Yay, Dubrovnik! My sister did a study abroad in eastern Europe and was fascinated by how Croatia was promoted as the sunny happy weekend getaway place. But now that I’ve seen Dubrovnik (on film), I totally want to go there for my next sunny happy weekend getaway! It’s beautiful!
We left off with Aryan-Shahrukh having just been released from jail in London, heading for Dubrovnik. Gaurav-Shahrukh is already there, we saw him board the train. Aryan-Shahrukh travels a little fancier, he is arriving at the airport to board a private jet. As they get onto the jet, the lawyer Akhtar and the superstar assistant Sunaina give him the rundown. They have managed to find CCTV footage showing that Aryan-Shahrukh was in his apartment, but that still hasn’t fully cleared him in the eyes of the police and the public.
(Not this Akhtar)
However, at least they are leaving the country on a nice private jet. They go inside, Aryan-Shahrukh sinks down into a chair, the stewardess comes out and asks if he would like champagne, wine, anything? Aryan-Shahrukh smiles and drawls out “Everything!” The stewardess leaves, and then Usman (Aryan-Shahrukh’s bodyguard) comes out with his phone, saying he is getting a call from someone who claims to have information about the lookalike at Tussaud’s, but he will only talk to Aryan. This is, of course, music to Aryan-Shahrukh’s ears, he loves to be in charge and deal with things directly!
He grabs the phone and holds it to his ear (unlike the first time, when he kept it on speaker because he was still willing to trust his assistants to help him), and says “Hello?” there’s silence, so he says “Hello!” a little snappier this time, and finally he gets a response, Gaurav-Shahrukh chirping out “Senior?” And Aryan-Shahrukh actually gets a look of recognition. I think this might be the most impressed I am with his character in this whole movie. That he is a major superstar, a father of two, in trouble with the law, and he is still able to have at his fingertips the name of the crazy star he met a year ago and thought he was done with. Now that is brain power!
Gaurav-Shahrukh reveals that it was him at Tussaud’s. Aryan-Shahrukh warns him to stop what he is doing, he will regret it. Gaurav-Shahrukh says that Aryan-Shahrukh will regret it, he will regret throwing away on 48 hours in jail 25 years of devotion. Aryan-Shahrukh snaps back that if he knew this would happen, he would have left him in jail for ever. He did nothing to him, compared to what he will do now. And Gaurav-Shahrukh won’t be able to touch him again. Gaurav-Shahrukh says he doesn’t have to get close to him, he is already in Dubrovnik, Aryan-Shahrukh is coming to him! And then he hangs up and dances down the steps in Dubrovnik. Such a pretty town! Did I say that already? It bares repeating. So pretty!
Back in the jet, Aryan-Shahrukh hangs up and lets Akhtar and superstar Sunaina know that it was Gaurav-Shahrukh who framed him in Tussaud’s and now he is in Dubrovnik. Sunaina tries to talk reason, saying that they can’t deal with him, they have to leave him alone, he’s a madman. And, in possibly the defining line of the film, Aryan-Shahrukh turns to the camera and says “He’s a madman? And what do you think I am?” And we go out on that thought. Do you think it is possible to reach the point of having all the power and fame and love of Superstardom and not be a little mad? Not to mention keeping it for 25 years.
Meanwhile, in Dubrovnik, Gaurav-Shahrukh is in a gorgeous looking big open stone space. Maybe a train station? Something like that. He goes up to a tiny little glass case with a nice young woman behind it and points at a vegetable sandwich. She hands it to him with an ungloved hand (ewww!), and corrects him when he tries to make change. Gaurav-Shahrukh is still selling the sweet big-eyed innocent vibe, the little boy innocent, and it is winning over everyone from the sandwich shop girl to the nice older couple who glance at him as he walks into a cafe. And then he walks out in disguise, beard, hat, etc. Huh. That’s odd.
Meanwhile, Aryan-Shahrukh and a whole flotilla of cars is arriving at a big fancy palace outside of town for the big fancy wedding. He is greeted by the gather of the bride, big rich guy, who immediately starts yelling at him. He tells Aryan-Shahrukh that he has been embarrassed by the whole Tussaud’s thing, and Aryan-Shahrukh is late. Aryan-Shahrukh pauses for a moment and starts to try to explain, then stops himself, and just says “Well, I’m here now!” The billionaire keeps pushing it, saying he had better be really good now that he is here, because he is “spending a bomb on you!” Again, Aryan-Shahrukh stops, and you can see him wanting to defend himself, but instead he just gives a smooth smile and says “As only you can!” And then he rushes off to prepare, surrounded by his entourage.
Huh. So, the Indian superstar has no fear or respect for the Indian ambassador, the London police, any of his fans, or any of his fellow actors. But an Indian international billionaire, that is who he is afraid of and has to respect. Seems like a fairly accurate depiction of power in India today. Or, heck, the world. I’m not going to pretend America is all that great at restraining the power of the .0000001%. It’s interesting, and it’s also something to keep in mind as this next bit plays out.
Back in the dressing rooms, Aryan-Shahrukh is going over last minute security procedures with his core team. He wants all the workers background checked, and security footage constantly monitored, cameras everywhere. This whole time, he’s in a big glitzy gold jacket, looking like a pretty little toy boy, but talking and acting like the powerful mastermind he is. But, in the middle of this little team meeting, there is a knock on the door and the local stage manager for the wedding pops her head in apologizing to interrupt, but there are only 2 minutes to time. Shahrukh immediately pulls out the superstar smile and says “I don’t need them, darling! Let’s go now!”
He zips out, slides into the lift for his stage entrance holding his cue cards, and Gaurav-Shahrukh closes the doors, in disguise with the beard, so he looks totally different. But I still had that moment of “Aryan-Shahrukh! Recognize him!” Which is really impressive, because what I should have been thinking was “How they heck did they film 2 Shahrukh’s facing each other from such a complex angle with the door sliding closed between them?”
And, stage show! It looks fun, but I still don’t want Shahrukh at my wedding. I have thought about this a lot, by the way. Just in case it comes up. It just feels awkward to have this performer-but-not-really at your wedding, and do you like sit him with the guests? Or do you make him eat by himself somewhere else? Do you have the show during dinner? Or on its own later? And do you treat him like a professional or like a friend or like staff? I just don’t know! Oh, and also, baring winning the lottery or marrying an Ambani, I will never have to actually deal with this question.
(what do you think? now that he’s lost all the weight, should I go for it? Just to get Shahrukh at my wedding?)
In the middle of his complicated act, Shahrukh has to do a voiceover from on the side of the stage, he flips through his cue cards, speaking into a microphone, and then comes to the final one which just says “say sorry” in devnagari script. Oh, I guess on that phone conversation on the plane Gaurav-Shahrukh already demanded that Aryan-Shahrukh apologize to him if he wanted him to stop. So now Aryan-Shahrukh immediately figures out that he is on staff. And here’s another really interesting moment, he hands the microphone he was using to do his syrupy dialogue over to a staff member, and pulls out the walkie talkie he is using to talk to his team and snaps out “He’s on the crew! Find him!” Going straight from his sweet deep tone for the public right to his blunt harsh tone for his people all with just the switch of a microphone to a radio.
And then we see people rushing behind stage as Aryan-Shahrukh’s people try to track down Gaurav-Shahrukh without tipping off the regular wedding staff that there is something going on, while Aryan-Shahrukh keeps up his show onstage. And Gaurav-Shahrukh sneaks through, quietly flipping on a different jacket and sneaking out of the backstage area.
Aryan-Shahrukh finally rushes off stage, just in time to learn they have identified which staff member Gaurav-Shahrukh must be pretending to be, the only half-desi male staff member. Thank goodness, they aren’t trying to pretend he can just wear enough make-up to be believable as a European, like they did in Happy New Year! Only, even though they have identified him, they still can’t find him on the cameras. Which is when they realize, he must be in Aryan-Shahrukh’s dressing room! The only place without cameras. Aryan-Shahrukh immediately starts running there himself, instead of leaving it to his staff. Because, again, he can’t leave anything to anybody.
(Gah! So scary!)
They slide through gorgeous outside pavilions and huge pillars and finally reach the dressing room, to find Gaurav-Shahrukh gone, but a devanagari note written on his mirror in red lipstick “Gaurav makes Aryan.” The one thing most likely to drive Aryan-Shahrukh nuts, an implication that he owes his success to anyone besides himself. Also, my friend leaned over to me at this point and said “why does he have red lipstick in his dressing room?” I’ve decided not to worry about that. But I am going to worry about the devanagari script, or at least note it. It’s an early sign that Gaurav and Aryan are cut from the same cloth. Unlike Sid Kapoor, Aryan can read Hindi.
Oh, and then the local staff pops in again, to apologize for interrupting but remind them that it is time for the audience interaction. Aryan-Shahrukh quickly says “sure sure”, but his bodyguard Usman grabs the costume and says he will take it from there. I think his team can tell that he is pretty far on edge and having a hard time handling being nice and pleasant superstar in front of these outsiders.
And now he is in a tux and rushing through a fancy crowd of people, finally reaching the center where he greets a very young looking woman, really more of a girl, and her mother. Her mother greets him and says that her daughter has been practicing her steps to dance with him for weeks. And the young woman leaps in to point out that her mother has been practicing as well. Shahrukh puts on his smooth superstar voice and says “Well then, I will start with the young one, and come back for the experience!” and sweeps the young woman up to the landing of the stairs to dance with him.
(It isn’t at all like this, but this is the first image that pops up when you search “Shahrukh stairs”)
Meanwhile, Sunaina is watching all the cameras, and finally spots a duplicate Shahrukh! She calls Aryan-Shahrukh on the walkie talkie, letting him know that the duplicate Shahrukh is in the hall taking photos while he is dancing. And then the film cuts from the black and white security footage of the hallway to the color film image as we see Aryan-Shahrukh grabbing his walkie-talkie and saying that he is the one in the hallway, Gaurav-Shahrukh is dancing! And then we cut back to the dance just in time to see, as he spins her around and his head comes around towards the camera, his face shifts and we, the audience, can see for sure that it is Gaurav-Shahrukh, not Aryan-Shahrukh! Gah!
He spins the girl out, and then spins her in, and slowly rubs his hand along her waist. Then up the side of her breast. And finally down, lingering on her rear end. It’s really unpleasant. And adding to the unpleasantness of it is the young woman’s face. She looks confused at first, and then sort of distressed and unhappy, and finally just horrified, and pushes him off her and runs down the stairs to her mother. Gaurav-Shahrukh plays it off like “hey, what, we weren’t done!” But then just smiles and does a quick little dance step by himself.
Meanwhile, down below, the daughter is purging it all by describing it to her mother, that she didn’t know what was happening, he was touching her all over, what is this! The crowd looks to see Gaurav-Shahrukh just in time see that he has left the stairs, but Aryan-Shahrukh is running in from the side of the room. Gah! Again! The misunderstanding!!!
And, yep, while Aryan-Shahrukh is still trying to grasp what all happened, the host comes rushing up saying “what the hell! That girl is like my daughter [notice it isn’t his daughter, because his daughter is marriageable age. This is some sweet little niece or friend’s daughter who is barely 16]! What are you thinking?” Shahrukh starts to say “You people know me! I love you! I would never hurt you!” But the host cuts him off and just orders him out, now!
This is fascinating! Remember how he was acting when he first arrived? Are friendly and conciliatory? Because these are the people he really cares about, the powerful ones. And, what is heartbreaking, he thought they knew he cared. He thought they knew him, that they understood him, that this was a personal connection, not just him-the superstar. But of course, it was just about him the superstar, because that’s all he let them know. He didn’t let them see the person who was angry or frustrated, or the big mind that is focused on a million challenges all at once, just the smooth and friendly, happy to be here, big gladhander. So of course, they don’t know him. They don’t think he really does love them, or wouldn’t hurt him. They just think he is a random big nosed smiling guy. And that’s the realization that is breaking Aryan’s heart right now, and the realization that Gaurav came to during his meditations in jail, and it is the flaw and weakness he is exploiting now.