Happy Sunday! This post is much later than usual because I have had a very busy day. Pleasant, but busy.
I was listening to the radio in the car and one of my favorite songs from childhood popped on and I suddenly thought “Hey! This would be an AMAZING Indian Movie!” Because 1950s-60s girl group odes to love and the story lines of drippy teen romances from India have very similar feels to them. For many of you, I am sure I can just give the title of the song and you will immediately have the entire song pop into your head. Because it’s one of those songs, it gets in your brain and stays there for eternity. But for those poor few who have not yet been introduced to the beauty that it is, I will now write out the entire lyrics. From memory, because I may have forgotten the Gettysburg Address but by golly I will never forget the lyrics to “Leader of the Pack”
Chorus spoken: “Is she really going out with him?” Well there she is, let’s ask her!” Betty, is that Jimmy’s ring you’re wearing?” “Mm-hm” “Gee it must be great riding with him, is he picking you up after school today?” “Mm-mm” “By the way, where’d you meet him?”
Lead singer, sung: “I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me, you get the picture?”
Chorus: “Yes, we see”
Lead singer: “That’s when I fell for…THE LEADER OF THE PACK” (motorcycle sound, vroom vroom)
My folks were always putting him down
They said he came from the wrong side of town
They told me he was bad
But I knew he was sad
That’s why I fell for…THE LEADER OF THE PACK” (vroom vroom)
One day my Dad said find someone knew
I had to tell my Jimmy we’re through
He stood there and asked me why
But all I could do was cry
I’m sorry I hurt you…THE LEADER OF THE PACK (vroom vroom)
Lead singer, spoken: “He sort of smiled and kissed me good-bye. The tears were beginning to show. As he drove away on that rainy night, I begged him to go slow. But whether he heard, I’ll never know.”
Chorus, screamed: “LOOK OUT LOOK OUT LOOK OUT!”
Lead singer, sung: “I felt so helpless, what could I do?
Remembering all the things we’d been through?
In school they all stop and stare
I can’t hide the tears, but I don’t care
I’ll never forget him….THE LEADER OF THE PACK
Chorus, sung: “leader of the pack, and now he’s gone. Leader of the pack and now he’s gone. Leader of the pack and now he’s gone”
So, I love this! We have a high school girl who meets a bad boy motorcycle gang leader at the candy store, her father forces her to break up with him, she does, and in his misery he drives off and has an accident and DIES. But he lives on in her memory. Oh, and she also has extremely unsupportive friends who enjoy forcing her to relive the whole thing over and over again.
I think we can take the basic template and translate it for every industry!!!!
Malayalam Leader of the Pack
Leader: Tovino Thomas (or Dulquer)
Heroine: Aparna Balamurali (from Maheshinte Prathikaaram)
Authoritative not understanding father: Mohanlal (or Mammootty if the hero is Dulquer, because that makes me laugh)
Our heroine is the beloved only child of her family, her father is a wealthy man in the village and respected, she goes to the best school and generally leads a charmed life. And then one day she is at the candy store, and a motorcycle (vroom vroom) pulls up outside. She is surprised, but then he turns around and smiles at her and she falls in love just like that. She can’t stop thinking about him, even though she knows he is Bad. And she hears her father and his friends talking about him, and his gang of motorcycle riding Communists who go around and harass businesses that charge usurious rates and beat up abusive employers and so on. Until one day she is out in the car with the driver (of course) and it stalls and is stuck in the mud. The driver goes for help, but while he is gone the mud pit gets larger and larger, and she is almost trapped in it. Out hero silently shows up and lifts her out and then sets her on his bike and tells her to “hold tight” and gives her a ride home.
And then she is lost in love, to the point that when she sees him at the candy store again, she goes up to him and confesses her feelings and kisses him (!!!!). And then he slowly lets her into his sad bad boy life. His father was worked to death, his mother is sick, he lives with her and his grandfather in a little shack. She cleans it up and patches his clothes and makes him food and he falls more in love than ever, and tells her that for the first time he feels like he has someone of his own. But, of course, her parents disapprove. There is much fighting in the household. She stands up for herself over and over again, even when they bring in a proposal, she makes a scene in front of the boy’s family and shows them that she is already wearing the hero’s ring and has no space for any other. She tells her parents that she will live in their house until she is of age, but then she is running away with her True Love. Maybe there is a bit in the middle where she runs off to him but he sends her home and reminds her that she should feel lucky to have loving parents.
(Oh right, this is where I heard the phrase “so lost in love”)
Until finally her father has a HEART ATTACK!!!! And, on his near-death bed, begs her to say good-bye to the hero forever. She tells him on a dark and rainy night, he is visibly upset, asks her why but all she can do is cry, he takes off while she begs him to go slow, and then crashes!!!!! NOOOOO!
Days later, she is back at school like usual and the horrible giggling gossipy girls around her ask her if she is really dating the bad boy Communist motorcycle rider, she says yes, but then tells the whole story. Her friends turn sympathetic and sob with her. Coincidentally, one of them is the daughter of a doctor. She tells this story to him and it reminds him of a patient. And slowly it unravels, the hero did NOT die, he was just severely injured, but on that stormy night, her father lied to her that he was dead, hoping she would get over her grief some day. So while she has been living like a widow very dramatically in misery, he has been lying in a hospital without the will to try to live now that he thinks she doesn’t love him. She goes to him just as he is attempting suicide through overdose on pain pills and either:
a) arrives minutes too late, to sob over his dead body
b) arrives at the last second and saves him
Bad Boy Hero: Allu Arjun
Heroine: Nithya Menon
Overbearing father: Prakash Raj
In this one, he actually is the leader of a motorcycle gang, working for an enforcer in the city, his “pack” vrooming through the neighborhood and spreading fear among decent hard working folks like Nithya’s family. Nithya is a spoiled doted on daughter of a small businessman/shopkeeper. She is also kind of spunky in that Telugu heroine way.
She meets him at the candy store, he turns around on his bike and smiles at her and she falls for him. But she is just a spunky little good girl, how can she get his attention. She follows him around and spies on him, but he doesn’t even seem to notice her. Until one rainy night, he and his gang are ambushed by rivals, there is a big fight, she rushes down and saves him with medicine from her father’s pharmacy. As he is passing out, he has a vision of her and calls her his “angel”. She keeps forcing her way into his gang hide out to give him more medicine for his injuries and his gang starts teasing him about it and trying to throw them together. Until finally they are maneuvered into going on a date together, to a movie and then walking afterwards, and she kisses him suddenly when they return home, making him fall in love all of a sudden. Song sequence that shows their odd sort of courtship, he doesn’t know how to romance, so he will bring her gifts of jewelry made from motorcycle parts and stuff, but she is happy with it all.
(I’m picturing Allu Arjun kind of like this, troubled and odd and dangerous)
Her father finds out and disapproves, she tries to run off with Allu Arjun but he sends her back home telling her that her father is right, he is no good, but by the time she is finished with college, he will be good. He is trying to save up money and he and his gang will open a motorcycle shop.
But then it all goes wrong when the next man he is sent to threaten with his gang is her father! Prakash Raj!!!! She is furious at seeing her father disrespected and heartbroken and when he orders her to break up with Allu Arjun, she agrees. He doesn’t understand because he doesn’t know Prakash is her father, takes off on his bike in the rainy night, crash, etc. etc.
Nithya is heartbroken, attempts suicide and barely survives. Prakash is still being pestered to pay back his loan by even worse guys. And then, out of nowhere, a figure appears on a motorcycle to save weakened and addled Nithya and Prakash from being assaulted. Nithya recognizes and is sure it is Allu Arjun! Prakash pities her. But she starts following around this new motorcycle rider without ever seeing his face under his helmet. And he keeps showing up at opportune moments. Until, finally, it is revealed to the audience that it is Allu Arjun, this was all an elaborate plot, he faked his own death to work for the police and bring down his boss and clear his name. He didn’t tell Nithya, just watches over her from a distance, because he doesn’t want to risk putting her in more danger.
Until the finale fight scene when, finally, he pulls off his helmet and she sees him again and they embrace.
Hindi Leader of the Pack
Leader of the Pack Hero: Vicky Kaushal
Heroine: Sara Ali Khan (why not? Better launch than Simba for sure)
Oppressive Father: Saif (this makes me giggle)
Most straightforward version of the plot! He smiles at our innocent school girl at the candy store, he is a dangerous bad boy on a motorcycle with a gang of other motorcyclists behind him. It’s Hindi, so he will actually be rich, richer than her. But troubled with a bad family life (unloving stepmother perhaps?) and it makes him act out and believe his “real” family are the fellow motorcycle riders.
He starts following her around and showing up outside her school, at first she ignores him, and then finally tells him off. He stops coming around and she misses him, and then is set upon by thugs on the way home and he suddenly appears with his gang and saves her, warning off the thugs that she is the girlfriend of the “Leader of the Pack”. And then she goes to him the next day to say thank you and admits that she loves him. Happy happy.
Until her father finds out. He wants her to marry someone else, she goes to the hero and he gives her a ring with a little picture of a motorcycle sketched onto it and tells her now they are engaged and will be married as soon as she comes of age, so she can’t marry anyone else. She goes home and tells this to her father who rails at her and shouts and locks her in her room. But she goes on hunger strike until he lets her out. It looks like true love will triumph after all, until her father loses all his money and has a heart attack. If she agrees to marry the boy of his choice, it will seal a business deal that could save his company and his life. So she agrees, but first goes to break up with the Leader of the Pack, gives him back his ring, and can’t even tell him why because she is crying so hard.
(I’m picturing very much the drippy overly romantic tone of this movie)
He rides off into a sad song, and then gets into a tremendous crash!!!! She finds out and dramatically swears she cannot marry the boy after all because she is already married and now widowed. His family, very traditional, rejects her. Her family loses everything, has to move to a small poor apartment, she starts dressing in simple traditional clothing to show their lowered status. And then one day a rich man comes to their house to offer a marriage alliance, and a promise to clear all their debts if they agree. She refuses at first but he asks her to at least meet the boy. And takes her to his house to a luxurious room with a hospital bed in the middle. It’s the hero! In a coma! His father has brought him home and is caring for him and trying to make him happy, but he also found a letter from him about her and knows what he wanted most was to marry her. And so, even though he is in a coma that the doctors say is irreversible, his father still wants him to marry her.
Her father tries to stop her, but she declares that she already considered herself married to him, the ceremony will make no difference. So they marry and our saintly heroine moves into his house and performs all the traditional tasks of a wife, touching his feet and giving him blessings and so on, despite him being in the irreversible coma. Until, a miracle! On her first Karva Chauth, after fasting all day and doing a big dance number, she comes to him and his hand moves slightly! Slowly, with her steadfast love, she brings him back to himself. And has his things brought in, his beloved motorcycle and posters and stuff. But bad things still follow him, his motorcycle gang enemy from the old days tracks him down and attacks, hitting his father, his stepmother, and finally knocking poor Sara around. Sara cries out in pain and ends up landing on Vicky’s feet begging for help. Which is when his feet move! And his eye twitches! And finally he drags himself up, and over to his motorcycle. He turns it on (vroom vroom) and, gaining strength every minute, rides it around the room beating up everyone. And finally stopping in front of Sara, who gets on behind him and holds tight, he takes it to their special place and just as the sun is setting, he turns around and puts the ring back on her, the ring he slipped onto the motorcycle after she gave it back to him. And finally they are “really” married. HAPPY ENDING.
So, what do you think? Which version is best?