Happy Father’s Day! I am celebrating by doing nothing! Probably. I might go out to lunch with my parents after church if they want to. But we have all had very exhausting weeks, and his Father’s Day wish may be to just go straight home and take a nap instead. But I am excited at the idea of doing a Sunday speculative post that is fatherhood themed! Such a rich source of film plots, that is very rarely used.
Why are fathers always so angry in Indian films? Angry about avenging their sons, angry about their sons defying them, angry about their daughters falling in love, etc. etc.? In my experience, as a daughter, fathers are not about anger, fathers are about love. All kinds of love, making me breakfast and packing my lunch for school every day, or watching Rocky and Love Story with me, or reading every single post on my blog (hi Dad!). And my Grandpa is the same, sending me flowers to surprise me the first day in my new apartment, or my other Grandpa, who taught me to love Kipling and parades and history books and frozen pizza. So, where is that love in Indian film? Where is the father who is quietly supportive and loving and just plain happy to spend time with his children? I’m not really seeing much of him, so let’s write about him!
So, let’s start with the idea that I came up with when Niki in the comments suggested Ranbir as a father, and I immediately rejected that because he didn’t seem responsible enough. But Ranveer Singh as father, yes!
So, let’s try this! Ranbir Kapoor is a flirtatious young man, women after women in his life. He meets Dips, who is a similarly wild and flirtatious young woman. They fall into bed together after one club song, and she leaves the next day.
(Like this, but with Ranbir instead of Saif)
And then we are introduced to an entirely different young man, Ranveer Singh. He isn’t a saint, but he also isn’t going to clubs. Let’s say, he is rushing to a business meeting, and silencing his phone and ignoring the phone calls from his mother, Kirron Kher. He gets to the business meeting, and barely pulls it together, has lost the important file from his presentation in a cab. He stumbles through the presentation, and afterwards his boss tells him they got the bid, but only because their price was low, his presentation almost lost them the job. And he had better find that file he lost.
Ranveer calls the headquarters of the car company he used that morning, explaining he left something very important in the car. The company is sympathetic, tell him not to worry, they have it. Ranveer asks them to messenger it to him, they seem a bit surprised, but agree. And, of course, the messenger arrives at his office with a baby. !!!!!
But, this is where I want to go a little different from the usual “man doesn’t know what to do with baby” trope. Ranveer falls in love with the baby at first sight. The cute little smile, and then the baby grabs his finger, and you can see his face just melt. He immediately gets angry at the terrible parent who left this precious baby in a cab. He takes the baby home to Kirron, who is upset at first, but then gets over it because the baby is so cute. Late that night, Dips shows up, slightly drunk, and asks for her child because the car company gave her this address. Ranveer refuses to hand it over. They fight, and in the end, Ranveer says she can sleep there, on his couch, she doesn’t have to leave her baby for the night. But he won’t let it go with a woman who is in no state to take care of it, she can take it home tomorrow when she has sobered up.
During the night, Deepika wakes up and sees Ranveer comforting the crying baby, and then sees him asleep holding the baby the next morning. She takes another few drinks from a hidden flask, then leaves him a note, saying that she kept her baby because she loved it too much to give it up to strangers, but she also loves it enough, now, to see that it will be happier here with Ranveer. And so she is leaving, never to return.
Happy montage! Kirron and Ranveer and baby (time to give it a gender, let’s say girl! Because Save the Girl Child) form a happy household. Ranveer is never that successful in his jobs, he loses a couple of them. Finally Kirron opens a sweet shop, so Ranveer can work behind the counter and Baby Girl can grow up back in the kitchen. Times are tough, but they always manage to pay school fees, and Baby Girl gets the one bedroom in the apartment, while Ranveer sleeps on the couch.
(Happy baby song!)
And then conflict! Baby Girl is 6 now. Kirron is nagging Ranveer to flirt with that cute girl who comes into the sweet shop every morning for coffee (Sonakshi). When suddenly Ranbir appears! He shows up at the sweet shop and starts playing with Baby Girl and giving her gifts. Kirron and Ranveer of course appear and whisk her away protectively. Ranbir makes puppy dog eyes and asks if he can talk to Ranveer. And explains that he never even know about Baby Girl’s existence until recently, his father has just died, his only living relative, and in the process and cleaning up the estate, he found a check to Deepika. He tracked down Deepika, who explained that the check was for the support of her and their baby, she went to his father for help because she needed the money for their child, but she never wanted him to know. And once she found a better place for the child, she never went to his father for money again, because she didn’t want it for herself. Now Ranbir, sad orphan that he is, just wants his daughter back.
Ranveer is momentarily touched. After all, a daughter is a wonderful thing! He offers that the three of them can spend time together. At first it goes well, Ranbir is gentle and loving and he and his daughter bond over stuff like a shared love of ice cream. Finally, Ranveer agrees to let Ranbir take his daughter for an overnight visit. And it goes terribly wrong, she doesn’t want to go to sleep, and Ranbir doesn’t know how to handle it, and starts to cry, so she starts to cry, and finally he just walks out of the room and goes to the living room to smoke some marijuana, and play video games. He hears her crying, and just turns the volume up louder. He wakes up on the couch the next morning, and starts having breakfast like usual, and then finally sees the dirty dishes in the sink from last night and remembers that his daughter is there and he hasn’t seen her in 12 hours. He goes into the bedroom to find her lying on the floor, all cried out. But when he starts to lift her up, she cries out in pain. She fell off the bed and broke her arm, and he never heard her cries.
Ranbir calls Ranveer from the hospital, in tears, all apologetic and saying it is his fault. And for the first time, Ranveer becomes furious. He slams Ranbir against the wall of the hospital, tells him he is never going to be alone with Baby Girl ever again, and then rushes in to comfort his daughter.
And, of course, Court Case!!!! Ranbir, feeling self-pitying, sues for access. Arguing that he is wealthy, he is the biological father, and he is a different man than the wild party boy he was back then. Ranveer, of course, ends up hiring Sonakshi. Who confesses that she is scared of children, but slowly and adorably gets comfortable with Baby Girl, and we can see that Ranveer and Baby Girl and Sonakshi and Kirron are forming their own family. In the end, Dips shows up as a surprise witness. She saw the notice about the case in the paper. She is a different person now, she went to rehab, stopped drinking, and is now married to a wonderful man (let’s say Arjun Rampal in a cameo). And for the past 6 years, she has kept tabs on her daughter, occasionally looking through the window of the shop, or watching her play in school. But she was too ashamed to approach her, knowing that she didn’t deserve to be her mother, that Ranveer was her real true parent. But one thing she can do, as a mother, is to make sure her daughter stays with Ranveer, where she belongs, not with Ranbir, who doesn’t deserve her.
(A more interesting small friendly appearance for her than Raabta was)
In the end, before the judge can rule, Ranbir withdraws his claim. Tells Ranveer that he only thought about what was best for himself, not for his child. But he has woken up and, if Ranveer is willing, he would like to go back to building a relationship with Baby girl. Ranveer starts to say “no”, but then sees Baby Girl happily waving to Ranbir and realizes that it is best for his daughter to have some kind of supervised relationship, and agrees. Ranveer also chases after Deepika, and breaks through her resistance, to insist that she meet her daughter. And while he watches Deepika (with the support of Arjun) hesitantly talk with Baby Girl, Sonakshi comes up and takes his hand, showing that the two of them will end up together too. End credits photos, we see this whole happy blended family. Sonakshi gets pregnant, Dips gets pregnant, Baby Girl visits both babies in the hospital with the same “I’m a big sister” shirt on. Ranbir is there in the background at birthdays and parties, but not part of the central group. Because he is terrible.
Now, isn’t that a nice story? I want to do a twist on it though, the version where Ranbir as the unmarried father grows up and grows a spine and takes care of his daughter. Only not Ranbir, I want someone even younger, Varun as father!
Varun is a college/high school student (I mean the Indian college, that starts when you are like 16, not American college that starts at 18 and you have left home already), Alia is his college/high school student girlfriend. They are in love, but in a college kind of way. Hiding phone calls from their parents, sneaking around the library for make out sessions, etc. On a college trip to Shimla (it’s always Shimla), they spend the night together.
(Alia and Varun are one of the few young jodis where sleeping together wouldn’t feel unnatural. They’ve got such a sweet comfortable chemistry!)
Suddenly, a couple months after their return to Bombay, Alia drops out of school and Varun can’t reach her on the phone. He drifts around, all lovesick young man. Bugging all his friends, and all her friends, hanging around outside her house, dreaming of her. Until, finally, a friend tells him that he saw Alia at a remote resort village hospital/nursing home. Varun rushes to the hospital, sees her through the window of her room, is all dreamy and romantic, and then sees the baby in her arms, and everything shifts. And then shifts again, when he sees a nurse come in to take the baby and Alia start crying.
Varun rushes into the room, he and Alia exchange one glance that conveys everything, and then Varun rushes out again, chasing the nurse. He makes a huge scene, manages to grab the baby, hospital security is called, finally they end up at a police station. Where the whole thing comes out, obviously Alia got pregnant with Varun’s baby. And her family was furious when they found out (oh heck, let’s make Varun Muslim and Alia Hindu, just for kicks). They kept her locked in the house, and then sent her to this out of the way hospital for the last few weeks of pregnancy and birth. Now the baby is scheduled to be taken away to the local orphanage. Varun argues that he is the baby’s father, he should raise it, he will raise it. The police officer points out that it could take years to prove that in court, and meanwhile the baby is living in an orphanage. Let’s see if they can find a better solution. At which point Alia’s father arrives, refuses to even look at Varun, and says that he has arranged things, Varun can have the baby. But he must swear never to try to see Alia again. Varun objects, and her father hands him a letter. Alia in the letter explains that, as she is underage, she can’t fight for her baby herself. Her father can use everything in his power to torture their child as punishment for being born illegitimate, hiding it away in an orphanage and signing off parental rights. She was ready to run away as soon as she turned 18 and take her child back. But that would mean it would spend a year and a half in misery unloved in an orphanage, maybe longer if she had to fight a legal fight for it. Instead, she has made a deal with her father, they will sign legal documents acknowledging Varun’s right to the baby, and arrange for his custody to be completely legal. And in return, she will remain the obedient daughter, marry the family friend he has chosen for her the minute she turns 18 and never see Varun again or tell anyone about him or their child. But Varun has to agree as well. It is a sacrifice they both have to make for the sake of their child.
Of course, Varun has no choice but to agree. He comes out of the police station with the baby in his arms to see his parents waiting, looking ashamed and unhappy. His father tells him that they will not support him in anyway from now on, now that he is a father, he should be old enough to support himself.
Varun ends up starting life afresh in this small mountain town. He works as a waiter at the resort, leaving Baby Girl (again, Save the Girl Child) to be taken care of by a nice old neighbor lady while he works, coming home after a hard day at work to wash diapers and boil bottles and sing lullabies. Two years later, Varun has been promoted to front desk, and life is a little easier, but it is still a struggle. He is also still friends with the cop who helped decide the case in the first place, let’s say Prakash Raj.
At which point, a wealthy couple checks into the hotel. The husband, Arjun Rampal, is there for a business conference. And he so dotes on his young wife, that he takes her everywhere with him. Of course, the wife is Alia. She and Varun lock eyes at the reception desk, and again a message is passed between them just with their eyes.
That night, he is waiting with his sleeping daughter in his arms outside the hotel back exit. Alia rushes out, saying she only has a minute before Arjun misses her, and takes a moment to hold and kiss her daughter, before passing her back, and saying that Arjun will be in meetings all day, when can she see her again?
While Arjun is in meetings, Alia sneaks to the house of the old woman who cares for Baby Girl and spends all day with her. In the evening, she eats dinner with Varun and Baby Girl and she and Varun talk and talk while Baby Girl sleeps, all about Baby Girl. It is not romantic at all, it is just fellow parents.
Until Arjun finds out (of course). He really is a fairly nice and loving guy. But he wants Alia to be his perfect young bride. When she confesses the truth to him, breaking her promise to her father only because Arjun is so visibly upset and she cares about him, Arjun is sympathetic. He “forgives” her. He says he can forget her “mistake”. This affronts Alia, who finally realizes that she has spent 2 years apologizing for a “mistake” that wasn’t a mistake at all, she loves her daughter, and loved Varun, and there was nothing wrong with anything she did. And she certainly can’t forget her daughter again, now that she has found her. She quietly packs her bags and leaves Arjun, showing up on Varun’s doorstep in the middle of the night.
(I know he seems way too old for her, that’s the point, that she was married off to this guy she never should have married.)
The second half of the movie is Alia living in Varun’s house. She argues that he can save the money he paid the old woman to care for Baby Girl and just give it to her. Alia struggles with cleaning and cooking and living without luxuries. But she perseveres, and hides her tears from Baby Girl and Varun, and Varun starts to fall in love with her again. Not like before, when it was all about flirting and college and superficial. But now, when it is because of how patient she is with their daughter, and how bravely she keeps going despite being burned by using the wood stove, and getting blisters on her hands from the broom, and everything else. And Alia starts to fall for Varun for similar reasons, when he brings home dinner from the hotel the day that Baby Girl was sick and Alia was extra tired, and when he offers to get up in the middle of the night when Baby Girl has a nightmare so she can sleep, and when he lets her have the bed in the first place while he sleeps on the floor.
But here is where it starts to go wrong. Varun and Alia seem like they are about to talk to each other, to say that they are in love, not just because they are parents, or because of their love story from back in the past, but because they have fallen in love with each other now, in the present. But then Arjun reappears! He says that he can’t live without Alia, and Baby Girl is a part of her, so he loves Baby Girl too. But he says all of this to Varun. He also shows Varun the love video Alia sent him on Whatsapp shortly after their marriage, talking about how she can’t imagine life without him, she is so happy right now, and so on and so on. And points out to Varun that Baby Girl deserves better than living in a tiny house with a leaking roof and a father who is working all the time. Varun finally agrees, and tells Arjun that he and Alia can raise Baby Girl. But he can’t bear to watch her leave, he will go to work, and Arjun can be there waiting when Alia returns from shopping. He leaves Alia a note, telling her that Baby Girl will be happier with her and Arjun than with just him, and that it is the best thing they can do as parents.
Alia is of course confused when she returns home to find Arjun watching Baby Girl sleep. Arjun gives her the same speech he gave Varun, and is clearly sincere, but Alia is conflicted. Until she sees the note Varun left and is convinced by his reasoning. But when they are at the train station, Baby Girl points to Alia’s sad face and starts to cry, and Alia looks surprised, and then tells Arjun that she can’t go with him after all, the best thing for a child is happy parents who love each other, and she loves Varun and was happy with him. Meanwhile, Prakash Raj has arrested Varun because he was drunk in the middle of the day, in the middle of town. Varun sobbed out the whole story to Prakash, saying he might as well just go to jail now, he has nothing else to live for. Prakash doesn’t accept the “Baby Girl will be better with rich parents” argument, and says that he knows Alia loves Varun, the whole town knows it. Therefore, just as Alia’s train starts to move, it suddenly stops again, Prakash has called in orders to stop it to the stationmaster. Alia jumps off and stands on the platform with Baby Girl in her arms, just as Varun comes running up. He admits “I couldn’t let you go” and Alia admits “I couldn’t go”. And then they kiss, with Baby Girl smooshed between them.
Epilogue, Varun and Alia have an interreligious marriage, with Baby Girl in their arms being passed between them during the ceremony. And Arjun is there, smiling sadly in the background. Until he is introduced to Dips, a wedding guest, and obviously immediately hits it off with her. (it’s a whole joint universe, you see. Dips knew Alia because they were both at the mountain nursing home pregnant at the same time)
Final film idea! A short one, but a cute one. I want to see Shahrukh play a father to a grown woman. It’s time! And I want to see him play a loving friendly type of father, not an authoritarian one.
So, how about this? Shahrukh is a single-father to Alia Bhatt. Alia is playing a little younger than she really is, let’s say recent college grad. Shahrukh is fussy and loving, super happy that she is back to living at home, but also constantly trying to make her pick up her room, and eat more, and do all those things parents want.
(Make them more like they are together in real life, less like they were as one-sided romantic partners and friends in Dear Zindagi)
Alia fusses right back, says that he needs to stop building his life around her and start getting a life of his own, he spent the whole 4 years she was away skyping her and emailing her and worrying about her life, and he never went out and experimented on his own. It’s been 20 years since her mother died (Pooja Bhatt in flashbacks, obviously), it is time for him to get out there and try something new.
But then Alia sees a cute guy at her internship, Rana Daggubati (I like him so much post Bahubali promo tour!), and gets all flustered and in love at first sight. She talks about it in her video diary that night, the video diary she uses to talk to her mother, saying that she just had to talk to someone so she is talking to her “mother” through the laptop camera. Of course, when Shahrukh is tidying her room the next day, he accidentally starts the video going and is shocked!!!!
Shahrukh goes to the internship the next day, pretending to be a new applicant for an assistant job in order to meet Rana. Rana is charmed at the idea of this middle-aged guy wanting to start a new career, and Shahrukh is charmed by how Rana has a photo of his parents on his desk, and eats healthy lunches, and generally seems like a good decent boy. He also asks a bunch of awkward questions like “Tell me, sir, do you drink? I like to know these things about my boss before I accept a job” etc. etc.
Shahrukh starts his new job, and has to constantly duck around so Alia won’t see him while she is on her internship. He spends a lot of time arranging for her to be alone with Rana, stopping the elevator while they are in it and so on. And meanwhile, his young co-worker in his training class, Anushka Sharma, is charmed by this funny older guy with the youthful spirit. Anushka ends up befriending Alia in the cafeteria, and they exchange stories and complaints, Alia about her funny fussy father, and Anushka about this cute older guy who never seems to notice her. With Alia’s advice, Anushka convinces Shahrukh that she needs help with her car, and then convinces him to go out for a coffee as a thank you, and slowly their relationship starts. Although Shahrukh still doesn’t realize exactly what is happening, until Anushka straight up tells him “I don’t want to be your friend, or your co-worker, I don’t want you to give me advice, I want you to love me”. Shahrukh is thrown, but when she hugs him, he can’t stop himself from hugging her back, even though he is a little ashamed of his feelings.
(I don’t care how many other movies they make together, I still need more Anushka-Shahrukh to make up for the travesty of them not getting together in JTHJ)
Alia and Rana are just chugging along swimmingly. To the point that Alia wants him to meet her father. Rana is adorably nervous about it, asking all kinds of questions to make sure he acts and dresses and everything correctly. Alia is casual, says that her father will like whoever she likes, and anyway, she’s not old-fashioned like him, it doesn’t matter what their parents think. But what they don’t know is that Shahrukh overheard Rana in his office the night before. Rana was on the phone with his uncle, talking about Dips and Ranbir (multiverse!), saying “We’ll give her a check if that’s what you think is best. Certainly marriage is out of the question. A girl like that doesn’t belong in our family.” Shahrukh, naturally, is furious (especially because he knows Rana and Anushka shared a hotel room on a recent business trip), but before he could burst in, someone else entered the office, and Rana walked out to his car with them and drove away.
It’s the next day that Rana shows up at their house, before he can say a word, Shahrukh answers the door and immediately starts hitting him and abusing him, throwing him out of the house. Alia protests and tries to stop, Rana tries not to hit back because he doesn’t want to offend Alia, and because he is all confused learning that his good friend and employee Shahrukh is Alia’s father and is furious with him. Finally, Rana leaves, Alia is in tears, says that she loves him, why did Shahrukh do that? Shahrukh looks all unhappy, because of course he doesn’t want to break Alia’s heart by saying exactly what Rana said, so instead he just gently says “Believe me, he is no good for you. Leave that job, never see him again, we will find someone better, someone who deserves you.” Alia is still unhappy, and there is a bit of tension in the next scene when we see her alone in her room, secretly picking up her phone. She calls Rana, who immediately starts protesting that he loves her, she was right that parents don’t matter, he will pick her up right away and they will elope. Alia lets him talk, and then tells him “I’m sorry Rana. I am just calling to tell you that my father thinks we should not talk again. My father is the wisest man I know, and I trust his judgement, so this is good-bye.” And then she hangs up.
Sad song, Alia is missing Rana, Shahrukh is trying to pretend he doesn’t miss Anushka. Finally, Alia decides she can’t keep making Shahrukh unhappy with her unhappiness, puts on a brave face, and declares they are both going out, along with a new friend of hers, to visit the friends family vacation home for the day. Only, of course, the friend is Anushka. Who is all “this is your old fuddy-duddy boring father?” While Alia is all “this was your super hot older man crush?” But after a momentary awkwardness, Alia is on board, and Shahrukh can hardly manage to contain his delight to see Anushka again. It is all going well, until they arrive at the family vacation home to find RANA!!!!!!
He is Anushka’s cousin!!!!! Who has come to the remote house to nurse his broken heart. Shahrukh orders Alia to go sit in the car, which she immediately does. Rana warns Shahrukh that this time he will fight back, he has already lost Alia, no point in respecting her father. Fight!!!! Anushka keeps running in to try to stop the fight, and finally just shoves both of them in the lake. While both men stand there in wet shirts, she forces Shahrukh to tell her the truth about why he hates Rana. Shahrukh admits what he heard, Anushka says that she has known Rana his whole life and that doesn’t sound like him at all. Rana explains that he was talking about someone else entirely, a girl their worthless cousin Ranbir has gotten in trouble who would be better off with money from the family than married to Ranbir, Anushka knows how he is, Rana would never say those things for real, that he wants to marry Alia, he will marry her right now if Shahrukh wants. Shahrukh immediately gets upset, a father dreams his whole life of his daughter’s wedding! He has been saving for 20 years. Alia is getting the biggest wedding he can possibly throw her. Anushka signals to Alia to come out of the car to join them just in time to hear this, and Alia suggests that if they are having such a grand wedding, why not make it a double wedding?
End credits, Alia and Rana have a big huge wedding, and then in the corner Anushka and Shahrukh have a smaller shy little ceremony.
Okay, what do you think? If we only have enough imaginary money to make one of these, which ones should we make? And what about casting? I’m not completely happy with Ranveer in the first one and Alia in the last one. I know they would do a great job, but maybe there is someone else out there who could do better.