India Song (1975) Movie Script

A beggar woman.
- Mad?
- Yes.
Ah yes. I remember.
She follows the rivers.
Comes from Burma.
Not Indian.
She comes from Savannakhet.
Born there.
For ten years.
And one day,
in front of her, the Ganges.
- Yes.
- She stays.
That's right.
12 children dead
while she walked towards Bengal?
She leaves them.
Sells them, forgets them.
On the way to Bengal,
she goes barren
- Savannakhet, Laos?
- Yes.
At seventeen.
Pregnant... seventeen...
...thrown out by her mother,
goes away...
...asks the way to get lost.
No one knows.
In Calcutta they were together.
- She and the white woman?
- Yes.
During the same years...
- He had followed her to India.
- Yes.
For her, he left everything.
- The night of the ball?
- yes.
Michael Richardson was engaged
to a girl from S. Thala,
Lola Valerie Stein.
They were to marry in the autumn.
Then, the ball,
The ball at S. Thala.
She arrived late... the middle of the night... black.
That ball, such love...
such desire.
That light?
The monsoon.
That dust?
Central Calcutta.
What is that scent of flowers?
Where are we?
The French Embassy, in India.
- That murmur?
- The Ganges.
When she died, he left India?
Her grave is in the English cemetery?
- She died out there?
- On the islands.
Found dead one night.
A black Lancia...
...speeds along the road
to Chandernagore.
It was there that she first tried?
What are you afraid of?
Anne-Marie Stretter.
They would dance in the evening
They're dancing.
What are you crying about?
I love you... the point of not seeing...
...not hearing...
Lepers burst like sacks of dust,
you know.
- Don't suffer?
- No, feel nothing.
She's there by the Ganges,
under the trees.
She has forgotten.
- The French Vice-Consul from Lahore.
- Yes.
Sent to Calcutta in disgrace.
He's come back to the grounds?
He comes every night.
The tennis court, deserted.
Anne-Marie Stretter's red bicycle.
Where is the one in black?
Out driving.
She comes back with the night.
The black Lancia
has just entered the grounds.
She hunts at night
in the depths of the Ganges.
For food.
Dead on the islands
- Her eyes pierced with light, dead.
- Yes.
Beneath that stone.
Around her, a bend in the Ganges...
Four o'clock.
Darkest night.
- No one's asleep?
- No one.
What heat!
Another storm...
...coming to Bengal...
...coming from the islands.
From the estuaries, inexhaustible...
- What's that sound?
- Her, crying.
- She isn't suffering, is she?
- No.
Leprosy of the heart.
- Can't bear it?
- No, can't bear it.
India, can't bear it.
She's sleeping.
He loved her more than
anything in the world.
More than that.
Michael Richardson set up a marine
insurance business... Bengal,
to stay with her in India.
The Ganges fishermen.
What a night!
What heat!
From behind the plants in the bar
she watches them.
Only at dawn...
...when the lovers went toward
the door of the ballroom...
...did Lola Valrie Stein
utter a cry.
Didn't hear anything else.
Didn't see anything else.
This crime in her past.
Her music,
that was Venice.
A promising artist.
- Never gave up playing?
- Never.
Ana Maria Guardi.
The first marriage?
- The first post?
- Savannakhet, Laos.
To a French colonial civil servant.
She's 18.
Oh yes, a river...
...she's sitting by a river,
and she's looking.
The Mekong.
- She's silent? Crying?
- Yes.
They say:
"She won't get used to it".
"She'll have to be
sent back to Europe. "
- She couldn't bear it, already?
- Already.
Caught behind gates.
The government house grounds
- Those sentries?
- The guard.
- Already couldn't bear it.
- No.
One day,
a government launch stops...
...Monsieur Stretter is
inspecting the Mekong posts.
- Takes her away to Savannakhet?
- Yes, takes her with him.
For 17 years,
through the capitals of Asia.
You find her in Peking,
again in Mandalay.
In Bangkok...
you find her in Bangkok.
In Rangoon...
In Sydney.
You find her in Lahore...
17 years.
She's in Calcutta...
She dies.
- Who's the other man?
- A friend passing through.
A friend of Stretter.
Whoever wants her, has her.
He gives her.
- Love.
- Yes.
"Anne-Marie Stretter"
written on the grave?
"Ana Maria Guardi",
but worn away.
Every night...
...looks at her.
- Has never spoken to her?
- Never.
Never approached any woman.
- The male virgin of Lahore.
- Yes.
- Those gleams over there?
- The burning ghats.
Burning those who died of hunger?
It's dawn.
He had fired a gun in Lahore.
One night, from his balcony,
he fired on the lepers
of the Shalimar Gardens.
- Couldn't bear it?
- No.
- India, couldn't bear it?
- No.
What about India?
The idea.
There was a reception
at the French embassy?
The park stretches down
to the Ganges.
The offices are on this side.
You see? Those grey buildings.
Farther away, the tennis courts,
deserted during the monsoon.
Almost no one is dancing?
In this heat,
how could you?
The only remedy, immobility.
Slow down the blood.
The smell of mud.
The Ganges, low tide.
The new Austrian attach.
Been here a month.
- He can't get used to India.
- His first time here?
He'll come again.
- He'll go to the islands.
- How can you tell?
The anguish in his eyes.
She can't bear people
who get used to India.
The Ambassador asks people
to the islands for his wife.
She goes alone to the islands.
The Ambassador goes hunting
in Nepal.
They say her lovers are English,
don't mix with the embassies,
and that the Ambassador knows.
A friend of the Stretters'.
Unknown in Calcutta.
With this humidity
the pianos are detuned.
The French Vice-Consul
has just entered the park.
At the last minute
she sent him a card: "Come".
Just what did he do?
The worst... killed.
- In Lahore.
- The official version?
Nerves gave way.
Often happens.
- Easy to say.
- Yes.
His face... as if grafted.
Very pale.
She could have spared us
his presence.
An outcast in Lahore too?
There too.
He just escaped being dismissed.
The ambassador intervened.
Closed circles in India
make me think of leprosy.
- Perhaps he drank? - No. Drunkenness is
the same for us all here.
We talk about going home.
No, he didn't drink.
The Ambassador
asked the young attach
to have a word with him.
He tries.
He turns away.
Can't bear it.
Any of it.
He laughs.
As if he were suddenly
mad with joy.
Perhaps he's just seen
Madame Stretter... perhaps.
- You mean...
- I wonder... perhaps.
Did he talk about Lahore?
Only to her.
Near dawn.
He fired at night,
on the Shalimar Gardens...
...on lepers, dogs.
But they found bullets in the mirrors
in his house in Lahore, too.
Shooting at himself...
Roses arrived every day from Nepal.
She gave them out
at the end of the ball.
After lunch, people sink...
Heavy sleep.
Yet everyone waits
for something like that.
Storms are expected.
Just a hole in the sky.
It fills in straight away.
How white she is!
How white they are,
the women of Calcutta!
For six months,
out only in the evening
Fleeing the sun.
Seems imprisoned
in a kind of suffering.
No one really knows
what goes on behind these walls.
What she does.
Cycling very early in the morning,
in the grounds.
Playing tennis,
She reads, they say.
Parcels of books
come from Venice for her.
She goes to the islands.
Only one person sees him.
The director of the European club.
A drunkard.
All he said to the director
was repeated to the Ambassador.
- It's horrid!
- You don't understand.
He knew it would be repeated.
That's why he spoke to the director.
A way to reach her,
this woman.
He said he was entitled
to Madame Stretter's attentions,
to her love,
as much as the others...
Her lovers from Calcutta...
At night, near the tennis courts...
...this bicycle...
He says:
"A thing she had touched".
...that can't be repeated.
Of this passion,
she said nothing.
He said he regretted not making
a convincing report of Lahore.
I remember the word.
- What's known of his background?
- Lived in Neuilly.
Father worked in a bank.
Mother left the father, then died.
Expelled from various schools...
At 15, a disciplinary school.
An aunt writes sometimes.
Look at his eyes.
He's crying.
He seems unaware of it.
He seems to be in a state...
of tears.
What do you want?
To talk to you.
What about?
Your next post.
The voice is toneless,
as if he was trying not to shout.
You can't get used to it either?
No. the heat, of course...
...but also the monotony.
The light... colour.
But you...
before Lahore...
...would you have preferred
something else?
Lahore was what I wanted.
Come to the bar.
What are you afraid of?
They say you'd like Bombay.
I wish to stay in Calcutta.
I don't think that's possible.
Then leave it to
the Consular Service.
They can send me
where they like.
Bombay is less crowded.
The climate is better.
The nearness of the sea
is an advantage.
I haven't asked to see my file.
What does it say?
That Lahore...
...what you did in Lahore...
People can't understand.
No matter how hard they try.
No one.
No one?
What are you doing?
Come along.
I'm listening to "India Song".
I came to India
because of "India Song".
That tune makes me
want to love.
I have never loved.
I had never loved anyone.
He saw himself photographed, in a
rocking chair by the Gulf of Oman.
Then, one morning...
...on the way to his office,
he saw her in the park... the tennis courts... white.
What a story!
What passion!
He left everything for her.
Some close friends stayed
after the reception.
The passion sometimes...
Those European suicides
that increase with the hunger
that they never suffer...
In its internal law,
that culpability of the West...
It is absurd, clear.
Shanghai... Did you see
the photos of the bombing?
The first attempt in Savannakhet...
...because of a dead body,
abandoned by its mother,
a beggar from the north,
in the government house grounds...
...outside her room...
No woman in Lahore
knew him enough... shed any light on...
- No woman.
- How terrible!
No one has ever
visited him in Lahore.
That's how he wanted to be,
a virgin alone,
waiting for love.
Death all around you,
never quite reaching you.
What are you talking about?
The Vice-Consul who is
looking for Madame Stretter.
She has been leaving receptions
more and more often.
It was bound to happen.
He is going over to
Madame Stretter.
Did you see?
How subtle!
How cleverly he saved his wife...
- Where are they going?
- Into the second drawing room.
Sooner or later the Ambassador
had to talk with him.
So you see...
He's asked for champagne.
If I've got it right,
you'd like Bombay?
But in Bombay you couldn't
have the same job as Lahore.
It's still too soon.
If you stay here for a while,
people will forget.
Or I can keep you in Calcutta.
A strange thing, a career.
If you forget Lahore,
so will others.
I won't forget Lahore.
There are remedies...
...for this sort of nervousness,
as it is called.
- You know.
- No!
At the beginning, everyone,
myself included...
...we feel the same.
It's a question of finding,
...a way of looking at things.
I haven't.
I see nothing.
Go back to Paris.
It's impossible.
The Mekong, at Savannakhet,
flowing yellow between
forest and rice fields.
In those days
the launches were slow.
It took days...
At sunset, the mosquitoes...
We couldn't see a thing.
Black clusters on the netting.
The Ambassador wrote poetry.
- It's said she discouraged it.
- The banks can't be seen when it rains.
The sky is low.
The water, muddy.
When he met her, she was so young,
and he, already...
They're great friends.
He took her away from Savannakhet?
No one knows.
She courted death in Savannakhet.
So young.
You must come with us
to the islands.
The Embassy villa
was built a long time ago.
It's worth seeing.
And also the islands
of the delta.
I'd be pleased to come.
Perhaps what she did was music...
...behind those walls.
Prisoner of that suffering, so old.
A leprosy of the heart.
Yet sometimes, in the grounds,
those tears...
The light of the monsoon... harsh...
...and her eyes so clear
that tears...
Tell me about her.
Here that means...
...nothing that you can see.
After Venice,
she gave no more concerts?
No, never.
Have they met?
They must have seen each other
in the grounds.
What is he looking at?
Madame Stretter,
dancing with the young attach.
Listen carefully,
to her voice, the accent.
Perhaps that's what
makes her seem distant.
- That origin.
- Yes, maybe that too...
I wish I were you...
...arriving here for the first time,
with the rains.
You aren't bored?
What do you do in the evenings?
On Sundays?
I read, sleep.
I don't really know.
Boredom, of course,
is so personal.
It's hard to give advice.
I don't think I'm bored.
Then again, it may not be
as serious as they say.
Thank you for sending the
parcels of books up so promptly.
A pleasure.
You know, one could say
almost nothing is
possible in India.
What do you mean?
That this general despondency...
It's neither painful nor pleasant
to live in India.
Neither easy nor difficult.
It's nothing.
You see?
You mean it's impossible?
Well... perhaps, yes.
But then, you know it's probably
an over-simplification.
The Vice-Consul is looking at you.
He's been doing so all evening.
You didn't notice?
Where is he hoping to be posted?
Here in Calcutta.
I thought you knew already.
They say you're Venetian.
My father was French.
My mother was from Venice.
I kept her name.
At first, I would have said English.
That happens.
Are there any
who never get used to it?
Almost everyone does.
Did my husband mention the islands?
I'd be pleased to come.
You write, I believe?
I once thought I could.
Did someone tell you?
Yes. But I would have guessed.
Your way of being silent.
I gave it up.
Monsieur Stretter used to write?
He used to, yes. He too,
and then...
And you?
I never tried.
You think it's not worth it,
don't you?
Well... Yes, if you like.
You play music?
Less, in the last few years.
Hard to put into words.
Tell me.
A sort of pain
is linked to music...
...for some time now, for me.
In Venice, already, very young,
18 years old,
to the point of madness.
Until a sort of suicide,
She says she no longer knows
how to play.
What's happening?
The Vice-Consul is dancing
with the Spanish ambassador's wife.
He's talking of leprosy.
Will you have to dance with him?
I don't have to do anything, but...
He was here last night...
...near the tennis courts.
He sleeps badly.
- She broke away from him...
- What happened?
Something he said,
must have frightened her.
What do people fear?
Repulsion is a feeling
you know nothing about.
I don't understand.
What do you mean?
Come to the bar.
I'm an old friend
of Madame Stretter.
We've not met.
George Crown.
Help yourselves.
There's no one at the bar.
- His words are a diversion.
- Ready to flee.
And yet...
He's still looking at you.
Seems she doesn't dare
go out in the park.
What is he talking about
with that man from the club?
Childhood. And her,
the French Ambassador's wife.
Why is he waiting to leave?
To be thrown out, probably.
- The mad beggar woman.
- The one who laughs.
It is said she's from Laos
It doesn't seem possible...
- A beggar woman is in the grounds.
- I Know.
The one who sings.
Don't you know her?
But no, you're new to Calcutta.
She sings, I believe,
a song from Savannakhet.
In Laos.
She intrigues us.
I keep thinking
it can't be possible.
We're thousands of miles
from Indochina.
How could she?
I've heard her in the avenue,
early in the morning.
It's a happy song.
Children sing it over there.
She must have come down
the river valleys.
But how did she manage
to cross the Cardamoms?
She's completely mad.
Yes. But she's alive
She comes to the islands sometimes.
No one knows.
Perhaps she follows you.
Follows the whites.
That happens. For food.
- Where is he?
- By the bar.
Drinks too much.
It'll end badly.
We could see him at night
through the window of his room.
Pacing, day and night.
Day and night.
He'd call down death
on Lahore.
And fire.
He shouted too.
Disconnected words.
And laughed.
Isn't there in each of us
a chance, just one...
...of being like him in Lahore?
But one knows about leprosy
before coming. One knows.
Perhaps he thought the gardens
were empty. In that light...
...that fog...
Look at the sky... sick.
That thickness... that dirt,
throughout the night.
He said he wanted leprosy.
He is anger itself.
Against whom?
Against what?
Doesn't need a reason.
They're dancing.
She's always loved dancing.
Some months ago, in Chandernagore,
they were found in a cheap hotel.
Trying to die together.
Hard to believe.
An ambulance back to Calcutta.
The truth came out in the end.
For no reason, they say.
"Indifference to life".
Or the opposite.
People confuse things.
No. There's a definite equivalence.
The same appearances.
People always talked about her...
...a great deal.
About that love.
And the islands.
The delta islands.
That's all they'll miss of India.
What would they have done
without them?
About heat.
About fear.
Leprosy, and hunger.
About the Vice-Consul
from Lahore...
...those dead...
About that sweetness...
We wondered:
All those books...
...those sleepless nights
in the delta.
Those tears?
India Song...
On his way to the office,
he whistled India Song.
He said to the club director:
"At home in Neuilly, in the drawing room,
there's a black piano. "
"India Song is on the music-rest. "
"My mother played it. "
"The score has been there
since she died. "
Day already.
No one speaks.
They seem to be waiting.
The tennis courts were deserted.
A bicycle was there.
I noticed they were deserted,
after she'd gone.
The air was torn apart.
Her skirt, against the trees.
She looked at me.
I didn't know you existed.
Calcutta has become
a form of hope for me.
I love Michael Richardson.
I'm not free of that love.
I know.
I love you like that,
in that love.
It doesn't matter.
I sound odd.
Do you hear my voice?
It frightens them.
Who is she?
I shot myself in Laos,
but didn't die.
The others separate me from Lahore.
I don't.
Lahore is me.
You understand too?
Yes. Don't shout.
You are with me, with Lahore.
I know it.
You are in me.
I'll take you away inside me.
We shall fire on
the Shalimar lepers.
You can't avoid it.
I didn't need to dance with you
to know you.
And you know it.
I know it.
There's no need for us to go on.
We have nothing to say
to each other.
We are the same.
I believe that.
Have love affairs with others.
We don't need that.
I wanted to know
the smell of your hair.
That explains why I...
After the reception,
your friends will stay on.
I wish I could stay
with you once.
There's no chance.
They'd throw me out.
Yes. You are someone
they have to forget.
Like Lahore.
What will become of me?
You'll be posted
far from Calcutta.
That's what you want?
Very well.
When will it end?
With your death, I believe.
What's this pain?
My pain?
About you?
I'll ask them
to let me stay tonight.
Do what you like.
To make something happen
between you and me.
A public incident.
All I know how to do
is shout.
Let them know
love can be shouted.
They'll be uncomfortable.
Then start talking again.
I even know
you'll tell no one you agreed.
Let me stay!
I'm going to stay
here tonight! With her!
Just once, with her!
Do you hear?
- What is it?
- Better do something.
How terrible.
Bound to happen.
I'm staying!
I'm going to stay
in the French Embassy!
I'm going to the islands with her!
I beg you!
I beg you!
Let me stay!
- Dreadful!
- It's terrible.
And she just stands still.
Just once!
I've never loved anyone but her!
Do go home.
You've had too much to drink.
He did it deliberately.
No sense of...
What happened?
How strange.
Impossible to understand.
It's terrible.
How dreadful!
They've got him.
He's not resisting.
He's outside. Locked out.
Laughing and crying.
Did you see?
He's forcing the gate.
The beggars are afraid.
He's gone.
- Now all is clear.
- What?
He's still shouting.
Where is she?
- In the drawing room.
- With him.
In a way,
everyone should cry.
- Don't you think?
- But...
It's a manner of speaking.
Is that the Vice-Consul
of France shouting?
Still shouting.
After the trip to the islands,
he drops out of sight.
He tenders his resignation.
The file ends
with his resignation.
Soon after?
A few days.
What's he saying?
Her Venetian name
in deserted Calcutta.
The whole night
he shouted that name.
That sound of wings, of birds?
Sunrise, here.
There... and beyond.
The air smells of mud.
And leprosy.
And fire.
- Not a breath of air?
- No.
Only very small movements...
...very slow wafts...
...of odour.
The sun.
What light!
She's listless.
Deeply absent.
The heat is rust-coloured.
Above, smoke.
The factories.
This continent, suspended?
The monsoon.
Below, Bengal.
Beneath the sky.
In a bend of the Ganges.
That whiteness.
Over there.
The English cemetery.
A car is speeding along
the straight roads,
by the Ganges.
They've left for the islands.
- Those junks?
- Rice.
On the slopes,
those dark patches?
The highest density in the world.
- Those dark mirrors, thousands of them?
- The rice fields of India.
The black Lancia has stopped.
The rain.
The roads are flooded.
They took shelter in a sala.
There, the young attach said:
"I saw the Vice-Consul
before I left".
He was still shouting in the streets.
He asked if I was going to the islands.
I said I was going to Nepal
with the Ambassador.
Did she approve of the lie?
She hardly ever mentioned
the man from Lahore.
That green colour.
It's growing larger.
The ocean.
The islands.
Which one is it?
The largest.
The central island.
They've arrived.
That white palace?
The Prince of Wales,
an international hotel.
The sea is rough.
There's been a storm.
In front, the piers.
Those ships sail
the South Pacific.
Behind, berths for yachts.
Through the trees,
the same flat horizon.
The islands are alluvial.
The mud of the Ganges.
Where's the French Embassy villa?
Beyond the hotel,
facing the ocean.
She wanted to swim
when she arrived?
It was late,
The sea rough.
It was impossible to swim,
Just let the warm waves
break over her.
She bathed with him.
Those nets everywhere in the sea?
Against the delta sharks.
Where is she?
She'll come.
She's coming.
- That evening, was she the same?
- Smiling.
Dressed in white.
Who comes to the hotel?
White India.
I can't quite remember.
Didn't she go to the
Embassy villa?
She only slept there.
She dined at the Prince of Wales,
when she went to the islands.
She had the villa's servants
sent back to Calcutta.
- How long ago?
- A few weeks.
- India Song.
- Yes.
- There's dancing in the lounge.
- Tourists from Ceylon.
These birds?
Prisoners of the island,
because of the storm.
They're in the mango trees.
They strip them.
They'll fly at dawn.
This sudden smell of death?
He had come on the last boat?
Yes, the 7 o'clock boat.
He hadn't been home all day.
He never went back to Calcutta.
When the mist came,
the wind dropped.
She had the blinds raised.
She wants to see
the ocean, the sky
above the estuaries.
They are very tired,
after last night.
She is looking outside.
I remember...
...a wall of mist comes in
toward the islands.
She says something about Venice.
Venice in the winter.
Yes, that's right.
- Venice?
- Yes.
Perhaps certain winter evenings,
in Venice,
the same mist.
She's saying the name of a colour.
The colour of the delta mist.
It was a September evening...
...during the summer monsoon...
...on the islands... 1937.
In China, the war went on.
Shanghai had just been bombed.
The Japanese were still advancing.
In Spain,
they were still fighting.
The Republic is strangled.
In Russia,
the Revolution is betrayed.
The Congress of Nuremberg
had just taken place.
Already, the beggar woman was hunting
in the warm waters of the delta.
Michael Richardson and
the young guest
had gone across
the beach to the villa.
The other two
had gone sailing.
She had wanted
to go back alone,
along the inland paths.
Behind her,
the Vice-Consul of Lahore.
He followed her to the park.
Michael Richardson and the young guest
had arrived after her.
She had gone to meet them
in the park.
They move toward one another.
They meet.
They seem to be talking.
They go toward the villa.
Once they had tried...
...tried to die together.
Without succeeding.
In a brothel,
in Chandernagore.
They'd been discovered.
At one point in the night,
she brings them champagne.
She serves them.
It's still night
when Michael Richardson
takes away the young guest.
Tears himself away from that place.
Leaves her there.
music was heard
around the Embassy villa.
The lovers of the Ganges had promised
to let each other be free,
if ever either of them
decided to die.
The young guest came back
to the villa during the night.
He saw her.
She was lying in the park,
leaning on one elbow.
He said:
"She stretched out her arm
and put her head on it. "
"The Vice-Consul of Lahore
was ten yards away. "
They didn't speak to each other. "
She must have stayed there
a long time. Till daylight.
Then she must have taken the path.
On the beach
they found the dressing gown.
And the heat was once more
the heat of Calcutta.