Originally submitted to NYC Midnight’s 2019 Short Screenplay contest. (Genre: Spy, Object: Headphones, Location: Lookout)
A trio of Pakistani siblings conspire to stop their sister’s arranged marriage by exposing their uncle’s evil intentions on tape. But when the tape goes missing, they must work to find it before it’s too late.
A scuffed up Sony Walkman is placed on a cherry oak table by a teenage boy’s hand.
The hand pushes the EJECT button on the Walkman, producing a cassette tape. It places the tape on top of the Walkman. The tape has PUNK ROCK MUGHALS scrawled across the white line sticker in black Sharpie ink. A younger hand with chipped turquoise nail polish grabs the tape and the Walkman off of the table.
The teenage boy’s hand places a set of white, Apple headphones in the Walkman’s place. The young girl’s hand grabs the headphones off of the table.
INT. SECOND FLOOR HALLWAY – DAY
GULNAZ, a 10-year old Pakistani girl with short black hair and bangs, dressed in an olive green kurta and jeans, leans over the white railing and down at the parlor, where FAIZA is sitting with KHURRAM. Gulnaz is wearing white headphones.
AURENGZEB (O.S.) Bonafides, A-Town, stole your diary without remorse 3 years ago. Music box session 24. Subject in parlor, admission secured. Next time drop 15:34, laundry room. Sanitize after transmission.
Gulnaz pushes her bangs to the side with her hand. She sighs and walks off scene down the hallway.
INT. PARLOR – DAY
FAIZA, a 20-year old Pakistani girl, sits facing down on a gaudy Victorian couch, adorned in fancy gold jewelry and wearing a flashy Pakistani wedding dress. KHURRAM, a fat, 35-year old man breathing heavily and smiling, sits next to her wearing a charcoal vest and fancy Pakistani wedding suit. Khurrams’ father, SOHAIB UNCLE, a 57-year old heavy set Pakistani man, stands over them.
SOHAIB UNCLE (Disingenuously) Mashallah, what a wonderful day.
MOTHER walks in holding up a stainless steel serving tray, a Pakistani woman who is considerably younger than SOHAIB UNCLE but looks tired.
MOTHER Faiza, eat something, you haven't touched your lunch.
Gulnaz walks by in the background. Faiza and Gulnaz make contact. Gulnaz flashes the Walkman at her sister as she walks out of sight.
FAIZA Ma, I need to use the restroom.
Faiza struggles to push herself off of the couch, pushing her clothes around. She finally gets up, walking past her Mother and out of the parlor.
INT. HALLWAY – DAY
Faiza follows Gulnaz down a long corridor. Faiza’s feet jingle from the gold jewelry hanging from her ankles.
FAIZA What are we going to do? I can't marry that asshole, he's our cousin. GULNAZ We're on it. A-Town recorded dirt on Uncle, broadcasting during the nikkah. FAIZA Okay. I have to pee. Can you get me some pakoras from the kitchen before mom puts yogurt in them?
Faiza stops at the bathroom door in the hallway, hurrying in and locking the door behind her. Gulnaz puts in her headphones and walks off scene in the other direction.
INT. LAUNDRY ROOM – DAY
Gulnaz is surrounded by piles of dirty laundry. She rummages around, looking for the admission tape. She pulls the Walkman from her tiny sling bag and starts recording.
GULNAZ (slightly panicked) Bona fides, this is Naz, I put coke in your goldfish bowl and killed him. Receipt of 13:12 transmission. Admission tape missing. Need to dry clean, possible spy. Hostage in need of pakoras.
Gulnaz pushes a button on the Walkman to stop recording. She pulls out the tape, drops it into the dirty laundry, and walks out of the room.
INT. HALLWAY – DAY
Gulnaz meets AURENGZEB, a 15 year old athletic Pakistani boy with a handsome smirk. The walls are off-white with crooked family photos hanging behind the children. The carpet is 1980s plush.
RAFI, a barefoot, scrawny 17-year old Pakistani boy with thick black-framed glasses, walks by and stops in between Gulnaz and Aurengzeb. He flexes his toes in the plush carpet.
RAFI Are we good for this broadcast? GULNAZ The tape's missing. It wasn't in the laundry room. AURENGZEB Shit, what are we going to do? Do you guys have it?
Gulnaz and Rafi shake their heads in unison.
INT. PARLOR – DAY
Faiza shifts uncomfortably. KHURRAM tries to put his arm around her. She pushes him away. He recoils and scowls.
KHURRAM You don't have to be a bitch about all of this. We could just enjoy the ride. Ha, ride. FAIZA (angry whisper) Bitch? Your dad is only doing this so he can get the property in Lahore. KHURRAM I know what your little rat siblings are up to. It's not going to work.
Khurram produces a white tape, with “ADMISSION” scrawled in Sharpie across it. Khurram smiles, reaching for Faiza’s hand. She slaps it away and gets up right as her Mother enters with another stainless steel tray of piping hot tea cups.
FAIZA I have to go to the restroom again. CUT TO:
INT. PARLOR – NIGHT
Guests are pouring in, in shimmery Pakistani outfits and tea cups in hand. A woman bends down in front of Faiza and pinches her cheeks like a child. Khurram smirks and shakes hands from the couch.
SOHAIB UNCLE We're so blessed to have everyone here. This match made in heaven.
Gulnaz appears, squeezing through the crowd towards her sister, carrying the teacup full of pakoras. She hands it to Faiza, ignoring Khurram.
GULNAZ (sarcastically) For you, my queen, upon request.
Khurram watches suspiciously. He grabs at the teacup and Gulnaz pushes his arm away. The white cassette tape falls out of Khurram’s pocket and onto the edge of the couch. He does not notice. Gulnaz eyes the tape, edging closer to it.
KHURRAM (angry whisper) Don't be disrespectful to your future brother-in-law. GULNAZ (smiling) I have enough brothers, I don't need another fat one like you.
Faiza tries to hide a laugh, lowering her gaze while Khurram rolls his eyes at Gulnaz. Gulnaz pockets the tape.
Mother walks in with another tray of snacks, looking over at Uncle Sohaib to signal the start of the engagement ceremony.
INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT
Rafi, Gulnaz, and Aurengzeb are standing in the corridor. The lively crowd conversation drones on in the background. Gulnaz produces the white tape to her brothers.
GULNAZ Fat boy slim stole it.
Aurengzeb takes the tape, looking visibly surprised. He slaps it into Rafi’s hand.
AURENGZEB Play it loud, brother.
Rafi pockets the tape into his baggy, black pants. He nods his head, shuffling slowly off scene. Rafi and Gulnaz exchange glances.
INT. PARLOR – NIGHT
A large crowd surrounds Faiza and Khurram. A voice clears his throat overhead from speakers mounted in corners of parlor room.
O.S. (RAFI) Ladies and gentlemen, a special welcome to the nikkah of Faiza and Khalid, sorry, I mean Khurram.
Mother looks alarmed, almost dropping her tea cup.
O.S. (RAFI)(CONT'D) And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah - give them tidings of a painful punishment.
Mother reaches for her scarf, pulling it overhead.
O.S. (RAFI) But amongst us is a traitor tonight. O.S. (RECORDING OF SOHAIB UNCLE) Your stupid bitch of a mother, last woman I'd think to produce a beauty. You're a 4 at best. But I'll soon have my hands on that house. 3.5 million. What a decent little dowry you are.
Crowd gasps, some people dropping their tea cups on the carpet. Mother cries and runs out of the room. Khurram’s face turns white as he balls up into a corner of couch. Sohaib Uncle pulses his temples, balling his fists, and growling angrily as he pushes his way through the crowd and off-screen. Faiza lets out a laugh. Gulnaz smiles wryly, looking around at the crowd.
Aurengzeb is seen walking by parlor, hi-fiving Rafi in the background.