I know the Venn diagram overlap of Preston Sturges and Indian film fans is very empty, possibly just contains me, but I don’t care! It’s “silly Sunday”, I can be silly and do whatever I want.
Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
Set during WWII, our innocent small town heroine loves the boys in uniform. In a very chaste way, she is friendly and likes to dance and flirt but doesn’t do anything more than that. She goes to a dance for the soldiers, hits her head, and gets a little loopy. The next morning she can’t remember anything that happened, but she has a ring on her finger as though she was married. And a month later, she finds out she is pregnant. Her precocious younger sister becomes her confidant and they try to solve this problem. The first thought is the shy nerdy boy next door with a crush on her. Only as soon as she is nice to him, he proposes, and his proposal is so sweet and kind that she can’t go through with it and tells him the truth. He still wants to marry her, but she doesn’t want to do that, so they come up with an alternate plan, he will pretend to be the soldier she married, they will trick a judge and get a marriage certificate, and then she can be a respectable war bride instead of an unmarried mother. They are caught and he is arrested for impersonating a soldier. Only her father is the town constable and is so touched when he learns the whole story, that he lets the boy go, to leave town and search for the father of the baby and bring him back. 6 months later, everything is terrible. Her father lost his constable job, they are living in shame in the country, she is very pregnant and still not married, and the boy has finally returned without having found the father of the babies. But, it all works out! Because she gives birth…..to quintuplets!!!!! And it is such a major story that the politicians arrange to cover up all the scandal, declare she was married to the boy next door all along, her father has a promotion, and everything is perfect.
This movie is so wonderful! And I’ll start with the easy bit, the Punjabi quick to anger old-fashioned scary constable father is Ashutosh Rana. Hmmm, who for the flirty slightly ditzy but sincere and a good girl at heart heroine? I think Kriti? We can say they have a village near an army base, she goes to a lot of the dances and whenever her father objects she says “but it’s for the boys in uniform!!!!” What about the precocious younger sister? That’s tricky. I’m trying to think of a child (or childlooking) actress who has really impressed me lately. She needs to have really good comic timing. Maybe the actress who played Alia’s friend in Dear Zindagi? Not the pregnant one, the other one. And of course the boy next door is Rajkummar Rao, in love with Kriti since childhood.
(Rajkummar and Kriti?)
The plot can be mostly the same. Maybe we get a childhood flashback establishing Rajkummar’s lifelong crush on Kriti. And then the dramatic moment when the army base moves near by and Kriti discovers the joy of being whistled at by handsome young men in uniform and life is never the same. We can see her flirting with all of them while her little sister reads books and rolls her eyes and Ashutosh Rana fumes in the background and threatens to arrest people, and Kriti just laughs at him (flashback SONG for all of this of course).
And then a big dance that she sneaks out to go to, hits her head (DRUNK ITEM SONG!), and sneaks back the next day with the help of poor devoted Rajkummar, only to notice when she finally wakes up that there is a mangalsutra around her neck. But by then it is too late, the troop of soldiers at the dance the night before has already left (it was their farewell dance). Kriti freaks out, but her sister brings her down to the ground and points out that it doesn’t matter if they know she is married, what matters is if people will BELIEVE she is married. The first thought is for Rajkummar to marry her, but when she goes to meet him at their childhood place, he starts talking about how he has been in love with her his whole life, and he is happy she just has time to sit there with him (SONG!), and she cuts him off before he can work himself up to a proposal, and tells him the truth.
Rajkummar couldn’t join the army because he has terrible eyesight, but he convinces the local quartermaster to give him an extra uniform saying it is because he always dreamed of being a soldier. And then he and Kriti go to the local temple and try to get the priest to marry them. Only the priest sniffs out something suspicious about them and calls the police, who is Kriti’s father, who is furious and arrests Rajkummar for impersonating an officer. Only when he gets home, he finds that Kriti is pregnant and Rajkummar was just trying to help her out. He goes back to the jail, lets Rajkummar escape. 6 months later, at Diwali, Rajkummar returns. To find that Kriti and her family have moved out to their old farm in the country after Ashutosh lost his job and Kriti started showing. Rajkummar is miserable, Kriti is miserable, all seems hopeless. UNTIL!!!! Kriti gives birth and the baby…..I don’t know, is born blue? With a perfect birthmark of Om? Or of a Khanda? Something like that which would get people all excited. The local reporter spots it and it quickly becomes national news, the reporters descend on this small town and before the story can get going, the local politican (Anupam Kher in a cameo) rides in to town and quickly covers up all the mess bits, Rajkummar is a soldier, he and Kriti had a quiet wedding, Ashutosh is now the chief constable, and the young couple is given a new house by the State.
The Palm Beach Story
Our hero and heroine are married for 4 years and mostly happy, but they also have problems. He is a brilliant inventor who can’t get funding, she is a former rich girl who struggles with living the quite life. She finally decides to leave him, for his own good, since he will be able to go so much farther in life without a frivolous wife holding him back. She talks her way onto a train car with a male hunting club, but when their party gets rowdy, she runs away and ends up in the compartment of a shy millionaire. He falls for her hard right away, she spins a hard luck story of an abusive husband. He whisks her away to his vacation home to stay with his sister while waiting for her divorce, but then her husband tracks her down! She lies that he is her brother, not wanting him to be blamed for all the terrible things she told the millionaire about her marriage. And, as her brother, she encourages the millionaire to fund his invention. The millionaire’s sister, of course, falls for the husband/fake brother. But then it all goes wrong when the husband and wife are alone together and end up kissing because they really have been in love all along. But the happy ending is, even now that his heart is broken, the millionaire still wants to fund the invention because he thinks it is a good idea.
Hmmm. Someone who is believable as a spoiled sexy socialite struggling with life as a poor inventor’s wife. Vidya? YES! Vidya!!!! And for the stodgy-but-handsome inventor… John Abraham? No! Emraan Hashmi! Playing against type! Secretly sexy, but in glasses and very dull and conservative on the surface. And then the shy millionaire who’s never known a woman before can be John Abraham. And his wife can be Bips (I know they would never agree to work together again, but it’s my fantasy movie, I can do anything I want).
(Emraan, Vidya, and John?)
Plot is mostly the same, we can open with a quick flashback to the courtship, Vidya is a wild rich girl who bumps in to Emraan at a coffee shop and yells at him because her phone broke when she dropped it, and then he uses his amazing invention to fix the phone, and she falls for his intensity and sincerity and the sexual chemistry they have when their hands touch. Love song, ending with her eloping on her wedding day to leave her mansion and ride off on the back of Emraan’s bike. Which brings us to the present day when Vidya is alone in their tiny apartment and a strange old man knocks on the door and claims that he used to live there before he was rich. Vidya is kind and charming and kisses him good bye because he is so sweet and old, and as a thank you he hands her a wade of cash. She explains this to Emraan that night, happy that she paid the rent and the other bills, he is furious at the idea of a strange man giving her money, big fight, which ends with make-up sex (LOVE SONG!). And then she sneaks out the next day and, with him chasing her, jumps on a train in the station and ends up in the wrong compartment and meets millionaire John Abraham. They get their own love story and love song, until they arrive at his vacation villa in Goa and meet Bips. And discover that Emraan beat them there on his bike. Vidya quickly explains Emraan as her “brother”, and Bips latches on to him. Fun silly song of all 4 of them in Goa. Emraan explains his invention to John, who is ready to fund it. Everything seems perfect, until Vidya asks Emraan’s help to take off her sari that night, it turns sexy, and they end up in bed together. The next morning, Emraan convinces her that she will never really be through with him, and they reluctantly go to tell John and Bips the truth. At first there is another misunderstanding, but then it works out, and John admits that his heart is broken, but he still wants to fund the invention. Emraan agrees, but says John will have to meet his co-inventor and business partner first. Who is….Deepika! Dressed up all dowdy and glasses-wearing and shy, just like John is, and the happy ending implication is that it is love at first sight for them, so John will be fine.
Original plot (which was already sort of kind of Pyaasa)
Our hero is a successful director of silly comedies. But he wants to make a serious drama about sad poor people. His producer won’t fund it, tells him he doesn’t know what real life is like. So the director decides to go on the road. At first he can’t escape his servants and bodyguards and all who follow him, but then he pays a tramp to trade clothes and successfully gets away from them all. He meets a girl also tramping on the road and they fall in love. He sends her back to Hollywood with his business card, planning to follow. But first, his shoes which have ID hidden in them are stolen by another tramp and when that tramp dies, he is mistakenly identified as the director. Meanwhile, the director has been arrested for vagrancy and is living in a work camp, unable to proof his identity. While there, the men are shown a cartoon and laugh and laugh and the director realizes that all the poor miserable people want are happy movies, not movies that preach at them. He wants to go back to Hollywood and make those movies but first he has to escape. He makes a desperate gamble and confesses to a terrible crime in order to get his picture in the paper. It works, the girl he sent to Hollywood sees his photo and recognizes him. His friends and employees track him down and prove his identity and rescue him. And he returns to Hollywood with a better understanding of what people really want from films.
I want this to be Karan Johar! Not really Karan Johar (although maybe? Nah, he isn’t that good of an actor). But a thinly disguised Karan Johar so we all know that is exactly who it is supposed to be. This Karan is excited to make a “real” movie about “real” things, but his friends laugh at him because he has never experienced real life. So he decides to take this as a challenge, hit the road and travel India with no help from anyone. At first he is followed by his entourage, but then he trades clothes with a chaiwallah and escapes them. He walks down the road, all happy (SONG!) and meets another traveler, a woman disguised as a man for her own safety. Oh oh!!!! This can be another Pratalekha and Rajkummar Rao movie! She can be the female tramp and he can be the Karan Johar.
(Rajkummar and Pratalekha?)
They fight at first, but then she teaches him the ways of the road and how to beg and stuff and they start to get close (LOVE SONG!). He finally tells her the truth, that he is really wealthy and powerful, and gives her his hidden emergency money so she can get a train back to Bombay and take his business card to his office so she can get a job. He promises to follow her. But then it goes wrong, he loses his ID card and the wrong body is identified as him. At the same time, the local cops pick him up in a sweep and don’t believe him when says he is innocent. It’s a village run by a corrupt landlord, the arrested travelers are put to work in his fields to pay off their bail (which the landlord paid for them). After weeks of misery, the workers are taken to a nearby village to see a traveling picture show. Silly silly I Hate Luv Storys (meta-meta, since that is also a movie with Karan making fun of himself) is shown, and Rajkummar finds himself laughing and cheering and crying and generally having an enjoyable cathartic experience. He comes out of it refreshed and inspired and comes up with the plan to pretend to be a terrible gangster in hiding in order to get in the papers. He tells the whole plot of his planned film to the police (grew up in the slums, killed a man at 10 years old, etc. etc.) and they are fascinated. The story inevitably gets to the local paper and then the news channels and finally to Bombay where Pratalekha sees it and falls off her chair in excitement. The whole cavalcade of film people descend on the village, Rajkummar is rescued, but before he leaves, he insists on paying back the bail for all his fellow workers. He returns to Bombay and we see him working on yet another light silly film, but this time it is staffed entirely by homeless traveling workers who he is bringing in as part of his training program, the lesson he learned from his travels, to keep his films for entertainment and do good in the real world.