By Derek Almeida
Buying and selling land along the beach belt of north Goa is a shady business. It is difficult to tell the good guys from the bad. It is also difficult to tell the genuine land owners from the fake ones. It’s a jungle out there where lion eats lion and rat eats rat. And the underworld wants a piece of the action.
So how would a Bollywood script writer treat the subject? Try this.
It’s a Saturday night and a knock on the door tells Carlos Remedios Pereira he has a visitor, most probably from the underworld. He chooses not answer it.
"Good evening Carlos-bhai," the short stocky fellow standing in the verandah along with two others shouts from outside. "This Mustaqbhai. Can come in? I not break your legs this time. Promise."
Carlos refuses to budge. Outside Mustaqbhai tries to push open the door but fails. He mutters to himself. "Old Goa houses have very strong doors, not like doors in Bandra flat. That’s why easy to do business in Bandra. Jus break door."
Carlos stays put in his wheelchair. Mustaqbhai instructs Rafiqbhai to throw stones at the window. The shattering of glass finally drives Carlos to the door which he opens and the three barge in.
"You have nice wheel chair," says Mustaqbhai. "Please, meet Rafiqbhai and this is Prasadbaba."
They all move to the hall which is lit up by dim lights due to low voltage supplied by the electricity department which does not apply its mind when issuing NOCs for construction of new buildings.
"Carlos-bhai you sell land okay, because my boss, Don from Dubai….. Sorry, I not suppose to tell you Dubai connection. It is top secret…Rafiqbhai, Prasadbaba you hear that?"
"No Mustaqbhai," they reply in unison.
"Good," says Mustaqbhai. "My boss arriving in three days from Dubai … What am I saying? I not supposed to say Dubai…" Mustaqbhai is livid with himself, but quickly calms down. "I not say Dubai okay, got it, or I break your heads." They all nod in agreement. "When boss come, you sign papers, okay?"
Three days later they arrive along with the Don who is wearing a white suit, white shoes and a white hat. "Good evening Carlos," he says in a voice as smooth as a satin sheet, "I brought you some Cuban cigars."
"I don’t smoke," says Carlos.
"No problem," says Mustaqbhai, "I keep cigars." He grabs the box and tucks it under his jacket.
"So, are you ready to do business Carlos?" the Don asks as Rafiqbhai attempts to light his cigar but fails as the lighter refuses to light.
"Why should I?" counters Carlos, "you lackey here broke my legs."
"I not the lackey," replies Mustaqbhai with indignation, "I am the Mustaqbhai."
The Don knocks Mustaqbhai on the back of his head and asks, "Why did you break his legs?"
"Donbhai, I make him the offer which cannot be refused and he refuse," explains Mustaqbhai. "If somebody…any somebody, refuses the offer which not can be refused, I break the legs."
"I am sorry Carlos," the Don says in his smooth voice. "Sometimes Mustaq goes overboard. You will be amply compensated for this inconvenience." Meanwhile Rafiqbhai is still trying to get the lighter to work.
Carlos is still angry. "Listen you fellows," he says, "if you do not leave I will call the police and get all of you arrested."
"Be my guest," says the Don and attempts to puffs the cigar only to discover that it is not lit. He looks at Rafiqbhai who is still struggling. Prasadbaba goes over to help him.
Carlos picks up his mobile phone and dials a number. A few seconds later Prasadbaba’s phone rings. He excuses himself goes to the corner of the room and takes the call. "Ah…what happened?"
Carlos says, "PI saab, three underworld characters forced themselves into my house and are threatening me. They want me to sign property papers."
Prasadbaba replies, "What is your problem? Sign the papers, no."
The three underworld characters look at Carlos who pleads, "I don’t want to. Can you send a team of cops to arrest them?"
The three underworld characters now turn to look at Prasadbaba who says, "No, I cannot, all cops are watching Singham movie?"
Although Prasadbaba, who is the PI during day, is still oblivious of the identity of the caller, Carlos realises that the cop is with the Don, who gives his victory smile even as Rafiqbhai is still trying to get the lighter to work.
"Okay, I’ll sign the papers," says Carlos with a smile, "but I have to warn you that the property does not belong to me alone."
"What?" says Mustaqbhai in surprise and anger, "Why you not tell me before I break the legs? Now I break the fingers."
The Don stops him. "Mustaq, if you break his fingers how will he sign the papers?"
"Then I break his toes," Mustaqbhai insists, "but I have to break something."
The Don manages to calm him down. "Carlos, what is the meaning of this?"
Carlos replies triumphantly, "My father had seven children, of which six got married and altogether had 22 children. The seventh went to Africa and got lost. Now of the 22 children, five are in Australia, six in Canada, three in Delhi and three in the UK. The rest became nuns and priests. Of these two are…."
There is an eerie silence in the Don’s car on the way back which is broken by Rafiqbhai who is sitting in the front seat. "Boss, I got lighter to work."