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Demonstration

(This is a feeble translation of a story by Munshi Premchand. The objective is merely to exhort readers to read the original, or a better translation. This is a humorous story about five friends who set out to sell a play to a theatre group. As is usual in any business transaction, the friends try to convince the owner that their product is the best; they exaggerate and use clever strategy to impress the owner but the latter turns out to be a tad cleverer than them)

Mr Guruprasad is a jolly person, full of life. He loves music; enjoys eating and feeding; and likes theatre and excursions. But, he does not enjoy earning a sufficient enough livelihood to indulge in these pleasures. That is not to say he is dependent on anybody; no, he is righteous like any other person and is truly righteous. Guruprasad just cannot make himself stick to one work for long. He longs to launch some enterprise that will make him rich instantly; an enterprise that will rid him of all the cares in life. Ah! What joy it would be to enjoy the pleasures of life with the half-yearly interest from banks on his deposits!

Someone suggested he launch a theatre company. Guruprasad liked the suggestion. He wrote to friends informing he was launching a dramatic company, and requested them to write plays for him. The company's prospectus was prepared, and for a few months thereafter it became the talk of the town; a number of rich and influential people pledged to buy shares. However, no shares were sold and nor did the company ever come to be established.

But during this period of excitement, Guruprasad wrote a play. The big question that troubled Guruprasad was: To which dramatic company should the play be entrusted? He knew that all theatre company owners were shrewd. Besides, every group employed its own playwright; and no playwright would ever tolerate the intrusion into his territory of an outsider. The group's playwright was sure to uncover a hundred faults in the play so that it got rejected by the owner! It was decided to impress the owners personally such that the playwrights would have no say in the matter.

A five-member committee was constituted, and a plan of action formulated. Next day, the other four members arrived early to accompany Guruprasad on his visits to the offices of the theatre groups. Horse carriages arrived; harmonium, tabla, and other musical instruments were loaded into the carriages; and the party set off to stage a demonstration of the play before the owners. Yes, that was the strategy: to hold a demonstration of the play before owners so as to defeat the wicked intentions of the playwrights.

A thought suddenly struck Vinodbihari and he gave it tongue. "I say, horse carriages are old-fashioned; the owner will think we are just ordinary folks. We must not think of saving a few rupees if we wish to make an impression; I think we should hire two cars. It is all about advertising - you spend 99 rupees out of 100 on advertising and the remaining one rupee on the actual product!"

Rasiklal concurred. But he felt that instead of taking the cars on hire they should be borrowed from rich acquaintances. A Morris or the latest model of Austin was more likely to create an impression on the theatre owner than a rented car.

There was plenty of truth in what these gentlemen suggested. The better the attire of a beggar, the more charity he can expect to receive! The gentlemen fell into a discussion as to whose car could and should be borrowed. "Oh, no! Never from him! He only brings ill luck; if you happen to utter his name upon waking up, you can be sure you are in a for a bad day!" "How about Shethji?" "Shethji! His cars are reserved for officers. He doesn't allow even his son to sit in the cars. You want to borrow his car!!" "Let's go to Mr Kapoor, then. He has purchased a new car." "Don't mention his name! He will come up with some excuse or the other: the chauffeur is away; the car needs repairs."

The discussion made Guruprasad restless. "You are raising unnecessary objections! What's wrong in going in a horse carriage?"

"You have lost your wits! It is one thing to write a play and a completely different thing to convince theatre owners to accept it. If you don't take these measures, you will return with your bare face hanging out!" Vinodbihari told him.

"I don't think it is worthwhile to request rich people to lend their cars," Amarnath said. "It would be more effective if we were to walk; everyone, then, would appreciate our commitment. Once there, we can create an impression much deeper than any car can make."

Vinodbihari leaped off the carriage, and the others followed suit. As they walked, they discussed how to start the negotiations; how to impress the dramatist; and how to project the play so that it found favour with the owner.

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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu