Silly Post: Recasting Parks and Rec, Jaya would have been THE PERFECT Leslie Knope

It’s Thursday, I want the week to be over, and yesterday it came up that a fair number of us watched/watch Parks and Rec.  So why not kill a little work time by recasting it?

If you haven’t watched Parks and Recreation, WATCH IT!!!!  It’s delightful, our heroine is a passionate organized multi-tasking bureaucrat in a mid-sized town in Indiana.  And it’s all about the people who surround her and work to make their town, and the world in general, a better place.

Also, super cute romances abound.

Image result for parks and recreation

(Andy, April, Ron, Ben, Leslie, Chris, Ann, Tom, Donna, Jerry)

Original Cast:

Leslie Knope: Early 30s aged government employee, deputy director of Parks and Recreation, cheerful and organized and caring.  Too good for most men, a long series of depressing relationships with men who found her too much.  The story starts out not with a male-female romance, but with her discovering her one true forever best friend, Ann Perkins.

Ann Perkins: A nurse without many friends or connections, and an ex-boyfriend who was a bit of a manboy.  She meets Leslie and immediately appreciates her and becomes her loyal and supportive friend, following Leslie’s lead and helping her learn to better balance her life between work and friendships.

Andy Dwyer: Ann’s ex-boyfriend, she was dating him when she first met Leslie, but after experiencing Leslie’s super supportive attitude, Andy looked worse than ever and she broke up with him.  Andy cheerfully planned to win her back, until he started to have an unexpected friendship with much younger sarcastic college student April.  Eventually he realizes that April is the one for him.

April Ludgate: A sarcastic college intern at the parks department who starts out hating everything and everyone.  She slowly comes to respect her co-workers, and to enjoy hanging out with cheerful optimist Andy.  She awkwardly tries to start a relationship with him, is hurt when he seems not to be interested, and then cautious with him when he starts to pursue her.

Ron Swanson: Leslie’s boss, a strong silent manly man, who also respects Leslie’s intelligence while not always agreeing with her point of view.  He is a bit of a father-figure for Leslie, April, and Andy.

Tom Haverford: Leslie’s assistant, always trying to be cooler than he is, a bit of comic relief.

Jerry Gergich: The about-to-retire older man in the office, incompetent and constantly being blamed for everything, but cheerfully accepting the blame because that’s the kind of guy he is.

Ben Wyatt: The state auditor who arrives after Leslie has built up her friendships and begun to find a new way of being.  He is tightly wound and anti-social and detail oriented, but slowly comes to love Leslie for all the things that no other man ever appreciated, her fabulous ability at her multitask, her political nerdery, her ambition, and so on.

Chris Treager: Ben’s fellow auditor and best friend.  Insanely cheerful and optimistic about everything, he starts dating Ann right away.  Then breaks up with her.  Then, years later, they decide to have a baby together because they will be compatible parents and, through the process of preparing for the baby, fall back in love again.

Donna Meagle: Tom’s best friend in the office, a large-sized older woman with an exciting life that is only mentioned in passing.

 

 

Okay, remake!!!!!!

Collector’s office, a bunch of people who passed the civil service exam and then decided to either sleep through their careers and enjoy government salaries, or are looking for business connections and kickbacks, or are actually passionately dedicated, or are cynically burnt out on the whole concept of government service, and then the one person who actually cares and somehow manages to inspire the rest of them to care too.

Ann and Andy are married, and tired of each other.  Andy takes her for granted, and she is getting sick of him trying to paper over real problems with charm.  Meeting Leslie makes her start to think about how she can live her own life and do okay even without a husband.  She finally serves him with divorce papers.  And then goes on her own personal journey, casual dates a number of people, before realizing what she always wanted was a child.  Which leads her back to Chris, and eventually to realizing that Chris is the right person for her.

Andy stops laying around and starts managing the government canteen.  He is trying to prove himself to Ann before the divorce is final, but instead he learns to understand why she has to leave him, and accidentally ends up falling for the college student who is interning at the office because her dark sarcasm is a perfect balance to his cheerful optimism.

April is a college student, she is from a rich family and only doing the internship so her parents will buy her a car, but she ends up caring in spite of herself.  And she also, after at first trying to make fun of Andy like she does everyone else, comes to enjoy his inability to get embarrassed or ever feel sad, and his willingness to treat the world like a game, just as she does.

The rest of it can pretty much be like in the original, Leslie is the enthusiastic deputy with a deep faith in government (Nehruvian idealist idea of India, that kind of thing), Ron is the burned out chief who puts up with her enthusiasm but has no faith in the idea of government, Tom is the corrupt younger deputy, always making nice to the rich people in the area and trying to start businesses on the side, Donna is the office manager who just doesn’t care about any of it and prefers to keep her exciting personal life private, Jerry is the nice guy who’s worked in the office forever, and Ben and Chris are the outsiders re-assigned to the office who shake things up.

 

Okay, finally, CAST!

Starting with 1970s Hindi, just because I have the perfect Leslie.

Leslie Knope: Jaya Bachchan!  Pretty, energetic, smiley, charming, perfect!

Ann Perkins: Shobhana Azmi.  Cool, beautiful, quiet energy.  Interesting contrast with Jaya.

Andy Dwyer: Rishi Kapoor. Manic, fun, totally unexpected and charming. And clearly not right with Shobhana, so it is a relief when they break up.

April Ludgate: Padmini Kolhapure.  She wasn’t in much, but she and Rishi had a great chemister in Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai, and she was obviously way too young for him, which is a big part of this plot.

Ron Swanson: Dharmendra, I think.  Ron isn’t really that much older than Leslie, but he has such a manly energy that he feels older.  Very Dharmendra.

Tom Haverford: Asrani.  Obviously.

Jerry Girgich: Shammi!

Ben Wyatt: Amitabh (obviously). Quiet, serious, a little dry humor.

Chris Treager: Vinod Khanna.  I think?  I might be able to do better, but that is the pretty good.  And he has good chemistry with Shobhana, we saw that in Amar Akbar Anthony.

 

Telugu Cast (present day):

Leslie Knope: Nithya Menen.  I really really like her!  And I feel like she could anchor a whole story.

Ann Perkins: Samantha Ruth Prabhu.  Quiet pretty energy, and I think it would be an interesting contrast with Nithya.

Andy Dwyer: Prabhas. Goofy energy, cheerful, feels younger than he is.

April Ludgate: Oooo, tricky!!!!  Oh!  I have it!  Sai Pallavi.  It’s perfect.

Ron Swanson: Nagarjuna.  He’s got the right kind of mustache game.

Tom Haverford: Allu Arjun.  I know he’d never take the role, but wouldn’t it be fun to see him play a straight comic supporting role?

Jerry Girgich: Nassar!

Ben Wyatt: Mahesh Bahu.  I know, it’s silly, but that sort of stiff uptight vibe might work with him.

Chris Treager: Rana Daggubatti.  Obviously!  Super healthy and handsome and perfect.

 

 

2000s Hindi

Leslie Knope: Rani Mukherjee.  Gotta be her.  Mature, successful, energetic, smart, and so on and so on.

Ann Perkins: Preity Zinta.  Reunite the Har Dil Jo Pyar Karege duo!

Andy Dwyer: Saif Ali Khan! Goofy, immature, fun.

April Ludgate: Kareena!  Very meta.  And also, I think it would have been fun to see her play dark and cynical as a teenager opposite goofy happy Saif.

Ron Swanson: Still Dharmendra.

Tom Haverford: Johnny Lever.  Obviously.

Jerry Girgich: Still Shammi.

Ben Wyatt: Abhishek!  Tall, dry humor, at first mildly irritated with Rani, but ultimately very impressed by her.

Chris Treager: Akshay!  Have he and Preity ever co-starred?  Anyway, super healthy and energetic and all of that.

 

Okay, I’m exhausted.  For present day all I have is that Ranveer HAS to be Andy, and beyond that I am out of ideas.

 

Thoughts?

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29 thoughts on “Silly Post: Recasting Parks and Rec, Jaya would have been THE PERFECT Leslie Knope

  1. So does everybody agree that Mark never existed in the show?
    Among the three sets, I love the Telugu cast. Great picks. The pairings work even better. Nithya/ Mahesh, Samantha/ Rana, Sai Pallavi/ Prabhas (my personal favourite). All tiny ladies with tall men. I know you like it that way and so do I.
    Allow me to throw Nani into the mix. He is versatile enough to play any role, except for physical limitations – Chris’s body, Ron’s manliness or Jerry’s age. I’ll put him up for Tom, he’d bring the right kind of energy for the role and Allu Arjun is my least favourite among the bunch.

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    • Except if Nani is Tom, I would want way way more for him to do! Maybe make him the little character growth person in the office, starting out corrupt and not caring and slowly turning into a dedicated public servant in the background in a really inspiring way.

      I felt bad not casting Anushka Shetty as anything, but she really doesn’t fit with the Parks & Rec women’s dynamic, they are much more cheerful and caring and compromising and talking it out, instead of strong and dynamic. The best I can come up with is a cameo for her as Ron’s wife Diane, the only woman strong enough to match him.

      On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 9:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Pasting it here to continue this thread
        Also how about Tabu as Telugu Ron’s (It’s sort of an open secret that those two had a history) crazy ex Tammy 2?
        Anushka (also rumoured to have an affair with Nagarjuna) as Diane would be too perfect, if there’s such a thing.

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          • Well, if we wanted to get really meta, Amala is acting again now. She could be either Tammy, or Diane.

            On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 10:03 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • It’s like the original Diane being Xena Warrior Princess, obviously Telugu Ron could only marry Devasena-Warrior Princess.

          And speaking of real life matches, I also just remembered that in this case, Anne would be Ron’s real-life daughter-in-law. Which I kind of love, if they continue to play characters who don’t really know or like each other that much, it would be a cool little wink at the audience and undermining of expectations.

          On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 10:00 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • YES! Partly because I think Tabu would have a really fun time playing a crazy ex.

      On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 9:57 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Slight correction.Not everybody at the Collectorate has passed the Civil Services exam (which is super tough, by the way). The Collector and the Sub-Collector would have passed it.The rest of the staff would have sat for the PSC (Public Service Commission). Yes, there are some few cases where the Collectors have been promoted from the staff.I’d recommend watching Rajkummar Rao’s Shaadi mein zaroor aana where the distinction is made pretty clear.

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    • That actually works great! So Ron and Leslie are the Collector and the Sub-Collector, and everyone else in the office is just killing time until they get their pension. And April can be resisting taking the exam, but finally comes around to it and passes and ends up replacing Ron (which isn’t how the show ends, but I wish it was). And maybe Tom-Nani replaces Leslie in a rare promotion from within. Because Ron retires to spend more time with his family and Leslie retires to run for office.

      On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 10:11 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Whaaaaaaa??????
    Amy Poehler was the life and soul of the show, as far as I’m concerned. And Jaya B takes herself a bit too seriously IMHO for her to make a believable Leslie Knope. I mean, sure, she could have PLAYED the character just fine but what I know of her behavior IRL interferes with suspension of disbelief.

    Case in point:
    https://www.pinkvilla.com%2Fentertainment%2Fvideo%2F360317%2Fwatch-jaya-bachchan-loses-her-cool-yet-again-lashes-out-students-clicking&usg=AOvVaw0JYWD4Jfn2TM8oNNwqvifv

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    • I’m up for alternatives! Any other possible Leslie Knope across all time and languages in Indian film?

      On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 12:30 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • From Jaya’s generation? Nope. Bollywood doesn’t like its women sticking around as they age. Jaya is only in the limelight because of her family, not because of the little bit of work she’s done on the side. Rekha would be too glamorous for this role. I’d vote for 70s’ Neetu Singh. Or the 80s’ Deepti Naval.

        Present day? Vidya Balan. Would totally fit in a sarkari environment.

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        • Yes Vidya Balan!!!! And also yes Deepti Naval. And Farookh would have been her perfect Ben.

          If Vidya is Leslie, who is Ann? And Ben? And Ron? I assume Andy stays Ranveer?

          On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 12:38 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Irrfan Khan? He just doesn’t scream “manliest man in the world” to me. I might even want to switch your Ben with your Ron.

            Love Aditi as Ann, pretty but without the over-whelming personality of Vidya, I can see them making a balanced friendship.

            Oh oh! Can Madhavan be someone? Anyone, I don’t care who.

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          • Irfan can totally be a very manly man in an Indian-uncle kind of way. (Wouldn’t translate to American culture.)

            Madhavan could be Ben if you make the switch. But I don’t see John Abraham as Ron at all. Maybe Anil Kapoor.

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          • Maddy as Ben, Anil Kapoor/Irrfan Khan as Ron, John Abraham as Chris? Which puts John with Aditi, which I guess works. And John could certainly play the fitness nut type.

            On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 1:33 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Final couple, opposite Ranveer/Andy, who is April? And don’t say Alia! I feel like there has to be someone better, someone more unexpected.

            On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 1:42 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Perfect. Very dark cynical vibe, and still has a young face so could believably play a teenager.

            Tom, Donna?

            On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 1:46 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Did you watch Masaan? Shweta Tripathi would be a great April! She looks so fresh I was going to say she’s the right age to play a college student. Wiki tells me she’s 32, but hey! She still looks young enough to pull off April

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          • And wiki also tells me her father was an IAS officer. Is that related to the kind of office we are talking about here? Because if so, that would be a cool touch, to have a daughter of an officer in the cast.

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          • I love Lisa Haydon! Please please let Lisa Haydon be Donna! Although then we would lose one of the best parts of the original, that the only large-sized woman in the cast was also the one with the most exciting personal life and the largest number of men running after her.

            Maybe Lisa Haydon as Arshad Warsi Tom’s eventual girlfriend? And Mallika Dua as Donna? Although I might also love Farah Khan as Donna.

            On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 1:52 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I wish I could watch the 2000s hindi cast version of the show! Would you consider doing a similar post about The Office? The US version is my favourite show!! I’m trying to think of who could do Michael Scott justice…

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    • I don’t know if I know The Office well enough! I’ve only seen a handful of episodes from random seasons. Michael Scott, I don’t know! I kind of want Anupam Kher? Is that crazy?

      On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 6:22 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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