This is a work of fan-fiction, using characters from the Indian Epic ‘Mahabharata’, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Breaking Bad, and a popular superhero from Indian TV series, Shaktimaan.
A Swyamvar is an ancient Indian ritual of marriage among Princely clans where the bride chooses her own groom out of numerous suitors, in an elaborate ceremony.
“Good Morning students.”
“Good Morning Sir!”
The Pandavas rose up from their seats to greet their Guru, Dronacharya, as he entered the hall. As the Guru removed his coat, Bheem rushed hastily to take it from him. “Ah, here, Sir! Let me have it!” “That’s kind of you, thanks”, Dronacharya muttered cheerfully, and as Bheem went to hang it on the peg, Drona rubbed his palms together, glancing around his students who looked back at him innocuously.
“So, Arjun, you are nervous, aren’t you?”, he winked at him. Arjun flushed. He stuttered, “Oh, why would..I be! No, of course not!”
Bheem had returned to his place. Drona laughed, “Well, because its official now. Draupadi is going to be married through a Swyamvar.”
The boys looked at him in rapt attention. Draupadi was a luscious, beautiful and voluptuous princess-next-kingdom. They all had come to weave bathroom-fantasies of making love to her in postures as varied as those mentioned in the book called Kamasutra, that they had kept hidden in their attic. For Bheem, the very reason he started reading the hallowed book was Draupadi herself. He lacked in imagination, and the same old missionary style fantasy was proving too little to rouse him these days. The book had proved to be a carnal inspiration. However, what pose was a Swyamvar?
He asked Drona, “Sir, but how do you do a Swyamvar?”
“Arjun, why don’t you explain to your brother?”
“Its a sort of competition, you know. You go there in your best suite, stand in the queue of the suitors. The girl comes with a garland in her hand. And she puts the garland in the neck of the man she finds the best for herself. You just pray it is you.”
Bheem pondered aloud, “So its all about the looks? But a girl looks for finer details about a man’s personality, well, all of which aren’t revealed by the face itself…”.
He was cut short by Nakul. “I know what you mean, and I tell you, the face does tell quite a few things about your, quote, finer details, unquote, too. For example, the size and shape of the nose is a good indication about…you know, the finer detail a girl would be interested in. Isn’t that right Guruji?”
Dronacharya felt everybody’s attention shift to himself. Suddenly, he grew very conscious of his little, crooked nose. He cried, flustered, “Oh of course not! Such things you can never tell! And how base of you to bring up such things with your Guru around you! Shut up now, will you?”
Everybody grew silent. Drona resumed, “Talking of looks, this Swyamvar is not just about looks. There are two qualifying rounds. The candidate scoring maximum marks will automatically be selected to marry the bride, unless she exercises her veto power.”
Arjun squirmed. “What veto?”
Before Drona could answer, Nakul had gotten there. “Why, don’t you see! Lets have it that a chap blasts his way to the top of both the rounds, and before you know it, he is standing before Draupadi, ready to be garlanded. And Draupadi looks at this fellow, a short, gawky guy. And her sight stops on his nose. A little, crooked one. Of course she’ll be disappointed. There comes the veto. Right, Guruji?”
Drona coughed. “Well, something like that”, and after a moment of suppressed irritation, he added irritably, “Although a small nose doesn’t mean shit.”
Nakul added hurriedly,”But of course, Sir. I didn’t mean..”
Drona ignored him and continued, “One kingdom can send only one prince, as the rules say. Since I notice that all of you are equally inclined to participate,we’ll go for a screening test. May the best groom participate!”
The next day, all the five of them stood in the orchard, wielding their bows. Drona spoke aloud behind them. “Now, I want you guys to aim at the little plastic bird’s eye hanging down that branch. One by one, you shall take aim. And shoot when I tell you to. Yudhistira, you gofirst.”
Yudhistira took his stance and aimed. Drona spoke, “Tell me, O eldest one, what do you see?”
Yudhistira replied, “Well, what am I supposed to see? Everything, I guess!”, and turned around, beaming at his brothers. Sahadev winked at him.
Drona smirked, “Very well. Not your cup of tea, bro. Bheem!”
Bheem picked up his bow and took his stance. “What do you see?” “Sir, I see the bird, I see the branches, and I see the canopy of leaves all around. In summary, 150 degrees, unobstructed vision, Sir! “
Drona dismissed him, shaking his head. “Roger that. Get lost. Next!”
Arjun went up. He prostrated himself in front of Drona to seek the blessings of his Guru, and as he rose up, he strung his bow. The atmosphere was tense and puzzling at the same time. Nakul couldn’t hold it any longer. “Sir, excuse me, but what do you mean when you ask that question? What is one supposed to see?” Drona smiled. “I have given you enough archery lessons. You tell me.” Nakul looked at Sahadev, who looked back at him quizzically. They shrugged. Drona gave a chuckle, and turned to Arjun. “Well, Arjun, what do you see?”
Arjun stood as if in a trance. His left arm, steady over his chest, holding the bow which appeared as light as a feather now, and the right arm tugging at the string, till his thumb could almost feel it cut through. His vein-lets on his temples were gorged as he stood, with his triceps asserting themselves around the arm band. Quietly, he spoke, “Sir, I see the eye. Just the eye.”
“Shoot!”, cried Drona, and before Nakul or Sahadev could realize, the plastic bird was dangling in the branch with an arrow in its eye.
Drona turned to the nonplussed twins, laughing mirthlessly, “See, boys? What were you talking about? Finer details, huh? Now you can go and blow your big, proud noses.”
James Bond had just finished with the blonde girl he had picked up last night when he phone beeped. “M”.
“Bond, I just got intel that a huge consignment of meth from Walter White is going to be delivered at a rendezvous. Expecting a high profile target with the consignment. May be a white collared one.”
“I see. Whats the rendezvous?”
“A marriage ceremony. Draupadi is the girl’s name. I want you to bust the consignment.”
“Noted. Anything else you want me to know?”
“Eliminate the resistance, if it is posed. But I don’t want to blow this up. Please.”
Bond smiled. “You got it, M”.
Nakul whispered to Arjun, “Boy, this is some real shit! Look at this place!”
The hall was decked in red carpet, with stripes of muslin running across it so that it was divided into rectangular blocks. Each block had a table, and guests occupied it with comfort and awe, sipping on their glasses, which numerous waiters and butlers rushed to refill. Three huge chandeliers lit up the entire hall, and the light shimmered giving an almost surreal feeling. Soft, classical music played on the stereo, and the walls had not a spot which was left unpaved with bouquets of flowers. Down the hall was the stage, where a couple of huge thrones, decorated in red and exotic flowers, sat unoccupied.
“What’s those thrones for?”, Arjun quizzed. Drona whispered in excitement, “Its for you, boy, don’t you see! Once we are done with this Svwaymvar, you and your bonnie bride shall be posing for the paparazzi over there!” Arjun laughed, shaking his head.
Two tables opposite, Sherlock Holmes nestled comfortably in his chair. Watson had settled well into his nuptial life, and a life of bachelorhood had finally got the better of himself. So when he read the advertisements about the Svwaymvar, he decided to contest. After all, he was the consulting detective, the high functioning sociopath!
“What shall I get you, Sir?”, the bartender politely asked.
“Well, one dry martini, with a small hit of vodka, a couple drops of gin, some lemon. Add no fruits.”
“Very well, sir.”
James Bond sipped on his drink and surveyed the area. He didn’t need to dress up for this occasion; he was always impeccably dressed. He saw Sherlock in a distance, looking around like a dog in Times Square. So that’s was the end for him, wasn’t it? Bond chuckled at the thought. Well, nothing of this sort for him. He was already married to action.
The Bride had entered the hall. Everyone rose up and bowed to her as she passed them. She wore an expensive, red Saaree, which was delicately embroidered. She looked ravishing. Arjun’s mouth dropped. Slowly, she walked up the stage and settled on one of the thrones. Sherlock studied her. “Kohl lines, dark, yet surrounded by a penumbra which perhaps is due to dabbed cotton. Lots of make-up rectifications, which means certainly she wants to look her best. Constantly fidgeting with her gold bangles, certainly she is not used to wearing them. Lip gloss has already begun to fade, which only suggests either she has had too many glasses of water out of her nervousness, or simply that she has been kissing someone….”. His chain of thoughts were broken as the murmur died down all of a sudden.
The music dimmed as the anchor went up the stage on the microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen”, she beamed, “Welcome to Draupadi’s Swyamvar!” A loud applause followed. Some overexcited guests raised their glasses to her, nodding pleasantly. She waited till the response mellowed, smiling and nodding around. She continued, “I won’t take much of your time as I can tell that you are already riding on your nerves. This Swyamvar shall consist of two rounds. First round, it will be a poker game. King Drupad, the bride’s father and a Las Vegas champion of the game, shall also be playing. Second round will be an round to test your concentration, aim and shooting skills: you have to put an arrow, or a bullet if you please, through the bull’s eye you see stationed over the end of the aisle.” Arjun glanced in that direction. He saw a painted target hinged on its edge, about which it rotated slowly. “Shall not be too tough”, Arjun said to himself.
The anchor continued, “Based upon the cumulative performance in both the rounds, the winner will be decided. Now gentlemen, please take your places at the poker table. The first round is about to begin.”
Charles Augustus Magnussen was having a lot of amusement that evening. He held his glass of scotch and quietly studied people. The bride was certainly intriguing. He fixed his glance at her, and his Appledore immediately turned up with information:
TASTES: Royal, Renaissance
PORN PREFERENCE: Group, Many-on-one
“Ah!”, he sighed. “Group! I will not be surprised if she happens to be a polyandrous bitch with husbands as many as five.”
“Excuse me, Sir”, a waiter interrupted, “but you need to move to the poker table. The game is about to commence.”
Within two hours, the number of participants fell drastically. Stakes were quite head, and King Drupad was a good bluff. On the table remained now Arjun, Bond and Sherlock himself.
“I say five hundred thousand dollars. Your call, Bond.”, the King said, betraying no expression. Bond considered his options. “Raise.”
Everyone looked at the King. Bond whispered, “Your majesty, may we start putting stakes in kind? Your majesty is an emperor with no dearth of paper bills. If you kindly allow non-monetary stakes, common mortals like us may get a more even field”.
The King guffawed. “Of course, why not! In fact, in our olden days, we could put anything on stake! Land, kingdom, family, everything! Name it, my dear guest!”
Bond looked into the eyes of the King. He said, slowly, stressing upon each word. “In which case, family it shall be. If I win, I disrobe your daughter. Right here. That’s the stake.”
Everybody gasped. The King turned red with anger. His palm closed into a fit, yet a man of honor that he was, he said through gritted teeth, “You have it. And if you lose, you will be executed, right here.”
Bond smiled and nodded. “Show”.
The king turned over his cards. “Straight flush”, the conductor declared. The hall broke into a loud applause. The King turned his chest outwards, proudly, and looked at Bond in a challenge. Bond sighed, and threw his cards on the table. “Full house. Winner, Mr. Bond!”
The hall went into a eerie silence. Arjun felt his palms go numb. What now?
The anchor was back on the microphone. “So now, we begin with the second round. Gentlemen, one by one, you have to take turns shooting at the revolving target…”
Bond stood up. “I would like to exercise the right to disrobe the princess while this round proceeds. It will serve as good test of concentration for the shooters, won’t it?”, he said crookedly.
The King was helpless. He buried his face in his palms, while bond approached the princess.
Karna, a nearby kingdom heir, wielded the bow and aimed at the target. He heard Draupadi protest. “For God’s sake, spare me! This is unfair! What happened to the chivalry in the world! You..” He could not concentrate. He glanced aside to see Bond grab the end of her saaree in a swift jab, and Draupadi struggling to get free. Quickly he moved away his glance on the target. He shot. And missed.
Arjun tried hard to concentrate. Draupadi was semi-clad now, shrieking for help, while Bond lecherously kept tugging at whatever shred of cloth he could lay his hands on. This was too much for him. His hands trembled. He tried hard to keep them steady, but somehow they wouldn’t just calm down. Drona shook his head. Arjun’s bow went off with a twang, and Drona didn’t have to check the target to tell the outcome. It was a miss.
Sherlock sat there calmly, observing the proceedings, as Magnussen took his gun and aimed. Very focused, very calm, hands rock steady. Something struck Sherlock odd.
“Hands very steady, eyes fixed on the target. This man certainly has an aim in his mind. Now he is moving his arms in an arc, in sync with the movement of the target. Normally they hold it still, waiting for the target to come in line. What is he trying to do? Now he shifts his left leg, ever so slightly. Balance centered on the right leg. Hands are still moving in the arc, but the eyeballs stay focused. At a single spot! Hands transitory, eyes fixed. Certainly, the aim is not where his eyes point to. Balance on the right. When the shot is fired, coriollis effect due to gun rotation would give a swing to bullet’s trajectory, and a slight change of balance at the point means that the bullet is going away from the target to another, bigger target which is, let us say, a twenty arc lengths away. He is not shooting at the bull’s eye! He is aiming at Bond!”
Sherlock yanked out his gun, and two reports were heard. Magnussen lay dead with a bullet in his head, and his bullet went, grazing Bond’s ear, into Draupadi’s neck. There was a stampede. People ran for their lives, screaming, causing a massive uproar. Sherlock made his way through the maddening crowd to Draupadi. Bond stood there, dusting his jacket off.
“Where was it?”
Bond held up her bra. “Heard of paddings, detective? She was concealing in into her bra pads. Very high quality meth. As soon as I saw her rack, I could tell it wasn’t just her rack. I have seen of all kinds. This was different. All this drama to drive her to a point of exasperation and reveal herself.”
Sherlock nodded. “Magnussen must be her ally.”
Bond pocketed the bra and began making his way out. Arjun called after him. “But who are you!”
“Name’s Bond. James Bond.”
He got into his Aston Martin and spread the dope on the steel tray. Dissolved some of it into a small vial of distilled water, and filled it up a syringe. He was almost injecting it into his vein, when he saw a form in the rear mirror. He turned back.
“Duniya ko burai se bacha kar khud hi uska shikar ban jate ho?”
Bond flushed. “Sorry, Shaktimaan!”