Business Is War by Deepak Morris
This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent
The curtain rises on the cabin / office of George. There is a desk and executive chair behind it, Stage L. There is a sofa set Stage R. Various posters depicting the ad agency’s work adorn the back wall. George and his secretary, Priya, are onstage.
GEORGE Priya, take a letter
PRIYA Okay, which letter, and where do you want me to take it?
Goes to George’s desk and starts rifling through the papers on it
GEORGE Are you trying to be funny?
PRIYA No, are you?
GEORGE Why are you asking me that?
PRIYA Well, you asked me first
GEORGE Oh, never mind… just take a letter, will you?
GEORGE Take – down – the – letter – I’m – about – to – dictate.
PRIYA Oh – why didn’t you say so in the first place?
Sits and starts writing in her writing pad
GEORGE Never mind. Now take this down… To M/s Ghatpande and Pimple
Priya starts writing, then stops abruptly
PRIYA My God, they’re really bold aren’t they?
GEORGE Uh? Who?
PRIYA These guys? Won’t they be caught by the police?
GEORGE Which guys? What are you talking about?
Priya reads from her notes
PRIYA Ghatpande and Pimps Lay….
GEORGE Pimple – Pimple…… P-I-M-P-
PRIYA I know how to spell that….
GEORGE Will you please let me finish? P-I-M-P-L-E
Priya starts writing again
GEORGE Dear Sirs, reference your recent correspondence vis-à- vis your forthcoming clearance sale of “Huggable” Lingerie stop. Line – With reference to the above, we have noted that you are holding a large number of brassieres and –
Priya starts giggling
GEORGE What is it?
PRIYA I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I keep thinking of Ghatpande and his pimps holding brassieres…..
George looks heavenwards
Priya continues to giggle
GEORGE Priya… Priya… PRIYA!!
PRIYA Uh…. What?
GEORGE Have you been sent to earth just to torment me? Never mind, just continue….
Priya starts giggling again
GEORGE Now what happened?
PRIYA Nothing…. You told me to continue
GEORGE I meant continue the letter
GEORGE …and would like to liquidate your stock as soon as possible. We require a brief from you….
PRIYA But I thought they had too many brassieres…. Why are you asking them for briefs?
GEORGE a brief from you outlining the salient features of your product…
PRIYA Oh… Sorry…
GEORGE so that we can formulate a proper advertising campaign. We need to know why women should wear your brassieres…
PRIYA I can help you with that, I’m a woman you know… Women should wear brassieres because –
GEORGE My – Dear – Woman, I know why women wear brassieres. Will you please take it down as I say without interrupting?
PRIYA Okay, no need to bite my head off
George looks heavenwards
GEORGE If only I could…. Now I’ve lost the thread…. Can you read the last part back to me please?
Priya continues writing… George waits… Priya finishes writing and looks up at George, still not responding to his request. George waits. After a pause
GEORGE Can you read the last part back to me please?
PRIYA Oh sorry, I thought you were still dictating. We need to know why women should wear your brassieres. If only I could, now I’ve lost the thread…
GEORGE What the heck was that?
PRIYA That’s what you said. We need to know why women should wear your brassieres. If only I could, now I’ve lost the thread. Though I just can’t see why you want to wear…
GEORGE I do NOT want to wear anything – oh, never mind. Just delete the last part and continue, please… Any product leaflets or brochures would help our creative team in formulating the ideal advertising campaign to push your products. Thank you, etc. etc. Now have that typed out and keep it ready for my signature.
PRIYA Yes General
PRIYA Yes…. That’s what we call you because you’re always saying “Business is War”. I hope you don’t mind
GEORGE No, I don’t mind. Oh, and call me a taxi will you?
PRIYA Okay, you’re a taxi
GEORGE No, I meant get me a taxi
PRIYA Oh, when do you want it?
GEORGE Half an hour from now is fine. And oh yes, call that model co-ordinator – what’s his name – Shailesh – and tell him we need a lingerie model immediately. And please tell him she must have a chaperone this time. We had enough trouble with the last one and that client.
PRIYA Ok, General
Priya exits, then comes right back in
PRIYA Er, did you say she had to have a chap of her own?
PRIYA The model.
GEORGE Chap of her own? No no, a chaperone. A person who – never mind, just give me the number and I’ll call him myself. And while you’re out there, just check up on those painters and see if they need anything.
PRIYA Which painters?
GEORGE Those guys who are painting the outer office.
PRIYA Shailesh’s number is 98230 66666. I remember it because when you say 66666 fast it sounds like –
GEORGE Never mind what it sounds like, just go and help those painters
GEORGE Drive someone else crazy for a change.
George crosses to his desk and picks up the telephone, dials. As he waits for the connection, he keeps mouthing 66666 to himself, puzzled about what it sounds like)
GEORGE Ha Shailesh, George here. Kya Haal Hai?2 … Good good…. Really? Bollywood eh? Good break for her, man... now why did I call you?… there were a couple of things… hold on….
PRIYA They need a stripper
GEORGE They need a stripper… WHAT?
PRIYA They need a paint stripper to get the old paint off
George glares. Priya backs off
GEORGE Listen, Shailesh… I need a lingerie model. Yes, female of course. Not too pricey…. Client is a bit stingy… … yes, yes I know they all are…. Half an hour? Okay. And hey, make sure she has a chaperone this time. Last time the client pinched her and I got slapped…… No I don’t think it’ll work if I pinch her and the client gets slapped… Either way I lose…… Half an hour? Okay.
George puts the phone down, then addresses Priya
GEORGE What’s all this about a stripper?
PRIYA The painters. They need a paint stripper to get the old paint off and then they can put on the new coat. You see, until they get the old paint off completely –
GEORGE Okay, okay. Take the money from petty cash and tell them to get what they need. And listen. Shailesh said he’ll send the model over in half-an-hour. So cancel that taxi and send her straight in when she comes.
PRIYA Okay, General.
Lights fade to black
The same place, half an hour later. George is seated at his desk, writing. Every once in a while he looks up into the distance and mouths words to himself, as if trying out a word or phrase. Enter Mrs. Daga, an imposing woman of indeterminate age. George does not see her, preoccupied as he is
MRS. DAGA Ahem… excuse me…..
GEORGE Ah… there you are, Priya sent you in, did she?
MRS. DAGA There was no one at the reception, so I came straight in….
GEORGE Now where’s that woman gone off to? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Hmm… a bit on the heavy side, but I guess you can’t get much for what we pay these days… all the good ones go to Bollywood and the bad ones come on Fashion TV… ha ha…
George inspects Mrs. Daga from all sides, concentrating, to her discomfort, on her bust
GEORGE Well, no problem, we can use you for the “Double D size” shoot… OK Dear, you can go in there and take your clothes off… Let’s see what you look like.
MRS. DAGA I beg your pardon?
GEORGE Come come now, I haven’t got all day. Off with your clothes, Miss.
MRS. DAGA My name is Mrs. Daga, and I am –
GEORGE Mrs., is it? So sorry, just didn’t expect a married woman to be doing this sort of thing… but it’s a new world, eh? Husbands don’t mind all this sort of thing nowadays. Just let me look you over and we can discuss your charges.
MRS. DAGA What are you talking about, young man? I am Mrs. Daga, Managing Director of Thumtax Software Exports. I do not take my clothes off for any man.
GEORGE No children, I guess? Oh… Mrs. Daga… I’m so sorry Ma’am, I didn’t realise… I…. You… I mean… I thought you were Shailesh’s girl… I mean….
MRS. DAGA Stop blubbering, little man… I’m here because I heard that your agency does some fine work. I believe you handle the Choke account, and you really gave Poopsi something to worry about. Well, Thumtax needs a good agency and we’d like to see what you can do for us.
GEORGE Thumtax? Us? Yippee…. I mean… we’d be glad to… I mean….
MRS. DAGA There you go again… How you run an agency is beyond me. But I’ve seen your work and I like it. We’re looking at the US market and we need a couple of well-designed campaigns. Do you think you can handle it?
GEORGE Campaigns? US market? Of course, of course Mrs. Daga, we’d be honoured. I’ll personally take your briefs… er, your brief and trust me, we’ll come up with a campaign that’ll knock the socks off those Yankees… yes sir er... Ma’am, we’ll teach those Yankees a thing or two –
MRS. DAGA That will do, little man. You can come in tomorrow for a brief and I expect a presentation by next Saturday. I trust a week will be enough? Oh, and by the way, I take it you’re married? I only deal with married men. In my experience, they’re the only ones with any sense of responsibility and the only men – hmph – that can deliver on time.
GEORGE I thought delivery was the privilege of women… ha ha ha er... Yes Ma’am oh yes, I’m married… no fears on that account… good, solid marriage, lasted 30 years – er, 5 years already.
MRS. DAGA Good. What does your wife do?
GEORGE Do? Oh… ah… she’s an excellent cook
George sees that Mrs. Daga is not impressed, continues
GEORGE er… and she does miniature paintings... Oh yes, miniature paintings, inspired by the Moghlai era, you know, very tasty – er – talented.
MRS. DAGA Good. I am a patron of the arts myself and I have been dying to meet a good artist. And there aren’t many around, nowadays, they’ve all gone to the USA to tinker with software and lap dancers. I shall be glad to meet a true artist who has not prostituted her talents for filthy money and Social Security. Bring her with you when you come on Monday and I’ll have a little chat with her.
GEORGE She… er… I mean… she’s not too well, you know, and your office is in the industrial zone… all that pollution… her poor lungs can’t take it. So I guess you can’t meet her then.
MRS. DAGA Nonsense. If she can’t come to my office, I shall come here.
GEORGE Er… by all means.
MRS. DAGA Good. Then I shall be here tomorrow at 10 o’clock to meet your wife. Make sure she’s here. Goodbye.
Mrs. Daga exits. George does a little dance
GEORGE The Thumtax account, yeah! Oh my god. Where the heck am I going to get a wife on such short notice?
Enter Priya wearing an apron with splotches of paint on it
PRIYA Wow! I didn’t know stripping was so much fun. You know General, my Daddy used to say-
GEORGE Never mind all that, Priya. We’re in a fix. Mrs. Daga from Thumtax was here.