This is another assortment of short story ideas, courtesy of you, my commentators! But slightly expanded by me, the blogger. Based on the comments on this post here.
Shahrukh and His Secret Dive Bar Life Version 1: Crime Thriller
We all know Shahrukh has that undercurrent of darkness, right? But, how does he handle it with his perfect calm never insulted always ideal movie star life? Obviously he has a secret outlet for all the darkness!
In a secret go bag that always travels with him, Shahrukh has worn clothes bought off the rack, simple wash out grey hair dye, and a fake ID. After a long day of making nice to fans, to the media, to his co-stars, being patient with slow film sets, he will go back to his hotel room and put on this simple disguise and find a dive bar, drink, talk, and sometimes get into fights. When people tell him that he looks like Shahrukh Khan, he laughs, or sometimes says that he worked as Shahrukh’s stand-in years earlier.
In version 1, he is Shahrukh as we know him, Gauri and Karan know about his secret dive bar needs and accept it, but no one else does. And then one night he goes to a bar and starts to drink and makes friends with a mysterious woman. It’s not romantic, she is interesting and complicated and can match him drink for drink, and he just likes having this new friend that he can swear with and joke with and not worry about offending.
(I feel like we got a glimpse of this Shahrukh on the AIB interview, the one who really likes being funny without worrying about offending anyone or anyone not getting his jokes)
That’s as far as Asmita got in the comments on Monday with this version, but where I want to go from here is turning it into a dark thriller. Shahrukh comes back regularly to hang out with his drinking buddy. He doesn’t learn a lot about her, they aren’t that kind of friends, she says she comes there to forget her life not to talk about it. He’s the same. And then he comes one night and sees her arguing with someone in the rain outside the bar, and then get pulled into a car. She seems to see him and locks eyes with him and silently asks for help. Shahrukh runs after the car but can’t catch it, so he runs into a police station and demands they help. Everyone ignores him until he plays the “I am Shahrukh Khan!” card. And then they arrest him because he is clearly drunk and insane. He is released from jail the next day, goes home to Gauri who is mad at him for being gone overnight while she was home worrying, and apologizes and promises to stay home and not take risks for a while. Only, he can’t stop thinking about his drinking buddy’s face as she was pulled into the car. It torments him until he decides to start investigating.
Dark noir thriller time! He uses his Shahrukh Khan powers to get background information, and uses his secret identity to go back to the bar and subtly investigate. And finds out that his drinking buddy had a complicated life, she had an affair with a married man, and she had a nice ex-boyfriend who she cheated on with the married man thus ending their relationship, and she has an elderly mother that she sends money back home to, and so on and so on. But, twist! She was kidnapped not because of any of that, but because she was about to blow the whistle on her smarmy corrupt boss (Boman Irani) and his corporation which was doing illegal landgrab stuff. Shahrukh figures all of this out and sends in the cops to rescue her from the abandoned factory where she was being held.
(Or Jackie Shroff? Who would be a better seemingly smooth and kind and concerned about his missing employee, but actually heartless and evil corporate overlord?)
And then while she is in the hospital recovering, she discovers that all of her life has been fixed. Her married boyfriend sends her a letter apologizing for how he has been controlling her and selfishly using her for years and agreeing to do what she asked him a couple weeks back and cut off all contact. And her nice ex-boyfriend is there when she wakes up in the hospital and says that knowing she was in danger made him realize he still cared for her, he can’t make any promises, but he wants to at least try again if she is willing. Her mother tells her that some charity people came by and told her that her medical costs would be covered by an anonymous donor. And she gets a surprise phone call from Red Chillies offering her a job. She shows up for the first day at Red Chillies and is called into Shahrukh’s office, and they have a normal appropriate conversation, until he pulls out a bottle of country liquor and drops into his “Dilli” accent and calls her his special drinking buddy nickname for her and she realizes who he is. And over the end credits, she goes home with him and is introduced to Gauri and the kids, and then they go out together after the family dinner drinking with Gauri’s blessing, because she will worry less about Shahrukh if he has a friend with him.
Shahrukh and His Secret Dive Bar Life Version 2: Double Identity Romance
Slightly fictionalized Shahrukh this time. A Shahrukh who loved and lost Gauri. Or someone like her, he had a romance with a normal girl from Delhi that lasted through the early years of his movie career, but then she couldn’t handle the fame and they mutually broke up. And after that, he was so busy with his career, and he never really felt comfortable with the rich girls and models and actresses he was meeting after that, so he never had another serious relationship.
It was after the break up that he started sneaking out to dive bars. He was just barely famous at the time, enough that he had to go in disguise, but it made him feel alive and like himself, like he was still the average normal Shahrukh he was before he became famous, the one that no one knows any more.
And then one night he falls in love. A woman comes in and orders him to change stools because he’s sitting in her seat, and then orders a straight drink and tells the bartender (who she knows by name) that she had a hard day and why is it that no movie star knows how to dance? Naturally, this whole attitude is exactly what Shahrukh likes, so he strikes up a conversation. At first she shoots him down, but he offers to buy her a drink, and she is willing to talk to a stranger for a few minutes in return for a free drink.
(I’m torn on this, should she be Sushmita or Urmila or Tabu?)
Shahrukh lies that he is Shahrukh Khan’s stunt double and learns that she works in the movie industry as well, as a dance trainer/back-up dancer. And the romance unfolds, Shahrukh keeps meeting her at night at the bar and during the day arranges for her to be hired for his movie, not just as a back-up but as the lead item dancer. He pretends to be his stunt double on set and they have lunch together and walk around the studio talking about their lives. He more or less tells the truth, that he had a serious romance which couldn’t last through the long distance thing, and he hasn’t felt close to anyone since then. She explains that she got married young to another aspiring dancer, but he cheated on her and now here she is, divorced and 40 and still waiting for that big break. And then when he is himself, he carefully doesn’t interact with her, making her believe that Shahrukh Khan is an obnoxious snob. Shahrukh leans into that in their bar conversations, claiming that Shahrukh is always terribly mean and rude to him and so on. There are a series of misunderstandings, she ends up thinking that Shahrukh-the-stunt-double was terribly injured in an accident because Shahrukh-the-real-person forced him to do it, and she goes and makes a huge scene slapping and yelling at Shahrukh-the-real-person for endangering the man she loves, Shahrukh can’t help but react and say he loves her too, quickly explains the whole thing about pretending to be two people, but instead of falling into his arms, she is furious.
After a sad song, there is finally a happy ending when Shahrukh comes to her tiny apartment in her average neighborhood as “himself”. His real self who isn’t the big movie star but also isn’t the poor stunt double. He is in jeans and a t-shirt, with a nice car he is driving himself, and he talks to her honestly, explaining about his broken heart and his loneliness and that he was afraid if she knew who he really was, she might not love him any more. Might back off and start treating him differently. And then they finally get together and HAPPY ENDING
Shahrukh and His Secret Dive Bar Life Version 3: Secret Double Arty Version
This is the artsy deep version of the same story. We start with kind of a combination of the first two stories. Shahrukh is Shahrukh, married to Gauri and the perfect family life and all of that. But at a dive bar, he says he is his own stunt double and starts a romance with his drinking buddy.
In this version, his drinking buddy is a smart older divorced reporter. She is assigned to interview Shahrukh Khan and notices little things he does which makes her start to suspect he is actually her drinking buddy. She starts to investigate, lying to herself that it is just for the story of the movie star pretending to be someone else, but on some level it is also because she is falling in love. She has a series of interviews with Shahrukh, at which they play a bit of cat and mouse, and which is also a clue for her because there would be no reason for him to agree to a bunch of interviews with this reporter on her way up.
And finally, TWIST! There’ve been a bunch of super artsy moments where it looks like Shahrukh is having an out of body experience, watching himself with his family but feeling disconnected, and a lot of almost magical near misses, where our heroine gets off the phone with Shahrukh-the-movie-star while watching Shahrukh-the-bar-friend seemingly not talking to anyone. And now, at the interval, it is revealed that there actually ARE two Shahrukh’s!!!!
(Two Shahrukh’s! But way better than Duplicate. Although, come to think of it, Mahesh Bhatt would do a great job directing this movie)
Shahrukh Khan, the one married to Gauri with the smooth English and clever interviews, is a Delhi boy from a good family with a great education. The other Shahrukh was his double in one of his first TV series. On that same series, Shahrukh suffered a traumatic injury. He begged his double for help, because he needed the money from this series for his family and the series needed someone to finish it. So double-Shahrukh stumbled through the last bits of the series for both of their sakes and they split the salary. A few years later, Shahrukh was in Bombay trying to juggle the beginning of his movie career and he just couldn’t handle it, the crazy hours, being away from his family, it was too much. Meanwhile, double-Shahrukh, with minimal English language skills and only a 10th grade education, an orphan with no one in Delhi, was living a depressing boring life doing manual labor. So when they bumped into each other on one of Shahrukh’s last visits back to the city, they got drunk together and came up with a plan.
For the next 25 years, Shahrukh has been able to do so much more than seemed possible for one man because he wasn’t one man, he was two. He got everyone used to his “moods” onset, how some days he didn’t want to talk to anyone, just do the job. And to his strange nocturnal hours, his sudden fits of privacy, all of these things. At first it equally benefited both of them, double-Shahrukh did the action scenes and got half the money, real-Shahrukh helped him learn English and generally move up in the world, and real-Shahrukh was able to spend time with his wife and protect his own health (still recovering from that secret injury on the first TV series). Later, real-Shahrukh became more and more interested in his business ventures, his studio, his public appearances, and his ad campaigns, while double-Shahrukh discovered he actually loved acting and began to do more and more of the movie work for the two of them. And they were both professionally fulfilled. Only now, double-Shahrukh has found himself more and more lonely, jealous of real-Shahrukh’s ability to be himself, to have people in his life.
The film gets increasingly fantastical and dreamy from this point on, double-Shahrukh and the reporter heroine have long magical nights together, and real-Shahrukh finds himself watching them and feeling jealous, not of the reporter heroine, but of the freedom to just be yourself and in love and not present an image to the world. Double-Shahrukh has out of body moments watching real-Shahrukh as their identities increasingly merge. Gauri catches double-Shahrukh in their house and he somehow magically knows the exact right secret thing to tell her that real-Shahrukh says when she is worried. Real-Shahrukh has the same experience when he runs into the reporter heroine. It ends with double-Shahrukh tracking down the reporter heroine, telling her that he is tired of this life and he has enough money that they can do anything they want. The same time, real-Shahrukh is giving an interview announcing his retirement to enjoy spending more time with his family. But, the end of the film makes us question, is real-Shahrukh the one with Gauri and the family or is it the one with the reporter heroine? Did they trade places one more time? Or, are they still constantly always changing places, both of them with Gauri and the life of fame and solid family, and the free and easy life of adventures in the world with the reporter? Or, are they no longer two people? Have they somehow turned into a true double of each other, one man in two bodies?
Ranbir Kapoor Magical Grandpa Visit
Priya’s original fantasy was to watch Ranbir for a day and figure out what is going on with him, especially why he is never able to commit. But I put a twist on it, instead of Priya (random young woman from The Internet), I want it to be the Ghost of Raj Kapoor, Ranbir’s wise grandfather, there to stop him from making the same mistakes.
As I see it, in one day Ranbir has to make a major career decision about what movie to sign next, his latest girlfriend has given him an ultimatum that either they get married or break-up, and his dead grandfather is visiting him. Raj helps him see that he is so afraid of letting down his heritage that he can’t be himself. Afraid to get married because he might follow the same pattern as his father and grandfather’s marriage, afraid to fully commit to his career because he might NOT follow the same pattern as his father and grandfather. By the end of the day, Ranbir has decided to sign the big masala action film that everyone told him he can’t do because he has faith in himself. And along the way, Raj dictated a letter to Krishna, the reason Raj was back in the world (along with fixing his grandson’s life), to make up for what he did to his wife. Ranbir claims he just found the letter, it must have been lost, and reads it to his grandmother, about how she was always the love of Raj’s life and he is so sad that he never said “sorry” or “thank you”. Krishna cries a little, but then says it didn’t matter, because she always knew, when you are in love like that, you just know. And of course that’s what makes Ranbir finally run to the airport to go get his girlfriend, and apologize to her. Because he doesn’t want to marry her, and he is sorry, he falls into these relationships because he feels like he should, and then he falls out when it gets serious because it isn’t right. But he knows that now and he is going to wait and not start anything again until he meets the right woman.
And the end of the film is the start of the next day, Ranbir is surprised/disappointed not to see Ghost Raj by his bed when he wakes up, but then he goes in for the first meeting on the Masala action movie and is introduced to his co-star, an actress from the south he played the heroine in the original version, and she turns and smiles and we can see that he “just knows”.
(Somehow I feel like Ranbir and Kajal Aggarwal or someone like that would be super cute. Still in the same business and able to understand his life, but without all the history and baggage he would have with any Hindi actress. All of whom have already worked with one of his relatives, or one of his ex-girlfriends, or at least heard tons of gossip about him)