Next week I get down to 11, right? So I can go back in depth instead of these shorter ones? That will be a relief. This week though, another series of really short kind of idea sketches, since I have to do a full 18.
(not in any particular order, only numbered so I don’t lose count)
1.1. Revenge-Seeking Widower
I’m thinking something kind of like Sridevi’s Mom, only gender flipped. The last person you would expect who takes revenge in the way no one can see. Shahrukh is a modest happy man. He works at a modest office job, let’s say low level IT, not a fancy up and comer type, but a reliable old hand that everyone in the office kind of likes. His life revolves around his wife, they had a teenage romance and eloped together years ago, and their love has remained just as strong through to today. Oh heck, let’s make it Kajol! They never had children, but the “adopted” a series of neighborhood kids. Not really adoptions, but Kajol was always happy to spoil and give snacks to any kid who stopped by on the way home from school, and Shahrukh always liked playing Cricket with them in the back yard. Everyone knows and loves the nice old couple. And then Shahrukh comes home one day to find Kajol dead. Killed as collateral damage in a shootout between rival gangs. He is devastated, but keeps it all inside, and no one even seems to notice him. The gangs swear vengeance on each other, there was a small child and a police officer killed as well, they get all the publicity, the middle-aged housewife with no photogenic family is an afterthought. The surviving gang members get out on bail, and Shahrukh starts tracking them down one by one and killing them. He uses his ability to get into computer records from his office, but more importantly his “harmless old man” persona, he casually visits some of the now grown neighborhood children, a banker whose computer he uses to track hidden money transactions, a reporter he pumps for information, and so on. But he tries to avoid the nice young man (Rajkummar Rao) who grew up next door and now is working for the police. Shahrukh kills the gangsters using Kajol’s knitting needles, a confused older man stopping and asking directions, or knocking on the door to offer an informational pamphlet, stuff like that. He keeps having visions of Kajol the whole time, supporting and helping him. Finally, at the end, he writes a confession for Rajkummar (just as Rajkummar has finally put it together and is rushing to his house), and then drinks poison and smilingly goes to join hands with his vision of Kajol, finally together in death.
(Yes yes, just like Mohabbatein, only way way darker)
2. Shahrukh as confused man caught in a spy conspiracy
Another Shahrukh average man kind of film! He has 4 kids and a chatty wife, let’s say Juhi. His oldest is preparing for her marriage, his next oldest is getting ready for med school exams, the middle daughter is in the midst of romantic drama in high school, boring her parents with rhapsodies over her boyfriend, and the youngest is in an angry door slamming phase of puberty. It’s a happy family, but Shahrukh knows the wisest thing is to just try to stay out of their way, and grabs at the chance to run out and pick up the special sari his daughter just HAS to have for her wedding. Only, he is given the wrong package at the sari store, the one that has the secret spy message hidden in it. RAW and ISI are both trying to find it, Shahrukh has no idea what is happening, and he has to make the wedding in time. And, of course, the finale is all the spymasters trying to hold the family hostage and rapidly being overwhelmed with the middle daughter screaming about her fight with her boyfriend, the younger daughter randomly declaring that she is HIDEOUS and HATES EVERYTHING, the second oldest screaming that they all have to BE QUIET so she can STUDY, and the oldest having a total meltdown over her wedding sari. And then Juhi storming in and telling them all off for tracking mud onto her floors. While the various spies are terrified by all this estrogen flying at them, Shahrukh calmly navigates it and manages to sneak a gun, take control of the situation, and get them out of the house, and then deliver the secret message to the proper office. And finally go to his daughter’s wedding, all proud of his 4 beautiful daughters who for once all calm and happy and loving, and taking off his glasses so he can look into Juhi’s eyes and be all flirty with her.
(I want to see more Shahrukh-and-daughter stuff onscreen, not just in real life!)
3. Shahrukh as a magical Geni-type
This is kind of his cameo in Tubelight. The mysterious gypsy magician who comes to town and changes things. But what if that was the whole film? I’m picturing a children’s movie, in a hill station, the gypsy caravan comes to town and all their parents warn them away. But the children who don’t have close supervision, whose lives are a little out of control, those are the ones who sneak away. A brother and sister who live with their single mother, a rich little girl whose parents have no time for her, a little boy whose parents fight all the time. Shahrukh notices them and at first acts all scary, but sort of winks at the camera and we realize he is just putting on an act to make it more exciting for the kids. He challenges them to help him with his tricks, to travel with him when he goes on a day trip to the next town, etc. etc., adventures! And magical things seem to happen when he is around, mysterious strangers appear, palaces in the middle of forests, sudden dances breaking out, stuff like that. And slowly with his help, all their problems get solved. He gives them magic tokens, like a glass ball that reminds the fighting parents of their first date, or a book for the rich girl to give her parents which they read to her and remember what it’s like to be a family. But the kids with the single mother keep coming around, they want him to get their father back. And he tries, their father comes to visit them. But they discover he is getting married again and isn’t interested in seeing them or their mother. They run off sobbing to Shahrukh, he sings them a cheering up song and tells them he wishes he could take them with him, then carries them home to their mother, and there is an immediate spark, Shahrukh realizes she is the woman he saw in the forest a few days earlier, setting down her shopping and taking a moment to dance barefoot on the grass, with an implication that maybe this will be a new family. And the mother would be……I don’t know. Someone cool. Nandita Das?
(best part of Tubelight)
4. Shahrukh as Brilliant Passionate Film Director
He’s played a star plenty of times, but never a director. It would be an interesting new direction for him. I’d love to see him try that, and for a really good script to explore some behind the scenes glamour and humor with it. Shahrukh is an irascible brilliant director. With a glamorous gorgeous actress estranged wife, Madhuri, and a difficult daughter who he has just taken on as his assistant. She still resents him for working through her childhood, but they are trying a temporary peace because she is desperate for a break in the film industry. She calls him by his first name and no one realizes they are related. The whole crew goes on a location shoot. Shahrukh, his regular crew, and his daughter Alia as his assistant. He challenges her to really be his assistant, to wake up at 4am and get everything together that is needed for the day, do all the boring hard labor, run and fetch for the stars, and so on. There are constant fights and passionate outbursts between them. All of which is observed by the calm older woman, Tabu let’s say, who runs the guest house where they are staying (Shahrukh is too protective of a father to let his daughter stay at the hotel with the rest of the crew, so he rented a guest house for both of them). She gently starts offering Shahrukh her advice, at first he rudely rejects it, but eventually she finds him crying when Alia breaks his heart by declaring that she hates him and will always hate him and is never talking to him after the film shoot is over. Tabu gently draws him out, we get a bit more backstory, he and Madhuri had a passionate connection but he quickly learned it was an artistic connection, not a personal one. Alia thinks he cheated because she caught him kissing another woman when she was a little girl. But she doesn’t know that Madhuri and he had decided long ago to have an open marriage. He had his actresses, she had her actors and her businessmen and her male models. Only once the rumors started, he knew it could ruin her career, but wouldn’t affect his. So he took the blame in the gossip press and moved out. And now Alia blames him and he doesn’t know how to get back from that. Slowly, with Tabu’s help, Shahrukh manages to build a connection with Alia again. Tabu points out to her how much her father loves her, she calls Madhuri and gets a clearer picture of some things, Shahrukh learns to give into his fatherly wishes and be a bit more indulgent of her instead of treating her worse than the rest of the crew. And in the end, there is an accident on set, Alia falls off a crane, Shahrukh panics and rushes her to the hospital and sits by her bed all night and she wakes up asking for “Daddy”. He fusses over her and insists on flying her home the next day even if it means leaving the shoot in the middle, no time for more than a quick good-bye with Tabu. But at the premiere, where Shahrukh is proud to bring Alia as both his date and an important member of his new production house, suddenly she steps aside and says there is someone else there to be his date, and Tabu!!!! Alia sent her tickets and she came.
(Wouldn’t a film focused on them, filmmaking, and a mature romance with Tabu be wonderful?)
5. Shahrukh as bored retired army officer
Essentially, Fauji crossed with Swades! We open with Shahrukh being super heroic and awesome leading a mission, then jump 5 years into the future to see him in uniform in a boring office, being reminded that he has now hit the designated retirement age and will have to start thinking about second innings of his life. He leaves the army camp, tells everyone that he has plenty of plans, and then once he is at the train station asks for a ticket for “anywhere”. The train stops in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, Shahrukh wakes up, and wanders off, clearly not really thinking about what he is doing. He wakes up in a field with a goat licking his face, and starts walking until a womans tops him and accuses him of stealing her goat. He tries to explain, but she won’t listen, just orders him to come with her and bring the goat. He brings it back to her house, and sees that it is falling down a little, and offers to try to “make up” for stealing the goat by working it off if she will give him room and board. Hmm, who could pull off this kind of role? Maybe Rani? Anyway, Shahrukh moves into their life, gets involved in the village politics (should they try to raise money for a new school or not), and helps Rani with her rambunctious little boy. Slowly he and Rani start a little romance too, a very careful one since they are sharing a house and Rani is a respectable widow and Shahrukh is just a transitory worker. The village finds out eventually of course, and Shahrukh stares them down and gives a long speech about how widows can remarry, and older woman can have romances, and none of that is any of their business. Just as that situation comes to a head, there is some kind of accident, Rani’s son and the son of the head of the Panchayat are both in danger, Shahrukh heroically saves them and by his abilities and his confidence reveals that he is not just a random traveler. His heroism makes the news, and his old army buddy comes to visit, and blows his cover, reveals that he is really a huge national hero important person. The villagers are cowed and apologetic. Rani is embarrassed and angry. But he gives her a big speech about just wanting to be a normal person, he spent 30 years fighting for this country but he never got to just live in it, and this has been the happiest time of his life and he never wants it to end, and then of course she agrees to marry him.
(this, but different)
6. Shahrukh as Noble Doctor
I don’t think he’s ever played a doctor! So let’s have him do that, for once. Intelligent, talented, arrogant, his whole life is his work. He is an oncologist, is adorable and charming to his patients, the older woman who gives him sweets, the young wife who just wants to live to her first anniversary, the tiny little girl who he plays games with. But he is horrible to all his staff and the hospital administrators and donors. Things start to change a little when a new hospital administrator is hired who isn’t afraid of him and gives as good as she gets, let’s say Anushka. But at the same time, he is starting to notice something odd about his patient’s, they aren’t responding to treatment the way they should. He and Anushka start investigating, and eventually he realizes the hospital is cheaping out on medicines, buying expired or watering it down. And then he sees it’s an even bigger scam, the largest medicine factory in the country is making bad drugs, it goes all the way into the highest levels of government. But just as he is planning to reveal it all to the newspapers, something happens, and he realizes that ANUSHKA WAS IN ON IT THE WHOLE TIME!!!! And they have a tense confrontation, during which without saying it, they both admit that they did kind of fall in love, but he is too noble to overlook what she has done, and she is too scared to let him go to the newspapers. After a scramble, he manages to incapacitate her with a shot. In the end, he is a national hero, but is all depressed. He visits his nice old lady cancer patient, who is finally responding to treatment, and she introduces him to her nice young daughter who made all those sweets he has been eating, Deepika. Shahrukh kind of smiles, and we see that there is hope for him to find a work-life balance after all.
(Or is it too sad for them not to get together again?)
7. Shahrukh as Brilliant Detective/romance
I don’t want to see Shahrukh as a action hero type cop, but I would love to see him as a cerebral top investigator type. Sherlock Holmes-type thing, he has just solved a bank robbery case, but he doesn’t want to give interviews to the press, or take a celebratory leave, he wants to go right back to work because he is bored. His superiors tell him there is nothing worthy of his special investigation squad on hand right now, but he doesn’t believe them, hunts through reports until he finds something interesting, a series of petty thefts from medical dispensaries. With the help of his devoted assistant who always knows the right questions to ask and can find the right information and so on, Anushka, he slowly unravels a massive conspiracy. In the middle of which, they have to go undercover at a wedding, and at a resort hotel, he and Anushka have a few “moments”. And there were hints early on that part of the reason he didn’t want to take a leave was maybe because then Anushka could go on leave and finally let her mother start introducing her to grooms. At the end, Anushka is held hostage and Shahrukh can’t think his way out of it because he freezes in fear. Which is all right because Anushka can rescue both of them, freeing herself, knocking down her captor, and shooting their way out, with the evidence. At the end, there is another medal ceremony and press conference that Shahrukh skips. Instead, he is traveling to Anushka’s home village, to interrupt her meeting with a boring potential groom to give a big cerebral speech which is also very rude, about how this man is an idiot, and so are her parents if they thought she should be dressed up in a sari and jewelry, she is most beautiful in her constable’s uniform, brave and capable, not meant to merely serve tea (there is a running joke about how she will help him with anything he needs in the office, but she won’t serve him tea), and he is here to take her away from all this. She snaps back that it took him long enough and she has been waiting 5 years for this, and immediately stands up, tells her parents and the groom that she is sorry but she has other things to do than get married, and leaves with Shahrukh. They take off in the police jeep, with Anushka driving as always, and Shahrukh immediately starts briefing her on their next case, Anushka gets mad and asks if he only came to get her because he needs help with his precious case, Shahrukh says he thought she was a dedicated police officer but clearly she is just a woman, and finally Anushka stops the jeep, turns, grabs him by the collar and kisses him. And the camera slowly pulls back and his hands reach up to cradle her head and they slowly sink back against the seat.
(I just love this photo)
8. Shahrukh as Mid-Life Crisis Man
Normally I hate mid-life crisis movies, especially male ones, but maybe with Shahrukh I wouldn’t mind. Especially if his pressures are realistic. Let’s make him the straight up householder type. He’s got parents demanding his presence and respect, kids demanding his money, younger siblings demanding more money, and his wife died 5 years ago so she isn’t there to support him. Plus, he goes to work at the office and has to kowtow to the foreign clients for his small IT firm, and yell at his younger employees to get them to do their jobs, there’s just no joy anywhere. He goes to and from his office everyday and keeps noticing an old Royal Enfield bike for sale in the garage on the way. He finally stops in, the garage owner notices him, lets him touch the bike. That night he goes home to a surprise visit from his sister and learns he will need to take another leave from work for another family wedding, which pushes the leave he wanted to take, just 3 days to himself to go to a college reunion, off the possible list. The next day, he takes the Royal Enfield out for a test drive. And comes home to more drama, his children called from school, they need more money for training courses and are casually dismissive of his offer to help them study, schools are harder than back in his day. Finally, after he has to leave early because he got a call from his father demanding he come home for a prayer meeting, followed by another call from another sister, and a message from his daughter that she is going to a friend’s house over the holidays instead of coming home, he wanders out of the office, stops by the garage again, and asks if he can trade his car for the motorcycle. And then he takes off on a cross country journey, having adventures, finding himself, etc. Culminating in landing up at his college reunion where the prettiest coolest girl in school, who never noticed him back in college days and is now a gorgeous young widow (Madhuri) gives him the eyes seeing him arrive in leather jacket on the cool motorcycle. And over the end credits, we see how his life has changed. He swings by to visit his kids at their schools and they are in awe of their new cool Dad. And he also tells them that there will be no more pocket money increases unless they come home for vacations. He goes home and tells his parents that he is sending them on a wonderful trip, out of the house for 6 months, a special pilgrimage to all the temples. He goes to the office and announces that there will be no more goofing off or leaving early, every deadline must be met. And finally he tells the sisters that he is sorry, he won’t be at the weddings, because he might be busy organizing one of his own. And then we see gorgeous sophisticated Madhuri arrive in a taxi at his now empty family home.
(I mean, their chemistry is better than ever now. Why not make her the reward for a whole midlife makeover?)
9. Shahrukh as Older Buddy Movie
Shahrukh and Salman! Together again! Both a little older. And heck, let’s base it on real life. They are old friends and business partners, only Shahrukh has been married since right after they met and Salman has had a string of relationships that never worked out. There’s a series of plots, the one common element is Shahrukh and Salman navigating them together. Their advertising firm is in trouble, they need to figure out how to please a difficult client (Boman Irani). Shahrukh’s marriage is in trouble too, not serious trouble, they just don’t really talk or spend time together any more, it’s all about the kids. And then he thinks he sees his wife (Madhuri? Kajol? Maybe Sonali? Or Rani?) with another man at a mall when she was supposed to be at home, he spins out, Salman helps him follow her to try to solve what she is doing, and if she is having an affair. Shahrukh eventually organizes a romantic evening on Salman’s advice, but then loses his temper and confronts her after all, only to learn that the man she was meeting was a plastic surgeon, she was thinking of getting surgery because she thought he didn’t love her any more. He tells her she is more beautiful to him every day, everything is wonderful. Which means he is free to focus on Salman’s romance, it is time for him to finally settle down. And Shahrukh meets the perfect woman, a fussy shy divorcee looking for her first job back in the workforce, Karisma Kapoor. Only, if he sets her up with Salman, he will be on the defensive. So he hires him to work in their office and just sort of throws them together, including arranging for them to work late alone together one night, and arranging for the power to go out, which causes Karisma to panic since she is afraid of the dark, Salman has to calm her down, they get close, and are in love by morning. And then Shahrukh has to help Salman through meeting Karisma’s kids, giving her a romantic proposal, and organizing the wedding. And somewhere in the middle there, they finally come up with the perfect idea for Boman Irani’s ad campaign.
So, of all these plots? Which would you pick? Which one or two or three? And, of the ones you picked, what casting would you want? Or possible plot modifications?