin at the ventilator. He also notices a distributed group coordinating something using symbols. This is followed by a minor blast near the building which starts a panic among those gathered. Gandhiji calms them down and asks Dr. Nair why she was so scared and what will she do if someone really comes to assassinate him.
Saket approaches the scene of the blast as Uppili Iyengar and Mr. Goyal prevent him. He is now almost sure that there is another cabal out with the same mission as his. He sees police chasing the suspects. As they move out, Uppili Iyengar complains to Saket that times have become so bad that someone has even tried to kill Gandhiji. Saket has no words for this and walks along silently as they are stopped by the policemen for security reasons. As Mr. Goyal clarifies their identities Saket notices the man, who had set off the blast moments ago, arrested. We also see that the date is 20th January – 10 days for the fateful day.
That evening, Saket looks out of the balcony in his hotel room as he hears in the news that a Hindu activist group may be responsible for the blast. He comes down to the reception and asks if there is a movie theatre nearby, so that he can get his mind off all the tension. The receptionist says there is one but does not play a good movie. Saket does not care and steps outside as he notices a group of policemen entering the hotel. He rushes back without getting noticed and comes to know that the police have discovered the to-be-assassin of Gandhi residing in the hotel. They have brought along the suspect with a search warrant and have asked the hotel manager to not allow anyone to go out of the hotel till they finish their job.
Saket does not understand how the police came to know of him or if they are searching for him at all. He rushes to his room and closes the door. He takes his gun from the drawer and searches for a place to hide. He notices a soda truck beneath his balcony, just within his reach. He gets over the ledge and places the gun in the truck, with the intention of retrieving it later. As the police keep knocking his door, he returns and flushes his commode and unbuttons his pant. He asks the police to wait and returns after a few minutes to open the door. As the police inquire him, he buttons his pant back, making them believe that he was in the bathroom all the while. The police finds that a man named Nathu Ram Godse is in room number 40. They apologize for disturbing him and ask him to stay in the room till they are gone.
With a sigh of relief, he goes over the balcony to get back the gun only to find that the truck has left. He is shocked and enquires the bearer in the hotel about the truck who says the truck will not come for 5 more days and asks if he wants soda. Saket says that his wallet has fallen into the truck and has around 5000 rupees. The bearer says that it is better to lose 5000 rupees than to lose his life. He informs him that it is a curfew is on at the locality of the Azad Soda Factory, the place where the truck has come from. He also adds that the place, Chandni Chowk, is a predominantly Muslim area and will be dangerous for a Hindu to visit during curfew.
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