Not all of these were bad movies the first time around, in fact a lot of them were quite good. But the ideas are so strong I want to see another take of them.
- Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
I like this movie as it is, big and silly and colorful. But on the other hand, I can see a very different kind of reflective serious movie about aging and the past and how people change based on the central idea. If we take just the idea of two super close best friends from college, male and female, whose timing wasn’t quite right. He marries someone else, a mutual friend, and their never-really-happened love story is left in the past. But then they meet again years later, as different people who are still the same people underneath, and they have to find their way back to each other in a new way. If this was a Zoya Akhtar movie made today (so the leads are in their 40s instead of their 30s), you would have a spinster woman who lead a full interesting life and now has a younger man passionately in love with her who has convinced her to FINALLY get married. And you would have a widower who devoted his life to raising his children and never wanted to fall in love again. And then they meet and suddenly college feelings come flooding back and the lives that they thought were settled and certain are thrown into disorder. Isn’t that a movie that would be interesting?
Blah blah, young man Asoka faught wars and fell in love and stuff. But old man Asoka was so much more interesting! For example, his wife secretly ordered his favorite son executed. The executioner took pity on him and blinded him instead, he became a wandering singer. Asoka heard his song and recognized him as his son. His son forgave his stepmother, Asoka did not and had his wife (his former favorite) executed. Two other children (boy and girl) both became Buddhist monks and missionaries. For his wives, the primary ones were a minor Buddhist merchant’s daughter who gave him his religion and his two missionary children, his chief wife a fellow royal who had no children, his warrior woman wife, a wife who gave him his favorite son, and the last wife who had no children and betrayed him. A story about a man trying to hold on to his sense of self with all these children and wives, all this trauma and betrayal, that would be fascinating. Especially if it turns into a love story with his chief wife being his platonic partner, either his shy Buddhist wife or his warrior wife being his true love, and the youngest wife being the one who has tricked him and kept him apart from his true love.
3. Chalte Chalte
Again, I like the original! But the basic idea is worth exploring a different way. A couple who has one of those filmi at first sight kind of love stories with big gestures and magical moments, but then has to figure out how to make an actual marriage work. It works wonderfully with a 2 year gap between magical romance and actual marriage struggle, but it would work even better with a longer gap. They never had children, it just didn’t happen for them, Rani is more successful in her career than Shahrukh, they still love each other and have a good time together a lot of the time, but there are a lot of problems too and they keep coming up. At what point do you call it quits on a marriage? And at what point is it worth it to keep going?
4. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayange
The original is perfect. But I can’t help thinking what the same story would look like if it had all taken place 20 years later. What if Kajol married her fiance, locked her life up even smaller than it already was. And then begged her husband (instead of her father) for 3 months of her life to take her dream vacation. What if Shahrukh was a happily divorced man who had no compunction on hitting on an attractive woman his age traveling alone. What if Kajol (for reasons she didn’t fully admit even to herself) put off revealing to Shahrukh that she was married. What if they had this wonderful vacation together without either of them quite crossing a line that would damage her marriage, and after she returned home she realized what her feelings truly were? What if she was brave enough to tell, not her husband, but perhaps her brother? Or son? And they were furious an told her to forget this, as the man will surely forget it too. But what if Shahrukh didn’t forget and showed up in her life, pretending to be a business associate of her husband? And the first time they were alone together, she begged him to take her away? What if he says that instead of just running off, he wants to make it so that she can still see her children and he will take her only when he gets the blessing of her family? That would be a fascinating plot, wouldn’t it? I think still make her husband kind of a jerk, they don’t need his blessing, but her oldest son perhaps, so she can still see her children after leaving their father. Maybe it is a movie about this sensitive stranger (Shahrukh) gently making her children realize that their parents’ marriage is not and never has been okay.
It’s one thing to discovery you are reincarnated and have a brother and a mother when you are in your twenties, what would it be like when you are in your 40s and settled in life and your “mother” is already dead? Especially if your “brother” is living a completely different life from yours? Say Shahrukh is a successful businessman and Salman is a small time thug. Say they meet several times because someone has hired Salman to threaten Shahrukh. They even get into small fights. And then Salman has a vision and realizes Shahrukh is his reincarnated brother. He kidnaps him and takes him to their home from the past life and Shahrukh recognizes it and remembers everything. The police track them down and think Shahrukh has Stockholm syndrome when he declines to press charges. His wife thinks he is crazy too. And then he finds their mother! Who has also been reincarnated and is now a woman slightly younger than her “sons”. Shahrukh gets his brother out of jail, brings him home. His family still think he is crazy but go along with it and learn to love Salman. He brings his “mother” home too. They all work together to find the Big Bad who hired Salman, and also finally get Salman a bride.
6. Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam
Another one with an interesting idea of a marriage that gets a lot more interesting if the couple is older. Our hero fell in love at first sight with the woman his family arranged for him to marry. She fell in love with him because it was her duty to fall in love with her husband. At first everything is perfect, but doubts wear away over the years. What if instead of him doubting her best friend from before marriage, he doubts a new best friend made years after the marriage. They have kids, it’s more about the kids now and the working partnership than any kind of romance. Enter this new man who makes her smile and laugh and try new things, and the doubts he has had all along as she never says the words “I love you” eat away more and more. Fights, accusations, anger, the marriage has to fall completely apart before it can start fresh and clean. And it all works better if it is an older man marrying a younger woman, and ten years down the line doubting even more that she can find him attractive.
7. Main Hoon Na
Again, I just want a new take on the basic concept. A son who learns on his father’s deathbed that he has a secret brother. And becomes dedicated to finding and bringing home the brother, despite how crazy it seems. Only this time, no contrivance, no action plot. Straightforward idea of a responsible successful man in the middle of his career and his life learning that his father has this horrible shameful secret, and seeing it as a blessing, a chance for the family he always wanted. Especially as he struggles with the grief of losing his father. But then he runs up against the reality that the other people may not want to be his family, that he has to work for this connection. And that they aren’t the perfect people he pictured in his dreams. Maybe he is a responsible successful management type, and he learns his brother is a college drop out artist. Maybe his father was a very proper respected member of society who continued to work and live closely with the family of his dead wife, never revealing that he had an affair and a son with another woman. Shahrukh has to go against everyone around him in order to force his brother to be acknowledged, and his brother doesn’t even want that.
8. Dear Zindagi
Okay, all the other times I took a pass at turning a fun masala type plot into something more serious and real. This time I think it would be interesting to go the other way around! Our heroine is in trouble, her life is falling apart and she is afraid of her ex-boyfriend, who acts in ways that make no sense. She leaves town and starts seeing a psychiatrist. He is the only person she talks to honestly about her life. Working together they discover that she is in danger, her ex is a gangster, there are many shoot out scenes when her psychiatrist saves her. He reveals that he is a former hero-cop who quite the force after his wife died and he had a breakdown (flashback including another heroine and a love song). He started a new life as a psychiatrist. Together they take down the evil ex, and it ends with her cheekily inviting him out on a date, now that she is no longer his patient, and him agreeing.
9. Dil Aashna Hai
Okay, stick with me on this one because it’s going to be WEIRD!!! The original plot has Divya as a young woman who Shahrukh falls in love with, and then supports as she discovers she was adopted and learns her mother could be one of 3 women and she must figure out which one it was. Now, what if we rewrote it so that Shahrukh is her father supporting her on this journey? Either adoptive father (which would make a heck of a lot more sense) or biological father who she tracks down first through some random chance (blood donation? DNA test research project?) and who had a relationship with three women at the same time. Shahrukh is still the loyal assistant on the journey, but with the addition of having a personal stake in which woman turns out to be her mother.
I want a modern day non-magical Paheli! Rani is married off to a stranger in her village. The two of them take a long ardeous journey together to the city, she is scared and excited all at once. And then they arrive and he announces that he is leaving her to look after his new apartment while he takes a 5 year contract to work abroad. She cries and everyone in the apartment block whispers about the new bride who is so lonely. And then a stranger sees her on the street and falls in love, all at once. He is a lonely poetry professor at the local university, lived a life of the mind, never thought of love, but this young bride goes straight to his heart. And then he reads an old fable and it gives him an idea. He goes to the bride and tells her he wants to pretend to be her husband, if she will let him. She struggles with herself, then agrees. The neighbors only caught a glimpse of her husband when he moved in and then left, they all believe it is Shahrukh. They love the romance of him turning his back on an overseas job for love of his new bride. The apartment block welcomes them into the community, they are in love and happy, everything is perfect. Until her husband returns home for a visit, and invites both their families too as a surprise. What will she do when everyone finds out she has been living with another man as her husband for 2 years?
Another one where I just want the older version! The heroine is a village girl from India who married into a very very wealthy and cosmopolitan family. Her husband has been unfaithful and slightly abusive for years. Beyond that, they simply do not look at the world the same way, there is nothing they have in common. And then there is Shahrukh, an Indian music performer and occasional employee of her husband’s family. He is loyal to them, and grateful, they have sponsored his arts charities and helped him get his career started and all of that. At first he is just trying to help their marriage be better, and it works a little bit, but then instead of helping them get closer to each other, it ends up with him getting closer to the heroine. He is torn by the guilt of breaking a marriage, and the guilt of leaving a woman by herself in danger, while she is increasingly ready to leap in and end this hopeless marriage and go after the man who makes her happy.
12. Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani
Again, the serious version! Shahrukh and Juhi are rival reporters. Not newly put against each other, but long time friendly enemies. Shahrukh has had a string of short term relationships, Juhi has an unsatisfying and unchallenging long time boyfriend. Maybe one or both of their PAs teases them about how obviously the other one is the perfect for them, and they dismiss it because “she’s too bossy” “he’s too sure of himself” or whatever. But then they both start working the same story from opposite sides, both come to care more about justice and the truth than simply ratings, and finally end up meeting in the middle and agreeing to work together because the story is too important for petty rivalries. And then they fall in love.
13. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
I just want to see a movie about Shahrukh’s character! Middle-aged, messed up his marriage to the love of his life, professionally successful but personally empty. I want to see him wander through life and either find a way to feel emotions again, or realize the emptiness of what he is and see it all come back to haunt him. The young woman he romanced and slept with to try to forget Aish confronting him with how he hurt her, the agents and gallery owners he messed over with his artistic unreliability dropping him, and so on. Or else he starts by trying to kill himself and then starts going to a group therapy thing and meets up with a young widow who helps him learn how to put love in the past and move on.
14. Kal Ho Na Ho
The big one! I want to remake it with Shahrukh and Preity married and her being his caregiver. And him deciding that her best friend from the evening classes she takes to get out of the house (Saif) is the perfect man for her to marry after he is gone. And then (here’s my brilliant twist), he’s a GHOST!!!! For like the last 2/3rds of the movie. He dies after helping Saif and Preity to get closer and Saif to start to realize he might love Preity. And then Shahrukh-Ghost is there to do everything he can to arrange them to finally marry, including walking Preity to the altar when she hesitates, letting her sense the strength of his presence. Pretty good, right?
Okay, which of these do you want to happen? And which don’t you want to happen?