Happy Sunday! A week ago I put up a post asking for suggestions/votes for classic novels to be turned into fanfic. Pride and Prejudice was the first choice (thus last week’s post), but North and South was a close second. Which also inspired me to finally watch North and South. And it really is perfect for a remake! I barely have to change the plot at all, just streamline it a little.
North and South, if you don’t know, is one of those Great Literature things which uses human relationships to explore complex social power dynamics. It’s from the Victorian era, by Elizabeth Gaskell, and is less popular than Pride & Prejudice, but still widely read by both dreamy teenage girls looking for intellectually based romance, and by academics. In the early 2000s, the BBC decided to make a mini-series of it, thinking no one would watch it. But the female producer kept pushing and pushing and finally they did it. And it ended up setting viewership records because, low and behold, a large portion of the population IS interested in complex romances based on power dynamics! And does like this novel written by a woman, yes, even as much as they like all those other Great Novels written by and featuring a male main character.
Moving on, while this is a romance, it’s also primarily a metaphor for the changing nature of England at the time. The North of England, due to natural coal deposits and a less temperate climate, had become the first and most industrialized area in the world. Full of people interested in work and money, with class situations turning upside down as the working classes were able to work for a wage and live on their own instead of as servants. Meanwhile, the South of England still had the old power structure, warm sunshine, fertile fields, and so on. Our heroine, representing the south, is soft and intellectual and sympathetic to the plight of the working class. Our hero, representing the north, is hard and practical and has no time for anything but blunt honesty, sees no point in social graces. But they both learn from the other, our hero learns that it is worthwhile to listen to others and sometimes be brave enough to make the moral choice rather than the practical one. And our heroine learns that the world isn’t as fair and beautiful and perfect as she thought it was, that there is a need to be a little harsh and practical sometimes. And mostly, they learn that there is a price to rapid industrialization, but it still provides a more egalitarian society than traditional agriculture. Romantic!
As for the specifics of the plot, here they are:
Our heroine, Margaret, is the daughter of a clergyman from an idyllic small town in southern England. Her father has a crisis of conscience and quits his position and decides to move the entire family to north England where he can tutor and try to inspire the workers in the new economy. Margaret is old for an unmarried woman, and confident and capable. She is used to befriending the lowerclasses, having regularly visited the poorer members of her father’s congregation, and she is shocked at the harshness of life in the North, especially for the workers. She is also shocked by our hero, John Thornton, who helped arrange for her father to move and is one of his first students. Thornton owns one of the largest mills in town and is known as harsh but fair. Thornton is a rough man who worked his way up, and he enjoys his friendship and lessons from Margaret’s father, who is giving him a “gentlemen’s” education in philosophy and so on. Margaret is dubious about Thornton, but open minded, and she slowly comes to respect his honesty and fairness, both to his workers and to her, willing to listen to her side in debates. Thornton comes to appreciate Margaret as well, her fearlessness in disagreeing with him, and faith in the essential goodness of others. Although Thornton’s shallow money obsessed sister doesn’t like Margaret, and his hard mother thinks she is too soft.
It all comes to a head when Thornton’s workers go on strike and come to attack his house while Margaret happens to be visiting. Margaret encourages him to go out and talk to the workers, and when they start throwing things, Margaret goes out as well, begging for peace, at which point she is hit by a stone. The servants interpret this as Margaret so desperately in love that she throws herself in front of Thornton, and gossip spreads through town. Trying to do the honorable thing, Thornton proposes to Margaret. Margaret turns him down, seeing it as a proposal out of pity, and that they have nothing in common. Thornton, upset, reveals his true feelings, that he has come to care for her, and Margaret is not sure how to respond. Meanwhile, Margaret’s mother is dying, and in this urgent situation, she has begged her brother to come home, despite the warrant out for his arrest for mutiny while on board ship. Her brother comes to town, and while they are saying good-bye at the train station, Thornton sees them and miss-interprets it, driving the wedge further between he and Margaret. Finally, Margaret’s mother dies. Followed shortly after by her father. Her guardian is now an old, and very wealthy, friend of her father’s. He admits he is dying, and signs over all his wealth to her name. Margaret has returned to the south, but now finds herself not fitting in their either. The people seem to complacent, to carefree and thoughtless and purposeless. She decides to return to the north and look into investments in the factories. Back in the north, Thornton has learned that it WAS Margaret’s brother! And also, his factory is going out of business. He decides to travel south, seeing the beauty of the country Margaret was always discussing. Meanwhile, in the north, Margaret has come to Thornton’s factory only to find it shut down, and meets his mother their, finally making peace with her. The ending scene is Margaret and Thornton meeting in the middle, at a train station with him going north and her going south. Margaret proposes that she invest her money in his factory, but in the middle of it, somehow it turns into a proposal of marriage as well.
There’s also a whole plot with a worker family, the father is the leader of the Union, and an intelligent man, his oldest daughter is slowly dying from damage due to working in the mills and becomes Margaret’s best friend. After Margaret leaves town, the father is able to make peace with Thornton, partly thanks to Margaret’s encouragement that he is a fair man, and the influence she has had on Thornton to make him more open-minded. In the end, he becomes Thornton’s ally in trying to keep the mill going, and the one to pass on what he learned through his daughter, that the man who visited Margaret in secret in the night was her brother, not her lover.
North and South, the directions, are essentially the same regions everywhere. Or at least everywhere in the northern hemisphere. The south is warmer, gentler, where all the good top soil flows down and the land is gentle. The north is colder, rockier, less conducive to agriculture. And therefore, the north becomes the land of industry and business, while the south stays a bit of a backwater, a little less progressive, a little more about the same easy life all the time. The basic translation of this plot to India is simple, Manchester becomes Delhi, the south becomes Kerala or Tamil Nadu. Religion is the same everywhere too, religious figures can have a crisis of conscience and decide to go and minister in the “real” world. And so our heroine’s priest father stays a priest, this time giving up his position after a run in with the temple committee, instead of with his new bishop. And our hero can stay a nouveau riche factory owner, because factories are factories. The biggest change is to change the setting from the 1850s to the 1970s, the industrializing era of India. Oh, and the plot will need to be simplified a great deal, there are just too many side-stories and random narrative dead-ends for a streamlined 3 hour film.
Okay, everyone got that straight? Ready for the full story?
Amit Sadh and Tamannah: this is the first cast that sprang to mind. Tamanna has already done cross over films, but is still distinctly “southern”. And Amit is one of the few actors working today who feels distinctly “northern”, not just generalized upper class Bombay type. And, just to make it a full crossover, I want to keep the regionality with the rest of the cast too. Tamannah’s father can be Sathyaraj, and her mother can be Revathy. And for Amit Sadh, his mother can be Supriya Pathak (her mother was Gujurati, but her father was Punjabi). And his sister can be Sanah Kapoor, as a neat inside joke. Plus, I think she would be good in the role.
We open with a happy wedding song in the south. At an open sided temple, so we can admire all the greenery and beauty around. After the chorus of dancers starts, Tamannah comes dancing in with a big entry to lead them. And the theme of the song is to cast off the childish flowers as they are now grown, or something like that (the same as the intro line from our heroine in the miniseries!). The song merges into the wedding ceremony, we see the bride and the groom, and in the background the bride’s husband who is…..hmmm. It would have to be someone who is willing to play second fiddle in a love triangle to Amit Sadh. And who is a southern star. Maybe Naga Chaitanya? He’s not quite that big yet, right? And he seems like the kind of easygoing guy who would agree to do a tiny friendly appearance.
(And look! they already co-starred!)
Naga flirts with Tamannah a bit in the background, saying how beautiful it is around here, and Tamannah agrees that it is, she grew up in this tiny village, her father is the priest conducting the ceremony, her family looks after the temple and lives in the nearby caretaker’s house provided by the temple committee. Naga says that he may stay a few days longer, to see more of the area (as he gives Tamannah’s body a subtle up-down). Tamannah ignores or misses his implication and agrees that he should stay, her parents would love to meet him.
Next scene, Naga surprises her the next day in front of her house, asking if he can talk to her parents. Tamannah says of course he can, but her father is speaking with the temple committee right now. And just then the committee leaves the house, and Tamannah invites him in and introduces him to her father Sathyaraj and her mother Revathy. Naga picks up as soon as Tamannah finishes speaking, and gracefully explains that he loves their town, and their temple, and since coming here he has also decided he would like to take a little bit of this beauty home with him. He would like to marry Tammannah. Sathyaraj and Revathy look surprised. Tamannah is really surprised. Sathyaraj finally says “well, I never considered looking for a proposal for my daughter. I thought she was more than old enough and educated enough to handle it for herself. And we were content to have her stay at home with us as long as she wanted. However, now the situation is such that it might be best for her to consider your offer. But before she does so, there is something you both should know. The temple committee and I have had a parting of the ways, we will be vacating this house and leaving this town within a week. I shall have to look for opportunities elsewhere.” Naga immediately says, “my offer is the same. Her family circumstances have nothing to do with my affection for Tammanah.” Tammanah speaks up for the first time herself, to say “my feelings are unchanged as well. I have always felt that my place was at my parents’ side, to support them in whatever they need. And that is still the case, I will be remaining in their home and their life.” Naga grimaces slightly, but mostly takes it like a man.
Next scene, Tamannah and her parents are fighting their way onto a train, with baggage weighing them down, until finally they find and sink into their seats. At which point Revathy quietly asks Sathyaraj, “tell me, husband, where are we going?” And Sathyaraj says, “to the north. There is a man there who will help me find students and bring our culture to the hard north.”
And, intro song for Amit! One of those hard manly songs. I’m thinking, he is walking through his factory, in an awesome period 70s suit, the machines are whirring away, and creating a rhythm that merges into a pounding kind of song. Amit gets to a free area and drops into leading the dance, with a bunch of workers behind him. It’s the opposite of Tamannah’s intro dance in the open natural space with an all female troupe of dancers behind her.
(Something like this)
At the end of the song, Amit notices one of the workers in the background lighting a cigarette and immediately starts chasing him through the factory. As they run past, we see Tamannah walk in the background and try to get Amit’s attention, but he runs right on by, Tamannah follows him, and catches up in time to see Amit viciously beating the worker and telling him “this is what you get for lighting up a match on the factory floor!”
Tamannah immediately grabs Amit and tells him to “stop, stop! You are hurting him!” Amit throws her off, Tamannah falls back and screams in pain, at which point Amit turns and looks thunderstruck to see that the person he shook off was a beautiful woman, who is now holding an injured arm from his actions. He stumbles over an apology, and Tammannah will have none of it, declaring that he should be apologizing to the worker, not her. Amit tries to explain, that one spark could endanger them all, but Tammannah cuts him off, declaring that there is never a reason to resort to violence. Amit is beginning to get riled now, and snaps a bit when he asks her why she is even there. Tamannah says “I don’t know why I am here, I came to thank the nice man who helped my father find a job and an apartment, but apparently the nice man I wanted doesn’t exist!” And then she storms out.
On her way out, Tamannah gets a wink and a smile from one of the women working on the machines, let’s say she is played by Lisa Haydon. Because I love Lisa Haydon. Tamannah smiles back. Then goes home to find a big fight between her father and mother, her mother arguing that it wasn’t worth it to change their entire life and leave their happy home, to come to this cold unpleasant place, just because he felt the temple committee should spend more money helping the community and less on the temple itself! And her father trying to explain back that it wasn’t just about that, it was about the whole changing world around them, the need to go to a place where he felt the pulse of the world was happening. Tamannah tries to intervene, but is clearly torn between her two parents, understanding some of her father’s moral stance, but also her mother’s heartbreak and resentment of leaving their home. In the end, Revathy leaves the room in tears, and Sathyaraj turns his back to look out the window. Tamannah says something like “we will make a home here, father. Just give us time.” And then, period street scenes song montage!
(Like this, but with a woman and shopping for vegetables instead of a man and building a fortune)
Tamannah goes out on the street, fighting her way through the crowds and the cars, picking over sad vegetables trying to find something to eat, being knocked about by rushing people, only to come home and struggle with the gas stove, and help her mother dust and re-dust and finally cover the furniture and knick-knacks in plastic, while her father goes to community gatherings and gives speeches, and lectures at colleges. Finally, Tamannah returns home to find AMIT SADH! Sitting in their living room. She freezes immediately, and Sathyaraj doesn’t notice and introduces her to his first tutoring student, Amit Sadh. He wishes to get a background in the classics. Tamannah fumbles to find a polite response, and Amit jumps in to say “I am afraid Tamannah and I have already met, in poor circumstances. She say me punishing an employee for an infraction. With my fists.” Tamannah is even more thrown by his blunt honesty, and finds herself forgetting to be polite and saying “violence is the resort of beasts, there is always an answer to be found in reason.” Amit snaps back “you have not been here long enough to learn that the men of Delhi and beasts have more in common than it would appear.” Tamannah snaps back “I have already learned that at least one man is more beast than human!” Amit looks actually angry for a moment, then forces himself to calm down, and briefly take his leave of Sathyaraj, and walk briskly out of the house. As soon as he is gone, Sathyaraj turns on Tamannah and tells her that she was out of line, that Amit has been more than gracious to them, arranging for him to come north in the first place and helping them find this apartment, and deserves their respect. Tamannah responds “I refuse to believe that I will ever find anything to respect in that man!” And she storms out of the house to go to one of those sad sandy-looking Delhi parts.
Walking in the park, she sees Lisa Haydon and smiles at her. Lisa responds and comes over and chummily says “You look like you are walking off a fight. Is your father a stiff unchangeable man as well?” Tamannah laughs in surprise and recognition, and the two women begin to talk, Lisa explaining that her father is a worker in one of the local factories and so is she. But he wants her to stop working, since she is sick. However, Lisa feels that just because her life might be short, that is no reason she shouldn’t make use of it. Tamannah is upset to hear this, but not thrown by it, you can tell that she is a Priest’s daughter, the problems of humanity are not a surprise to her.
Meanwhile, Amit is also storming around. He goes home, and for the first time the audience sees Supriya Pathak. She is sitting on the floor, sorting fabric. Without looking up, she makes a comment about how the newest batch of artificial silk is not as good as the last, they will need to sell it at a discount and cut worker bonuses. Then she looks up and sees his face and asks “what happened?” Amit tries to brush it off. Supriya works to figure it out, “You were going to the house of those Tamilians, weren’t you? For your ridiculous lessons? Did that fallen priest insult you?” Amit says that no, Sathyaraj is his friend. Supriya starts to put it together. “If not the priest, then who else? Perhaps that pretty daughter of his, the one you mentioned before? Don’t let her get to you, my son and the youngest factory owner in all of Delhi, he can do better than some poor girl from nowhere who knows nobody.” Amit listens to this all, but when it is over, just says shortly “I hope you do not speak like this to anyone else, mother. They are newcomers to our city and are not familiar with our ways. If you wish to help, mother, you can visit the house and befriend them, make them understand that things are different here.”
Which means, character actress scene! Revathy versus Supriya Pathak, with Supriya’s daughter providing some comic relief as Amit’s sister who is constantly interjecting into the conversation. The main thrust of it is that Revathy is so patient and good, she responds to all of Supriya’s little jabs about a life of leisure and pointless study with calm acceptance. And Sanah providing the occasional humorous note by pointing out “Ma, this room doesn’t have a radio! Or even an electric clock! And, where is the TV?” Tamannah just sits there quietly and lets her mother take the lead until finally Supriya turns and fixes her with a glare and asks directly, “Tell me, young woman, I understand you have some problems with the way my son runs his factory. What gives you the right to judge him?” Tamannah responds, “the right of humanity. Anyone can have an opinion.” Supriya ignores this and rides right over her, “In this case, you are wrong. My son worked morning to night from the time he was 7 to build that factory, rising from cleaning dishes in a tea stall to having men line up for the honor of making his tea. Whatever methods he uses, the get results, and that is what matters.” Tamannah answers, “But surely it matters what kind of results he gets? Whether he sows hatred, or love?” Supriya gives her a long hard look and then says “I would warn you not to talk of love and my son in front of your own mother. It is indecorous.” And then she stands and nods to Revathy and proudly storms out, with Sanah trailing behind her. Once she has left, Revathy looks at Tamannah and gently asks, “daughter, is there something I should know about you and this young man?” Tamannah looks surprised and says “No, mother! He is a friend of father’s, but otherwise he means nothing to me.”
Shortly afterwards, on the street, Tamannah is digging through vegetables asking if there is possibly anything fresher, when Amit comes up behind her and calls her by name. She turns, surprised, and Amit says “I understand my mother and sister called on you earlier today. I hope they have smoothed things over, and we can now be friendly.” And he holds out his hand. Tamannah glances around, clearly aware of the vegetable seller avidly watching, and the other people on the street, and just smiles and ignores the hand and walks past.
That night at dinner, Sathyaraj mentions that her heard she had insulted Amit in the public street. Tamannah is stunned and explains that she merely did not want to take his hand in public. Revathy adds that this is completely understandable, a woman cannot casually hold hands with a man. Sathyaraj explains that it is an “English” custom, which he understands has become common here, shaking hands to indicate friendship. The word going around now is that Amit must have behaved horribly for a woman to turn down his offer of a hand in friendship. Revathy argues that this is not Tamannah’s fault, she cannot give up her sense of modesty to these new standards. But Tamannah disagrees, if her behavior is not that which is common in the community, than it will be misunderstood, and trouble will follow.
Meanwhile, back at Amit’s house, his sister is burbling over about her grand engagement party, and Supriya and Amit are ignoring her and looking at accounts. They still have not received a vital shipment, it is held up by officials demanding bribes. They have barely enough to pay the workers this week, but they will struggle if it goes on much longer. Supriya suggests canceling the engagement party to save funds, Sanah cries out “MOTHER!” and Amit leaps in to say no, it is important to keep up appearances. And then he pauses and turns away, and turns back as though it is a casual thing to say “Oh, by the way, mother, be sure to invite Sathyaraj and his family.” Supriya looks pained, but pulls out an invitation from the stack to address it.
Engagement party! Big grand ballroom, inside, air-conditioned, the opposite of the simple rural wedding we saw at the opening. Many of the women are in European style dresses, the others are in spangled or chiffon saris. Revathy and Tamannah are the only ones wearing simple cotton, and in a southern style. Sanah makes some snide remark about their clothes, and Amit snaps back “Some women do not need gold and sparkles to to shine.” And he goes over to great Tamannah and Revathy and Sathyaraj. Sathyaraj and Revathy greet him normally, but Tamannah says her “Hello”, and then holds out her hand. Amit looks surprised. Tamannah smiles at him and says, “I am beginning to learn northern manners. He takes her hand, and there is a little moment, where they both look surprised by how strong it feels to touch. And then Sanah comes rushing up to greet her, and make some remark about how their saris are so delightfully simple, they must be so easy to move in, she is so weighed down with jewels that she can barely walk. Tamannah agrees that is true, she can even dance in her sari. Sanah leaps on this and says “Oh, you dance? You must show us!” It’s clearly an insult, but Revathy is too innocent to hear it, and so says “Oh yes, daughter, you must do one of your wonderful dances for her engagement.” Tamannah smiles at her mother says “I am sure Sanah has many more wonderful entertainments than my poor dancing.” Sanah, now completely nasty, says “Oh no! I insist!” Tamannah has no choice now, and goes out to the center of the floor to do a dance. Which turns into a whole dialogue about how we are different in the south and the north, but we are all Indian. Sanah ends up looking embarrassed, while Amit looks pleased and intrigued. And, INTERVAL!
(this kind of lyrics)
Back from interval, Sanah is complaining about how Tamannah stole focus from her on her engagement, and Amit snaps that she forced her to pull focus. And perhaps she should be happy that all she has to worry about is her engagement party, when their factory is about to go under. Sanah storms out, but Supriya stays back to ask “is it really that bad?” Amit admits, “it’s not good. We will have to skip payroll this week, and ask the workers to trust us to make it up later.”
Speaking of workers, Tamannah is visiting Lisa Haydon, who is now in bed, coughing, and laughing as Tamannah describes the engagement party. Tamannah argues that it isn’t funny (although she can’t help smiling a little), Sanah cornered her and put her in a terrible position. Lisa points out that it sounds like Sanah was jealous of the attention her brother was paying Tamannah. Tamannah says “Don’t be ridiculous!”, but blushes a little too. Just then, Lisa’s father (Who’s really northern looking? Is Bobby Deol desperate enough that he would take a father role? Let’s say Bobby) comes in. He greets Lisa with a smile and a kiss, but she isn’t fooled, and asks what’s wrong. Bobby says “that inhuman Amit Sadh is cutting our wages. Says we have to be patient until the business is better. It’s not our debt to be paid!” Lisa jokes “be careful what you say, that’s our Tamannah’s intended!” Bobby frowns “I hope that is a joke, young lady, you don’t want anything to do with Amit. Especially now, the man could be in danger.” Tamannah and Lisa both look surprised, and Lisa asks “why? What is happening?” Bobby says “there were a lot of unhappy men at the factory today when Amit made his announcement. There were talks in the bars tonight of going to his house and making him feel their anger.” Lisa says “surely not!” Bobby looks worried, and Tamannah abruptly stands up and says “I must go”.
We cut to Tamannah rushing in and surprising Supriya and Sanah as they are sorting through her wedding clothes, demanding “Where is Amit?” Sanah says something nasty about how “He is not yours to ask for! Or do you want him to be?” Tamannah ignores that and looks at Supriya and says “Amit may be in danger. Where is he?” Supriya looks a little surprised and shaken by Tamannah’s confidence, but before she can answer, Amit comes in saying “What’s all this?” And then spotting Tamannah and immediately going to her and taking her hands saying “Tamannah! What is wrong?” Tamannah looks into his eyes as she says “the workers. They are coming here, you may be in danger.” Before Amit can respond, a brick comes through the window. Sanah screams and runs backwards. Supriya stays where she is. Amit shoves Tamannah down to the floor, and then himself walks over to the window to look out at the crowd that we see in flickering streetlights outside. He calls out to them “Stop this! The money is not there, trust me to give it to you when I have it.” There are shouts in response, and another brick which Amit ducks at the last minute. Tamannah leaps off the floor and runs to the window to look out and cry to the crowd, “Stop this! Violence is not the way.” And then she cries out as a stone hits her forehead, and she falls. Amit catches her and sweeps her up in his arms, carrying her back inside to a bedroom. Tamannah naturally curls herself towards him. He gently shoves her back down onto the bed, then brushes past his mother and sister and runs down the stairs and out on to the street. FIGHT SCENE!!!! Amit comes out of the building with a great roar of anger. The crowd backs up in surprise. He looks at them and just breaths for a moment. Then slowly takes off his jacket, his tie, and his shirt. Dressed in only an undershirt and his suit pants, he slowly approaches the crowd. They avoid him at first, but finally one leaps forward. And Amit, of course, knocks him out with one punch. It goes from there, until finally Amit has driven them all away, and then stumbles inside and brushes past his mother and sister again to go into the bedroom. He closes the door, and walks over to the bed, sinking down beside it, looking at her face. Fantasy love song!!!
Tamannah senses his presence and slowly wakes. And then immediately shoots up at the sight of his beaten face, trying to reach out and help him. Amit grabs her to pull her back onto the bed, and they end up entwined. Until finally Amit says “Tamannah, you just listen!” and she falls silent. He goes on to say “I don’t have much to offer you, my factory may not even be open next week, I may be back on the street. But I can offer you my name, my protection. You have been injured defending me, and knowing this town, they will come up with poor reasons for it. Please, let me protect you.” Tamannah looks shaken and a little teary but manages to say “I do not want to put on you one more burden that you cannot bear.” Amit takes a minute. holds her close for a second longer, and then sets her down and stands, “I understand. I am not the husband you would choose for yourself. That is fine, I will not bother you again. But if there is ever anyway I can happen help you, I hope you will ask.
Tamannah returns home, shaken from all this, to find an old friend waiting to greet her, Mohanlal! In a surprise cameo! He is a friend of the family, in town on business, looking for investment opportunities. He flirts with Revathy a little, and makes Sathyaraj laugh, and is generally wonderful. And finally he takes a minute to speak with Tamannah, who immediately says, “I have an investment opportunity for you.” Mohanlal looks charmed and surprised “I would not have thought you would have a head for business! This city has changed you.” Tamannah plows right past that and says “there is a factory in this city that is about to close for lack of funds, through no fault of its own. If you were to give your money to the owner, I am sure he would be able to double or triple your investment.” Mohanla points out “it would be hard to trust someone with my funds who is about to lose his own factory!” Tamannah sincerely says “I would trust him with my life.” Mohanlal looks wise at her, and Tamannah looks down for a moment, embarrassed.
Next scene, Mohanlal is in Amit’s office, signing papers for the loan. Amit is appropriately grateful, Mohanlal laughs it off, that he is expecting a high rate of return. He was promised great things by someone they both know well, Tamannah. Mohanlal is all twinkly, clearly trying to convey the message “Tamannah really really likes you.” Amit immediately shuts down, clearly getting the message “Tamannah and Mohanlal have a thing going on.” He briefly says “please pass on my gratitude to the lady for, once again, saving me.”
Tamannah meanwhile is sitting in her room staring out the window. Her mother comes in gently and says something about “I know it is sad that your friend has died [I think it’s classy for Lisa Haydon to die off-screen and remind us of all those other abused workers who die and we don’t even notice], but you must leave this room.” Mohanlal comes up behind and says “Yes! You must! I’ll tell you what, I will take you back to your hometown. That will cheer you up!” Tamannah smiles faintly and agrees.
Sad song! Tamannah is traveling through India by train, but as she looks out the window, she keeps seeing images of Delhi, Lisa Haydon a lot, also the streets, the factories, and a lot of flashes of Amit, her first vision of him, the moment they held hands, when he fell injured, when he carried her to his bed, and so on. Meanwhile, Amit is walking around his now fully operational factory, but doesn’t look happy about it, and his mother is giving him worried glances. Even at his sister’s wedding, he looks unhappy. Finally, Tamannah’s train stops and she steps down in her home village. At the same time that Amit sadly takes off his wedding turban in his room and Supriya comes up behind him.
(this kind of intercutting)
Tamannah and Mohanlal walk through her village, the temple, the fields. Mohanlal says something about, “it’s beautiful.” Tamannah agrees, but then adds “but what price beauty? We live here, disconnected from the world, but profiting by the the changes, sending the worst fruit of our fields to the cities, letting families starve rather than break cast, at the mercy of the whims of the weather for our livelihood.” Mohanlal looks surprised, and says “the north has changed you.” Before Tamannah can respond, she hears someone call her name, and it’s Naga!!! Mohanlal gives her a knowing smile and says “I thought perhaps the cure for one heartbreak might be another heart.”
Tamannah and Naga walk through the fields and he asks her about the north, commiserating with how different it might be there, that she looks thinner. Tamannah just smiles. Naga then goes on to point out that, perhaps, her traveling with Mohanlal so far from her parents shows that she is no longer so tied to them? Tamannah looks surprised, like she hadn’t thought of it that way before, and agrees. Naga then asks if this means, perhaps, she is willing to entrust her life to someone else? Tamannah looks very surprised and kind of wondrous as she says “Yes! I am!” Naga eagerly says, “and so, can I then ask-” Tamannah cuts him off, “Tell me, do you know when the next train out of the village arrives?” Naga answers “not until tomorrow. But what I was saying was-” Tamannah leaps in again, “do you think I could hire a car? Perhaps catch it at the next village?” Naga answers, “in a moment, I am sure I can help you with that, but first-” Tamannah starts to walk fast and he has to run a little to catch up with her, and she starts talking “I am sorry, I don’t have a moment, my whole life is waiting for me in Delhi and I must get back there immediately.” Naga, finally, seems to catch on and asks, “Does this life have a name?” “Yes!” “And I suppose he is handsomer, wiser, kinder than myself?” “No! He is dark and unpleasant with hardly two words to speak at a time. But I love him!” This last is shouted as she starts to run, and Naga sadly slows down to stand in the road and watch her as we get a big artsy shot of her running from the village up the road to the north.
Meanwhile, back in Delhi, Amit is sitting and just looking at his face in the mirror. Supriya comes up behind him and asks “Have your bruises healed?” Amit nods. Supriya gently places her hand on his heart “and here?” Amit smiles and slightly shakes his head. Supriya says, “our family has finished with one wedding, I think we could manage one more. She may not be my choice, but if she is yours, that is all that matters and I will make my peace with it.” Amit gently puts his hand over Supriya’s, where it rests on his chest, and says “She may be my choice, but I am not hers.” Supriya frowns and says “I raised you better than that. Do not sit around and wait for your situations to change, go out and work to change them. I want you to leave this house, and do not return without my daughter-in-law.” Amit smiles slightly and says “but, Ma-” She cuts him off, “I do not want argument! I have told you what must be done, now do it!” Amit has no choice, but to smile and nod.
Train station scene! YAAAAAY! At CST in Bombay, Tamannah gets off a train, asking Mohanlal why they must stand here for an hour, when they could keep going and reach Delhi an hour sooner. Mohanlal smiles and says “you must accommodate yourself to the slower pace of things.” Tamannah snaps back in fine northern style “I think the slower pace of things should accommodate itself to a faster pace!” And then goes storming off while Mohanlal chuckles in the background. Meanwhile, Amit is getting off his own train, smiling as he sees young woman and children walking by, and the crowds in the station. Clearly enjoying his little break from his hard-driving life. When he sees Tamannah in the distance! He comes slowly up behind her, watching while she paces in irritation, and when a speeding man bumps into her, giving him a shove and snapping “watch where you are going!” Amit touches her arm and says “there is no excuse for violence.” Tamannah whirls around, and looks dumbstruck to see him there. Another passenger shoves against her, and she falls into his arms. Amit pulls her close and drags her out of the crowd, and over into the shadow of a train, Tamannah watching his face the entire time. Finally, out of the way of the crowd, he turns to look at her face and asks “how did you find your home?” Tamannah frowns and says “changed. It is not what I remembered. Or wanted. I find that my heart has changed.” And then she looks up at Amit and says, “You once offered to do me a service, should I ever find myself in need of anything you can offer. I have that need now.” Amit asks “what is it?” Tamannah looks down, and gently takes his hand that is around her waist and raises it to her hand and kisses it. Amit smiles and gently turns her face up towards his for a kiss, as the camera pulls back and a train goes by, obscuring our view, with the sign on it “Tamil to Delhi Connection.”
(The original scene, for comparison)
Okay, I got way way too into that. Hopefully someone actually reads to the end. If you do, as a reward, I will give you some additional casting options to consider:
Abhishek and Bhoomika Chawla in the early 2000s
Amitabh and Jaya in the 1970s (She would need to be from East Bengal instead of Tamil Nadu)
Shahrukh and Kajol in the 90s
Rishi Kapoor and Sridevi in the 80s
Ranveer and Dips in a bigger budget version for today
UPDATE: Additional option inspired by comments below, modern day Malalayam film set in Bangalore and rural Kerala.
Prithviraj runs a call center/IT firm in Bangalore. Namitha Pramod is the daughter of a communist party worker in rural Kerala. Her father discovers minor bribery in his office, and impulsively decides that the entire philosophy and part is flawed, and moves his family to Bangalore where he will work in the English language training center of Prithviraj’s call center. Prithviraj signs up for private tutoring sessions. And so on and so forth. Everything else above stays the same, except we can use Nivin Pauly instead of Naga Chaitanya as the rejected suitor. And instead of beating an employ for smoking, it is slapping an employee for breaking computer security protocols. Mostly I am excited about this because Prithviraj is perfect casting for the fearsome dark driven powerful man.