It has come up every once in awhile that there aren’t as many really family type films as their used to be. And it has also come up that the past few Sundays have been extremely sexy. So, no sex! Just fun family times this week! Which probably means my view count will suffer, but oh well. (if you want sex, you can check out last week’s post)
Teenagers Have an Adventure Movie
We’ve got all these star kids, why not let them play their own age? The plot, as I see it, is pretty simple. There is a group of co-ed friends at boarding school. The glasses wearing girl has kind of a crush on the cool boy who only sees her as a friend that helps him with homework. A sporty boy has a crush on a sporty girl. But then there is also the sweet one, and the funny one, and it’s more about the crowd as a group than any individual romances.
One day they are on a school outing and find a mysterious coded letter in a tree. Well, the funny one finds it, and shows it to his best friend the cool boy, who asks for the help of the sporty boy in getting it out of the tree, and the sporty boy brings in the sporty girl, and then they ask the help of the glasses wearer to solve the code because she is so smart.
(I’m picturing something like Aryan and Navya’s real life crowd)
The coded message turns out to be the beginning of a treasure map. Left over from the Independence era, a group of kids just their age where working with the freedom fighters, and hid some vital letters and money and jewels somewhere, and left notes for the freedom fighters to find it. The kids work together to follow the messages, and at the same time research these kids and find out what happened to them.
In the end, they track down the 3 remaining living kids from that era, very old now, and get the end of the story. A happy ending, because it is a children’s film after all. The British arrested the grown-up freedom fighters before they could get the treasure that the teenagers had left them, that’s why the plan fell apart. But the kids kept trying, joined Gandhi’s non-violent movement when they got older, the rich one who stole the money and jewels from her own family eventually inherited their fortune and gave it all away, the smart one who came up with the letter code went on to run a newspaper and write novels and married the rich one, and the rest of them had similarly interesting lives.
Finally, the group of modern children and the few remaining elderly people from the past all come together to dig out the treasure chest and find everything within it. And the money is used to save their school, which was endanger of being closed, while the letters and jewels are put on display in the heritage house where the rich one still lives, allowing her to make enough money from charging admission to see them to keep the house.
Now, isn’t that a nice story?
For casting, I am thinking:
Cool one: Aryan Khan
Glasses girl: Nyssa Devgn
Sporty Boy: Aarav Kumar
Sporty Girl: Suhana Khan
Funny One: Ibrahim Khan
Sweet Girl: Sushmita’s oldest daughter
Aging Rich Girl Freedom Fighter: Sharmila Tagore
Aging Angry Peasant Boy Freedom Fighter: Dharmendra
Aging Clever Servant Boy Freedom Fighter: Prem Chopra
Flashback Rich Girl Freedom Fighter: Sara Ali Khan
Flashback Angry Peasant Boy Freedom Fighter: One of Dharmendra’s grandkids
Flashback Clever Servant Boy Freedom fighter: One of Prem Chopra’s grandkids
Okay, next plot! Family Pulls Together After Losing Everything
Akshay Kumar and Juhi Chawla are happy parents of a happy family in America. The oldest son is a musical prodigy and loves his piano teacher and has to be yelled at to stop playing and come in for dinner. The oldest daughter is a fashionista, constantly experimenting with new looks and make-up and hair. The youngest daughter is a competitive type, on three of her school’s sports teams and always ready to argue. And the baby of the family, the youngest boy, is just kind of sweet with a lot of friends.
But then one day Akshay goes into his office to find a bunch of men in suits going over files. He doesn’t understand, until he is told that his boss was guilty of insider training, and had been embezzling from the company, including the pension fund. And Akshay is implicated as well, and is now being taken in for questioning. He calls Juhi, who steps up and finds a lawyer, and doesn’t hesitate when the lawyer warns her that fighting to prove Akshay’s innocence, rather than cutting a deal, might take all the little savings they have left. Series of depressing scenes, Akshay paces in a holding cell, Juhi gathers together her wedding jewelry to sell, the kids huddle together, etc. etc.
(Like this, but different)
Finally, Akshay is let go, told that they haven’t been able to prove his guilt, or innocence. He tries to find another job, but learns that no one will hire him thanks to the suspicions that follow him. Meanwhile, Juhi is ducking the bank and other people they owe money to at home. And breaking the news to the kids that they can no longer afford soccer camp, expensive piano lessons, and so on and so on. The kids have little outbursts, but then calm down and show up smiling for dinner when Akshay comes home at night, because they don’t really want their parents to feel bad.
Juhi and Akshay have a long conversation and decide that the only solution is to sell the house here, move back to India, fix up their family home there, sell it to a heritage hotel chain, and use that money as a stake to start fresh. They break the news to the kids that they are leaving here for now, moving back to India. The 3 oldest have freakouts over leaving their lives and everything they know about, and their interests and everything else. The youngest is fine with it because he doesn’t really understand what it all means.
In India, in the village, everyone struggles in their own way. Juhi has to learn how to use the outdated kitchen and other equipment and finds herself bonding with the young maidservant who shows up on their doorstep ready to help, letting her teach her how to use a wood stove, while she teaches her to read. Akshay struggles to deal with the expectations and responsibilities that the village leaders try to put on him. At first he politely attempts to explain that he barely remembers visiting here as a child, and he is going to sell the house for a hotel which will bring lots of jobs to the village, but as he starts to get to know them, he begins to feel more and more responsibility, and take more and more responsibility, arranging for a sick child to get treated, helping out during the planting season, and so on and so on.
The oldest son has the hardest time at first, shuts down completely now that he can’t play music, but then hears music playing in a field and tracks down the musician, an old musical guru who hasn’t had a student in years. He begins to learn music all over again, the Indian way, and is happy. The next oldest, the fashionista daughter, is furious when she is told that she can’t dress the way she likes here, the villagers won’t understand. At first in a gesture of defiance, she dresses in inappropriately adult saris all roughly put on because she doesn’t know how to wear them. It doesn’t get a reaction from Juhi, but it does from a girl of her same age in the village, recently married to another wealthy landowner, who offers to help her wear them properly. The two of them become friends, and both get interested in experimenting with indo-western wear and combining colors and so on. Eventually, when her new friend shows up with a bruised face, the daughter invites her back to her family’s house to stay, since she isn’t safe with her husband.
The younger daughter, the sporty one, struggles to find her place. Until she beats up the village boys and convinces them to let her learn to play Cricket with them. One of the boys is really good, almost as good as her. Only, it’s hard because they don’t have a good Cricket field.
(See? Cricket can work in a small Indian village!)
And the very youngest ends up wandering into a nearby house of poor farmers and making friends with the sick little girl who lives there.
Everything comes together the night of a big storm. The abused young wife has showed up at their house, Akshay tries to say that she can’t stay there, the villagers will never stand for it, and Juhi and his daughter shout him down. That night the Panchayat, including her husband, show up to talk to Akshay about it and he holds firm. But then the rains come down and they realize that the little farming family’s hut is in danger of being swept away, plus the youngest is there with the sick little girl. Akshay is alerted by the youngest daughter and her cricket friend who first noticed the flooding. Akshay does huge action sequence to save everybody.
And in the aftermath, they have a family meeting, and vote to stay. If outsiders could make a profit turning this house into a heritage hotel, can’t they do the same thing? And so Juhi runs the hotel while Akshay farms the fields, they pay to build a Cricket field for the village children, and they help the child bride start her own clothing line. And have long term plans for a school, a hospital, everything else.
Parents, Suniel Shetty and Tabu, have no choice but to leave their daughters with their grandparents. Tabu is sick, Anil needs to work and go back and forth from the hospital, there is no extra money to send the children anywhere else. But, their grandparents don’t really want them. Tabu tries to put the best possible light on it when she tells them good bye, that “sometimes people don’t realize how much they love you until you need them”, but then she and Anil have a private conversation admitting how worried they are, his parents haven’t visited more than once every 2 years, and never seemed that interested in the children. They say the right things, but they have never really forgiven Suneil for marrying Tabu, an orphan with no family, and turning down the chance to run the family business instead of the NGO he has dedicated his life to.
(See how cute they are together?)
Meanwhile, grandparents Shabana and Boman Irani are having their own conversation. It seems like the least they can do, to take in those little girls. The alternative is for them to stay at the orphanage with the matron who raised Tabu, they can’t let that happen. What would people say. Are they 9 now? Or 10? Oh well, doesn’t really matter. They will just hire someone to take care of them.
(Boman and Shabana, also very cute together. Even when playing considerably older than their real age)
Meanwhile, the little girls are having their own conversation. They know perfectly well what Grandma and Grandpa think about their mother, and they are not going to make it easy for them. They have been perfectly good little girls for their parents, but no reason to be good for evil Grandma and Grandpa.
And so in a fun montage, after being apparently saintly when Grandma and Grandpa are looking, they chase off a whole series of nannies. Finally managing to make it so there is no other choice but to bring them along to a fancy dinner party. All the other guests are charmed by these seemingly charming little girls, and Shabana and Boman find themselves maneuvered into bring them along on a fancy trip to Dubai organized by their friends. Events continue to occur, the little girls make friends with the busboys and mades at the Dubai hotel and have a wonderful time “pretending” to be maids, folding towels and so on. Until their grandparents find out when they show up to serve dinner to their friends, and are horribly embarrassed and decide to keep the girls with them so they don’t get in trouble again.
Boman is won over first, at a fancy fundraiser at a zoo, the girls complain until he takes them to see the animals. And he starts to get excited about seeing them as well, and buying souvenirs and generally having a wonderful time. And forgetting about the important business connections he is supposed to be making. Shabana yells at him that night, that he can’t just go off having fun and leaving her alone. Boman suggests next time she have fun too, and she says “I wish I could, but when we both had fun, we ended up losing everything. We’ve built this business back up, we aren’t going to lose it again.” Boman points out “why? We have enough for our lifetime, why keep trying?” Shabana says “For our son! And those little girls you had so much fun with! He says he doesn’t need it now, but we never know what might happen, I don’t want him to struggle like we did, and I don’t want those little girls to grow up never seeing their parents because they have to work just to put food on the table.”
The next day, Boman and Shabana present a united front, tell the little girls that they are going to a dance performance and they will all be on their best behavior, it is very important. The little girls are scared into agreeing, from Boman and Shabana’s joint glares. But, at the performance, one of the girls can’t resist the music and ends up dancing in the hallway. One of the performers notice her dancing and shows her some steps and learns that she is studying dance back home in India. She asks her if she would like to be part of the show, and the little girl is thrilled, of course. Nothing seems wrong when she comes out and performs, Shabana and Boman are proud, her sister in the audience proudly tells them that her teacher in India says she has a real gift, the rest of the rich people in their crowd smile and applaud when she bows, everything seems wonderful. Until afterwards, Shabana enters the powder room with the two girls to overhear two other woman talking about that “street child” with her dancing, who knows who her mother is, probably her natural talents coming out in her performing. Shabana slaps them, both verbally and literally, and tells them that her granddaughters are the most wonderful little girls and she is proud of them, and her daughter-in-law is a loving wonderful mother, a better mother than Shabana ever could be, and her son was lucky to find a woman like that.
And then she takes the little girls back outside and signals to Boman that they have to leave, and they go back to the hotel and have a deep heart to heart about how of course their grandparents love them, and they will always be there for them, and the little girls admit they are scared about their mother being sick, and they end up falling asleep in a heap in one big family bed. And the next day, they decide to enjoy this time they have together, no more boring activities, only fun! They go to the mall and the beach and all the other fun Dubai places and Boman goofs around for the girls, and Shabana laughs, and it’s all wonderful.
They return to the hotel to find a message from Suniel. They have to return to India right away. They rush back to learn that Tabu has to have surgery and wanted to see her daughters one more time. The two little girls come in all scared, with Shabana and Boman supporting them. Tabu weakly says that she loves them, and looks worried, and Shabana instinctively understands her concerns and says “don’t worry, no matter what happens they will not lack for love”. Tabu goes in for surgery, Suniel tries to stay strong but goes off to the hallway by himself and cries. Boman finds him, comforts him, tells him that he will always be there for him, that he is a stronger man than Boman ever was, going out on his own and picking his own life, but that it is okay to let his father help carry him sometimes, just like when he was a little boy and scraped his knee and cried.
Of course, Tabu is fine!!! The doctor (Mohnish Behl in a cameo) comes out to reassure them, the whole family celebrates. Happy ending tag shows Tabu and Suniel moving into the family home, Boman selling the family business and retiring to spend more time with his grandkids, Shabana applauding at all of the dance shows, and so on and so on.
Ah, that’s nice! Refreshing, wholesome, innocent, good message type films!
So, if we could make only one of these, which would you make?
Who would you cast as young and old adventurous teenagers?
Or as an NRI couple with 4 kids who move back to the village?
Or as a wonderful couple struggling with illness and two selfish grandparents?