Procrastinatrix inspired me, mentioning that Juhi reminds her of Judy Holliday and making me think how perfect a Bells Are Ringing remake with Juhi would be. And then I started thinking about other remakes and how they would also be perfect. Get ready for some very deep cuts of classic Hollywood, because Juhi really has a classic clever Hollywood Musical feel to her.
The stereotype of Hollywood musicals is that they were big and sappy and expensive and artistic. And sure, some of them were. But there were also funny little clever adult comedies that happened to have singing in them. And Juhi would be PERFECT in those movies, playing the peppy fun heroine who is also a bit of an adult and lives in an adult world.
Bells Are Ringing
Judy Holliday works for a phone answering service. She is awkward with people in real life, but she loves talking to them over the phone. All their regular clients love her, but don’t know her. That is, she pretends to be different people with slightly different voices depending on the client. Her favorite client is Dean Martin, a playboy songwriter. He thinks she is a motherly older woman and is always asking her advice and saying nice things to her and relying on her. She knows everything about his life because she takes messages from his girlfriends and his friends and his employers and so on. But she never wants to meet him in person partly because she has low self-esteem and partly because it is forbidden for the phone girls to meet the clients in person (because of prostitution, some of the other answering services are just fronts for call girls and their boss has strict rules to avoid that accusation). One day his phone is off the hook and he doesn’t answer her wake-up call. In a panic, knowing that he has an important meeting that morning, she rushes over to his apartment planning to knock on the door and then run away, but he catches her. Naturally, they start to fall in love, partly because she seems to instinctively know everything about him. But then she disappears like Cinderella and he is miserable. Finally, he figures out who she must be and tracks her down to the answering company, she tries to pretend to be an old lady but he sees through her disguise and admits his love. HAPPY ENDING.
We only have to update this slightly. Juhi is part of one of those digital personal assistant companies, they organize your life without ever needing to meet you. Her boss is a little obsessive about no interactions with the clients after a similar company was shut down for online prostitution.
They work out of a crowded little Bombay apartment where they have a couch to sleep on while working at night, and really high speed internet. Juhi can’t resist giving the personal touch to her clients, she plays the fantasy of a young wild single woman for an over-worked housewife so she can live vicariously through her. For an ambitious young doctor, she is an admiring younger sister type. And for a Hindi film star who parties a little too hard, she is a motherly wise woman who tries to guide him on the right path.
In reality, she is a kind of goofy divorcee who had to move back in with her parents after she left her husband and is working for a friend of the family who gave her the job because she wasn’t really qualified for anything else. She loves her clients and her job and taking care of people, and can hardly be dragged from the office, volunteers to work nights and stuff. She’s charming and brilliant and wonderful, but also a little stunted and shy.
Meanwhile, the movie star is strung out. His serious relationship fell apart, he’s had a string of meaningless dates and one night stands, he’s scared because he is about to start filming his first real serious role in years, which could either be a massive mistake or a rebirth for his career. He drinks and parties to escape it all, or else calls up his digital assistant, the nice motherly woman, and asks her advice.
But then the day he is supposed to go to a big meeting with the investors in the new film to prove he is serious and get them to commit to putting up the money, he oversleeps! Juhi keeps calling and calling on every device, trying to wake him, and can’t. Finally, in a panic, she goes over to his house, and uses her override codes to get inside, finds him asleep, and throws water on his face, and then tries to run away while he is still waking up but he is too fast for her and grabs her hand demanding to know who she is.
Juhi spins a story that she is a psychic, she could sense he was in trouble and needed to wake up, so she came to wake him up. He remembers his appointment, panics about the time, but locks her in before he leaves (the old fashioned way, with a key so she can’t use the codes she knows) and tells her they will talk more when he gets back unless she wants him to call the police.
The meeting goes great, and meanwhile Juhi is nervous about being arrested when he gets back, and to distract herself pokes all over his house and puts things away and tidies and cooks. He comes back in a great mood because the meeting went well, and is even more cheerful when he sees how nice the house looks and Juhi tries to force homemade food on him. But he still demands an explanation. Juhi sticks with the “psychic” idea, that she could sense he was in trouble, guessed the gate code, and so on and so forth. And she is able to give more details of his life (that she knows through being his assistant) as further proof. He is enraptured, this magical wise woman who cooks delicious food and is also cute and pretty. He begs her to come to a party with him tonight, she hesitates but then agrees when he says he needs her to give him advice and keep him from doing the wrong thing.
(The original is so cute, you should definitely watch it, this is mostly all the same plot)
Juhi and he go to the party, he falls more and more in love, she is in love too but feels guilty because she isn’t really the mysterious magical psychic woman he thinks she is. It all gets more and more complicated, finally he proposes and says he knows this is crazy, but he loves her. She runs away and disappears on him.
The next day, he calls up his motherly digital assistant to ask her what to do. Juhi turns down the call and forces one of her co-workers to take it. He calls again and again trying to reach her, and then as he thinks about how much he needs her and what all she has done, he finally starts to put it together who his mystery woman “really” was.
Meanwhile, a humorous cop who has been bothering the digital assistant office looking for evidence of prostitution finally convinces his superiors that the photo of Juhi in the paper with the movie star is evidence and gets permission to raid the place. Just as Juhi and her friends are being dragged off, the movie star appears! He confronts the police, they explain, he says if the only evidence is their photo, that is nothing at all, because Juhi is the woman he is going to marry. Juhi, trapped, has to agree, he embraces her, cheers all around.
Later, she confesses all and tells him he doesn’t really have to marry her, she is just a silly average woman. He tells her she isn’t average at all, she is the on special woman in all the world who is just perfect for him.
Romance on the High Seas
A rich woman and her husband are always fighting. He is sure she is cheating on him, she is angry that he suspects her. She learns he has hired a detective and, to trick the husband, hires a young woman to impersonate her on her planned cruise and stays home instead. The young woman is a poor singer, peppy and happy and a little flirty and very excited about this all expenses paid cruise. The detective is a fast-talking tough lower class type. He is charmed that the stuck up rich woman he was hired to follow turns out to be not stuck up at all and just his style. But also conflicted, since he knows she is married. And she is conflicted, because she knows he thinks she is married and is still flirting with her. After much fighting and making up and anguish, it all comes out when the boat docks and the original couple (now reconciled) meets the boat and explains the situation.
In the original the married couple was older than the other one, in this one I think I’ll make them younger. A young couple that is always getting excited and fighting and has more money than is good for them. The husband is sure the wife really meant it when she threatened to go on a cruise with her ex-boyfriend. The wife is furious when she learns he hired a detective because he actually believed she could ever do that. The detective is a little bored with all this young love drama but willing to take the husbands money and a free vacation (he’s a bit of a cynic). Juhi is the wife’s hairdresser, she is very sympathetic and interested in all of this, and also has never been on a cruise before and touched when the wife offers her stateroom. The wife doesn’t tell Juhi everything, just that she has tickets and can’t go at the last minute, Juhi can have a free trip but she has to travel under the wife’s name. Oh, and let’s say something silly like an astrologer told the wife it would be unlucky for her to ever be photographed, so the detective doesn’t even have a picture of her.
The detective and Juhi bump into each other early on, Juhi has a panic attack when the boat starts to pull away from the dock and grabs on to the detective, the detective teases her and makes her laugh and helps her calm down, they are both a little bit in love. But then the detective takes her to her stateroom and learns her name. Juhi decides to lie that she is a widow after already tripping herself up by mentioning not having a husband earlier and now traveling under a married name. The detective reports all this back to the husband who is heart broken and angry and orders the detective to try to flirt with his wife, distract her so she won’t go after any other men on board because at least the detective is “safe”. The detective also hints around a little about the wife not being what he expected, and through miscommunication somehow puts together a picture of Juhi as this devastating femme fatale who seduced this much younger man and married him.
So the detective sets himself to be charming, and Juhi is easily swept away. Only, as they spend more time together and she is so sincere and happy about everything, the detective starts to fall in love with her. He puts together a new version of the marriage in his head, where she was trapped with a man who couldn’t understand her and deserved to break free. He even calls up the husband, yells at him, declares he is truly in love with his wife and is going to marry her if she will have him, and quits. The husband, furious, sends a message to his wife on the ship that the detective was just working for him and so on and so forth. Juhi gets the message and is heartbroken, and first decides to truly play the flirt, does a sexy song number and flirts with other men on ship (humorous sequence) while the detective stews, and then when he confronts her, tells him that she knows the truth, he was only pretending to love her. There is a heartbreaking fight and misunderstanding.
(Again, the original is great fun, and Doris Day has some spectacular songs)
The trip ends, with them still not united, and Juhi is met at the dock by the wife. Who is all excited to thank her and introduce her to her husband, he sent divorce papers to her parents’ house which was enough to finally get her to talk to him, everything is solved now and they have never been happier. The detective sees Juhi talking to the husband and the wife, and strides over to protect her, thinking her cruel husband is rubbing some new girlfriend in her face, but they explain to him what really happened, while Juhi sneaks away. Juhi is back at work at her salon, when she is told there is a new customer. It’s the detective! He sheepishly explains everything, and puts it that he was so in love with her he didn’t even care she was married, or that he would be betraying a client, and shouldn’t that count for something. She forgives him, they embrace.
Something to Sing About
This is such a clever movie! A bandleader, Jimmy Cagney, gets a Hollywood contract. He sadly says good-bye to his band and to his steady girlfriend (the lead singer) and goes to Hollywood. He is miserable there, they all try to make him over and turn him into something he isn’t. Plus, the studio head put out a directive that no one should praise him even when he does a good job so he won’t get a swelled head. Finally, he has a bit of a breakdown and runs away, calling his steady girlfriend to meet him, they have a quickie marriage and go off for a rambling honeymoon. They return weeks later to discover his movie has come out and is a big hit and he is a STAR! The studio offers him a big contract, but only if he is unmarried. He admits he is already married, but his wife suggests that she will pretend to be his secretary and they will have a fun little secret marriage for a year and get the big paycheck from the studio. But then the studio starts a rumor that he is in love with his co-star, his little wife is heartbroken and rushes back to the band, Jimmy Cagney is furious and makes sure the studio prints a correction saying he is married and rushes off to find her and they are reunited. HAPPY ENDING.
This one is a bit tricky, because it seems unlikely that Juhi at her age would be with someone just now being discovered for the movies. But I guess it could work, if he was a star in one of the regional industries. Let’s say they both work in Punjabi films, he’s the charming star and she’s the item dancer. They’ve been together for a year, and she thinks he’s going to propose when he says he has “big news” but instead the news is that he has been offered a Hindi film and is leaving for Bombay, isn’t that exciting? She is heartbroken, until he continues on talking about how this contract will give him enough money that they can finally be married, like the marriage was a forgone conclusion, and she is happy again.
He goes off to Bombay and deals with all the PR and stylists and everything else, she stays back and is sad and misses him. Until he finally has enough and breaks free and turns what was supposed to be a fake fight in the movie into a real one and storms off the set. He calls her up and tells her they are going to “run away”, they will get married and then travel off to his family village for a honeymoon, far away from everything. They do (happy village song) and return 6 weeks later to learn that his film has come out and he has become a big star and the studio is desperately looking for him. The studio offers him loads of money and a fat contract, but part of it is a promise to remain unmarried since he is a romantic star. He objects at that point and calls Juhi into the room, says no amount of money will make him leave her. But Juhi is practical and has another suggestion. He will make movies for two years, as stated in the contract, and she will live and work with him under her real married name (his legal name, not his stage name). It will all be fun and fine.
(Look! The whole movie is on youtube! You should watch it)
But then it starts to go wrong, he has to spend too much time at parties and premieres and can’t bring her with him, she is sad and lonely, plus she has to sit by as his “secretary” and watch all the other women flirt with him. They fight and make up and fight and make up. And then they have one final fight when she gives him an ultimatum that he MUST tell the world the truth about their marriage, and he is angry because this was her idea to begin with, and they only have 6 months to go before the end of the contract, plus he thinks it is about her not trusting him. It ends with her declaring she is going home and him saying he will come for her in 6 months, and her saying not to bother.
It would have ended there except that while he is in the middle of a Koffee with Karan episode (why not?) Karan surprises him with a video of his old friends from the Punjabi industry talking about him while on a set and in the background he sees Juhi on the set and she is PREGNANT!!!! Suddenly he understands everything, and declares everything to Karan then and there, that he has to leave right away because his wife is pregnant, he has been married since his first movie came out, he was a fool and didn’t acknowledge her and now he has to and beg her forgiveness. Karan does a double-take, he rushes out.
And then we have the happy ending, him tracking Juhi down on set and begging her forgiveness.
Now, which film should we make?
And should Shahrukh be the hero in all three? Or someone else?