Silly Sunday: The Next Netflix Miniseries I Want to See, Devdas to Bhagat Singh to Nargis

I just spent the entire weekend with Sacred Games, first watching it and then writing about.  Which has me thinking about other options for multi-season Netflix style miniserieses that I want to see.

Devdas

It’s time for another new take on Devdas!  And why not do an extremely detailed version that takes episodes and episodes to complete?

Here’s my pitch:

It’s set in the original era, with tons of period touches, including talk of the Indian National Congress and WWI and stuff.  And we do the Netflix adaptation thing and add in random stuff like Paro has a brother who has run off to join the Independence movement, and her best friend was in love with him and is forced to marry someone else, and Paro swears she would never give up on love like that.  Dev returns from London with ideas about revolution that he fights over with his older brother and father, Paro listens seriously though and agrees with him.  After much long looks and misunderstandings, their potential engagement falls apart, and Dev goes to the city.  He meets Chandramukhi for the first time, and we get a bunch of cool historical touches in Calcutta, telegraphs and trains and topical newspaper headlines, blah blah.  Chandramukhi has her own invented backstory and friends and stuff as well, I don’t know, an older mentor who has a long term relationship with an English army officer, blah blah, colonialism is complicated.  Dev goes back to discover Paro’s marriage is arranged, END OF SERIES 1

SERIES 2

We come in and backstory for Paro’s in-law’s household.  A nice older guy, struggling with his children, doesn’t really want to get married again but wants a wife to help with his household.  His son wants to join the British army, he is against it, his daughter doesn’t talk to him.  And then we see that the young woman he is considering marrying is Paro.  Paro marries into the household and we see her win them over, she is kind to her older husband and understands when he says he doesn’t want a new wife, and becomes a new mother to her stepchildren and starts working with her husband and using his money to fund and become involved in the Quit India movement.  And only then do we cut back to Devdas, to discover him drunk in Calcutta with Chandramukhi, a whole different world.  He intersects with Paro again when he goes home to deal with money issues with his family, and she is concerned about his health.  We also get a chance to see that his father is dead and his brother has turned full British collaborator, and maybe something back in Calcutta about the British trying to shut down the red light district and Chandramukhi and her friends struggling.  And then Dev is found collapsed and dying. END SERIES 2

(Wouldn’t it be a lot more interesting if they were debating the historical forces ruling the country, instead of just singing a lot?)

SERIES 3

We intercut between Paro, I don’t know, sending secret messages to the resistance or something, and making sure her stepdaughter gets to marry the man she loves instead of the guy she was engaged to as a child, and doing good interesting powerful matron stuff like that, and Chandramukhi slowly healing Dev.  And then there is a very special episode where Dev travels India with his old servant and sees all the different parts and people and learns more about how colonialism is affecting them and on and on.  Until finally all the stories come together again.  And then an episode with no Dev, just Chandramukhi getting her life together.  Her mentor has finally married her white boyfriend, and decided that the rules that separate courtesans from the rest of the world aren’t worth anything.  It inspires Chandramukhi to plan to close up, buy a house in the country, just stay long enough in the city to say good-bye to Dev.  And then, in the final episode, we see Dev, sick again, travel to die at Paro’s gate as Chandramukhi senses him die.  And we get a flash forward to see the two women live out the rest of their lives, Chandramukhi living in the village, teaching school, making friends.  And Paro being the beloved mother and grandmother to her family, and respected leader in her society.  Until it finally ends as India gets Independence in 1948 and as Chandramukhi and Paro both listen to Nehru’s speech, with their communities, they both turn and look at a photo of Dev, the person who first inspired in them a feeling for Independent India.

Now, casting!

Dev: Rajkummar Rao?

Paro: Kangana?

Chandramukhi: Radhike Apte

Chandramukhi’s older friend: Divya Dutta

Paro’s doomed brother: Vikrant Massey

Paro’s rebellious stepson: Jim Sarbh

Paro’s understanding older husband: Anil Kapoor

 

Bhagat Singh:

This is a pretty straightforward one.  Bhagat’s life was, like, super eventful!  The movies have to cut a whole bunch of stuff.  You can just start with him in college, meeting his first revolutionary group, flashing back to childhood and his uncle’s involvement in the movement, then his running away to work at a press, being arrested the first time, in jail, home again, running away again, a very angsty episode as he decides that non-violence isn’t enough, the assassination attempt, going on the run, and then slowly coming to a realization that the best way to make change is to let himself be captured, and then the final episodes inside the jail, and finally his death.

Casting:

Bhagat Singh: Diljit Dosanjh.  Gotta be.

Image result for diljit dosanjh phillauri

 

Nargis

It’s like The Crown!  You could do decades at a time in multiple series and recast as you go.  Starting with Nargis as a young girl, going to school, with the early film industry running in and out of her house, until her mother tells her it is time for her to start working.  She struggles through her first movie with KA Abbas, until she sees herself on the big screen and falls in love with acting.  She learns to love acting, rises to the challenge of rude directors and her mother not respecting her opinions and slowly climbs to the top until one day the doorbell rings, and there is Raj Kapoor. END SERIES 1

Series 2:

Nargis and Raj are now in love and everything is perfect.  Seemingly.  The series takes us through their early romance, Nargis isn’t interested at first but is slowly won over and in love, everything is perfect.  Until she starts meeting Raj’s wife Krishna, it’s awkward until they have a semi-honest conversation and reach an agreement that Nargis will be his wife at work and Krishna will be his wife at home with the kids.  They rule the world, travel to Russia and America, and everything is perfect.  Until, slowly, Nargis starts to want more, to want children and a real marriage.  They begin to fight, and then they stop fighting because they stop talking.  At which point KA Abbas reappears and hands her a script, Mother India. END SERIES 2

Image result for mother india

Series 3:

Nargis takes the job on Mother India.  Raj is still trying to call her and talk to her, but she is focused on this amazing role.  And slowly over the course of filming, she starts to notice this nice young man onset, Sunil Dutt, who makes her laugh and is kind to her.  And then drama drama drama, fire rescue, etc. etc.  Nargis and Sunil marry, after one final super dramatic confrontation with Raj, and she starts her new perfect life.

Series 4:

Nargis and Sunil are married and happy.  We move through their married life, Nargis finding motherhood and charity, Sunil starting his own production house, the lean years, building their preview theater, raising their children, and then the very sad final episode when Nargis is diagnosed, goes to New York for treatment, seems to get better, and then finally dies, and over the end credits we flashback to her as a little girl telling her mother she wants to do everything, be the biggest star India has ever seen, have a great love, be married, have kids, everything.

Casting:

I don’t care about anything else so long as Ranbir plays Raj Kapoor.

 

So, what do you think?  And which one should we make, if we had all the money and power but could only make one show?

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11 thoughts on “Silly Sunday: The Next Netflix Miniseries I Want to See, Devdas to Bhagat Singh to Nargis

    • We already had a recent bad Devdas adaptation (some kind of Devdas in politics thing, I didn’t even watch it), if it is going to happen, might as well make it a good one.

      On Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 8:33 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. What’s the point of naming it Devdas if it’s all about the women? He’s the weight dragging them down rather than the inspiration.And for the Nargis biopi, Ranveer Singh would be better suited to play Raj Kapoor – creative,brilliant yet a little bit manic etc. Ranbir can be Sunil Dutt -stubborn yet passionate. With these two, who else but Deepika can play Nargis.

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    • I was thinking Dips for Nargis. That’s not too on the nose, is it?

      There’d have to be someone else to play her as a teenager though, Dips in a schoolgirl uniform would just look like some kind of creepy dress up. Maybe Suhana Khan?

      Maybe we rename it Devdas-Paro-Chandra? And promote it as a “new” version that looks at all 3 characters evenly? Really, in the novel, it does almost have 3 leads, there is time that you read about Paro without Dev and Chandramukhi without Dev.

      On Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 9:58 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • So long as it’s not Deepika’s nose which is worth its weight in gold -to Karni sena anyway.Ranbir-Deepika-Ranveer is the Amitabh-Jaya-Rekha for the next 20 years.There’s no getting away from it.Mention two of the triumvirate and the third one immediately comes to mind.

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        • I did consider an Amitabh-Jaya miniseries option too, but I wasn’t sure where to end it. Certainly didn’t want it to go to the present day, maybe just the two of them growing up and starting their career’s in parallel, slowly coming closer and closer to meeting, meeting and falling in love, getting married, Rekha, and then the Coolie accident and happy ending with Amitabh being “reborn”?

          On Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 10:15 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. If we’re doing a proper period Devdas and sticking close to the Sharat Chand story, we’re not really going to need the added independence movement subplot. Devdas is all about these sort of rich country families and parents who want to control their kids’ destinies and kids that don’t really know what love is but they know they feel something but they’re too oppressed by the social structure to do anything about it. The note of victimisation by the society, parents being the agent of it, rings true for indian kids even today so there really is no need for a subplot to fluff it up. i haven’t read the book but mom has and she says it’s dense so it might have enough side bits to spread the story over 2-3 series of 6-8 episodes each.

    The only thing I would do is make them the age they were intended to be in the original book- Paro around 15-16 and Dev around 17-19 if there’s to be an entirely fresh cast. If Rajkummar is non-negotiable (he kinda is) then he has to be playing a kid of around 21-22. I just don’t have any sympathy for older Devs. Older Devs just look like plain old assholes. Radhika would be amazing as both Paro as well as Chandramukhi but she too has to play a kid much younger than her real age. Can we do a crossover and have Vijay Deverakonda play Chunni Lal?

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    • For ages, the problem is that they grow up. So for our miniseries, we would need to cast actors who can convincingly play teenager to 30s. They are also supposed to grow old before their time, Dev through becoming an addict, and Paro through embracing her matronly status and turning into the respected but overlooked married woman at a young age. The romance is the smallest part, the point of the story is the way their lives go on after the romance until no one could even imagine that once they were young and in love. I think Rajkumar could do it, play 20-21, and convincingly age to around 30 but looking half-dead thanks to his addiction (Dev is supposed to be so disgusting looking that people turn away from him in the street, obviously dying of addiction). For Paro, it would have to be someone who could play young and feel young, and then put on a sari and put up her hair and convince us that the world sees her as a matron and mother of grown children. I’m leaning Kangana, because she has the right kind of face, that can sort of blurr from young to old depending on what she is playing.

      Chandramukhi is easier, because she is supposed to be older, like mid-20s at least. And then ages even more over the story. But that’s right in the usual age for actresses to play, so Radhike could definitely do it.

      On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 12:16 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • You’ve watched Masaan and Haramkhor right? I think Shweta could be a great Paro.

        My own oldest aunt got married at 13 and if it weren’t for her husband’s medical studies shed probably would have had her kids before she was 16. And this was in the 60s btw.

        Even today there are girls that were married before their 16th birthdays and who had kids by 17 and those kids are now close to what their social class considers marriageable age.

        It really wouldn’t be too shocking for an Indian audience to watch a 1920s rural Bengali family have their daughter married at 14-15, with kids at 16-17 and grandkids by the time she’s 32-33. The actresses would just have to put a bit of weight on to look the part

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        • What the novel talks about is that Paro sort of disappeared into her role as the wife and mother of this household, people forgot she was a beautiful young woman the same age as her stepchildren and think of her as their natural mother. So you’d want that shock of her going from a young woman with young woman hair and clothes, seeming childish and naive and everything, to seeing her and forgetting she was ever young, having her suddenly look a boring old woman. Not Alia, because with her face I don’t think she could ever look old. But lots of other actresses, if you change the hair and make-up and clothes, they could look 20 years older all of a sudden.

          On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 9:19 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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