I wasn’t going to do a Sunday post this week, but I need a break from writing reviews that I should be writing and it is just so refreshing to do fanfic for a bit. Plus, I love Harry and Sejal!
All of these are based on the premise that A) Harry and Sejal have a mystical connection that will overwhelm them inevitably no matter the circumstances in which they meet, B) Sejal was destined to break free of her life at some point and it could have happened much later or much earlier, C) Harry was destined to fall in love with Sejal and risk everything for her.
Harry Meets Sejal on Her Honeymoon
What if instead of this being a family engagement tour, it was a family honeymoon tour. Rupen and Sejal had the big formal wedding in Bombay and then a first night. Rupen did the deed and got it over with and then rolled over and went to sleep. Anushka/Sejal was left feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, and as the nights went by, it expanded from sexual frustration to just general frustration as she realizes that the magic thing that was supposed to happen after marriage, which was going to reconcile her to this life, did not live up to expectations and therefore her whole life is also not what was promised to her.
Harry/Shahrukh, being a naturally sensitive and caring person, picks up on what is happening when there is this new bride with her henna still dark who alternates between abusing him and hysterical sobbing. She escapes from the shared hotel room every night, because she can’t sleep, and sits in the hallway where Shahrukh sees her. She yells at him until he yells back and grabs her so she won’t hit him, and then she breaks down crying. He feels bad and the next night offers to take her out with him, free bonus tour. He takes her to a club where she dances and gets drunk and then walks her home, and she asks him to dance with her in the street.
(Imagine the double meanings if this was taking place after marriage, Sejal singing out the lessons she had learned about how she is “supposed” to love her husband as they slowly transform into naturally feelings for how she really loves Harry)
They try to keep their meetings to just the night, but it leaks through to the daytime. When her new father-in-law is horribly rude to Shahrukh, Anushka finds herself standing up for him. And when Rupen is dismissive and uncaring of Anushka, Shahrukh goes out of his way to take extra care of her, invites her to have lunch with him and Mayank while Rupen takes a work call leaving her alone and so on. She and Rupen have a fight about this and other things, she impulsively jumps off a train at a stop, Rupen refuses to go after her, Shahrukh is furious, and ends up jumping off the moving train. They both left their phones on the train and their luggage, Shahrukh still has his atm card and is able to pay for things, but they can’t call the rest of the group. They spend 24 hours traveling together, and Anushka suggests that they be husband and wife for 24 hours, to make it easier when they check into hotels and so on. They both fall into this idea too easily because it feels so natural to them, Anushka finally has the love and security and happiness she thought marriage would bring, and Shahrukh has the (temporary) right to take care of her in the way he has been subconsciously longing to do as he watched Rupen and his family break her spirit.
At the last minute as they are about to rejoin the rest of the tour, Anushka orders the taxi they are in to keep driving, and she and Shahrukh have a massive fight. She begs him not to make her go back, to just keep driving, keep going. He tries to be logical, points out that she will lose her family, he will lose her job, they are in a strange country, this is an impulse and she will regret it. They go around and around, and finally forces her out of the car and back to Rupen. And then leaves, knowing he is fired. His life falls apart even more after that, no company will hire him, he is running out of money and he doesn’t seem to care. Until he talks to Mayank and realizes that none of this matters, his job and the money and anything else, nothing in his life has been right since he let her go and nothing will be right until he gets her back. She was right and he was wrong, they just need each other and everything else will work out. He sells his apartment to Mayank and buys a ticket to Bombay.
He tricks his way into the fancy building where Anushka and Rupen live, only to be told that Anushka doesn’t live there any more. He goes to Rupen’s office and confronts him and punches him (in an awkward way, because Shahrukh is very angry but also not used to violence). Rupen bitterly explains that he didn’t throw Anushka out, he wanted to but his mother convinced him to forgive her, only she didn’t want his forgiveness! She cried all the time, wouldn’t let him touch her, and then he came home one night to find her gone. He doesn’t know where she went, she didn’t take anything with her. Shahrukh shakes his head in disgust at Rupen just letting her leave, and Rupen maybe feels a little guilty and offers up the address of her parents. Shahrukh goes there, and is even more disgusted when he hears their story, of course they took Anushka in, but they also made her aware (for her own good) of what a terrible mistake she had made and how she had shamed the family. And then for some reason she left after a week. But she sent a card with her new address. Shahrukh finally finds her in a woman’s hostel, she’s living off her own money from her entry level job at a law firm (no recommendation from the family business so she is starting from scratch). She comes home in a taxi, looking tired and stressed, sees him waiting on the front stoop, and just falls into his arms.
Harry Meets Sejal Ten Years Earlier (might require recasting)
Sejal has just finished high school and her family takes her on a trip to Europe. Harry is the tour guide, young and cocky, and immediately starts seducing Sejal’s older cousin (just out of college and ripe for a European no strings attached adventure in between her secret college boyfriend and her inevitable respectable fiance). Sejal is first used as cover/chaperone for the two of them. But she gets fascinated by watching Harry flirt and starts interrupting him and forcing her way into the conversation. Harry goes from wanting to get rid of her and being irritated to being drawn in by her questions and focusing on her more than the cousin. Until the cousin warns him off, tells him that she can see what is happening and she will tell Sejal’s family what he is doing unless he stops interacting with her immediately. Harry agrees, not to save his job but to save Sejal’s future. Of course, Sejal isn’t willing to go along with this and gets more and more explicit in her efforts to make him talk to her, even yelling at him in front of the group when he stands up to walk away when she tries to eat lunch at his table.
With no other option, Harry finds a woman and sleeps with her and makes sure Sejal sees them together. Her heart is broken, and so is his, but neither of them can fully understand why or what they are feeling. The tour continues with both of them sinking further and further into depression. Until Sejal, in an effort to feel alive, sneaks out and goes wandering by herself all night. The next morning, Harry is the only one to notice she is missing (since her family doesn’t really “see” her). No one else is particularly concerned, thinking she got on the first bus to leave instead of the second, not believing she could ever do something unexpected or not be where they left her. But Harry makes a big scene and insists on staying back just in case. He waits at the hotel for her to return, and learns from the doorman that she left late the night before and he didn’t see her come back. Harry gets more and more panicked, goes to the police and almost gets arrested himself when they don’t seem to understand what the problem is (thinking of a 19 year old woman as an “adult”, not as the inexperienced helpless person Harry knows she is). After running all over the place, he finally finds her in a hospital. She tripped and fell down some stone stairs, a passer by found her, she’s got a broken wrist and is generally banged up and has to stay in the hospital for observation.
Harry stays and takes care of her tenderly, their time apart is forgotten like it never happened, he lies to the staff that he is her husband in order to be able to stay with her and they act like husband and wife, caring and intimate and close. He keeps trying to reach her family, but the tour has moved on and it is hard to get in touch. Sejal is released from the hospital and Harry rushes around to get them a hotel room for them both to stay in, he shares the king size bed with her so he can help take care of her in the night, and so on and so forth. Until the family finally all show up days late, with a lot of excitement and drama, talking about their poor daughter and how they were so worried about her and so on and so forth. Sejal gets more and more quiet and sad seeming, and they are pulling her around and hurting her as they embrace her and so on, and finally Harry bursts out that they should all just leave. Sejal doesn’t need them, and he doesn’t need them, they are going to get married and she is staying with him. Everyone is stunned, including Sejal. And then (of all people) Sejal’s older cousin speaks up for them. Says that Harry is right, no one but her even noticed when they started to fall in love, she tried to stop it and she was wrong, look what happened. If Sejal was a little older, she would have just buried her heartbreak down, she would have been “smart” and “wise” and made a reasonable decision to move on. Like the cousin did, giving up her college boyfriend and trying to forget. But Sejal is luckier than her, she should have the right to make a choice. At which point Sejal reaches out and takes Harry’s hand, clearly having made her choice. Her family starts making wild threats but Harry (having just been through this when trying to file a police report) announces that in this country Sejal is a full-fledged adult and no police case or anything else will work to keep them apart. Sejal’s family, with no other option, tells her they are cutting her off, she will have nothing and no one from now on. Sejal just holds on to Harry’s hand and they look at each other, with the unspoken knowledge that now they have each other and that’s enough.
(I’m thinking maybe Alia and Shahid? With Swara Bhaskar as the cousin?)
(So, very similar to Shaandar, just a totally different plot framework)
Harry Meets Sejal Ten Years Later (may require recasting of Sejal)
Sejal is traveling to Europe with Rupen and their twin 5 year old daughters, for a broadening experience. Harry is their personal tour guide. But Rupen is always busy and always on work calls and Sejal is left to do all the hard work of parenting by herself. At first she only interacts with Harry making demands related to the kids, letting them sit up front so they won’t get carsick, a change of sheets after they throw up, a 24 hour clinic to take them too, a special diet. He is irritated with the demands at first but then begins to see how she is over-whelmed with these two kids and her husband isn’t helping at all. Especially when she makes a comment that reveals the whole trip was because Rupen’s father forced him to agree to take them on a family vacation, and then the Europe trip was Rupen’s idea and she and the kids wanted to go to Disneyworld. And then Rupen leaves complete, says he has a last minute important business meeting, he is staying on at this stop but he wants the family to continue. Big fight, Sejal begs him to let them stay, the kids aren’t getting anything out of the trip anyway, just staying in a hotel room would be fine. But Rupen orders her to go on, and so she does.
As the trip continues, Harry and Sejal become more and more like a couple and, more than that, like co-parents. Harry has a routine of taking the daughter who gets carsick in the front seat with him and talking to her to distract her. At stops, he will carry the other daughter on his shoulders so she can see everything. When the girls get sleepy, Sejal carries one and Harry the other. Because the girls have nightmares and get sick during the night, Harry starts sleeping in the same room to help, soon it is all 4 of them snuggled together on one bed. And in the middle of all of this, they randomly see Rupen in the crowd at a soccer game playing on TV, kissing a beautiful white woman. And everything falls into place, and Sejal realizes that Rupen has a mistress, that is why he travels to Europe so often, that is why he suggested this for their family trip when his family forced him to take her somewhere, and ultimately their whole life together is a lie.
Big internal implosion! Sejal’s first reaction is to try to seduce Harry in revenge. He understands what is happening and gently turns her aside. But as they continue traveling, the push and pull gets stronger and stronger. He keeps asking her to just call Rupen, talk to him, and she won’t do it. She keeps clumsily and obviously trying to get him to have sex with her and he won’t do it. But they are more and more attracted to each other, and something has to give. One night everything seems perfect, the daughters are worn out and go to sleep early, they have a suite for once and Sejal and Harry can sit together in the other room. Sejal puts on her favorite song, one she was singing earlier and Harry said he had never heard, they sit and listen to it, their hands meet, they lean together, they touch each other, they are about to kiss, and then Rupen knocks on the door. The front desk told him the room number. He is here to finish out the trip, sure of a happy welcome from his family. Harry excuses himself and walks out of their lives. He leaves without even saying good-bye, just leaves some tour books with a note saying that Rupen should be more than able to replace him. He tries to forget, but he can’t. Not just Sejal but the girls, he finds himself looking at mothers and their children every where he goes, jealous of the men who have families.
(Picture this happy peppy feel, but it’s not just Harry and Sejal, it’s Harry and Sejal plus two little girls)
Finally, he visits his friend Mayank, married with a baby, and while watching his family together, he admits that he wants this. Mayank tries to argue that the best way is to find a nice girl and start his own family, not take someone else’s. Harry argues that this family is “his” as much as anything can be, Rupen certainly doesn’t want it, and Harry could not love those girls more if they were “really” his own. He can take care of them and love them and after all, isn’t that all a father is? Mayank still thinks it is a terrible idea, but Harry is determined. He rushes to Bombay, to the school program that the girls invited him to. He comes in just as they are going onstage, looking nervous.
Sejal is in the audience, smiling and trying to encourage them, but they still seem shy until they see Harry in the back making faces at them. They get through their act, and Sejal smiles, not noticing Harry until he comes right up beside her. She turns to him naturally to give him the “aren’t our kids wonderful?” parental smile and turns back to the stage. Harry keeps sneaking glances at her but she seems perfectly calm and unsurprised. The show finishes, people start to get up, and Sejal turns and grabs his arm and says “before we go back to see the girls, we need to talk”. Harry looks attentive and still surprised at her calm. She goes on “I’ve left Rupen. That is, we’ve left Rupen. He can marry that white woman, or he can marry a younger woman that might be able to give him the son he craves, I don’t care. My girls and I will be fine. But, we want you. We don’t need you, but we want you. All of us. Do you want us? That is, do you want me? I know you love the girls, but I’ve already had one marriage to a man who didn’t really want me and I don’t think I can do that again.” Harry looks at her, says “Oh Sejal, I do want you. I do” but he sees her doubt after all those times she threw herself at him and he sent her away, and so he leans forward and kisses her, in the middle of the elementary school auditorium. And then moves back, leaving her a little stunned. While she is trying to recover herself, he asks “How did you know I would be here?” She smiles and says “You promised the girls. And I knew they could rely on you.” Harry smiles back, all his feelings of inferiority and worthlessness solved.
So, casting! My instinct is Juhi, but I don’t know if she can go that sexy. Madhuri could do sexy, but I don’t know if she could do “worn down forgotten overlooked wife and mother”. Tabu? Kajol?