Last Sunday of 31 days o’ SRK! Very sad. Although I am also kind of excited about being able to try out new non-SRK fanfic if I want next week. Anyway, for the final post, 4 real life stories that Shahrukh should play. And since it is just 4, I go into great great detail, unlike me very brief posts for some of the 11 last week.
I know this is hugely political and all that, but setting the politics aside, the romance of it! The sweep of the story is perfect for films, and the love story is perfect for Shahrukh.
Shahrukh in youthful make-up is young Rajiv. He is leaving for the traditional education at Cambridge as his mother, grandfather, and great grandfather before him. There is an awkward conversation with his mother (Ratna Pathak) in which it becomes clear that they love each other, but there is no ease of communication between them, they both have a hard time taking to the other, showing their feelings. Especially in comparison to how she is with his younger brother.
He arrives in England and, after calling his mother to let her know he arrived safe, decides to go out by himself and have dinner. At the restaurant, he orders in Hindi, before the waitress snaps at him to speak English, he is in England now. He says “do you know who I am?” and she snaps back “another spoiled rich boy student. Some of us have to work our way through school! You are no better than anyone else and worse than some.” He is stunned, never before has someone spoken to him like that. He walks out of the restaurant on to the street and suddenly starts to smile. We can see on his face the realization that he is no one here, that the weight of the family expectations and fame is removed and he is free.
He goes to school, makes friends with a variety of fellow students (all ethnicities and races), and then returns to the cafe. He asks the waitress if she knows who he is, she looks confused, he explains “I mean, do you remember me? I came here 2 months ago on my first day in England and you told me I was no better than anyone else.” She is still confused, says “I’m sorry?”, he says “no! It was the most wonderful thing anyone has ever said to me. I just wanted to thank you. And give you a tip.” He leaves a huge amount of money on the table, she grabs it and runs after him saying, “I can’t take this, it’s too much, I didn’t even bring you your order.” He asks “well, what can I give you?” She smiles and says “you could buy me a cup of coffee.” Love Song!!!!
(Ignoring everything else, they are a very cute young couple)
Okay, I am going to resist the urge to go through the rest of this in detail, since there are 3 more stories to get through. Shahrukh/Rajiv and Sonia (who is of course the waitress) continue to fall in love. His mother visits and is shocked. His brother is disapproving. But he tells them that he doesn’t want their life, he isn’t fit for it, he wants to marry the woman he loves and live a life outside of the public eye. He has a chance to work as a pilot for Air India, and he will take it, with or without their blessing. Indira/Ratna is reluctantly impressed, and gives her blessing. On the condition that they have a full Hindu wedding and Sonia learns Hindi and appears in public as a perfect Indian wife. There are several happy years, and then at the INTERVAL, word comes that Sanjay has died. His mother needs his support.
In the second half, while the focus remains on the closeness between Shahrukh/Rajiv and Sonia, we also see his painful crawl to power. Finding some middle ground with his mother when they are the only ones left, Sonia gaining the respect of her mother-in-law. Until his mother dies as well, we don’t see that scene, just Rajiv arriving at the airport to be met by his best friend, Abhishek in a cameo playing his father. Say a farewell at the hospital and, with the support of his wife, decide to on the responsibility of leading the party. And then I guess we end there, with him taking the oath of office as his wife watches, and then fade to black and scroll across the screen of his accomplishments, ending with a freeze frame of his memorial over his assassination, fading into present day Sonia as her own accomplishments are listed out.
Yes yes, hagiography and all of that. But a poor little rich boy who falls for a waitress and marries her against all family objection and then slowly wins the love of his family and the nation? How is that NOT a Shahrukh movie????
Oh, and who to play Sonia? Is there an Italian actress with a good energy of equals with Shahrukh?
For this film, romance will be only a small part of it. Mostly it will be about art and politics and Indian history and how they are interact with each other. MF Hussain lived over 90 years at the heart of Indian society. Arriving in Bombay as an artist from a village, he worked making billboards for the film industry, obviously a set up for a fantasy song as he imagines the figures dancing before him.
During this time, he meets a motherly widow who takes him in and feeds him and treats him like a son. He eventually notices her young daughter Vidya Balan, and falls in love with her. But that’s all there is to the romance, otherwise she is just in the background of his life, bearing his children and giving him a home to come back to.
(the beard and prematurely white hair are perfect for letting Shahrukh play younger and older than his age as the film moves forward)
He moves on from triumph to triumph, international acclaim, fabulous prices for his art, inspiration coming in floods. That’s the whole first half, culminating in getting the Padma Bhushan in 1973.
Post-INTERVAL, there is a time jump. Now it is the 90s. Life is routine, he paints and sells paintings, his children are growing, his son is old enough to work with him now. But he gets a disturbing notice, someone is unhappy with his series on the Goddesses of India which he panted years earlier. He tries to ignore it, tells his family to ignore it as well, but the attacks keep coming.
There is a momentary respite when he goes to the theater with his family and sees Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Koun and is suddenly struck by inspiration. He asks to meet her and paint her, she is flattered and charming (Madhuri plays herself, naturally). There is a dreamy song as they work together.
(Like this dreamy song that they actual did make together)
But he comes back to reality when his house is attacked, 26 members of a radical Hindu group storm in and vandalize his paintings. An exhibit in England is canceled. There are now 8 criminal complaints against him.
He tries determinedly to bury himself in his work, new challenges, making two films. The last with his son (played by Rajkumar Rao maybe?). Only the day after his second film releases, it is pulled from theaters. Because, after fighting Hindu groups for over a decade, now Muslim activists are objecting to his work.
(this song is what they objected to)
He has a long night of the soul, big dramatic scene alone in his studio with a classic massive angry Shahrukh monologue, and finally decides that there is nothing left for him here. He loves his country, but it does not love him. And for the last time, he leaves Bombay, in a shot mirroring the opening of the film, his arrival in the city. Black screen, scroll explaining that Hussain left India in 2006, and gave up his citizenship in 2010. He was buried in England.
Heck, so long as we are making the movie, what do you think about putting images of some of his most controversial paintings, the ones he was given death threats for even putting on his website, over the end credits?
(Like this one. I think it’s pretty!)
This is a bit of a gimme. Obviously he has to play Dilip Kumar! But at this point, it would have to be middle-aged Dilip Sahib. Which is fine, I always found the Saira Banu romance more interesting than the Madhubala one.
So, middle-aged Dilip. Gentlemanly, kind, but not really close to anyone. He goes to work, we are introduced to him in a film, he is turning on the magic with a young heroine, played by Alia say. But as soon as the cameras are off, he moves back to treating her as a much younger woman, being distant and completely restrained and respectful. She sighs to her dressing assistant about how wonderful he is and how she has had a crush on him since she was a little girl. The dressing assistant says that they’ve all had a crush on him, but he will never look at any of them. Not when he loved and lost the most beautiful woman in India.
Long song montage covering the whole Madhubala story. Falling in love on set (Madhubala played by Aish maybe? Or Madhuri?), her father forbidding them, court case over her breaking a contract in order not to work with him again, the final sad film shoot on Mughal-E-Azam, getting word that she had married someone else (Kishoreda played by Anil Kapoor?), and then that she had died. Back in the present day, Alia is crying gently, and says she understands why he could never love again.
(Something like this, the whole romance handled very quickly in one song)
Or will he? I just pulled out my Dilip Sahib autobiography for reference, and oh my gosh their romance is so much cuter than any movie! She fell in love with him as a little girl studying in London when she saw Aan. And she was serious about it. She learned everything she could about him from their family connections (he had worked on films with her grandmother), and even got a tutor in Urdu and Persian so she could learn his languages. As I see it, we go straight from Alia in my movie sadly saying that he will never love again, to a young woman (Deepika could pull off the role and has the right look, let’s say her) laying in bed at night and determinedly saying “Allah, make me a big movie star like my mother and make me meet and Inshallah soon become Mrs. Dilip Kumar” (actually what she prayed every night since she was a little girl!).
Deepika arrives in India determined to finally meet him. She is thrilled when her mother says they are going to a film party tonight. She dresses carefully and is clearly terrified when she sees him across the room, can hardly talk, and then another man brings him over to her and says “Yousuf, this young girl is crazy to work with you”. Shahrukh smiles, runs his hand through his hair, and says “Have you seen this grey hair? I am so much older than you.” Deepika smiles, finally able to speak, and laughs and says “I think grey hair looks very distinguished on you! Very handsome.”
Deepika goes home that night and declares to her mother that she will become the leading heroine in the industry, and then he will HAVE to work with her and take her seriously! Montage of hit after hit, intercut with Deepika arranging for script after script to be sent to Shahrukh in order for them to star together. And he says no to each one. Finally, he as on set to give the Muharrat clap for one of her films, although he is not starring in it, and she breaks free from her director to storm over him and declare “I am older now and taller! Will you only give the Muharrat clap, or will you work with me?”
Shahrukh is now being pressured by his managers and so on to give in and work with this up and coming actress who seems to desire it so much. And he can’t help seeing her in a different light, even though he doesn’t want to. Eventually, he starts seeing her in a vision of a Kashmiri girl, starts writing a script specially for her (song! also, yes, this really happened). But when he tries to tell her about it, Deepika turns away, her grandmother who is with her responds to his greeting, but she ignores him. Shahrukh is amused, but also a little intrigued against his will.
Finally, he is specially asked to go to Saira’s family home for a celebration of her birthday. Saira is furious, doesn’t want him there, he doesn’t want to act opposite her and treat her like an adult, what is the point. But finally, her grandmother gives her encouragement, says she has known Shahrukh for 20 years and there is something about how he looks at her, even when he pretends not to care. She just has to try one more time.
Shahrukh arrives and sees her. Here, I’ll let Dilip Sahib’s own words take it away:
When I alighted from my car and entered the beautiful garden that leads to the house, I can still recall my eyes falling on Saira standing in the foyer of her new house looking breathtakingly beautiful in a brocade sari. I was taken aback, because she was no longer the young girl I had consciously avoided working with beacause I thought she would look too young to be my heroine. She had indeed grown to full womanhood and was in reality more beautiful than I thought she was. I simply stepped forward and shook her hand and for us Time stood still.
Can’t you picture Shahrukh and Dips playing that scene? The rest of the night goes by in a dream and a dream song, jumping between the party with them talking and laughing together and holding hands, and a fantastical dance that is what is happening in their heads and hearts as they fall in love.
(Ignore the rest of this song, just look at the fantasy break at 2:30, that’s what I am talking about. On the outside they are making polite party conversation in front of the rest of her family, but inside they are waltzing together)
Shahrukh calls the next day to thank the hostess and gets Deepika, who teases him by saying “Yousuf/Dilip/Shahrukh who?” He laughs, and finds himself promising to call again the next day. Soon, he is calling and talking to her every few days (love song!).
It goes wrong once they are back in Bombay. Shahrukh arrives in the city excited to see her again. But gets an urgent call from a friend who needs help with a tax problem. He stops by to see Deepika onset, she is filming a rain song and is drenched and furious when she learns he is leaving immediately instead of spending time with her, tells him he shouldn’t bother coming back. He tries to make it up to her, talking fast, offering to take her out for an elegant dinner at the leading restaurant in just a few hours. Only, at the restaurant, he is paged multiple times by another woman with whome he had a slight affair a few months back (let’s say Lara Dutta, she does a great “woman scorned” and would be the right age for a older married woman type fling). Deepika is getting angrier and angrier. Finally, in the car on the way home, there is a stoney silence. Until he suddenly stops the car and they sit and look out at the sea together, and again I have to quote the biography because it is the perfect dialogue;
“Saira, you are not the kind of girl I want to drive around with, or be seen around with… I would like to marry you….will you be my wife?”
“….and how many girls have you said this to?”
I found myself telling her that she was loveable and I wanted her to be my wife….As she smiled and held my in her gaze with the love of a woman who had loved me since she was in her teens, we slowly drove back to Nepean Sea Road to her mother’s Sea Belle flat.
So, another love song there I think. Which can follow the real path of their car ride. Home to her mother and grandmother who gave sweets and blessings. Then back in the car to the house of a mutual friend who had been bringing messages from Dips to Shahrukh about how angry she was with him for not working with her, to honk the horn until he ran down to see them smiling and in love in the car, then to the beach where he put his jacket around her shoulders (a jacket which, in real life, Saira still has), and finally back to Shahrukh’s place to go in hand in hand and tell his older brother they will be married.
(Like this song)
Hmm. I want to make this like a 12 hour film and cover their entire married life. But that’s not practical. Let’s say the INTERVAL is the moment when he sees her suddenly in a new light, and post interval is the love song at the party, followed by phone calls, and then big fight when they are together in Bombay and sudden proposal. And then the first darkness when Shahrukh’s unmarried sister who runs his household expresses shock that he would marry someone so young and an actress. He defends Deepika as being everything he wants in a wife, and besides declares that he does not care for her opinion, this marriage is happening. But it is still an unpleasantness.
Also unpleasant, or at least difficult, is the crowds of fans and media who follow them everywhere. Finally Shahrukh announces, after running from hotel to shooting and back again, that this will be worse the longer they wait, let us get married within the next few days! Cutely, they were not able to meet for these few days (after spending the last few weeks in constant contact), and so Shahrukh goes to her house on a pretense of discussing details with her family, and Deepika tries to peak through at him through the windows (again, real story!). Raj Kapoor plays the part of “best man” and chief guest, in a cameo played by Salman Khan. There is a working holiday immediately afterwards in Madras, complete with a magical flower strewn hotel bed to greet them for their “first night”. But then a separation necessitated by work. Until they are finally able to be together again, for a get away to Bhutan. It is perfect at first, the royal family greets them, lovely song in the hills of Bhutan followed by falling asleep together in front of a fire. Until, and once again I will let Dilip set the scene:
I suddenly awoke to the feeling that Saira was not by my side…What I saw was a nightmare. She was lying unconscious, her body curled and quite still in a white nightgown, her long braid of hair cascading on the floor….As I quickly bent and carried her in my arms to the room, all I could utter was “Ya Allah! nothing must happen to you, nothing must happen now that I have found you.”
Turns out, that was carbon monoxide poisoning. But was followed by another sickness from stress once they returned to their home, due to Dilip’s family really not liking her. I am going to combine the two in my film, for DRAMA. Shahrukh rushes in and saves Dips. He takes her to the doctors, who tell him it is stress, he realizes it is the household situation, even though Dips tries to keep it from him, and he takes her away to London for treatment, sitting at her bedside, watching her smile through the pain, as a love song plays in his head. And when she finally recovers, he takes her for a surprise. She does not realize until the last minute, they are coming to Buckingham Palace to meet the queen! Shahrukh proudly takes her into the room, he asks if she ever dreamed when she was studying in London that she would ever be here. She smiles up at him and says “you were my only dream”.
Black screen! Fading into a present day photo of the two of them and a scroll saying that they have been married for over 50 years.
(They are so cute it kills me!)
So, that works, right? Shahrukh and Dips playing out one of the all time great filmi love stories? Also, am I the only one who is now in love with Dilip Kumar?
Meer Taj Mohammed Khan
This sounds a bit odd, but after all, Ice Cube’s son just played his father in the Public Enemy film and it was a huge success. So why not? Plus, it’s a life story that is just begging for a film adaptation.
I just pulled out my King of Bollywood to double check that I remembered all the details of his life correctly. And I did, and it is an amazing filmi plot! Especially with the foreshadowing available for the success of the next generation.
We start in what was then British India. The doted on youngest child of a large family, he idolizes his older brother, the radical patriot follower of “Badshah Khan”, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, who argued for non-violent and non-stopping resistance. We go forward to find our hero as a young man (Shahrukh in awkward make-up), the first member of his family to achieve a college education. But bunking classes to follow his brother to political rallies. He is encouraged to go up on stage and speak himself when someone notices his shocking handsomeness and pure voice. In a musical patriotic montage, we see him speak at rally after rally, followed by police beatings, arrests jail sentences. Until finally his mother begs him, in tears, to give this all up, to go to Delhi and start fresh, finish his studies. Shahrukh is unsure, until his older brother, his hero, comes to him and tells him he has to go, that new India will need educated heroes, not just wounded former freedom fighters.
(Here is Gaffar Khan, hanging with Gandhi)
In Delhi, Shahrukh finds a new life. A happy song covers his discovery of friends, freedom, fun. Now that he is living in a hostel, and no long being arrested constantly, he is able to enjoy life. And he makes a new friend, his best friend, a wealthy connected Hindu young man Kanhaiya Lal (played by Salman Khan, because why not?). There are rumors of imminent freedom for India, but on the heels of that announcement (reprise of the happy song), comes terrible news. India will be split in two, into Pakistan and India. And Shahrukh will not be welcome in the new country where his family lives, thanks to his efforts for Gaffar Khan, who was a vocal opponent of the split. Shahrukh’s name was added to the blacklist, he would not be allowed to see his family again.
While still recovering from this news, the riots start. We don’t need a lot of visuals for that, just some flashes of the streets, and then a cut to Salman and some other friends from the Happy Song, taking their bedding and arranging it in a circle around Shahrukh, to protect him while he slept. Reprise of Happy Song in slow sad style.
And then we jump ahead 2 years. Shahrukh and Salman has just graduated college, and Salman casually invites him to come live in his family home while they look around for jobs. Shahrukh already has an idea in mind. He has heard rumors of a new film being made in Bombay on the Mughal’s, they will need Urdu speaking actors, he is going down there to try his luck.
(Urdu speaking and very very handsome)
Accounts vary of exactly what happened when Meer was in Bombay, so I’ll keep it simple. A montage of him standing in lines for auditions, drinking chai on sidewalks, getting thrown out of his rooming house when he runs out of money, sleeping on the street.
Back in Delhi, Shahrukh and Salman are talking about business opportunities, maybe a transport company, maybe something else, drinking chai at a cafe. When Shahrukh looks up and is suddenly struck by the face of a woman he sees driving by in a car. A very young woman, hair still in braids, with a childish expression. He follows her with his eyes as a love song starts in his head and he is distracted from what Salman is saying. Until suddenly, in slow motion, a crash! The car she is in is rammed, tipped over, her face screams and then is covered in blood. Shahrukh rushes over in panic, pulls the door open and drags her out, screaming for help, and takes her to the hospital himself. Salman tries to reason with him as he paces up and down in the hallway, he doesn’t even know this woman, just say a prayer for her and move on, Shahrukh snaps “that is the only woman I will ever marry!” Just then the nurse rushes out to talk to her relative, the uncle who was driving the car and is less injured. The patient needs blood! Shahrukh moves forward and offers his blood. Her uncle is grateful, Shahrukh is taken in to the room to lay in the bed next to her, and the love song starts up again as he looks at her still face while his blood runs into her. And yes, all of this actually happened. Well, without the love song, but the love at first sight immediately followed by car accident and blood donation.
The love song fades into days spent together. She wakes up, smiles at him, he asks if she speaks Urdu, she does, they have conversation, her family is Urdu speakers from Hyderabad, she grew up in Bangalore where her father has an important job as a government engineer. He charms her with his stories, casually introducers Salman to her as his “Hindu brother” and only family, they are falling in love. When she gets a telegram and bursts into tears. Her mother is ill! She had a miscarriage after hearing of the accident and is now in Bangalore in desperate need of blood. Shahrukh listens, tells her he will take care of it, and walks out of the hospital to tell Salman “I have to go to Bangalore”. Another love song as he pictures the woman he loves with him on the long long train journey, followed by rickshaw to hospital, where he offers to donate blood again.
The song finally ends with our heroine’s mother (young enough to have had a miscarriage and also old enough to have a grown daughter, so maybe Tabu?) and her father (Sathyaraj!) facing the young couple and trying to wrap their heads around the idea of this proposal. Shahrukh is honest to them. He is 13 years older than their daughter, has no family and no job and no prospect of ever acquiring either. And he lives on the other side of the country. But he loves their daughter and will love her until his dying day. Her mother hesitates, he asks her to please say whatever it is she wants to say, and she finally bursts out with “but we are blood relatives! It wouldn’t be right”. There is a moment of stunned silence, and then the heroine speaks up “that blood saved my life. And yours. He has already given of himself to this family more than we can ever repay. And I have given him my heart in return. There is nothing you can say or do that will stop our marriage.” Shahrukh looks slightly surprised and shocked, but doesn’t correct her. Sathyaraj finally speaks, says “I will not pretend to understand all this, or be happy with it. But I have always given my daughter whatever she wished. And if this is what her heart desires, then she shall have it.”
Wedding song! Grand joyful wedding song at Salman’s house (yes, still all true, the marriage celebrations were at Kanhaiya Lal’s house). Things get less filmi after marriage, in real world and in my film version. There are fights in their tiny apartment, especially when Shahrukh loses himself in charming poetry recitals while his wife is lying to the landlord about the rent. Their first child is born, a daughter, and his wife insists on traveling to her parents to show the baby. Shahrukh refuses to come with her, his pride will not allow him to stay in his wealthy in-laws house. But after 3 months apart, she returns more in love than ever and swears she will never leave him again. He wisely says that, if she really loves him, she will not make that promise. He can never see his family again. She can. That is a blessing she should not take lightly, and should not give away for their children either.
(Family before Shahrukh)
Their marriage is better, but the business is worse. His transport business starts to fail at the same time that she gets pregnant again. The fight, but reconcile, he promises that this will be a son, and someday this son will rule the world. Which just makes her laugh. The baby is born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, Shahrukh’s wife is worried about brain damage, horrible things, but Shahrukh just laughs and says not to worry, the nurse said it was a sign of Hanuman, good luck.
The family shifts to a new home, and life continues in a mixture of failures and celebrations. Whenever there is money, there is a party, guests everywhere and their two children running in and out. In the middle of one such party, after they fought again in the kitchen about spending all this money while they are still behind in the rent, Shahrukh sings his wife a love song asking for forgiveness with the two kids providing back up, and the little boy breaking into a dance.
(Something like this)
Life moves forward, our heroine is offered a job as a magistrate and takes it. Shahrukh is angry, that she would take money when he could take care of her. She is angry back, the school fees are mounting, and he doesn’t even seem to care! She is going to do what is right for herself and this family. The kids are listening, the heroine sees them and turns to snap at them as well, they hide in the bedroom. She turns back to see Shahrukh crying. He explains that he promised to keep her happy at all times, and he has failed. He know she has failed and he hates himself for it. She immediately embraces him, tells him she is happy, he keeps her happier than she could ever be. He takes care of her happiness and their children’s happiness, let her help take care of everything else. And then they call the kids in and have a happy family song.
Which ends with a letter. A surprising letter. Shahrukh has been given permission to return home. For the first time in almost 30 years, he can go see his family in Pakistan. He decides to take his young son with him. He returns to his home and at first it is wonderful. Only shortly after his arrival, he is brought in to talk with his brothers. They call him his childhood nickname and lavish him with love. And then explain that there are some money needs they have, and he is the only brother with a college degree after all, and living in Delhi. His face changes, shuts down. Cut ahead to him and his son waiting at the line between the countries. His son looks concerned, aware something is wrong. Finally he turns to him and says “this is my home. This place between countries. I don’t belong anywhere else”. Cut to him waking up in the middle of the night, coughing blood.
(How have I not seen this photo before? Makes me doubt it slightly, but it does look like the two of them)
The illness goes fast, his wife is a tower of strength taking him back and forth to the hospital with the son as scared support. One day he and his wife are alone in the hospital. He asks her if she is worried about the future, about their children. She says yes. He says she doesn’t have to worry. Years ago, before he even met her, he went to Bombay. He was going to be a movie star. One night he slept on a beach in front of a beautiful old house. And when he slept, he had a vision. He explains that he saw the future, bright lights, cheers, thousands gathered, and himself, coming out on a balcony of thar same house. At least, he thought it was himself, it was his face. But then more people joined, people he didn’t know, a woman who looked like his sister, another woman, a child, a girl and a boy. And he somehow knew this was his son and his daughter and grandchildren. He doesn’t know how it will happen, but their children will be safe and happy and their grandchildren will be beautiful.
Okay, who the heck can play Shahrukh’s mother? Short, full figure, aging from 16 to 50, occasionally angry. WHO??? I am stumped.
Oh and of course, if we could only make one of these, which would we make? Rajiv Gandhi rebellious love story, MF Hussain passionate tale of art and patriotism, Dilip Sahib magical love story, or the tragic story of Shahrukh’s own father who never lived to see his son’s success?