I was hoping I could do this on Yash’s birthday or half birthday or something, like I did for Karan, but there’s no special occasion I could find, and I had this post idea poking around in my head, so heck, I’m just going for it.
I have long felt that Yash Chopra’s true artistic heir is not his son, but his protege Karan Johar. They have the same fascination for relationships and love triangles, the same eye for mise-en-scene, the same ability to make the same movie over and over again but different each time. And of course the same amazing star-making casting abilities. That’s the good side, the bad side is that both of them fail to end films properly. Well, Karan is a lot worse, I can’t think of a film from him that ends in a way that feels like a crescendo instead of a whimper (thus my previous post fixing his endings for his birthday). But Yashji, mostly, had good endings. Until his last two films, where it all fell apart.
I’ll fix Veer-Zaara first, the easy one: KILL THE MAKE-UP ARTISTS!!!! Or at least maim them so that they lose the use of their hands. There, I fixed the ending.
(This is a travesty)
Okay, now the hard one, Jab Tak Hain Jaan. The real inspiration for this post. I’ve tossed around a bunch of ideas for how to fix this film, so many that I thought it had already been a Sunday post. But no, that was all in comments or side-remarks in posts about other things. So now I can really really fix it!
Okay, you ready for options? SO MANY WAYS THIS COULD HAVE GONE!!! All of which would have been better than what we got.
Option 1: So, here’s what I would do. Everything is mostly the same until the accident. Anushka meets Shahrukh. She reads his diary and flashes back to his love story. Katrina makes that bonkers vow to Shahrukh, that she promised to give him up if he survived so now they can’t be together. Shahrukh declares that he will throw himself into danger in order to spite her.
And then, back in the present day, Anushka convinces Shahrukh to let her go along with his bomb defusing unit to make a documentary. She makes him laugh and loosen up. He appreciates her generosity and kindness and ambition. But here is what I would add. At some point, she will ask him if he is still doing his job just to spite Kat. And he will admit that while that is why he started, as time has gone on, the people of Kashmir, and the army men beside him, have become as important to him as any vow to Kat. Yes, she is still there in his mind, but other things are there as well. And Anushka suggests that this might mean he will, someday, be ready to let someone else into his heart. Shahrukh laughs it off (for now). And everything else happens as before, he gently turns her down when she admits her feelings, but then they trade hats when she leaves, and she kisses him on the cheek. And, later, her faith is rewarded when he appears in London.
But then, no car accident! Anushka promises to show him London and walks backward into the street. A car almost hits her, Shahrukh grabs her, the car misses both of them, they roll to the side of the road and have a moment, pressed up close together. Anushka says, a little breathless, “are you going to keep saving my life all the time?”, and Shahrukh says “only as long as you keep needing me.”
And then London scenes! Anushka begs Shahrukh to show her “his” London. Only, he is surprised to find how much has changed. His favorite restaurants are gone, favorite parks are different, etc. etc. Finally they go to Tower Bridge, the one landmark that is unchanged. He tells her how he used to sing for money. She encourages him to try again. He is shy at first, and his voice breaks, and for a moment he looks old and sad. But then Anushka jumps in and starts singing along, and soon they are singing together, a new song, and he looks younger and happier again.
(Totally different situation and characters, but the same kind of feel of Shahrukh coming back to life)
That song moves into Anushka showing him “her” London. Taking him to a music festival, where at first he is acting like the “grown-up” around all her young friends, but then she encourages him to show them how to play a guitar, and soon he is happy with them, not acting younger than he is, but also not standing off by himself. And they ride the ferris wheel together, and go to Madam Tussauds, and generally to a lot of fun London things that we didn’t see him do with Kat because they were too busy having sex in fountains to talk to each other.
And then as the song ends, they are playing Marco Polo in a public garden, and Shahrukh bumps into a woman from behind, and it is Kat! She is there with her husband and daughter. Her husband is not the man from before, the fiance, it is let’s say Akshay Kumar. She is shaken, Shahrukh is shaken, Anushka is really shaken. They awkwardly introduce all around. Anushka and Shahrukh walk away, Shahrukh looks old and tired, Anushka looks at him worriedly, and then runs back and greets Kat again, and comes up with a lame excuse like “by the way, you mentioned a friend who is renting an apartment near here, let’s exchange numbers because I am looking for an apartment.” Kat goes along with it, and then Anushka runs back to Shahrukh waiting in the car and hands him the number, and tells him without making eye contact “this is her number. I know she still loves you, she must still love you. Call her.” Shahrukh looks at the number, starts to ball it up and throw it away, but Anushka grabs his hand and says “No, please, for me.” Reluctantly, he keeps the number.
Shahrukh calls Kat, who takes the phone while she is watching her husband play with her daughter, and briefly tells him that she will meet him tomorrow at the park across from her daughter’s pre-school.
The next day, the two of them walk and talk. Shahrukh asks about her father, he is seeing a new woman, it’s going well. He asks about her job, she is still working for her father’s company, vice president now. He says that is good for her. He asks about her mother, and Kat looks away and simply says “she died last year.” And finally she says “My husband is a good man”. Shahrukh nods and doesn’t say anything. She goes on, “I met him at a charity event, I didn’t mean to care for him, and I didn’t mean to marry him, but somehow it happened. He loves our daughter, and he loves me, and he takes care of me.” Shahrukh nods, and just says “but….” Katrina sighs, and looks at him, “But….” Shahrukh looks back, and then after one long moment, they kiss.
Now, I can hear you all going “no no! That’s where it went wrong last time!” But, go with me on this. I do have a plan.
But first, “Saas” reprise! Lot’s of sex and kissing all over London all the time. With Kat sending sneaky text messages behind her husband’s back and Shahrukh rushing to meet her in carparks and stuff. Only, with a few moments when Shahrukh looks a little conflicted and Kat looks surprisingly not conflicted, Shahrukh watching her husband and daughter leave for the day before he sneaks into the house, Kat happily sneaking away from storytime with her daughter to text on her phone.
(Pretty song, shallow relationship)
Until, finally, Shahrukh wakes up to his phone going off, only to see it is a message from Anushka, not Kat. He looks surprised, and then kind of smiles. It is a message saying “If you have a chance to take a break from being in love, tonight is the premiere of my movie. Hope you can be there.” That night, Anushka is introducing the film, when she sees Shahrukh enter in the back and her face lights up. She rushes off the stage to go talk to him, but before she can get to him, she is mobbed by an eager model handsome young man who wants to talk to her, and suggests maybe he can get her a drink. She leaps at that, and sends him off, which frees the path for Shahrukh to get to her. He tells her she did a good job, he likes the film. She smiles a thank you, and the young man shows up again. He gives her her drink, and calls Shahrukh “sir” and tells him how impressed he was with the film. Shahrukh thanks him, and calls him “sir” in return with a wry smile. The eager model young man then goes right into asking Shahrukh, as an elder Anushka respects, to tell her to go out with him. His family’s foundation helped fund the film, and he has been asking Anushka out for weeks, but she just keeps saying “no”. Shahrukh looks a blank and simply says “I think Anushka knows what she wants.” Anushka looks hurt, like she wanted him to say more, and turns to the eager young man and says “He’s right, I do. And right now, I think I want another drink, and then I want to get out of here and go dancing. Will you take me?” The eager young man looks all eager and puppydog happy and Anushka drags him off.
A voice behind Shahrukh says “That’s too bad”, and he turns to see Akshay!!!! Shahrukh looks past him, clearly looking for Kat, and Akshay says “Looking for my wife? She’s not here tonight. Home with our daughter, she has the flu.” Shahrukh nods. Akshay goes on “I’m sorry to see it didn’t work out with you and Anushka. I know we only met you that one time, but my wife and I both thought you were wonderful together, a match made in heaven.” Before Shahrukh can respond, his phone goes off, and he looks at it to see that it is Kat.
He sneaks out to talk to her on the balcony and as soon as he says “Hello” he hears coughing in the background and asks “Are you all right?” Kat says “it’s just my daughter, she’s sick, let me close the door.” Shahrukh frowns and says “shouldn’t you be with your daughter?” Kat says “I would rather be with you. I can give her a sleeping pill, my husband is out all night, we can meet in the park.” Shahrukh looks sincerely disturbed and says “Kat! what is happening? can’t you take one night for your daughter?” Kat snaps back, “I am neglecting my daughter for one night, what about your noble mission to save your men? Yes, I watched the documentary, the hero of Kashmir saving millions, and here you are amusing a bored housewife!” Shahrukh goes all deep voice and asks “is that all this is? You are a bored housewife tired of your life?” Kat bursts out, “it’s not my life! It’s my mother’s life.” And then they are silent for one long moment. Until Shahrukh says “that’s all this ever was, wasn’t it? You were trying to get close to her, to relive her life. And I…I was trying to pretend I was young again, to go back to what I was before all these grey hairs and lines on the face, when I was the same age as…” and then he stops himself as he looks in the ballroom where Anushka has her head thrown back, laughing and flirting with the model handsome young man. Kat finishes the thought for him, “the same age as Anushka. It’s always been about her, hasn’t it? I was just a detour along the way.” Shahrukh stops her, “No, Kat, you were more than a detour. If I hadn’t been in that accident, if you hadn’t..” This time Kat stops him, “No, it wouldn’t have lasted. It was just an accident. Akshay was in an accident last year. I went with him to the hospital, I filled out forms, I was there when he woke up. I didn’t run. I wasn’t afraid.” On the other end of the phone, Kat closes her eyes and leans against the door of her daughter’s room and she finishes the thought, “I’m not my mother. I broke up with the man I didn’t love, and I married the man I did. I’m sorry, Shahrukh, you were my detour too. Just, don’t let this detour end your real romance.” Shahrukh looks through the window at Anushka and declares firmly “I won’t.” And snaps shut the phone.
He strides into the ballroom, neatly pushes aside the model handsome young many and says “Very sorry, but I have things to discuss with my director”, and shuffles Anushka off into another room. Anushka looks surprised and asks “What is happening, what are you doing?” Shahrukh closes the door and says “I am apologizing. For being a blind man. You have put up with this old blind man much longer than you should have and I am hoping you will put up with him a little longer. Will you marry me?”
Anushka looks flustered, but then pulls herself together and says “She broke up with you, didn’t she? Went back to her husband? Don’t worry, she will come back if you ask her” Shahrukh says “I am asking you, will you marry me?” Anushka says, “Okay, then her husband found out. He told you off, convinced you he loves her more. He doesn’t, you deserve her more than him” Shahrukh says, “I don’t deserve you, but I want you, will you marry me?” Anushka says, “You feel guilty, she has a child, you think she should stay for her sake. You will be a wonderful father, she should be the mother of your children.” Shahrukh grabs Anushka’s arm and pulls her in close to him and says all low and throaty, “You should be the mother of my children. Will you marry me?” Anushka is having a hard time breathing now, but she manages to say, “I don’t want to be anybody’s consolation prize.” Shahrukh kisses her (I know I know, we hate that he kisses, but this is the kissing movie), and then says “did you like that?” Anushka nods. Shahrukh says, “then it was worth it.” Anushka says “what?” Shahrukh smiles slightly, “practicing with Kat so I would be ready for you.”
And then we get the Jab Tak Hain Jaan title song! Only with Anushka.
Option Two: Everything is the same all the way through, amnesia and so on, all the stupidity. But during that day when Shahrukh and Anushka are together, he keeps saying that he remembers her from somewhere. Anushka brushes it off. But then when they are saying good-bye, they shake hands, and Shahrukh says, sort of puzzled, “somehow, I don’t want to let you go”. But then he smiles at himself, and shakes himself out of it.
(Yes, very similar to his first meeting with Rani in KANK. Like I said, Karan is Yashji’s spiritual heir. Also, I really like “Mitwa”.)
Cut the stupid random-guy-gets-a-chance-to-defuse-a-bomb-in-London scene, instead Shahrukh’s memory comes back when he is walking down the street and sees a woman almost hit by a car. He rushes forward to grab her, calling her “Akira” and holding her close. The woman, not Anushka, shoves him off, he apologizes confusedly, and then she says “Akira? What kind of name is that? Who is that?” And Shahrukh looks really confused and upset and kind of stumbles away. Long walk in the rain, finally returning to his fake Katrina home to sit in the living room, all wet and miserable. Katrina is surprised to see him and asks what he is doing. Shahrukh looks up and says “remembering”. Kat looks cautious, “remembering what?” Shahrukh says, “You left me.” Kat opens her mouth to explain and he cuts her off “It doesn’t matter why, I don’t care any more. You left me, and life went on. Your life, and my life. We can’t pretend it didn’t. Ten years happened. I spent ten years in a life you can’t even imagine, a life very far from this comfortable home. You wouldn’t fit in there. And I don’t fit in here, not any more. Maybe I never did, maybe a boy from the Punjab who traveled the world never fit with a girl who had never left her home.” Katrina is crying now, saying “I’m sorry.” Shahrukh stands up and gently cups her face, says “Don’t be. You saved my life. I’m the one who’s sorry, that the life you saved wasn’t meant for you. There is someone else out there, some other man, he is the one for you, he is out there somewhere. But it isn’t me. This life isn’t me, this house isn’t me, I know that now. I have remembered myself.”
Shahrukh walks out, leaving Kat crying behind him. Cut to, Anushka walking to her apartment, to find Shahrukh sitting on her stoop. She is surprised. He asks “do you remember the last time we talked on a set of steps like this? In Kashmir?” Anushka looks really surprised, “You remembered!” “Yes,” says Shahrukh, “I remembered you. But even before then, I knew you. I spent a day thinking about you, thinking I was crazy to ignore my beautiful wife for a young reporter I had just met. Thinking what my life might have been like if I wasn’t an old married man. Imagine my surprise to discover I am not an old married man. I am an old foolish man, too foolish to accept the great gift that was offered him until he had seen his life without it and learned it’s value.” Anushka is crying gently, Shahrukh stands and takes her hand and brushes the tears from her cheeks, “Tell me, do you need me to wait 10 years for you? De-activate a thousand bombs? Because I will do it, I will wait 20 years, or 30, or 50, or the rest of my life.” Anushka pulls herself together and says “I don’t want to wait at all, I don’t want to walk away from you and I won’t ever let you walk away from me. Just, promise me you will never forget me again. I don’t think I could live if you did.” Shahrukh pulls her close and says “Never. Never. Never.” interspersed with kisses on her cheek and neck.
And, Jab Tak Hain Jaan title song again!
Okay, 3rd option! Kat never makes her freaking stupid vow. We open in the present day, Anushka finds the diary, but it is incomplete, she tracks down Shahrukh and begs for the end of the story. He tells her that Kat died, in an explosion in London. And so he joined the bomb squad, hoping someday he might die like she did and join her. Anushka is struck by the romance of it all, and insists on making a movie on him, etc. etc. etc.
And then we never go back to London! Instead, Delhi! After Anushka has said good-bye, we see Shahrukh arrive at an old friend’s home in Delhi, who teases him a little about the young woman he heard through the army grapevine had made him smile again. Shahrukh looks a little embarrassed, and agrees, but then says that she is too good for him, life as an army wife isn’t for everybody. His friend’s wife comes in and slams down the tea tray, saying “Isn’t it her right to make that decision for herself?” And then she storms out again. His friend smiles apologetically and says, “she’s still mad about that trick you played on her cousin on your last leave. A dead fiancee? It’s a bit much, why not simply tell these girls you are not interested.” Shahrukh looks a little embarrassed and says, “I’ve discovered that doesn’t seem to work on them. A man married to his career, whose last love left him because he wanted to go to Kashmir and follow his father’s footsteps, somehow the women don’t mind that. But a dead woman is a serious barrier.” His friend (let’s say Suniel Shetty) leans forward, “But this new woman I heard about, she doesn’t seem to consider a dead woman a barrier at all, does she?” Shahrukh looks extremely embarrassed and sips his tea, and Suniel leans back and chuckles and calls to his wife in the kitchen, “Good news! Our Shahrukh is finally in love again!”
(This casting is mostly because Suniel looks really good in a uniform. Anyone object to that reasoning? I didn’t think so!)
Meanwhile, back in London, Anushka is researching the love story, she wants to add it to the film, a shot of Kat’s grave. Only, while looking for it, she runs into the living Kat instead, a happy woman married to Akshay Kumar. Anushka is shocked! She insists on the whole story. And learns the rest of it. They were in love, they were happy. But then Shahrukh got a letter, his beloved cousin-brother in India had just died in Kashmir. He is conflicted, every man of his family has joined the army, he doesn’t feel right staying away. Kat is furious, what about her? She can’t leave her father, her whole life, here in London. Back and forth, back and forth, finally Shahrukh asks “Do you not love me enough to go?” Kat asks, “do you not love me enough to stay?” And, sad song, they separate.
In the present day, Kat says that she still thinks about him sometimes, but it was the right decision. She thought all her problems would be solved if she was in love, but her problems went back before she met Shahrukh, she was already unhappy with her life. She went back to school, got a new career, and married a good man that she chose, not one her father picked out. And he may not be able to admit it to himself, but it was good for Shahrukh too. She was just a way station, a distraction on the way to what he always knew was his destiny. Anushka is shocked by all of this, and manages to leave the house, then go back to the editing studio and look at rushes of Shahrukh playing with his fellow soldiers, with Kashmiri civilians, smiling briefly into the camera before striding on to his duty.
(See? Shahrukh clearly belongs here!)
Back to Delhi! In the house of Shahrukh’s old friend, the doorbell rings, and his friend’s wife (let’s say Juhi) goes to answer it. It’s Anushka. She comes in all professional, saying she is making a documentary on Shahrukh and needs some background on his life, and his friends, and army life in general. Juhi smiles in understanding and says, “You want to know what life is like for an army wife? How about I make us some tea and we have a talk.” Anushka smiles back and says “thank you.”
That night, at a fancy black tie army banquet affair, Shahrukh is in dress uniform and chatting with Suniel, when he breaks off in the middle of a sentence because he sees Anushka arriving, wearing an evening gown, with Juhi. She stops on the way across the room to be introduced to various people by Juhi. Finally, they make their way to Suniel and Shahrukh and Juhi says, “this is my new friend, Anushka. You had better dance with her while you can, she has already charmed the commanding officer, and the chief guest, they will be taking her from you shortly I am sure.” And Suniel gently nudges Shahrukh who quickly says “Yes, of course” and takes Anushka’s arm.
They dance and he says, “What are you doing here? you are supposed to be in London, editing a documentary.” Anushka smiles and says, “It’s finished. Submitted. Along with my resignation.” Shahrukh is very concerned, “Your resignation? But your career, your dreams…” Anushka cuts him off, “I loved something else more.” Shahrukh looks a little happy but also a little guilty, “You shouldn’t. You shouldn’t give up your life just for…” Anushka cuts him off, “just for what? It is my life. I know what I want and when I want it, and I go after it. You know that. Juhi and I have talked, your leave is up in two weeks. We’ve got just enough time for the engagement tomorrow and the marriage next week. We can even have a honeymoon. And then on the 21st, we go back to Kashmir. Together.” Shahrukh stops dancing entirely to concentrate on her and say, “It’s no life for a woman. A wife. My mother, my sister-in-law…” Anushka stops him, “I am not a woman. I am Akira.”
(Now, picture Shahrukh in this outfit dancing with Anushka)
And, end credits wedding, with the “Jiye Re” song reprise over it. They are married with Juhi and Sunile in attendance. And then arrive back in Kashmir, with Anushka cheerfully turning her camera on small children, making a new documentary on the children of Kashmir, while Shahrukh is back to striding around in army fatigues. The happiest possible ending.
(See, why would we ever want to give this up?)
One more bonus one! Because Miss Braganza in the comments suggested maybe Shahrukh should have just taken some time by himself and gotten rid of both women.
So, in that case, really everything is the same until the very very last scene. Shahrukh has that big confrontation with Kat, confronting her with how she didn’t marry him and has been lying to him and so on and so on. And Anushka is really already out of the picture.
And then Shahrukh goes back to Kashmir. Only, slightly changed. Happier with his life, aware that this is what he really wants, a choice he has made, not just because he lost Katrina and couldn’t make it in London and so on. His co-workers are surprised at his cheerfulness, he even sings for them at the campfire! With their encouragement, he starts singing regularly at weddings and the local bars and stuff. Not professionally, but it is a healthy interest outside of his career. And he goes home to visit his extended family for the first time in years. And stays in touch with old friends from London. And just generally gains a healthy work-life balance, having finally reconciled with his past.
At one of the first weddings he sings at, in Srinagar, a little girl is fascinated and he kind of sings to and with her. And then her mother (Juhi) comes up and thanks him later for entertaining her, saying she had a wonderful time. And suggesting that he might come sing at her school sometime, the children would love him. They exchange numbers.
A few months after that, she calls him, they find a date that works, and he comes and sings to her classroom, and all the kids love him. She thanks him, and offers to make him a homemade meal as a thank you. But he is about to go on leave to visit his family, maybe later.
After he returns from leave (now a good 8 months since the whole London-Kat thing), they coordinate dinner. He comes over to her house, has a homecooked meal, sees the garlanded photo of her husband. Her husband was an army officer stationed in Kashmir, that’s why they moved here, and after he died, she just stayed, got a job at a school, tried to serve the people. She and Shahrukh talk about army life and stuff, he teaches her daughter how to play a few chords on the guitar.
A couple weeks later, Juhi calls him up, says her daughter won’t stop talking about the guitar, would he be willing to give lessons? They agree, when he is in town, he will come over twice a week to teach guitar in return for homecooked meals.
After months and months of this, Shahrukh gets an invitation to a wedding, the daughter of one of his commanding officers. He has to go, but it would be awkward to go alone, everyone else will have family there. He invites Juhi and her daughter to go along to keep him company. But the daughter has school, so it will be just the adults. Juhi feels strangely nervous and, at the last minute, decides to really really dress up, new sari and jewelry and make-up and all. Shahrukh makes the same decision (thanks to a lot of nagging from fellow soldiers), to wear a tuxedo instead of just a uniform. They are kind of strangely shy and formal with each other all night, starting when he picks her up. Until at the wedding, he is asked to sing, and he starts, and then in the middle of the song, walks over and takes Juhi’s hand and brings her forward with him to sing too, and then she sings back shyly, and they dance, and it gets all romantic.
He brings her back to the house, she thanks him and starts to go inside, and then he calls out “will you marry me?” She turns and says “what?” But he had already taken off, too nervous to listen to her answer.
He had to go out on patrol again after that, so no contact for a few weeks. And then one day, Juhi gets off work and there he is, in fatigues, leaning against his jeep outside her school. She asks where he was, he doesn’t answer, just asks her to come for a drive with him. They drive out to the middle of nowhere by that pretty lake. And he gives a big speech about how he had a lot of time to think while he was gone, and he’s been thinking for a while now about what he wants from life, and what makes him happy, and the happiest he has been was sitting around in her kitchen. He knows she may never want to marry again, especially to a soldier, but he would count it an honor to carry on where her dead husband left off, being a second father to her daughter and a second husband to her. Naturally, Juhi says yes and they embrace. TITLE SONG!!!!
Okay, obviously any one of these would be better than the travesty we actually got. But which one is your favorite? If we have imaginary money and power to change the original film, which way should we change it?