I love Karan. Love love love. Both as an artist and a public figure. But I have to admit, he has a problem with endings. Every film either drags on too long or ends too soon. There’s always a feeling of “wait, that’s all there is?” at the end of it. And so, as my birthday gift in advance to him, I am going to fix all that! (real birthday post will go up in a couple days on the actual birthday)
I’m going to leave most of the film in place. Ranbir and Anushka have this amazing connection, but she is not attracted to him. She married someone else, he makes a big scene at her wedding, then has a rebound thing with Aishwarya Rai, finally gets back in touch with her, but when they see each other again, all the old feelings come rushing back, and he begs her to just cut him out of her life. He takes his heartbreak and pours it into his music, becoming a viral sensation and finally a working performer. At a show he meets Anushka’s husband, learns they have broken up and no one has seen Anushka, him or her family, in over a year. Ranbir knows exactly where she is, her favorite place in the city where she took him the night they first met. And he rushes off to find her there.
Okay, I’m going to keep all of that. It’s just the bit after that I think isn’t quite right. It’s close to right, but not quite right. Karan’s point, which I appreciate, is to show that even in extreme circumstances, Anushka kept her promise of not bothering Ranbir. And that even in those similarly extreme circumstances, she was glad to see him, but was still absolutely definitely never going to love him in a romantic way. And finally for Ranbir to understand and appreciate her love. But it seems awfully cruel to have to kill off Anushka to reach this point.
(Wouldn’t it be nice to watch this pretty song and not be terrible depressed?)
Alternative option 1: Anushka has a terrible accident! Which is also kind of depressing, but at least she can recover from it. She is hit by a car, but refuses to call her family, or her ex-husband, or Ranbir, because she knows that her ex and her family don’t love her and would only help out of duty, and because of her vow to Ranbir. Ranbir finds this out when he goes to find her at their special place, and sees the massive damage to a store-front in the building, and learns that a drunk driver jumped off the road onto the sidewalk and hit a pedestrian, a “pretty young Indian girl” (naturally the store owner telling him this is also desi). Ranbir makes a leap and figures it out, starts calling around to hospitals and rehab facilities, and finally finds her in a state run open ward type place. Anushka is still cheerful, and is thrilled to see him, but confesses that she is sick of being nice all the time to all these other people and wishes she could just go home. If she even had a home to go to.
Ranbir signs her out, and helps her with rehab, doing all the intimate embarrassing things like bring her to and from the bathroom. They are closer than ever. But the night before her cast is going to be removed, after helping her into her pajamas, he tries to hug her and kiss her. There is an added layer to it, he just did something incredibly intimate, helping her to change, but in a way that took no advantage, that was simply caring and not sexual. He isn’t crossing the line there at all. But now that she is dressed again, he is kissing her cheek. And Anushka senses that he is doing it with more than friendship and moves away. Ranbir blows up at her, because he has been so good and chaste and respectful for weeks, and now one little kiss on the cheek is too much for her? He storms out.
The next day he comes back, to find her gone. She is flying home to her parents. He rushes to the airport, Anushka is arguing her way onto a plane despite her injuries. And then she collapses and screams in pain to get them to let her off the plane. In the ambulance, Ranbir is freaking out, thinking she has re-broken her leg, which the doctor said could cripple her for life. Anushka goes with it and asks him if she is a cripple, isn’t it better for her to go to her family? Ranbir finally “gets it”, says that he doesn’t want that, he wants to take care of her, he is her family, and that’s all that matters. Anushka laughs and tells him the truth, that it was all a game, and then pretend screams when he hugs her too hard.
Back in the present day, Ranbir has a reflective smile as he finishes his interview, then Anushka comes on camera behind him to remind him that he has another interview in a few minutes, and she wouldn’t be doing her job as his manager if she didn’t get him along to it. Ranbir gets up, and Anushka says “oh, one thing first!” and gives him a hug. A friendship hug, that Ranbir accepts as just that, showing that she has finally learned how to express her feelings and he has learned not to misunderstand them.
Alternative option 2: Anushka loses all her money! I hate to keep beating up Anushka, but it needs to be something terrible to make Ranbir stop caring about his issues, and to show that Anushka won’t call him no matter what. Same deal, he finds her on the rooftop, and wants to spend the day with her, but she says she can’t because she has to go to work. He is all excited, thinking she has found her passion, and she just laughs, saying that no one will hire her for a job like that! She is a waitress. Ranbir is shocked! He is further shocked when he goes to meet her at her apartment after her job, and finds her living in a tiny apartment with 4 roommates, mess everywhere, music blasting. He asks her to move in with him, she won’t take charity, so instead he suggests that she pay him the same rent she is paying for the shared apartment.
They keep having bargains like that. He points out that if she doesn’t eat the food he buys, it will just go to waste, because he buys too much. And here are some clothes an ex-girlfriend left behind, she might as well wear them. Finally he offers that instead of her working an extra shift that night, he could pay her the same amount she would make at work to spend time with him. But that night, he tries to kiss her, and Anushka leaps up in disgust and runs out. Ranbir goes out and gets drunk and comes back the next day to find her room packed up and a note saying that she is going to try to find a new life somewhere else. He rushes to the airport, Anushka makes a huge scene on the flight and gets escorted out, the reunite in the back of the police car because he was making a huge scene out front and also got arrested. The arresting officer says something about how they’ll be home in no time once they make bail, Anushka laughs and says she guesses that means Ranbir will be home and she will see in in a few weeks. Ranbir says that he is paying bail for the both of them, Anushka makes a face and says “my wages?” And Ranbir says “no, because you are family. My money is your money and your money is mine. If I ever end up on the streets, I expect you to raise the money to keep me!” And then same ending, cut to the present day where Anushka is clearly serving as his manager and taking care of him, and all their issues are solved.
Student of the Year: I don’t want to say this is a perfect film, but the ending is close to perfect. It’s a light silly film with a light silly ending. But there are just a few things I would add to make it slightly better.
The whole thing is a flashback. In the present day, a bunch of young people get a phone call that Rishi Kapoor is in the hospital. As they wait for word, they remenisces about when they were all at school together and Rishi was their principal. Varan and Siddharth Malhotra were the richest and poorest boy in school, and after initial rivalry, became friends. Until the rivalry came back when Siddharth fell in love with Varun’s girlfriend, Alia. They had a big fight the last day of school and haven’t seen each other since.
Okay, all of that’s fine, the problem is, Karan got distracted by the Varun and Siddharth relationship angst and forgot to resolve the Alia and Siddharth angst. It started out well, Siddharth looking at her wistfully, her looking confused. And the penultimate scene was very nice, she goes to see him in his room and confronts him about his obvious feelings for her, he claims to only care about becoming a success with no time for romance, she points out that he has kept the earring she lost, and then they kiss. But then Varun interrupts them and it turns into this whole thing between the two boys with Alia never getting her ultimate scene.
After the other big scenes, Siddharth letting Varun win the scholarship competition, Rishi being confronted by his hypocrisy, and so on, I want to see Alia and Siddharth standing in front of the school. He looks at her, looks away, looks at her, looks away, their love theme starts, and finally he goes over to her and asks “Where are you off to now?” Alia says “Oh, Goa, Venice, London, where ever Mummy feels like taking me. The Rolls should be arriving any moment.” Siddharth nods and says “I’m waiting for a rickshaw.” Alia says “I’ve never traveled in a rickshaw.” Just then, his rickshaw arrives, Siddharth gets in, then turns around and holds out his hand, “would you like to try traveling with me now?” Alia hesitates, Siddharth says “we may be starting in a rickshaw but a promise we will be traveling in a rolls within 5 years”, and he looks all earnest and sensitive. Alia melts, takes his hand, and says “rickshaw or rolls, it makes no difference to me”. And then we fade into them arriving at the hospital in the present day, still holding hands, in a rolls royce as promised.
(It would also be nice if they had a less stupid love song, but we can’t have everything.)
My Name is Khan: I am conflicted about this movie. Some parts are so so brave and brilliant, and then some parts…..aren’t.
Really, I don’t think I would change much. I’m not going to try to smooth out the rough edges of the plot, just the last 5 minutes. Shahrukh saves the hurricane town (I know I know, some people hate this part, but I love it), Kajol sees it on TV, so does the little brat next door, he confesses, Kajol’s grief reaches some kind of acceptance. Now, new part!
Kajol arrives at Wilhemina only to find that Shahrukh has already left. He got a phone call from the White House, the president wants to meet him. However, while she is there, they find a box they thought had floated away, in which are Shahrukh’s personal effects, including his diary. Kajol takes the diary, and leaves to follow Shahrukh to DC, along the way, she reads the diary, and we see flashes of the rest of the film.
Finally, in DC, Shahrukh is invited in for a photo op with fake-Obama. We don’t see him from the front, just his back, as he nods a greeting to Shahrukh (no handshakes, remember), and Shahrukh nods back, and then the door closes. We cut to Shahrukh outside, on the sidewalk outside the White House, looking up at the American flag, and then starting to walk away. A car stops in front of him, and Kajol gets out, holding the diary. He smiles and nods at her, she smiles through her tears back at him and holds up the diary and says “I love you too.” Bringing us back to the very opening, the first thing he wrote in the diary, that maybe she would understand if he could say “I love you”, so he is writing it instead.
(Although his lack of verbal skills leads to one of the prettiest love songs they have ever had together)
Kabhi Alveda Na Kehna: I actually love the ending-ending! Shahrukh kneeling down at the train station is just about perfect. But the lead up to it is soooooooooooo contrived! WHY DON’T THESE PEOPLE TALK TO EACH OTHER?????
Rani and Shahrukh say good-bye with one more bench scene. They both go home and have their confrontations with their spouses. Preity slaps Shahrukh, because he deserves it! Abhishek blows up at Rani, not because she deserves it, but because this is very emotional for him. This is all good and true to their characters.
But, instead of agreeing to call and allowing for misunderstandings, Rani and Shahrukh had made an agreement to get together in 2 years. 2 years from now, when Rani might have a child (she can also acknowledge the elephant in the room of “why don’t they adopt?” by saying that if Abhishek can handle her having an affair, he should be able to handle giving up on a biological child and considering adoption), Shahrukh and Preity will be in love again, everything will be better (or so they tell each other). I actually like the title song, I like the idea that Rani and SRK had to work on their own issues separately before they could come together again, so let’s keep that, but without stupid misunderstandings.
(No video available of the title song, stupid Sony music, so I am putting up this song instead, which is my favorite from the film)
2 years later, Rani dresses nervously. She gets a call from Abhishek offering her encouragement, clearly they have made a fragile truce. She also teases him a little about his latest girlfriend, and Abhishek responds that this one is different, they are talking marriage. So we know Abhishek has moved on. And we already saw in the title-song-that-Sony-won’t-let-us-watch that Preity has solved her work-life balance issues as started a thing with hot Arjun Rampal. At the train station, Shahrukh is pacing and snapping at people and waiting. Someone bumps into him, he falls down, and as he is dragging himself up, he sees Rani, holding hands with a little girl. His face falls, he crawls away under the benches, finally pulling himself up when he is out of sight. He gets on the train, Rani runs after, thinks he has left, then is surprised to find him behind her, kneeling down to propose because he saw her through the train window and realized she still loved him. His proposal can even acknowledge the other big elephants in the room, saying that he doesn’t care if she has a child, if she is still with Abhishek, they love each other and it is wrong to be apart. Of course, she isn’t married “really”, that little girl was just one of her students, but it does address the idea that they are choosing to be together, not driven together because no one else will have them (which the original ending left a little open).
Kal Ho Na Ho: Sure, Nikhil Advani directed it, and it’s got his clever editing touches, but Karan wrote the script, and he says in his autobiography that it was always more his film than Nikhil’s. And I believe him, because it has that classic Karan Johar touch of a TERRIBLE ENDING!!!
Once again, everything leading up to the end is amazing. I didn’t like it on the first watch, I was more on the “why couldn’t she just marry Shahrukh, THEN marry Saif?” side of things. Or even for one shameful moment, the “why can’t Saif be hit by a truck and donate his heart to Shahrukh?” side. But on re-watches, I came to appreciate it more and more. Saif was clearly the better choice. She had this passionate love with Shahrukh, he woke up her heart. But Saif was the steady one who had been there all along. She would have seen him and fallen for him long ago if she hadn’t been blinded by the bitterness in other parts of her life, and they would have been married and happy by the time Shahrukh arrived. So, that all works. Shahrukh’s only concern is that she will slide back into bitterness after he is dead and forget to move on, so he wants to force her to do it, to make sure there will be someone to take care of her, that she won’t end up trapped in the misery of her household for the rest of her life like her widowed mother and grandmother have (just occurred to me that it is a household of widows, and Shahrukh is trying to break the pattern and get Preity happily married to a solid reliable man, instead of marrying him and making one more widow in the house).
Now, here’s my problem. We don’t really get to see that moment when Preity makes her peace and realizes she is happy with Saif. By the time she is with him at the hospital, it feels like a happy marriage to me, she isn’t conflicted when she looks at Shahrukh, just sad. And then we have that bad-make-up flashforward to show that they had their own child and are still in love and happy ten years later.
But what I want is the honeymoon scene! What happens after Shahrukh blesses them at the wedding? What are they like when they are alone together? I think that would help a lot with bridging her sobbing on Shahrukh’s chest and her seemingly settled into her married state at the hospital.
So, after the sad version of Kal Ho Na Ho, we cut to a honeymoon suite. Saif is nervous, while Preity sits still on the bed. He paces back and forth, picking up the room service menu, setting it done, asking is it too hot? No? Then, is it too cold? No? Should he go out and get her anything, a snack, or a newspaper, or….shoes? Preity finally loses patience, “shoes? Why would I want shoes! Why would you ask that?” Saif bursts out “I don’t know! I don’t know what you want, I am your husband and I’m supposed to take care of you and I don’t know what to do!” Preity bursts out laughing. Saif says “What? What is so funny?” and looks frustrated. Preity says “I think you are the first husband on a honeymoon night to think that what your wife wants most is shoes!” Saif starts to laugh too and loosen up a little. Preity holds out her hand and says, “why don’t you come and sit on the bed with me, that’s all I want”. Saif goes over and sits on the bed, looking awkward. Preity reaches out and holds his hand and says “I do love you, you know.” Saif shakes his head and says gently, “you don’t have to…” Preity cuts him off, “I love Shahrukh, you know that, but I love you too. I love you because you make me laugh. Shahrukh never made me laugh like that. He made me angry, but he never made me laugh. And you make me feel smart and brave and good, better than I really am.” Saif is holding her hand firmly now, Preity continues, “And if you want to give me what I want, then I want to be a wife to you, a real wife.” Saif looks up, Preity smiles, and we fade out. And honeymoon song! I want to see them happy in Hawaii or some tropical paradise like that, and then get a phone call at the end of the song, that takes them back to the hospital. So when we see them with Shahrukh, we know that they are in love and happy together and she is just sad because Shahrukh is dying, not because she will never love again or anything like that.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham: the big problem with this ending, is that there’s like 5 endings! Just FINISH THE THING ALREADY KARAN!!!!
Let’s break a new path starting at the mall scene! Jaya sees Amitabh, Amitabh sees Kajol, everyone knows who everyone is. But this time, Jaya doesn’t obediently leave with Amitabh, instead she says “No”, and stays by Shahrukh’s side. Shahrukh puts his arm around her, but otherwise doesn’t interfer. Amitabh comes closer, ignoring Shahrukh, and says “Nandini, come”. Jaya says, “No”. And then gives him the speech about how he has done wrong and is no God. And turns and walks away saying, “come, son, let us go.” Hrithik sees his father standing sad and alone, and gently pushes Kareena after her family and goes over and takes his father’s arm and says “come, father, I will take you home.”
They get the phone call at the hotel, Hrithik and Amitabh are alone at the funeral, when suddenly the rest of the family arrives. Afterwards, Jaya says straight up to Amitabh “I will welcome my daughter-in-law into the home one time, and then we will leave your house for you to enjoy in solitude. Hrithik tries to speak up, and Jaya stares him down. And then it plays out like before, Kajol and Shahrukh surprise Amitabh in his study, etc. etc., family is reunited.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: This is a real simple one small change, and so obvious that I have wondered every time I watch it why it didn’t play out like this, plus two other changes that are less vital but I think would improve it.
Everything happens as before, Kajol is about to marry Salman despite Shahrukh coming to the wedding and confessing his love. But it has always bothered me how passive Shahrukh is in this scene. So, I would make three small changes. The first two I could be talked out of, but the second is a must.
First, after Shahrukh does his silent confession of love, he puts a train ticket on top of the significant red scarf that she gave Rani and then Shahrukh gave back to her. So the scene is still wordless, but he is clearly saying “you can come away with me now if you wish”.
Second, when Kajol stops while coming down the stairs, instead of standing there like a crying statue, Shahrukh takes a step towards her and softly says her name.
Third, the really really important one, when Salman pulls her down the stairs and then spins her away from him, Kajol lands on Shahrukh’s chest. And the rest of Salman’s speech is said to them united, Shahrukh with his arms around her. And then it will be the perfect movie! Well, that and re-cast Little Anjali, but that’s a different post.
(My goodness Salman was handsome!)