This idea comes courtesy of Emily who requested a fun silly adventure where Tabu gets into wacky scraps and Shahrukh has to keep rolling his eyes and then coming in and rescuing her. And then she wrote a fantastic multi-starrer herself and let me add in a tiny bit myself. Oh, and we both ended up casting Saif, which is perfect since it was his birthday last week!
Okay, I want something totally light and silly. Along the lines of The Mummy or Romancing the Stone, a screwball comedy crossed with an action adventure with a miss-matched pair at the center. And I think I got it, but please jump in with additional ideas in the comments if you have them.
Shahrukh is a small town loan shark. He started as an enforcer for a mobster, a loan shark/land mafia/little bootlegging type, nothing nasty like drugs of prostitution. We learn through establishing dialogue that Shahrukh started working for him part time in high school to help bring some money home to his mother and sister, graduated high school and stayed with the mobster as one of the miscellaneous goon types, finally rising to be his driver and personal protection. He was never interested in power for himself or wealth, just wanted to make a decent living and send money home. The mobster was a pretty nice guy, warm and loyal to his men and not cruel to the people whose money he took, let’s say someone like Jackie Shroff or Prakash Raj to play the role. Once Shahrukh got to be over 40 and his knees started going, the mobster set him up with a little retirement business, running the loan shark concession for this small vacation town because he had enough education to handle the math of it all. He sits out in the sun all day drinking chai at his favorite cafe and talking to people. He gives micro-loans and if folks default, sometimes he covers them with his own money until they can make it up.
But then he gets a call from the big boss, there is a massive loan they gave out and the person carrying it skipped town but was seen staying at the local guest house near him. They need him to go over and scare them into paying.
Cut to, Tabu! She is glasses wearing and dressed modestly, and trying to scramble through the jungle nearby following an old map. She sees a young couple hiking the trail and kissing and gets embarrassed and hides, falling down and ending up covered in mud. She goes back to the guest house, muddy and embarrassed, avoids the curious custodian, and then goes back to her room and has a flashback. She was a librarian working in an old library at a university, watching the world pass her by. There was a professor who hit on her, but he was a little pudgy and kind of boring and ate with his mouth open so she avoided him. Her older co-worker told her not to let chances pass her by, she was middle-aged now and long past time to get married, Tabu stayed quiet and polite but whispered to herself that being single was better than settling for someone like that. And then one day when cleaning out an old store room at the library, she found an old handwritten book. She asked around and found out that it might have been left by a colonial era ruler who went crazy when the British took his kingdom and hid all his jewels, leaving no record of where they were. Only, this could be the record! Fired by excitement, she took a “personal leave” from work for 6 months and now here she is, studying maps and combing through the book for clues.
Tabu looks around her messy room and sighs, and then goes into the attached bath to take a shower. Which is of course when Shahrukh sneaks in through the open window, listens at the bathroom door and hears the shower running, then positions a chair directly opposite it and aims his gun at it (after first making sure the gun isn’t loaded, clearly this is just a scare tactic). And of course, Tabu opens the door of the bathroom in a towel, sees him and screams, he is immediately flustered and embarrassed, apologizes through the bathroom door after she beats a retreat. And is so off put that he ends up agreeing to listen to her explanation of why she needed the money she borrowed and how she plans to pay it back.
Shahrukh goes home and tries to talk to his boss into giving Tabu two more weeks, the boss agrees but only if Shahrukh doesn’t let her out of his sight. So Tabu and Shahrukh take off on a cross-country tour together, Tabu providing the maps and following the clues and Shahrukh providing the muscle. Obviously it doesn’t go as planned. In order to get into a mansion where the next clue is located, Tabu has to charm the owner, Shahrukh helps her buy sexy clothes and takes her to get her hair done and then is of course taken by her when he sees her all dolled up. And ends up getting embarrassingly jealous when he sees the wealthy mansion owner Saif being charming, which leads to him being suspicious and hanging around following her when she goes for a dinner date at the mansion, which leads to him realizing she is in danger when he overhears the guards talking, which leads to a fight scene as he drags her out of the mansion while she protests.
Then they are on the run, trying to solve the clues before the evil rich guy Saif. Tabu keeps a softer version of her make-over look, Shahrukh has many flirty moments with her while she is embarrassed, she also keeps getting them into bad situations like leading Shahrukh into a scuzzy bar because there is supposed to be a clue hidden under the floorboards and then being forced to do a sexy dance while Shahrukh tries to act as her bodyguard and fight off all the other guys. But then they are so tired they fall asleep together in the hotel bed and wake up in the morning all flirty-flirty cuddled up together. Or Shahrukh is tired after a long hike, and his knee is hurting, so Tabu talks him into having a hot bath and tries to give him massage based on a textbook she borrowed and it is all very funny (with Shahrukh being embarrassed and Tabu serious and helpful) and also sexy (with them both getting aroused and Shahrukh knowing it trying to hide it and Tabu not even realizing what she is feeling and innocently making it worse). They also fight a lot, with Shahrukh wanting to be cautious and Tabu wanting to barrel straight ahead and so on and so forth.
It ends with a big action scene, Tabu and Shahrukh, plus evil Saif and his goons, plus Shahrukh’s boss and the goons he has brought to track them down because Tabu’s deadline has passed. Tabu convinces Shahrukh’s boss to be on her side in the middle of the fire fight, his goons switch and turn the guns on the rich guys goons, everything ends happily except that Shahrukh’s boss takes charge of the treasure. Tabu is ready to fight him, but Shahrukh kisses her to get her to stop talking and then carries her out. Only to reveal that he secretly stole a diamond from the treasure and was trying to get her out of there before it occurred to his boss to search them.
6 months later back in the small town, Shahrukh now owns the cafe and had refurbished it a bit, and also bought the nice house behind the cafe. And has secretly left money for his most needy loan customers (needed money for medical expenses, to save their land after a dry season, etc.). But otherwise his life is the same, he sits in the sun and drinks chai and watches the world go by. Until someone comes running up and tells him to go home, his wife has lost her mind. He goes home to find Tabu trying to build a sundial out of rocks because she just knows if she can do it right, she will solve the mystery of the lost treasure of such and such, isn’t that exciting? Shahrukh just rolls his eyes and kisses her and then asks her to take a breath and tell him all about it.
Now, Emily’s Version! Saif-Tabu-Shahrukh Love Triangle with Sara and Vicky as Young Couple
We start with Saif, he is a moderately successful businessman but his company does something extremely boring, like production/printing of instruction manuals. He lives with his daughter (Kiara Advani? Sara?? let’s say Sara), he is loving but strict and trying to guide her onto the correct path of college and career, say a business degree. Sara, though, spends all her time on Instagram, she’s fashion mad and goes to great lengths to stage complicated selfies to post, trying to build up her followers so she can get free designer stuff.
Sara has a meet cute with Vicky Kaushal, who plays at being head of a local ring that smuggles in ripoff designer bags and clothes. He woos her with swag, she loves that he’s tough and leads an exciting life, and one day she runs away from her boring house and shows up on his doorstep ready to play glamorous moll to his small time smuggler. Only it turns out Vicky isn’t the gang leader, he’s one of the junior guys, and definitely wasn’t planning on his girlfriend showing up. Cue comic sequences of Sara swanning around in gold necklaces and sunglasses, ordering around the other guys in the gang, while they decide to humor her and make fun of Vicky…for now.
Meanwhile, Sara’s disappearance has forced Saif to call his ex-wife, Tabu. Tabu is furious and worried for her daughter, but she knows this might be an impulsive thing Sara did and insists that they have to keep things quiet and call her old friend to help them find her. This is of course Shah Rukh, who spent years as an undercover cop – all of the close contact with the criminal element, none of the status of the uniform. Shah Rukh’s entry into the situation opens all kinds of old wounds. He and Tabu used to have a thing when they were young, but her parents didn’t like him because he was a rebel boy and always getting in fights and didn’t have any solid job prospects. She honored their wishes and married Saif instead, but she was never happy and the marriage didn’t last. When Saif is around Shah Rukh he feels he has to prove himself, and Tabu provokes him, but she’s also still prickly with Shah Rukh and hasn’t forgiven him for letting her go all those years ago.
Let’s say Tabu is a university professor, biology, she’s been spending a lot of time on research that’s why she hasn’t been home for Sara much. Shah Rukh in his semi retirement has gotten into…something bookish…classic poetry. He was spiraling in his solitary secretive life and started reading and studying up on the classic poets, this kind of saved him and he’s turned himself into an amateur expert. When Tabu calls him for help, he sees the chance to impress her with his new intellectual side. He keeps trying to present her with this refined thinker/reader and she – craving excitement, out to punish him – keeps pushing him into fights.
Let’s include some flashbacks showing that it really wasn’t the right time for them to be together until just now, but in another way they have been together all along. Fun light flashbacks just scattered through out. We start with Tabu and Shahrukh meeting each other in the present and clearly having a complicated history. And then over the course of the film as they get into fights and snap at each other, we have little flashbacks to the things they are fighting about. I see it as them getting together and then breaking up about once every 5 years.
They were together in college but Shahrukh was always getting into fights and was a “bad boy” and at the same time Tabu was dating the nice boy her parents set her up with, Saif. She finally has a big fight with Shahrukh when she learns he volunteered for undercover duty and is choosing danger and excitement over her and agrees to marry Saif. But 5 years later, they are separated and moving towards divorce and she meets Shahrukh again. They immediately fall into a passionate relationship, only for him to disappear for days at a time with his undercover work and then show up with black eyes until she can’t take it any more and they have another big fight and break up again.
And after their break up, she is inspired to take a man-break and go back to school and become a biologist. 5 years later she is a professor and sees Shahrukh on campus, he says he is going back to school, she is thrilled, they start a mature relationship (and also have sex in her classroom for fun), only for her to learn that he was undercover the whole time and going after a professor who was smuggling antiquities. Another big fight and break-up. 5 years after that, they randomly bump into each other on vacation at the same resort and decide to have a “just vacation” thing, pretend to be a married couple, have a wonderful 3 weeks together, but when it is over they both have real lives waiting and have to say good-bye. For the past 5 years they’ve been thinking about that “almost”, Tabu’s been dreaming about rediscovering her spontaneous vacation personality and Shahrukh’s been trying to let his job go and be that interesting vacation person who read books and ate fancy meals and stuff.
As I picture it, we wouldn’t see the flashbacks in chronological order, so we would have something like Tabu sarcastically mentioning Shahrukh’s time in college, a flashback to that first meeting when he was a returning student and she was a professor, and then later a flashback to their big final fight, and after that a flashback to some cute flirtation moment when she taught him a thing, and mixed in would be flashbacks to all the other relationships. Kind of a tease to the audience too, we know they are exes but it takes a while to find out when they first started dating and broke up what with all the break ups they’ve been through.
Shah Rukh starts digging and talking to his contacts and soon figures out that Sara is with Vicky’s gang. He sets up a secret meeting with Vicky. He tells Tabu and she insists on coming. Shah Rukh skillfully handles Vicky and pulls the whole story out of him. Tabu sees that Vicky is actually scared for Sara now, which scares her too and also makes her a little sympathetic to this rebel boy who reminds her of a guy she used to like.
Shah Rukh and Tabu go home and plan for a visit to the gang’s warehouse to try to extract Sara. This time Saif is there and wants to come too. Shah Rukh wants to go alone but no one will back down and finally they all go together, agreeing to follow Shah Rukh’s lead. When they get to the warehouse, Sara doesn’t want to leave. She’s not ready to give up her adventure to go back to her boring life, and besides her Instagram follower count has gone through the roof with all the new designer gear and gritty backdrops for her selfies. The real gang leader sees that Sara has a family who might be lucrative so he’s not inclined to let her walk out. In the course of Shah Rukh’s trying to negotiate Sara out it finally becomes clear to her that Vicky isn’t the boss and she’s actually at the mercy of the gang, which, it also becomes clear, does more than just smuggle clothes and bags. Sara now wants to go, and Saif feels the need to be manly and fatherly and starts posturing, which causes Tabu to make fun of him, which causes Saif to start a fight, which ends in Shah Rukh fighting a room full of bad guys while Tabu bashes a few on the head with handy objects and Saif mostly avoids getting beat up but does come in handy at some point by figuring out how to drive a forklift or something through a bunch of goons (he’s good with machines, that’s how he got into instruction manuals). The gang leader, however, escapes with Sara, and Vicky, who hasn’t revealed he double crossed the gang by helping Shah Rukh, goes with them.
Yadda yadda, character and plot development. Shah Rukh finds out more about the gang, it uses the bags and clothes as a cover for the fact that it’s smuggling bad stuff like drugs, and weapons, and people. He tracks the leader and figures out he’s stashed Sara in a hideout where they’re keeping a bunch of girls who were brought from their poor region under the false pretense that they’d be given jobs as maids. Shah Rukh, Tabu, and Saif come up with a plan to rescue Sara. Shah Rukh doesn’t want to involve either of the others but he needs the help. Let’s say Sara is being held at the docks and Saif can figure out how to operate one of the giant cranes to move the shipping containers (he has all the instruction manuals!). Tabu is going to be used as bait, supposedly a desperate mother carrying ransom money. Vicky is secretly helping them again. Daring rescue, big action sequence. Saif does his giant crane thing, Tabu and Vicky rescue Sara, who brings along the rest of the girls. Shah Rukh does the Enter the Dragon thing and fights successive levels of goons until he defeats the head bad guy.
Happy endings. Sara has learned that the designer madness drives a whole illicit economy that does bad things to people, she uses her fashion sense and her business training to set up a company that helps women in the poor region the girls were from make a living sewing original creations. Vicky is recruited by Shah Rukh to become an undercover police officer – maybe Shah Rukh leaves him with an offhand bit of advice that will set him up to have a better career, “if I’d only learned a language or two I could have become a proper spy.” Saif has rediscovered his love of tinkering with machines, he starts restoring old…cars? bikes? IDK, he’s happy and maybe meets a beautiful fellow geek. Tabu and Shah Rukh end up together. She gives him a reason to finally decide what to do with himself after retiring and he gives her life that sense of freedom and adventure she’d been missing all these years.
Their happy ending has them traveling somewhere, maybe to see the cave or temple where one of the poets wrote an important work. Something that goes with Shah Rukh’s new cultured side but involves a bit of adventure. They climb up to the top of the mountain and look out and Tabu sees the flower or bird or whatever that she’s been studying in the lab, but a whole living forest of them. A return embracing to life, together.