My sister and I thought of this idea while talking last night, and even though it will probably have minimal interest for anyone else, I am still writing it up.
Ingrid Bergman is a mature successful stage actress in London. She is introduced to Cary Grant, newly arrived American diplomat and businessman, by her brother-in-law. They like each other right away and flirt and talk, and then at the end of the night, Cary tells her that he is married and can’t possible get a divorce, although he and his wife haven’t lived together for years. Ingrid considers things, and invites him to go to the ballet with him the next week. Soon, they are passionately in love, spending all their time together, he is buying her lavish presents, and so on. But then her sister tells her… Cary isn’t really married!!!! At the same time, Cary is confronted by her brother-in-law and explains himself. He never wants to get married, but if you say that to women, they think you are just being coy. Instead, he tells them he is already married, so they won’t get their hopes up. And he tells them this BEFORE they have given him their “favors”, that’s what makes it honorable. Ingrid is furious and sets a trap for him. She knows he is planning to surprise her the next weekend, so she arranges a date with another man in her apartment that night, expecting Cary to walk in during the date and be consumed with jealousy and humiliation. It all goes wrong, her date cancels and she has to have her elderly houseman do it instead, plus Cary was planning to propose that night and tell her the truth, after all the truth is out and they explain things to each other, Cary proposes again.
Isn’t this a fun adult farce? What really makes the original is the look of it. Ingrid has an elegant small apartment, gorgeous lush evening gowns, and just generally the best life. It’s kind of hard to believe that her happy ending is marrying Cary Grant, wouldn’t it be better to stay in her lovely apartment with her lovely life? Plus the tone, no one is really emotional about any of this, they are just light and charming and funny. Oh, and the film makes it very VERY clear that Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are sleeping together a whole lot. Which is refreshing in 1950s Hollywood film.
And it would be refreshing in present day Indian film, wouldn’t it????
Here’s what I’ve got for the Indianized plot:
Our heroine is a mature film actress. She’s had some semi-public relationships but they all fell apart, she is tired of this hangers on and less interesting men going after her. Her sister is married to a bureaucrat, and fusses at our heroine about how she should finally get married. And to that end, she surprises her in her gorgeous little apartment while she is putting on cold cream and getting ready for bed and introduces her to the architect who is working with her husband on building a new school or something. He is charming and handsome and successful, he is only doing this government job out of charity, and he is immediately taken with the heroine. But, he tells her at the end of the night, he is married. And his wife will never give him a divorce, even though they haven’t lived together for years.
Our heroine has an dream about him that night (song!) and it convinces her to call him up and invite him out with her. He warns her that they can’t be seen together in public because of his wife and the publicity, she is fine with that, they have an intimate dinner and talk and talk, then go to an avant garde play, and walk home and talk some more, and she invites him to spend the night. Happy in love song! They sneak around the city, going everywhere together, and being happy and it is all perfect. And he seems to really love her, he gives her sensitive and sweet gifts, like framing a page from the script for her first film.
But then her sister tells her that he isn’t really married and she is shocked. At the same time, her brother-in-law talks to him and he explains that after 20 years he knows for sure that he is not going to get married, to go through all of that mess, but he doesn’t want to lead women on. So he tells them he is already married and can’t get a divorce.
Our heroine comes up with her plot, forces her sweet older driver to help her (even though he is terrified), and sets the stage for a romantic date for the hero to walk in on and feel cheated. The hero walks in, is confused and upset, but also reveals he was going to propose, the heroine starts to laugh hysterically and explain, then cry because she thinks she messed it all up. But the hero reassures her, they can still be happy, and still be married. INTERVAL
Now, my new twist! They are planning the wedding. And the heroine is beginning to not like all these new complications in her life. Her producers keep taking roles away from her because they assume she is retiring to have babies as soon as she is married. Her sister is driving her crazy with wedding planning. And she and the hero never seem to have any time alone any more, now that they have gone public with the relationship.
It all gets worse and worse until she blows up at the hero and breaks the engagement when he shows her the new apartment he bought for them, complete with play yard for the kids. It’s all too much for her, she can’t handle it, she can’t give up her whole life.
Post-break-up, she does her job and comes home, and is miserable. Her sister doesn’t understand her, but still tries to comfort her. Finally her brother-in-law takes a hand and goes to talk to the hero to see if they can figure this out.
The brother and sister-in-law arrange another meeting, like the first one, invite both of them to a fancy dinner and have them sit together. At first they make awkward conversation, and then it turns to “what if” they actually had got married. And then the hero flips it, to pretending what if he was sitting next to a beautiful married woman. They both start enjoying this idea, he goes home with her that night, and they start over. This time, she is the “married” one, only her husband is her career. She keeps her own house, she isn’t always free to see him, and they can’t be seen in public together. They are both happier that way, keeping the relationship that works for them. HAPPY ENDING
Heroine: Classy, beautiful, older actress….Tabu?
Hero: Classy charming older man…Shahrukh?
Sister: Bossy and interfering and pushy and funny….Ratna Pathak?
Brother-in-law: Slow, laidback, and kind of funny in his extreme laidbackness….Naseeruddin?
Or, southern version!
Heroine: Tabu, still
Sister: Revathi (Prabhas’ adoptive mother in Bahubali 1)
Also, are we happy with my new second half? Or is there a better way to go, once the first misunderstanding is resolved?