Happy Sunday! By popular request, Pride and Prejudice! It was the top choice for most readers, followed by North and South. Now, technically, Pride and Prejudice has already been remade, but Bride and Prejudice really doesn’t give the story the remake it deserves.
The problem is, there are two clear perfect Darcy options, and I can’t choose between the two! So I will have to do two versions with two casts. First version today, next version next week (or week after next if we need a Pride and Prejudice break)
But first, a reminder of what the plot is!
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet live in a smallish country village in a smallish house. They are a “good” family, and are not poor, but are also not rich. They can have enough to eat and a new dress every once in awhile and a few servants. But the concern is what will happen once Mr. Bennet dies, because all his property will go to a distant cousin, the closest male heir, and there are no savings to take care of the 5 daughters and Mrs. Bennet. The only hope is if at least one, preferably all, of the 5 daughters marries a wealthy man.
The oldest two daughters are the prettiest, Jane is a beauty but also very reserved. Lizzie Bennet is pretty, and also quick-witted, and her father’s favorite. Her mother’s favorite is Lydia, the youngest daughter, who is less pretty and more vivacious, always ready to enjoy herself. Mrs. Bennet is like that as well, never thinks before she speaks and a little too outgoing for polite society. While Mr. Bennet is the reverse, a little too reserved, unlikely to attend required social events or trouble to make friends in the area.
A wealthy man, Mr. Bingley, rents a large house in the area for the shooting season. He brings with him his friend, Mr. Darcy, and his sister, Miss Bingley. Mr. Bingley and Jane fall in love at first sight at the local monthly dance, and Mr. Darcy and Lizzie fall in dislike at first sight. The Jane and Mr. Bingley romance continues rapidly, especially when Jane falls ill while visiting his house and has to stay for several weeks while Lizzie takes care of her. Lizzie has her own modest romance, with Mr. Wickham, a visiting soldier who tells stories of poverty thanks to Mr. Darcy miss-treating him, which just makes Lizzie dislike him more. Although Mr. Darcy seems to be noticing Lizzie more and more, which makes Miss Bingley jealous. But then Mr. Wickham leaves without saying anything definite, and Mr. Bingley leaves without proposing as well, and never writes or otherwise gets in touch with Jane.
Soon after, all 3 daughters have a chance to travel. Lizzie to visit her good friend who has married the unpleasant clergyman cousin who will inherit their house when Mr. Bennet dies, Jane to go to London where she might have a chance of meeting Bingley again, and Lydia to visit a friend who is traveling with Mr. Wickham’s troupe of soldiers. Lizzie meets Mr. Darcy again while visiting her friend, and he surprises her by proposing. But she angrily rejects him, having just learned that Jane has been ignored by Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Darcy having admitted that it was his advice which made Mr. Bingley break it off with Jane. Mr. Darcy accepts her refusal, but responds with a long letter explaining his reasoning, which suddenly makes Lizzie question everything she has always believed to be true about her family, and how she sees the world.
Lizzie goes home feeling confused, and leaps at the opportunity to travel again, with her favorite aunt and uncle. While traveling, they end up visiting Mr. Darcy’s home, expecting just to tour the house with the housekeeper. But they surprise Mr. Darcy himself there, he is kind and friendly to Lizzie and her aunt and uncle. Before she can fully process this change, she gets a letter from home that Lydia has eloped with Mr. Wickham (who Darcy explained in his letter to Lizzie after the proposal had previously tried to elope with Mr. Darcy’s wealthy young sister, and thus Mr. Darcy had acted against him). After much effort, the couple is tracked down and married. After Mr. Bennet returns home from finding them, he admits to Lizzie that it was Mr. Darcy who helped find Lydia and arrange the hurried wedding. Lizzie, now softened to Mr. Darcy and seeing him in a new light, is delighted when he and Mr. Bingley come back to their village. Mr. Darcy proposes again, Mr. Bingley proposes to Jane, and both sisters are married.
No real need to change the plot, there’s even a natural Interval point built in after the first proposal. But we do need to Indian-ize it up a bit, and that will be a little different depending on which cast/era we are in.
So, early 2000s cast!
Mr. Darcy: Abhishek Bachchan
Lizzie Bennet: Rani Mukherjee
Jane Bennet: Lara Dutta
Lydia Bennet: Tough! Konkana Sen Sharma maybe?
Mr. Bennet: Anupum Kher
Mrs. Bennet: Farida Jalal
Mr. Bingley: Akshaye Khanna
Mr. Wickham: Vivek Oboroi
Darcy’s sister: Soha Ali Khan
Lady Catherine DeBerge: Shabana Azmi
Middle Bennet sisters Mary and Kitty: Not included, don’t really matter to the plot
Rani and Lara and Konkona are introduced with one of those classic “girlish dancing and singing” kind of songs. But they return home to find Farida fussing at Anupum because she has heard there is a rich man who just moved in to the old hawali down the road, and she wants Anupum to come up with an excuse to visit, so he can meet Rani and Lara. Anupum teases, but finally admits he has already done it, and they will see them again at the Puja at the temple that evening, where Rani and Lara will be singing.
(Girlish introduction song!)
Another song! One of those love songs about Ram, that is a hymn but sounds like a love song. And in the middle of it, Abhishek and Akshaye walk in, as though they are the Ram that is being sung about. Akshaye immediately smiles and responds to Lara, but Abhishek seems not to even notice Rani, just sits in a corner and stretches his legs out. After the dancing is over, Lara and Akshaye immediately seek each other out and start talking, but Abhishek doesn’t respond to anything Rani says and she finally just sort of gives up on him.
(We all know that the Krishna they are singing about is clearly really Shahrukh/Devdas, right?)
And then another song (very song heavy movie at the beginning). We see Lara and Akshaye happily falling in love, going on expeditions to the fields and remote temples and so on, while Rani and Abhishek are dragged along as chaperone and keep making pained fake smiles at each other and otherwise ignoring each other. It’s funny!
(Like this, if they kept being all stiff like they didn’t like each other)
But the song is interrupted when Rani and Abhishek are suddenly splashed by a motorcycle with a guy in a leather jacket on it. It’s Vivek Oboroi! Abhishek abruptly excuses himself, but Rani is still there when Vivek comes over and apologizes and charms her by offering to buy her some flowers to make up for it, and give her a ride home. She brings him back home, and happily introduces him to her family as a young soldier who is traveling through the countryside while on leave. Farida fusses about him a little, Anupum is charmed, even Lara likes him, and Konkona sneaks into dinner late and whispers to Rani that “he’s cute!”
After dinner, Rani sits with him on the roof, he talks about how he loves looking at the stars, she does too. He talks about how they always make him feel at home, even when he is traveling all over the world. Even though he hasn’t seen his home in years. Rani is sympathetic, and Vivek casually asks how well she knows Abhishek? Rani says he is an old stick-in-the-mud she has to keep company for her sister’s sake. Vivek goes on to explain that he didn’t want to cause any problems, but Abhishek is his “dushman”. He is suddenly serious, which is so different from his usual behavior that Rani pays special attention. Vivek explains that his father worked for Abhishek’s father, they grew up together, he never felt like a servant. Until Abhishek’s father died, and suddenly he was turned out. Luckily, he was able to get acceptance to officer’s training, and it all turned out okay. And now he can be sitting on the roof, under the stars, with her.
Another love song! A sweet soft one this time, Rani and Vivek walk, and talk. And in the background we see Abhishek watching them ride by on Vivek’s bike, or seeing them talking in Rani’s garden, and looking all inscrutable about it. And we also see Konkana poking around with them, and Rani and Vivek exchanging glances about this girlish innocent who can’t understand their mature conversations.
(Another couple that has a cute song, and doesn’t end up together!)
It ends with Rani coming home to find Farida humorously in tears, and Anupum hiding behind a book. Rani finally gets out of Farida that Akshaye is leaving town without saying anything and “she already ordered the wedding cards! What will people thing?” Rani just hugs her and laughs and then goes upstairs to talk to Lara. Who is sitting looking out the window, and turns and puts on a smile and turns, and Rani hugs her and says “don’t worry, we will just change the date on the cards.”
Meanwhile, Kay Kay Menon has arrived! The detested cousin whose court case is going to get them thrown out of the house. Brief humorous interlude where he tries to woo Rani and she turns him down flat. Perhaps another song? Yes! Why not! In the end, she slaps him, and the song ends with him offended and riding off.
Farida is fussing at Rani for turning him down, and she is ignoring her, and Anupum is winking at Rani but otherwise not engaging. And then this is interrupted by Vivek arriving. He explains that his leave is over, he has to go back to his posting in Pune, but he wanted to say good-bye, and he hopes they can be friends. Rani says she hopes so too, and lets him kiss her on the cheek. Konkona is watching in the background and Vivek laughs and kisses her on the cheek too.
And then nice aunt and uncle arrive! Let’s say Reema Lagoo and Alok Nath. They offer to take Lara Dutta back to Bombay to stay for a while, Farida encourages this because it will give her a chance to meet Akshaye again. And, Farida orders that Rani has to leave too, Kay Kay has just written to invite her to visit him in Goa, for free, staying at the fancy hotel he manages, and they have to mend fences so he will continue to let them live in the house for as long as possible.
Humorous Goa scenes! Kay Kay is trying to be all cool but just comes off awkward. Rani is bored. Kay Kay also insists that they meet Shabana Azmi, who owns the hotel he manages. Rani agrees, but while she is singing a song to entertain Shabana, as ordered, suddenly Abhishek appears! She fumbles, but manages to keep singing, and is surprised to find that Abhishek joins in and starts singing back to her! In a quiet dignified way, but still!
(Very much like this. But with a less eye-searingly hideous outfit on the heroine)
Song over, Rani goes out to the balcony and Abhishek follows her and says that he was hoping to see her here. Rani isn’t sure how to react. Abhishek keeps going, explaining that while they don’t have much in common, even their height, and he finds her family impossible, and he warned his own friend not to marry her sister, he still thinks he would like to propose a “rishtaa” between the two of them. He is coming closer and closer as he talks, and finally he finishes with them face to face, almost touching. Rani closes her eyes for a moment, then steps back and lets him have it, telling him that she wants no “rishtaa” with someone who doesn’t consider her sister good enough for his friend, and that women can have honor too! She starts to walk away, Abhishek grabs her and pulls her close to him, saying “listen! Please!” And Rani slaps him. And walks away while Abhishek looks distrait behind her. INTERVAL
Post interval, Rani comes back to her room and paces as bits of the argument flash before her eyes, along with other moments, going all the way back to the first time she saw him. She can’t seem to stop thinking about him, and then there is a knock on the door, and it is a bellboy giving her an envelope. From Abhishek with “please watch” written on it. It’s a DVD testimonial! Because film is a visual medium, so I’m doing that instead of the letter in the book.
Talking head Abhishek, looking all tormented and sensitive and scruffy, says that he can’t let it go like this, he can’t let her go, he must tell her the whole story. And then the Bachchan enunciation soothingly takes us into a flashback. Vivek and Abhishek were best friends. Friendship song!
(Like this song, but in a village instead of South Beach, and with Vivek instead of John and Priyanka. But otherwise identical!)
But, when Vivek was preparing to leave for college, funded by Abhishek who has now inherited from his father but still considers Vivek as a brother, Abhishek found a photo of Soha in Vivek’s things. He confronted them both, saying that Soha (in a schoolgirl uniform in case we missed it) is much too young for marriage, and Vivek hasn’t finished college yet. But, as her brother, he gives his blessing. So long as they agree to wait. Vivek and Soha cutely thank him and go to touch his feet, and he stops them and embraces them instead. Abhishek watches Soha receive letters happily for a while, but then the letters stop. He calls Vivek, who says that it is hard to keep writing, and waiting. If he quit school, if Abhishek gave them some money to start a business, Soha will come with a dowry on marriage after all… Abhishek objects, saying that Soha is still too young to talk of marriage and dowry. Soha listens sadly in the background. Vivek hangs up angrily. Abhishek hugs Soha. Back to talking head Abhishek, explaining that he took Soha to Goa to distract her, at this very hotel. At first they enjoyed themselves, on the beaches and boats, but then he couldn’t find her one night. She was gone all night (shot of Abhishek pacing in his room). She returned the next morning and he took her immediately back home.
A month later, he got another call from Vivek. This time, Vivek is all cocky. Saying, “do you still want to wait to marry her off? I am willing to take her, but only with a higher dowry, after all, you are asking me to take damaged goods.” Abhishek angrily hangs up the phone and snaps that his sister is not damaged and he is not letting her go to someone like him. Soha is listening and crying and turns her head into his shoulder.
Talking head Abhishek explains that he spends most of his time now with Soha and his niece, he doesn’t like to travel far from them. And perhaps he is overly cautious about who he allows in their company. Akshaye is one of his few friends, a distant cousin, and he has the same innocence that Soha used to have. And so, when he saw Akshaye fall in love with Lara, and couldn’t be sure how she felt for him, he became protective. Especially after overhearing Farida talk so loudly of Akshaye’s wealth. He feared to admit his own feelings for Rani for similar reasons, but love had touched his heart for the first time. Flashback song!!!! Back to the early days of their acquaintanceship, showing Abhishek watching her from a distance even before she knew he was there, during her song with Lara at the opening, dancing and laughing at the village event, walking in the fields, even when she is going around with Vivek, he is still watching her and loving her from a distance.
(Like this, but with more scruffy serious brooding and less goofy faces)
The video ends with Abhishek promising not to speak to her again, but saying that he felt he must make a clean breast of things to her, that she had the right to an explanation. Rani is conflicted! Before she can think more about it, Alok and Reema show up! They have dropped Lara back at home, and stopped by Goa on the way, to take Rani back home. Along the way, they drive through the countryside and Rani looks out the window and starts to imagine Abhishek and her dancing on the fields. Love song!
(Uch, they were so cute together!)
She almost doesn’t realize it is no longer a fantasy when Abhishek himself stops his car next to their stalled car. He doesn’t really look at her, but is super charming and nice to Reema and Alok, flirting a little with Reema, teasing Alok, and helping them get the car started. He also offers to take them back to his house for the night since they are now delayed. Rani goes along with it, but there is a moment while Reema and Alok are getting back in the car and Rani and Abhishek are alone in the road, and he grabs her hand and says “I hope you don’t think I broke my promise. You came to my village, I didn’t come to yours.” Rani can’t meet his eyes, but doesn’t try to pull away her hand away either. Abhishek kind of smiles and holds her hand a second too long, and then lets her go. She walks back to the car, but looks back and smiles at him for a moment before getting in.
Back at Abhishek’s house that evening, they are all playing with Abhishek’s adorable illegitimate niece and Soha is being gracious and kind to them all, when the phone rings. Rani answers it, and then sits down and looks upset. Abhishek looks worried. Rani finally turns and says “Konkona has ruined herself!”
Flashback, Konkona climbing out a window and climbing behind a figure on a bike. The figure turns, and it’s Vivek!!!! Ironic replay of Rani and Vivek’s love theme as they ride off together.
Back at her home, Rani comes running in to see Farida pulling off all her jewels and digging out more from the cabinet, saying “everything! We will give him everything in dowry!” And Anupum looking shocked in the corner and finally slapping her and saying “No! We give her nothing!” Rani tries to reason “Papa, we can’t just leave her”, but Anupum isn’t listening, she has shamed the family and he wants nothing more to do with her. Just then, they are interrupted. It’s Konkona! In the doorway saying “Papa?” Anupum turns away. She tries “Mama?” Farida starts to go to her, but Anupum holds her back. Finally, Rani glares at both of them and goes over to her, just as Abhishek steps out of the shadows behind her. Abhishek explains that Konkona doesn’t need anything from her family any more but love. She is a recipient of his scholarship, she will be going to nursing training, she is already accepted and the administrator thinks she will do well. Vivek was like a brother to him, so Konkona is now his younger sister in law. Rani finally tells off her father, saying “Papa, you know this is your own fault as much as Konkona’s. She wanted to leave the village for years, but your pride would not let your daughter work. If she had some occupation, this never would have happened.” Anupum looks ashamed. Rani turns on her mother too “and you, if you hadn’t filled our heads with love stories, we would have made sensible choices, Lara would not have broken her heart and Vivek would not have found us both so innocent and ripe for the picking.” Farida looks ashamed too. Konkona says “Mama? Papa?” again, and they go to her.
Anupum is throwing a grand Puja at the house to send Konkona off to nurses training in style. Happy family celebration song! Abhishek watches in the background while Rani and Lara and Konkona dance together. And in the middle, Akshaye appears! Joining in the song enthusiastically, and pulling Lara aside and slipping bangles on her wrists, ones he had shown her way back at the beginning as family heirlooms, so the message is clear that she is formally being invited into his family.
(Abhishek should always always wear jeans, an unbuttoned white dress shirt, and a black vest)
But the song is interrupted by Shabana Azmi! Who arrives in the background and looks generally pained. Rani goes over to talk to her and Shabana pulls her into another room. Where they have a fabulous scene, with Shabana looking down her nose and being all super wealthy, saying she will not have her nephew marry a “dancing girl”. Rani protests that she isn’t a dancing girl, and she will marry who she likes. Abhishek comes in at that point from behind Rani and stares down Shabana. Rani can’t see what she is reacting to and keeps talking, saying that she would be honored if “He” would ask her again. Abhishek speaks at that point, saying “I am asking”, and Rani turns and they embrace, and Abhishek finally for the first time since the flashback song with Vivek, smiles!
Happy double wedding ending! Reprise of that humorous love song from the beginning, only this time both couples are in love. Lara and Akshaye, and Rani and Abhishek. Konkona is happily watching standing with Soha, and Farida and Anupum are happy too, while Shabana and Kay Kay stand in the corner and look dissatisfied.
Okay, I think that’s about as good as I can do for the early 2000s version. Now, obviously, I have to remake it for Fawad Khan in the present day, because Fawad is the PERFECT Darcy. But who opposite him? Anushka again? Or someone else? Not Sonam, because then it will just be super obvious that Khoobsurat was P & P fanfic. And not Mahira, for the same reason, because Zindagi Gulzar Hai was also clearly P & P fanfic.
Bonus; There were two other ideas we talked about in the comments this week, I don’t think either of them are quite ready to be a full post, but they are a bit too good to just be left in the comments
Fearless Nadia Biopic: Gina Carano or Michelle Rodriguez, a tough experienced fighter type woman to play Nadia. Ayushmann Khurana to play Homi Wadia. The plot revolves around the making of Nadia’s first starring role, and Home and Nadia’s love story that begins at the same time. Nadia is an older single mother who is loud and tough and fearless. Homi is a shy young glasses wearing guy. Homi falls in love when he watches her cheerfully and perfectly do her first stunt on film. Nadia doesn’t notice him until she sees how sweet he is with her young son. But neither of them feels like they can speak their heart, Nadia thinks she is too old for him, Homi thinks he is too boring for her. Until at the premiere, some reporters make cracks about Nadia, Homi stands up for her and gets a bloody nose and broken glasses. Nadia is furious and pulls the reporters into the alley and beats them up (after tying up the tail of her evening gown, and kicking off her heels), and then rushes to make sure Homi is all right and is so upset she accidentally confesses her feelings, and of course he immediately reciprocates.
Gone With the Wind, setting changed to pre and post-colonial India:
Kangana as Scarlett, Shahrukh as Rhett (that tinge of danger in him), Hrithik as Ashley for an inside joke, I’m stumped on Miriam, but Belle Watling HAS to be Sushmita Sen!
Kangana is a flirt who just likes parties, part of an old small royal family. But Hrithik, her crush, is dedicated to the Quit India movement. Shahrukh is a black-marketer who runs supplies to the underground, if they pay him enough.
Shahrukh and Hrithik both avoid WWII, but then get caught up in the confusion of the British leaving. Kangana and Hrithik’s ancestral families both lose everything when they have to sign their property over to the new Indian government. Shahrukh just gets richer and richer, scavenging on the confusion of the period. Kangana and pregnant Miriam end up trapped on the wrong side of the border in Lahore. They just barely manage to get out, with the assistance of Shahrukh. Kangana returns to the family palace and grounds, the one piece of property they were able to keep, and decides to farm it instead of leaving it as a pleasure palace. Shahrukh tracks her down and proposes. Kangana gets richer and richer with Shahrukh and enjoys their wealth, and spoils their only child, living in the new South Bombay society. Oh, and Sush is in and out of their lives, as Shahrukh’s “old friend” who is now an Item dancer in the new film industry, which Shahrukh is investing in. After the child dies, the marriage falls apart, and Kangana goes back to the family palace, and meets Hrithik again after Miriam has died. Hrithik finally admits to her that he never loved, he was just being a gentlemen. Kangana now questions everything about herself, and when Shahrukh comes back to her, she admits she loves him and begs him to stay. But Shahrukh has had enough, he walks away from her. It is implied, to return to Sush, the other woman in his life, who is more of a “lady” than Kangana will ever be. Which, I know, isn’t in the original, but I always kind of liked Belle. And I really like the idea of gentlemen black-marketeer Shahrukh walking out on spoiled princess Kangana for tough made it on her own item girl Sush.