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Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
May the force be with you!
CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE

An epic Star Wars conversation—if the characters were desi

Star Wars is not just religion, but all human faith. The Jedi, the Sith, and the Force, these echo beliefs, ideals and heroes that appear in all the world’s great traditions.

That’s why it’s so damned popular. All of us can like it, even as all of us find something different in it that tugs at our souls.

As a young kid, I loved fantasy, I longed to escape into alternate universes, but I also wrote my own myths and legends. I believed I was not just some kid in a small town, but the central character in a galactic drama, maybe the second in an obviously bipolar dynasty, who stood for the light and against the dark, but struggled very much against the terms imposed on me by the world without.

They didn’t cast me in the latest movie. So I thought I’ll rewrite the last scenes of Return of the Jedi, the final episode before The Force Awakens.

STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI

South Asian Edition

ABOARD THE DEATH STAR

Featuring

Luke Skywalker, brother to Leia, friend to Han Solo, student of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the last of the Jedi. Luke majors in philosophy and wants to backpack through the Hosnian system after the war. Luke has arrived aboard the Death Star to strike a blow for the Rebel Alliance, so he could live his dream without trouble.

Emperor Palpatine, M.D., previously Senator Palpatine from Naboo, then Chancellor, and currently Emperor of the Galaxy, the Sith who destroyed the Jedi and the Republic for which it stands, after a thousand years of peace. Palpatine hopes to turn Luke to the Dark Side and become his latest apprentice, Darth Moghul.

Darth Vader, M.D., previously Anakin Skywalker, Luke and Leia’s father, Han Solo’s father-in-law, the disciple of Darth Sidious, the second-most powerful figure in the Empire.

Luke has arrived at the Emperor’s Office. While he plans to kill the Emperor and rescue his father, the Rebel Alliance is preparing a surprise strike on the Death Star.

Emperor Palpatine: Welcome, young Skywalker. I have been expecting you. You no longer need those. [Uses the Force to disable Luke’s handcuffs.] Nurses, leave us. [Pauses.] I’m looking forward to your graduation, and your medical studies. In time, you will be a doctor.

Luke: You’re gravely mistaken, Emperor.

Emperor Palpatine: You mean Doctor Palpatine.

Luke: Really, you’re Darth Sidious, you killed your master, you caught everyone with their pants down, you took over the Senate, you wiped out the Republic and with it a Jedi order that stood for a thousand years, you’re the Emperor of the entire Galaxy, and you want to go with Doctor?

Emperor Palpatine, M.D.: Oh yes, Luke. You will find, my young future radiologist, that it is you who are mistaken. About a great many things. For example, the cost of living on Coruscant.

Luke: You’re wrong. Soon I’ll be dead, and you with me.

Palpatine: [laughing] Perhaps you refer to the imminent attack of your ‘Rebel Fleet’? Yes, I assure you, we are quite safe from your friends here. Plus we have health insurance in the event of any bodily harm, life insurance for our loved ones or disciples of genocidal intent, and a rainy day fund to restore the Empire, which, if you watch Episode VII, you’ll see works out—

Luke: [Interrupting.] Your bourgeois middle-class ethos is your weakness!

Doctor Palpatine: [looks sharply at Luke] Your faith in your career choice is yours. You cannot deny your destiny, Luke. You will have to take the MCAT.

Doctor Vader: It is pointless to resist, my son.

Luke: I already told you dad, I signed up for the GRE.

Doctor Palpatine: The desire is swelling in you now. Disposable income, retirement savings plans, owning your home, perhaps a second home, paying for your kids to go to Jedi Academy instead of making them take out burdensome loans the cost of which will drive them to the Dark Side—you want this, Luke. Need it. It is reasonable. Kill your father and park your midsize German sports sedan in his spot. How else will you fund your institutions and restore hope?

Luke: You’re wrong, Your Highness.

Doctor Palpatine: Class mobility is dead, Luke. Don’t be a fool. Who do you think will marry you?

Darth Vader, M.D.: Maybe Gulzar Hussain’s daughter—

Doctor Palpatine: [Irritated] —As I was saying: Who do you think will save you, huh, Bernie Sanders? It is I who created his campaign, it was I who was behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. I create the illusion of choice, and a phantom hope, which I exploit to strike back at social justice movements. Become a doctor, Luke. Maintain your place atop the social hierarchy.

Doctor Vader: Yes, yes, become a doctor, my son. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for… [pauses] Sister! So, you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not become a doctor, perhaps she will.

An epic lightsaber battle ensues. Luke wields his weapon with surgical skill. Doctor Palpatine looks on in sadistic glee, until he realizes it is possible for both Skywalkers to kill each other, and then he’ll have to start all over.

Doctor Palpatine: Gooood, gooood. Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny, and take over your father’s practice and work by my side.

Luke: [Looks at his mechanical hand.] Never. [Throws away lightsaber, then realises he probably shouldn’t have.] I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father was before Padme died in childbirth because he could not afford the better doctors.

Doctor Palpatine: So be it, ‘Jedi’. If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed.

Palpatine fires bursts of force lightning at Luke, who is knocked to the ground. He screams and writhes.

Doctor Palpatine: Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand.

Luke: [Still screaming, writhing.]

Doctor Vader: [Swings his head back and forth as if he’s emotionally torn, or just unsure where he should be looking during this critical scene.]

Doctor Palpatine: Your feeble skills and entirely unmarketable philosophy degree are no match for the power of the Dark Side. You have paid the price for your lack of advanced professional specialisation.

Luke: Father, please!

Doctor Palpatine: Now, young Skywalker… you will die.

The Emperor fires a final burst of force lightning at the noble, idealistic Jedi, while a stricken Vader is understandably torn. Vader lifts up the Emperor and throws him over a railing, but in the process of killing him, Vader is electrocuted. His body, dependent on machinery, cannot survive.

***

The Death Star, meanwhile, comes under fatal attack, and Luke attempts to take his father off the ship before it’s too late. But, of course, Vader is too weak, and too near death, for any such thing to happen.

Doctor Vader, now Anakin Skywalker: Luke, help me take this mask off.

Luke: But you’ll die.

Anakin: Nothing can stop that now. I lost my job when I killed my boss, the Rebels certainly don’t have much to offer, and what are you going to do, pay for my long-term care with your philosophy degree? You’ll be like these shameless white people and leave your father to die alone in a nursing home.

Luke: Just because I’m studying philosophy doesn’t make me white, dad. In fact, your decision to become a doctor indicates that you aspire to whiteness.

Anakin: Have you no shame? Your father is dying and you’re arguing with him. Shut up, beta.

Luke: I am sorry, father. I would kiss your feet but I don’t know which one is real and which one Obi-Wan—

Anakin: Just for once let me look on you with my own eyes.

Luke removes his father’s mask; like the audience, he expects to see a demonic figure, not a pathetic balding old man. Luke wonders when his hair will go.

Anakin: Now go, my son. Leave me.

Luke: No, you’re coming with me. I’ll not leave you here. I’ve got to save you. That was the whole damned point of this.

Anakin: You already have, Luke. You were right, you were right about me. Tell your sister to consider becoming a doctor, or at least to marry a doctor, anyone in fact but you, because I know in Episode IV you thought about it for a while. Don’t let me die in shame, with two children who made nothing of themselves. Log… kya… kahenge…?

Anakin dies on the Death Star, while Luke returns to Endor to join his friends. He steps away from his fellow fighters and sees Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin in the distance, spirits alive and redeemed in the Force, and so Luke grins, knowing that he has not lost them. While all three smile back at him, Obi-Wan reaches over and smacks Anakin upside the head.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens released in India today (Dec. 25). We welcome your comments at ideas.india@qz.com

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