Once again, you did the work for me! At least partially. For Anushka’s birthday, we were talking about who we wanted to see her with in her next movies, and that started me out with thinking about what those movies would be like.
Anushka and Ranveer as Radio Competitors Turned Partners
This came up after talking about how Ranveer and Anushka’s movies post-Band Baaja Baarat didn’t really have enough of them spending time together. We want a romance that has maximum Ranveer and Anushka onscreen together! And here’s what I came up with!
Anushka is a hardworking sincere journalist. She went to school for journalism, did an internship, and then was offered to take over for her mentor as the leading investigative reporter on a Delhi radio station. She loves her job, and it is also her life. She is from a big wealthy family, but has given up all the wealth and instead lives alone in a small apartment off of her own salary. We meet her at a family wedding where everyone is giving her a hard time for always taking things so seriously, not understanding why she couldn’t have taken leave to help with the wedding preparations, why she doesn’t want to just get married and stop working, why she brings up uncomfortable things like that the local politician was clearly invited to the wedding in an attempt to get him to sign off on an illegal building the groom’s family wants to develop.
At the same wedding is Ranveer. He is the groom’s friend, from a struggling middle-class family, and he is there to have fun and eat free food and doesn’t really care about anything else. He teases Anushka mercilessly for being so serious, and also brings up the good point that she can only afford to be this sincere and ethical because she came from a rich family, maybe she lives on her salary now, but during her internship and school, her family was supporting her. And she has no family to worry about or support now. And he does all of this without implying that he is any different, he plays the game of seeming like another spoiled rich kid there for the fun and connections.
(This is kind of like Gori Tere Pyar Main, except the hero isn’t horrible and the heroine isn’t made fun of for caring)
Which is why it is such a surprise when Anushka goes back to work and discovers that Ranveer has just been hired at her radio station and she will now be splitting her air time with him, because her ratings are dropping and he is going to do a fun silly comedy show. Anushka at first goes to talk to Ranveer and ask him to drop out, at which point Ranveer lays some truth on her. He isn’t a rich trust fund kid, his family scrapped and saved to send him to college, and his favorite part was running the campus radio show. He failed his classes because he had to spend time working instead of studying, all he had left was his radio tapes, he slept on the streets or crashed with friends (like the groom at the wedding) and spent all day working for food money and going around to radio stations with his demo, before he finally got a job at a local station, which turned into a job here, he is now making enough money to send back to his mother and sisters and he is not about to let it go.
Anushka is chastened, but still furious when she hears Ranveer’s first show, which is all “men are like this, women are like that” jokes, and also making fun of her super earnest news report from before, with jokes about how this is India, why should we care about corruption? She confronts him afterwards, and tells him she doesn’t care about his sad story, she is taking the job away from him. And you can see Ranveer kind of respects and appreciates that she is treating him like an equal, not pitying him as a charity case.
(Also kind of why Varun and Sid were friends in this. Varun didn’t want pity, he wanted sincere competition and friendship)
But, TWIST!!!! Anushka starts forcing her way into the studio and confronting Ranveer on air, and he turns around and does the same to her, and the ratings sky rocket!!!! People love their back and forth on the issues, their boss gives them a joint show. And then Anushka gets a call from an informant with a story, but the informant refuses to talk to her without Ranveer, because he likes Ranveer’s cool vibe.
Anushka reluctantly brings Ranveer in to the meet, and Ranveer is awesome at being friendly and getting the informant to trust them. Anushka reluctantly starts bring Ranveer along to all the meets, and Ranveer in return asks her to come with him to a college reunion party and pretend to be his girlfriend. Anushka thinks it is a weird request at first, but then they get there, and she realizes that all his classmates are doing better and he is embarrassed that he dropped out and struggled for years. She is awesome about it, drops into a fake spoiled rich girl mode, talks about how she is so in love with Ranveer, her father is so pleased with their engagement, Ranveer is going to inherit their whole company, etc. etc. Ranveer is super grateful, but Anushka brushes it off. And after that, they start to fall in love. Ranveer brings her coffee in the morning and her favorite street snack for lunch, she is super grateful and ruffles his hair when she walks by his desk, they both get distracted sometimes and forget to talk during their show because they are so focused on watching the other person, it’s sweet.
(Essentially just this song again, but that’s okay, I love this song)
And at the same time, the investigation they are working on begins to heat up. Ranveer finally learns to care like Anushka does when they talk to a new informant. Let’s say they are investigating a housing scam, the kind of thing Anushka was so mad about at the wedding and Ranveer was brushing off as harmless. Their initial informant was a disgruntled worker who just wanted revenge on his boss. But now they are meeting with a single mother who is living in a leaking falling down apartment because the low priced housing she was promised is now being stolen and turned into a luxury building. Ranveer sneaks back after the leave and hands her all the money he has, and the luxury watch he made a big deal of buying before the reunion to show up his old friends. Because, we the audience realize, he is suddenly seeing his own struggling single mother in this struggling single mother, and realizing that he can’t just care about his own family, he has to care about all families. Anushka notices the difference in him, but doesn’t comment on it, because she’s cool like that.
The finally finish the story and present it on air perfectly, Anushka providing the dry background, and Ranveer providing the sparkle and flash to get people interested, ending with a sincere reading of the list of names of the residents who were evicted thanks to this illegal land grab, and a reminder of how each name here is another tragic story. After they finish the show, and get a slow clap from the people in the studio, they go back to their shared office and Ranveer admits that now he is thinking about his own family, and how his life would have been different if there had been someone like Anushka there to help save him. And how he could have been friends with all those people who were part of the problem, being grateful for their charity in college without realizing what their families and families like them had taken from him as a child. Anushka doesn’t have an easy answer, just comforts him, and then they end up kissing. And then sex happens.
Happy love song!!!! They are spending the night together on a regular basis, Ranveer is bringing her little gifts every day and making her smile, Anushka is cheerfully taking the lead with sexytimes, randomly dragging him into closets at work for make-out sessions and so on, finally Ranveer moves his stuff into Anushka’s place, he makes her dinner and does the laundry, she wakes him up every morning so he won’t be late like he usually is, everything is awesome.
(Like this, if they were actually dating and living together, not just living together)
Until Anushka’s wealthy estranged father (Boman Irani, obviously) comes to surprise her at work. Ranveer meets him first and is super engraciating and nice, and we the audience realize it is because he is Anushka’s father, not because he is rich. But Anushka misunderstands, and thinks Ranveer is regressing to sucking up to a rich man again. And she gets even angrier when Ranveer seemingly takes her father’s side against her. She storms out, Ranveer keeps talking to Boman, admits that he is in love with Anushka and asks permission to marry her. Boman of course says yes. Ranveer then arranges an elaborate perfect proposal, with roses and candlelight, and the big family ring Boman gave him, and tells her that he has the blessings of her father, and she turns him down. Boman calls for a report, Ranveer says it didn’t go well, Boman says not to worry, Anushka will change her mind, and offers to take him out for drinks. And when they are both at a bar getting drunk, Boman starts revealing his real feelings, talking about how happy he is Anushka will finally get married and stop this foolish “career”, Ranveer has a place waiting for him in Boman’s company, Boman will buy them a starter flat right by their city place, he has their whole life planned. Ranveer is super drunk and having a hard time following all this, until he catches Boman saying something about how Anushka always wanted to make a difference in the world but didn’t realize the greatest difference a woman can make is as a wife and mother. Ranveer launches into a drunken rant in response to this, about all the differences Anushka has made in the world, from the kid in front of the building who she found a place for at a charity school, to the cleaning woman she pays to come to her house twice a day even if there is no work, to the hundreds of people whose lives she changed in their last story, all the way to Ranveer, who never knew what it was like to be a man and have pride in himself until he started working with her and fell in love with her.
And then, finally knowing the right way to do it, he goes back to Anushka’s apartment, still drunk, and tells her that he doesn’t have a ring, and he doesn’t have her father’s blessing, because they don’t need those things, they are partners, they just need each other, and all he wants is for them to be partners for life.
And, HAPPY ENDING!!! End credits montage song showing their registrar marriage, Anushka going back to his village with him and uncomfortably going through all the “new bride” rites just to make Ranveer’s mother happy, then returning to their city apartment, happily living together, Anushka’ gets pregnant, Ranveer pampers her and puts up with her hormones, baby is born, and next thing we see is Anushka back at work with Ranveer and Baby listening in to the show from the radio at home.
Anushka and Ayushmann Arranged Marriage Middleclass Love Story
Ayushmann and Anushka are sweet stable middleclass northern smalltown people. Let’s say Lucknow. Ayushmann runs his family’s cable TV company, Anushka works for a travel agency. Their families arrange their marriage through shaadi.com. Both of them are secretly a little conflicted. Ayushmann, because he doesn’t really want to get married but is so used to doing everything his family tells him that he can’t speak up. And Anushka because her boss just offered her a transfer to Delhi and she was kind of excited at the idea, but now has to turn it down.
They go along with the marriage, reluctantly, and then are surprised by a gift from Anushka’s boss of a wonderful honeymoon. Ayushmann’s family tries to cash it in, but turns out that it was a free deal for the agency, nothing to cash in. The end result is that Ayushmann and Anushka get to go off, totally alone, on a fabulous cruise Ahmedabad to Goa (that seems like a reasonable cruise trip, right?). And over the course of the trip, they surprise themselves by falling in love. First through shared secrets, they discover the free cabin they are given is terrible, but then are mistaken for another couple who missed the boat who have the best cabin on the boat, and Anushka takes the lead in suggesting that they pretend to be that couple, a wealthy sophisticated couple from Delhi. They enjoy playing this game together, and sharing that turns into staying up late and sharing secrets, childhood crushes and things, and then finally a romantic song and dance at the cruise’s fancy ballroom, followed by finally having their first night in the fancy cabin. And after that, everything is awesome, they have a great time in Goa, and fly home completely connected and in love.
(There’s probably also a drunk song like this)
At which point reality returns. Anushka is stuck at home all day with her aunt-in-law (Ayushmann’s parents are dead, his family treats him as an obligation and he lives in the smallest room in his uncle’s house) while Ayushmann is back in his boring office at his boring job. When they are together, it’s great, but they aren’t allowed to be together that much. The stress keeps building and building, Anushka is sick of how Ayushmann never stands up for himself, accepting his position as the orphan younger son of the younger son of the family. And Ayushmann misses his strong exciting wife, now that Anushka is constantly at the beck and call of her mother-in-law, too tired at night to even talk to Ayushmann. They try to sneak off for lunches together or something, and it never works out, and when it does, they just fight. After one particularly bad fight, Anushka stops by her old job to visit and learns that her coworker who took the Delhi job was fired and they still really wish Anushka had taken it. Feeling so good for being complemented for doing something well instead being criticized and corrected for her failure to do anything related to housework correctly, Anushka spontaneously finds herself taking the job. She goes home that night all abuzz with excitement, and tells Ayushmann, ready to talk it out with him, suggesting that this might be the solution for all their problems, Ayushmann can quit and find a job he likes, and they can get their own place away from his family, and on and on. But Ayushmann responds terribly, he just had another fight with his boss-uncle and feels like Anushka is saying he can’t support them. It suddenly changes from a “this is an exciting possibility for us” to a “I am doing this and you can’t stop me” kind of fight. And it ends with Anushka going off to Delhi and Ayushmann staying behind.
They are still married, Anushka uses her married name at work and puts their wedding photo on her desk, Ayushmann stays in their marital bedroom and leaves their photo by the bed, but they are in a stand off as to who will give in first, Anushka moving back to Lucknow and quitting her job, or Ayushmann quitting his job and moving to Delhi with her. Sad Song.
(Yeah, kind of like this)
It comes to a head when Anushka throws up at work and realizes she is pregnant. She asks for leave and goes back to Ayushmann in Lucknow to tell him in person. And to give in, to say that she realizes she loves him and wants to raise their baby as a family, and she can sacrifice for that. So they try to fit back into their Lucknow life, Anushka goes back to learning how to cook from her in-laws (who insult her more than ever and keep needling her about going off for her job). Anushka puts up with it all smilingly, the perfect daughter-in-law, and also makes time to be sweet and romantic with Ayushmann when he comes home. Ayushmann’s life is now more or less perfect, but he starts to notice how much Anushka gave up to make it work, how she is being insulted in constant little ways all day every day. Until, finally, Anushka faints while bringing him his lunch at work, Ayushmann rushes her to the clinic, and learns that her blood pressure is a little high and she is overworking herself. The doctor asks what she does in a typical day, Anushka runs through waking up before dawn, making breakfast for everyone, sweeping the floors, washing the clothes, and on and on. Ayushmann is stunned as he listens to her. He keeps thinking about it all the way home, until finally he takes her in and puts her to bed, then leaves, and comes back just in time to hear his aunt nagging Anushka to get out of bed, stop laying around, she has 6 months of housework to make up for all that time she was laying around like a woman of leisure in Delhi. Ayushmann FINALLY stands up for himself, and his wife, telling them that Anushka wasn’t just laying around in Delhi, she was the chief of her own agency, and that she has been working so hard since she came back that she has made herself sick. Maybe Ayushmann is the poor relation of the family, but Anushka deserves better, and instead of living in this household on the charity of his uncle’s family, he is going to take Anushka back to Delhi, he would rather live off his wife who loves him than his family who just tolerates him.
Happy ending is a leap forward a year to the two of them in Delhi, taking the baby for a walk, and randomly bumping into the captain of the cruise ship. At first they pretend to be the wealthy couple again, but then Ayushmann calls him back and says he wants to tell the truth, they aren’t super wealthy, but his wife just got her third promotion at work, and he just started his own lunch truck, and if he checks back in with them in 20 years, they WILL be millionaires.
Anushka and Shahrukh Playing Their Real Ages
They’ve come close to this before, notably in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, but I want to be even more so. Shahrukh is 52, widowed with two kids in boarding school. He has a casual relationship with a fellow widower (Juhi, say) and isn’t looking for anything more. His life is about his kids and his job.
Shahrukh manages and owns a high end hotel in a small resort town. He is stressed out because the other fancy hotel in town was just bought by a big corporation and their hot shot new manager (Abhay Deol. Just because I want him to work more) is trying to sink Shahrukh’s hotel. He comes in to work one day to discover all his top managers were just hired away from him. The only person still working is the new front desk manager he just hired who is kind of a mess, Anushka. He hired her partly out of pity (flashback to her interview, she broke down crying in the middle while explaining that she needed the job because she just got divorced and had to move back home to her parents), and now he tries to convince her she can handle managing the whole hotel along with him, even though she still starts to cry at confrontations and has to close her eyes and sing to herself when she gets too stressed.
Shahrukh is endlessly patient and mature with her, and in return Anushka is completely loyal and hardworking, unlike the rest of the staff that are either quitting to work for Abhay, or taking bribes from him to call in sick, and otherwise sabotage the hotel. Anushka cleans every room by herself when the housekeeping staff doesn’t come in, tries her best to cook when the kitchen staff suddenly all walk out, and is just generally wonderful. They go from awkward boss and employee to partners who rely on each other, to friends. Shahrukh gives her a ride home every night and finally meets her parents, who are both super pessimistic and nervous, clearly the reason Anushka is always on edge. Shahrukh tells them that Anushka is the best employee he has ever had and she is strong and smart and they don’t need to worry about her.
(I just like them so much as unlikely friends!)
And then Shahrukh’s kids come to stay with him over school vacation. His son is easy, but his teenage daughter is too cool for anything now. Shahrukh is scrambling to get through to her, but Anushka unlocks her easily, figures out that something bad happened at school before she left and that’s why she is acting odd, gets her to open up about how all her friends hate her now and just because a guy liked her and didn’t like her friend, they spread a rumor all over school that she slept with him and she just wants to DIE. Anushka is awesome, tells her a super embarrassing story from her own high school years and that she will get through it, and that the first step is to just tell her father what is happening and let him help her, because her father is wonderful and can help with anything.
Shahrukh is wonderful, and super understanding, and suggests that maybe she and her brother should just take a break from school for a bit and stay here with him. And then he is super grateful to Anushka, tells her that ever since his wife died no one has been able to help him with his kids, it’s great to feel like someone has his back. Anushka promises she will always be there for him, and somehow they end up kissing.
Shahrukh, of course, feels super guilty right away. Anushka’s his employee, she’s so much younger, it’s just not right. He goes to talk to his old friend-with-benefits Juhi, who gives him some truths about how you can’t fight love, and the most unexpected things can happen sometimes, and he should look at it as a blessing not a sin. And most of all, know that his wife would be happy for him.
And so we see Shahrukh in close up giving a big speech about how he never thought he could love again, never thought his heart would open up, thought he was too old and too settled in his life, but then she came and changed everything, and he doesn’t want his life, boring or not, unless she is in it. And then he ends with “so? what do you say?” And the camera swings around to reveal that he is talking to his two kids, who both have big smiles on their faces, and tell him “you’re gonna do great Dad! No way she says no to that!” Shahrukh smiles, they all hug, his daughter fixes his tie, his son gives him a high five, and then he goes outside to the hotel garden where Anushka is waiting in a fancy dress looking confused. And we watch from the kids’ perspective as Shahrukh greets her, then kneels down and holds out a box, Anushka gasps and then clearly says “yes yes yes”, puts on the ring, they kiss, the kids in the background smile.
(Cute cute together!)