LoveBeats - CONFIDENTIAL
New Delhi, India. A tabla-maker’s apprentice stumbles upon his life’s desire when a rich, gifted and wild-spirited young dancer enters the store he works in and mistakes him for the boss. He falls head over heels for her.
For the young beauty, this is nothing new. In fact she’s thinking she’s losing her edge appeal. She’s come to find a new Bollywood dance style instead of going west like her competitors, and it looks like only the apprentice can play well enough to pique her fancy. Nobody, not even the real boss can touch the kid.
So, there being no other suitable candidates to play with, she challenges the young man to show her three unique, original and grand romantic gestures to win her heart and soul forever.
The first challenge will be to keep her interest in him. Not an easy thing to do, she tells him, she’s been dancing all her life, and on stage since she was six, pretty much every day, since that time.
The second challenge will be to win her heart, over all other men.
And the last challenge will be to blend their two souls together as one, indivisible even by death.
The first challenge: the beat. He must come up with an original tabla rhythm that she hasn’t danced to before.
He tries many times - and fails, many times.
Now comes a wrinkle - because of bad weather in Mumbai, the Bollywood crew will move to Delhi to shoot her dance scene at the sumptuous stage she has rented to rehearse in.
The kid is running out of time.
In desperation, he approaches his boss’s boss, who was an international tabla master before losing his wife and apparently going mad with grief.
The Mad Master has left his tabla business to his handsome but pedestrian son, who has in turn left all the work to the kid and other apprentices, and instead spends his time in high society, frittering the family fortune away.
With a hint from his mad mentor in the form of a private notebook, the kid incorporates into his own style some concepts and ideas outside the traditional Indian tabla rhythms - and his own comfort zone.
He finally gets a begrudging ‘pass’ from her, and she moves on without further comment. Apparently, he’s kept her attention - for the moment.
Her second challenge: play the same rhythmical influence, but on an instrument she’s never heard before.
The young man ends up with a self-made combination of the oldest and the newest of hand drums - an ancient goblet drum, but equipped with modern electronics of the young man’s design, made out of an old synth drum found by his best buddy in a trash dump.
Again a bare pass. She hasn’t heard of an instrument like that before, but the sounds are familiar.
Good enough for Bollywood, she tells him, but he still has a long way to go to win her heart, let alone share her soul.
But the clock runs out. The film crew arrives, and it’s up to the kid to provide the rhythm that will take the dancer to stardom.
The kid receives a double shock: first, that the girl is not dancing for him at all, but for the cameras, and the second is that her Bollywood boyfriend has arrived with the crew and lays claim to her.
The kid plays on, determined to keep his side of the bargain anyway.
The beat that finally gets her feet moving is a combination of Indian, Arabic and Spanish flamenco rhythms that catches her inspiration for just a few moments - before she recognizes his idea and stops.
The crew and audience applauds widely but she goes over to him and tells him what styles his “original” beat was made up of. Combining outside rhythms was pretty good, but still amateur. He has to do more, better next time.
In the meantime, the boss’s son’s girlfriend denounces the kid for who he is - not the true boss’s son at all, and the son takes the kid’s place on stage. The film crew doesn’t care less - they can cut out the kid’s footage and replace it with the handsome son’s face throughout, not a problem, this is Bollywood magic.
The dancer doesn’t seem to care either, and the kid leaves the stage, his hopes fully dashed. He determines never to be a servant kid again.
However, at the tabla shop, another problem ensues: the boss’s son has left for Mumbai with the dancer and the rest of the film crew, and the boss had a delivery errand for the son to run. This is a list of his most precious and best personal tablas to be delivered to other tabla masters outside India, in some countries a long way away.
With nothing left to lose, the young man takes the delivery job and leaves on his journey.
As he arrives in neighboring Pakistan and delivers the mad master’s first drum, the kid realizes that the Pakistan master’s drums are slightly different in design and tone to his own, and for the first time, real curiosity about his craft is stirred. He plays a little with the Pakistani master before moving on to his next delivery - but not empty-handed, for the Pakistani master gifts a precious drum of his own in return.
In Istanbul, he meets with the drum master whose boss’s boss’s boss turned the first ever tablas made from aluminium - all previous to that were turned from copper. Again, the drum itself and the style of playing, while still recognizable to his own, has changed again. And again, the kid receives the priceless gift of a Turkish drum of the rarest and finest build.
And again in Cairo, where the young kid starts to get used to the idea of traveling into the unknown, and starts to relax, enjoy himself - and really come into his own in discussing his own experiences with his mad master and his craft.
Then, in Morocco, he gifts the wooden doumbek master with the Mad Master’s drum, and learns that the Africa of the pre-historic man was full of drum beats and dances - but all over Africa, not just on the west and east coasts as previously thought. In those days, before global warming, all of Africa was green, and drum designs came from everywhere on the continent.
However, the kid has one last drum to deliver - to a group of masters who are the direct descendants of the earliest royal drum makers on the planet - near Lake Victoria, in Uganda.
Again, his reception there is incredible: it seems every drum master in the world knows about India’s mad master, and his gift to them is treated with the rarest of respects from the oldest practitioners of the most ancient of human crafts.
All this time, the kid has carried with him his very special and unique drum, which he has played with others but kept to himself, declining all offers to sell or exchange it.
And after this last delivery, the kid, now finally grown into a man, plays at the shores of Lake Victoria and realizes that there’s one place he still needs to visit before he returns home: Lake Tanganyika, the seat of humanity, and the source of the oldest drum beat on the planet.
He travels there, to the shores of the second oldest lake on the planet…
where the girl, now a movie star, finds him and tells him it took him long enough to figure himself out.
Come on, she says, let’s go home. We have unfinished business to attend to.
Back in the stage in India, the kid-now-man pushes back to get access to the dancer’s last challenge: he challenges her to beat him.
She makes him dance with her.
He makes her play with him.
Their friendly competition goes out of control where she challenges him to beat her dancing with his drums.
Because his instrument combines the oldest rhythmical instrument with the newest, he beats her.
But he is still short of winning her heart, let alone her soul.
They spend time together as a couple before she finally gives her last challenge to him: she would like him to show her a place of magic, where they can play and dance together forever.
He replies that he’s just a poor instrument maker and cannot afford such a place.
She tells him to be patient and wait for inspiration. She will know if he’s the right one for her.
The poor man does so and eventually inspiration does come - with permission, he takes his mad master’s abandoned old auditorium and transforms it into a magical space, just for him to play and her to dance in.
While it’s obvious that he’s won her heart the moment she steps into that magical place, it’s not in her nature to give in so easily, so she challenges him more - he has to play for her with the unique instrument he has created for himself, in such a way that he inspires her dance to unite their souls forever.
He uses everything he’s learned, on the one-of-a-kind instrument he has designed and perfected himself, and beats her at her own challenge.
She is starting to love him and only him - but like the Bollywood warhorse she’s already become, she can’t stand defeat.
She calls for divine inspiration - and that’s when an undead spirit that’s been living in the haunted house descends into her and literally lifts her off her feet.
The kid realizes that he’s now way out of his depth and tries to stop - but cannot. He’s possessed as well, entranced by the beauty and power of the girl in front of him, dancing like she’s possessed - because she is, literally, possessed.
The spirit talks through the girl and stakes her eternal claim on the kid, who is playing her rhythm, the beat to her soul. She moves to the kid to take his soul to be with hers…
Only it’s the wrong soul she’s after.
She’s actually after the soul of the mad master, for this is the spirit of his dead wife, pledged to remain with her love for all time.
But she’s been dead so long now, and un-aging, that she thinks the young kid is her love, since his beat is the only one she recognizes.
The Mad Master, summoned by the rhythm, recognizes the spirit instantly. He appeals to her, but she looks at the old man through the eyes of the dancer and rejects him.
Now it’s up to the Mad Master to prove his soul to his love, one more time.
He sets up next to the kid, who’s been furiously playing all this time, and starts to play.
Instantly, the kid remembers the rhythms of his master as he sat beside him as a young orphan child, taken in off the garbage dumps by the younger master and his beautiful dancer wife…
The two drummers, master and apprentice, play side by side. At first, the two rhythms are the same, and the dancer and the ghost within her move to the same beat.
But then the mad master shows his genius - beat by beat, his own rhythm diverges, ever so slightly, from that of his apprentice.
And with that, the spirit of his dead wife, so completely tuned with the beat of her love, recognizes her own base frequency and overtone and timbre and finally rhythm, and splits away from the dancer’s body. The dancer, attuned to the kid’s rhythm, stays put in her own soul, which is forever tuned to that of the young master.
But the spirit now has nowhere left to go. And the mad master knows there’s only one thing left to do.
His drumming reaches mythical proportions - his drums glow. And with a final flourish, the Mad Master, now no longer mad, departs the earth.
And with that, the spirit lets go of the kids and joins her one true love, forever departing the netherworld she has kept herself in out of love for him, and the two spirits are reunited so they can move on.
The young couple redo the old house and start a new school for drumming and dancing after having performed in world tours, lived a full and creative life, and gained a family and fortune of their own.