This is a very “niche” post, but it makes me happy. And I really hope at least SOME of you will read this and appreciate it. I can’t be the only one with an encyclopedic knowledge of old Cary Grant movies, right? Oh, and it’s also kind of a long one, I got distracted with the details of the plots a bit.
Cary has such a Shahrukh kind of energy. That openness to his feminine side (maybe because he was bi in real life?), the athletic complete physical control in his performance, and the willingness to let the heroine have the lead while he plays the confused idiot. And because he was working during the 30s-60s in Hollywood, he got a lot of really great strong plots that could easily translate. And because he kept working until his 50s, he also has a lot of great mature roles.
(oh, and I already did An Affair to Remember and Philadelphia Story, so don’t look for them)
Walk Don’t Run (watch it here!)
I love this movie! A remake of The More the Merrier (watch it here), which is a far better film in every way, but I really love this version. And I am sure I can find room in my heart for a Shahrukh version if there was one.
It’s a simple plot. A charming eccentric wealthy and successful older man (Cary Grant) is forced to rent a room from a very prim young woman because of a massive housing shortage. the older man bumps into a young man who has a similar eccentric confidence and reminds him of himself. He decides that the younger man and the young woman would be perfect together. He rents half of his room to the younger man and tries to throw him and the young woman together. The young man falls in love immediately and starts teasing her and tormenting her, while the young woman resists her feelings because she is engaged to a safe sane (boring) man. Eventually their living arrangement becomes public and the older man rushes the young people into a paper marriage in order to save face and then, once they are officially married, locks them into the same bedroom together and lets nature take it’s course.
Housing shortage? Prim engaged young woman? Love at first sight? And most of all, charming and eccentric older man? It’s perfect for Shahrukh!
I would make Shahrukh a successful NRI scientist who comes to Bombay to consult with a company for 6 weeks, but his housing falls through (maybe the hotel where he had a reservation burns down). With no other option, he notices an ad in the company lounge for a roommate and shows up at the door of Sonam Kapoor, young prim organized woman working a low job at the company. He shows up at her door and fast talks her into letting him rent the room. He also clearly likes her and tells her she reminds him of his wife, with her exact systems for everything and perfect life plan and all of that. He moves in, and the next day meets Ranveer Kapoor in the bathroom at the corporation. Ranveer is rude and smart with him, and then they end up in the same meeting and he learns Ranveer is the rising chemistry genius of the corporation. Shahrukh likes him and starts stalking him, Ranveer is irritated and tries to shake him off but also kind of enjoys their back and forth because they really do think the same way just that Shahrukh is older and pushier and more confident. Shahrukh learns that Ranveer just arrived from Bangalore and also has no place to stay. He nags him into coming to look at his room and maybe rent half, Ranveer meets Sonam and immediately falls in love and agrees to move in. Sonam is furious, does not want a young man living with her, but Ranveer and Shahrukh both talk her into it.
There’s an awkward period of living together humor, Shahrukh takes too long in the bathroom and throws off the schedule, Ranveer teases Sonam about her modest clothes and living like she is 100 years old, Sonam sputters and fumes but also loosens up and smiles. Sonam’s funny fiance shows up, they have a 5 year plan to get married, they are a perfect match. But Shahrukh and Ranveer both point out that 5 years wait to get married doesn’t sound very passionate.
Shahrukh arranges for Sonam and Ranveer to go to a work event with him, they all get a little drunk and dance, Sonam loosens up, and then Shahrukh arranges for Ranveer and Sonam to drive home together and they end up making out passionately in the cab. They might have gone even farther when they arrived home, only there are detectives waiting. They are from the “morals” department of the corporation, Ranveer’s status and Sonam’s status, and the contracts they signed, means they can’t be living together in sin. Sonam starts to cry, Ranveer is furious, and at this point Shahrukh arrives home and declares that obviously the only solution is for Ranveer and Sonam to get married. And conveniently, he is ready to arrange the whole thing. Ranveer and Sonam get rushed into marriage before they have a chance to think, Shahrukh drives them back to the apartment talking cheerfully about how they can get divorced in a couple of days, Sonam can go back to waiting 5 years, alone, in her apartment, for her respectable sane marriage. And Ranveer can fly home to his lab to work, alone, with no one. Sonam and Ranveer get more and more depressed. Only for Shahrukh to send them up to the apartment where they discover that while they were being married, Shahrukh had the wall between the rooms taken down, it’s now just one big bedroom. Sonam cries, Ranveer reaches out to comfort her, and somehow they end up in the same bed. Fade to Shahrukh standing outside watching, and then calling his wife Kajol (in a cameo) to tell her he is sorry for extending the trip two days, but it was worth it to bring the young people together. She’d like them, they remind him of how the two of them used to be when they were young.
People Will Talk (watch it here!)
Another great plot for an older actor! Cary Grant is a medical doctor and a professor at a university. He examines a young female student and discovers she is pregnant. The student is distressed and tries to kill herself when he leaves the room. He saves her life and lies that the tests were wrong and she isn’t pregnant in order to keep her calm, planning to tell her the truth the next day. But then she leaves campus and he has to spend weeks tracking her down, finally finding her at her family home. He puts off telling her the truth, she assumes he must be in love with her because why else would he try to find her so hard? He decides to just go with it and proposes, and encourages her to run away and marry him immediately. They are married and very very happy, but it is hanging over them that, eventually, she will realize she is pregnant and their whole life will fall apart.
What is great about this movie is that it gives a good answer to the “how can an older man marry a much younger woman?” It’s like Rab Ne in that the woman desperately needs a husband and the older man reluctantly agrees. Only this time around, the reason is even more desperate and it is the WOMAN who pursues purely because she desires the man, while the man gives in because he is aware of the desperate reason she does not know. Something else the original film doesn’t explore as much as it could is the idea that, subconsciously, our hero is in love with the young woman which is why he goes so above and beyond to try to help her. And all of this is great for SRK! Sensitive, caring, and still so sexy that a younger woman would desire him.
I want a similar plot for the first half. Shahrukh is an older professor at a medical school. Maybe we see all the young students giggling about the “sexy professor” and he pretends not to know they are talking about him because he wants to maintain proper boundaries. Kiara Advani is a new student in his class, doesn’t join in on the giggling but silently watches him while he teaches (charming, funny, original lectures). And then faints. Shahrukh leaps in and carries her to the student clinic, offers to treat her himself because he feels responsible since she is his student, and discovers she is pregnant. He tells her, and Kiara gets very upset because she isn’t married. Shahrukh gently suggests an abortion, and Kiara says she couldn’t possibly do that. But she also can’t imagine telling her family she is pregnant. She doesn’t know what she is going to do. She also finds herself, in her distress, telling her whole story to Shahrukh (flashback!). Her family left her home alone for 3 days, and for the first time in her life she felt free. She met a young soldier in a park, he was charming and funny, and she convinced herself she was in love. But now she thinks she just wanted to believe she was in love. She invited him back to her apartment, they had sex, and he left the next day. He wrote her a few letters afterwards, but she wrote back telling him to stop because she has realized she doesn’t love him, it wasn’t about him at all. And now she is pregnant, she can’t marry a man she doesn’t love, who knows she doesn’t love him. And she can’t tell her family. And she can’t get an abortion. Shahrukh tries to be kind but is clearly concerned about her. He offers to get her some information on groups who can help her, and then after he leaves the room he hears a crash and rushes back to find she has sliced her wrists with his scalpel. Shahrukh bandages her up and gives her a sedative but she keeps saying she wants to die, there is no other way. Until finally once she is conscious, he lies to her and says “I made a mistake, even great professors can make mistakes, you aren’t pregnant after all.”
He talks this over with his old friend (Anupam Kher? Boman Irani?) later so we (the audience) can understand his thought processes. He knows it was a crazy thing to do, but he thinks if he can just get her calm and strong, he can tell her the truth later and help her with things. Maybe give her some money, find her a job, a place to live. His friend tries to point out that Shahrukh is going out of his way to help this young woman, maybe because he feels… But Shahrukh brushes that aside, of course he feels responsible, and he likes her, she is an interesting different kind of woman, but she is half his age, obviously there isn’t anything else there.
Only then Shahrukh can’t find her. He learns she has missed two weeks of classes and tracks down her home address from the registrar and goes to find her there. She lives with an overbearing obnoxious uncle who was only convinced to send her to medical school because she convinced him she could make good money running a clinic and would pay her back. Her aunt and uncle expect her to do all the housework to “earn her keep”. The only one who loves her is her old grandmother, crippled with diabetes. Her aunt and uncle withhold treatment because they don’t want to “waste the money”, so Kiara is treating her grandmother herself. Shahrukh meets the household and realizes why Kiara felt so trapped, she couldn’t possibly handle taking care of a baby and her grandmother all by herself, her family would probably keep her from her grandmother as a “bad influence”, she truly had no other options. Once he meets all of them, he can’t bring himself to tell Kiara the truth of why he is there, the idea of suggesting a home for unwed mothers and a loan to finish med school is so clearly inadaquate. He fumbles for an excuse of why he is there, Kiara calmly takes charge of the situation and suggests he go up to the terrace with her. Once they are alone, she calmly goes through her arguments proving that, actually, Shahrukh is in love with her. Why else would he worry about her and track her down, she is just a student, she isn’t sick (he said she wasn’t sick), and here he is ready to offer her help leaving her family home, to pay for tuition, why else would he do that if he wasn’t in love? Shahrukh, struggling to come up with a reason without telling the truth, is trapped. And when she turns to embrace him, he can’t stop himself from returning the embrace, and then bursting out with a proposal.
Lots of cute happy marriage bits. He and Kiara plan an elopement, and bring the grandma along with them (funny stuff with everyone doing a double take of this couple eloping where the husband is an old man and they are bring a grandmother along as a witness). He tries to put off the “first night”, but Kiara happily seduces him. And then arranges to invite all his friends and colleagues to a party, insisting they will be happy for him and he shouldn’t be embarrassed. Everything is surprisingly wonderful, Kiara is blossoming in her role of young wife, Shahrukh is happier than he ever expected as a husband, and everyone who might have disapproved of the marriage (Shahrukh’s judgey sister Juhi, his old friends, even his boss at the college) is so charmed by Kiara and her obvious love for her husband that they are all won over.
But then, at the interval, Kiara goes to visit another doctor, explaining that she is just married and has started to feel “strange”, crying for no reason, craving food, could she be pregnant already? And the doctor happily informs her that she is indeed pregnant, about 3 months along. Kiara hides her feelings in the moment, but that night Shahrukh returns home to find a note from her saying she has learned the truth of why he wanted to marry her and, rather than forcing him to raise another man’s child, she is going to leave him and find the “real” father. She will appreciate it if he takes care of her grandmother in the meantime. INTERVAL
Now is when we have completely left the original plot, but I like it better this way! Let’s really investigate the idea of a couple that got married with the woman thinking she was in love, and the man being in love but lying to himself that it was pity and charity. The lie that he tells her (I fell in love at first sight) is the actual truth that he won’t admit to himself.
Anyway, Shahrukh keeps lying to himself that he is just worried about Kiara, doesn’t want her traveling alone to go to a man she doesn’t love. He tracks her down, big fight, in the middle of which she faints again. He diagnosis that she needs bedrest, is too fragile to travel. He takes her home to be looked after by her grandmother and his friends, but promises to her that he will find the soldier for her and bring him back. Shahrukh ends up traveling around trying to find the troop train, tired and old and worn out. Finally finds the soldier and discovers he is young and handsome and everything perfect. Not only that, when Shahrukh gives him the letter from Kiara and he learns she is pregnant, he is immediately excited about being a father and ready to marry Kiara. She is going to get everything Shahrukh wanted for her, but somehow he isn’t happy about it.
Meanwhile back home, Kiara has talked to her grandmother and Boman Irani about all of it, and together they have convinced her that she truly loves Shahrukh (it wasn’t just pregnancy hormones) and he truly loves her, otherwise he would never have actually married her. Kiara is ready welcome him back and convince him to make the marriage work, but instead he shows up with the young soldier, ready to help the two of them get married. Lots of angst, lots of unspoken misery, lots of scenes when circumstances force Shahrukh and Kiara to pretend everything is still fine in their marriage, until finally it is the young soldier who steps in to make the sacrifice and fix things. Getting Shahrukh to read the “Dear John” letter Kiara sent him, which includes a discussion of how she realizes she didn’t feel anything real for him partly because of the new feelings she is feeling for her teacher (Shahrukh). And getting Kiara to overhear Shahrukh talking about how much he loves Kiara and just wants her to be happy. It ends with Kiara and Shahrukh wishing the soldier good-bye at the train station, and promising to send him a photo of the baby as soon as it is born.
My Favorite Wife (watch it here!)
Another great plot! Cary Grant’s wife has been missing for 3 years. He has her declared legally dead so he can remarry, only for her to reappear the same day as his second marriage. He is left torn between his first wife returned from the dead and his new wife. While his first wife decides she is going to fight to win her husband back. And everyone struggles to deal with this situation. Okay, it sounds tragic, but mostly it is just a lot of great comedy about our hapless hero juggling two wives and our savvy heroine using her knowledge of her husband to trick him and confuse him and win him back. And then the last minute introduction of another man who was with the wife during those three years and loves her which makes the husband suddenly into the rival fighting for his wife.
Anyway, Shahrukh is clearly the hero husband. And I think Juhi as the wife? She is so good with comedy. And maybe John Abraham as the second man. And Sushmita Sen(also good with comedy) as the new wife. We start with a flashback, Shahrukh and Juhi in love and with two small children. But Juhi has to visit her mother, the family says good-bye at the airport, and then gets word that the bus she was taking crashed and fell into the river. Many bodies were never recovered. Cut ahead, and we see Sushmita fussing over Shahrukh and nagging him to get up and talk in court, so he can explain why Juhi must be dead and they can finally get married. Shahrukh explains, the judge is persuaded, he and Sushmita get married (although the kids are making faces in the background, clearly they don’t like this). And then as their car pulls away for their honeymoon, another car pulls up and it is Juhi! The kids don’t recognize her, but Shahrukh’s mother Farida does. Juhi tells Farida her story, she was rescued by a scientist working in a remote camp, he nursed her back to health but there was no way to contact the outside world until his ride back to civilization arrived at the end of his two year study. Farida breaks the news that Shahrukh is remarrying, but also that the woman isn’t as good for him as Juhi. Farida wants Juhi to fight for her man.
Juhi shows up at the honeymoon hotel and Shahrukh thinks he is hallucinating and flips out in increasingly comic ways. Finally convinced of the truth, but doesn’t know what to do, and Juhi tortures him more by sweetly saying it is all up to him, she just wants him to be happy. After lots of challenge between the two women, including a dance off, Shahrukh and Sush finally mutually break it off. He goes to Juhi, only to find her with John. The scientist, who Shahrukh pictured as boring and old, is actually young and super attractive. Shahrukh is thrown for a loop, and Juhi is sincerely torn between John (who has just confessed his love and very much wants her) and Shahrukh who took forever to make up his mind. Final portion of the film is Shahrukh and John having a sexy off for the love of Juhi. Before it finally resolves with a whimper, the kids arrange for a family dinner, Juhi and Shahrukh realize they have loved each other all along and are just wasting time pretending otherwise. They decide to have a renewal of the vows ceremony and invite both Sush and John to show there are no hard feelings. And, of course, Sush and John spark as soon as they meet implying that they will have a happy ending too.
The Awful Truth (watch it here!)
A couple has been married for a long time, the husband returns from a work trip that was actually a vacation get away to find his wife spent the night with her singing teacher because of “car trouble”. It all blows up, they are both angry with each other, and they file for divorce. Lots of fights, especially over custody of their little dog. The husband at first is driven mad trying to find definite evidence that his wife cheated while the wife laughs at him. The wife gets engaged to a super rich but naive and countrified young man. The husband teases her about it mercilessly and eventually makes her realize what a bad match it is. At the same time she teases him about his inappropriate emptyheaded fling. But by the time she realizes her engagement is hopeless, he has already moved on with a very proper classy young woman. The wife turns up at their classy engagement party pretending to be foolish and lowclass and embarrassing him and almost ending the engagement. He insists on her leaving and drives her home, and somehow on the drive home they realize that whether or not they were unfaithful, no matter what else they have done to each other, they are a pair and still love each other.
I just love this silly plot! It bounces along so lightly with nothing tying it together but chemistry between the main couple, the idea of a perfectly matched mature team that can’t quite work with anyone else. We start with this very savvy cosmopolitan couple leading separate lives and pretending not to care about the lies. And then it all explodes in one over the top argument leading to divorce. At which point it turns into a whole series of funny games. First Shahrukh (the husband) stalking after Rani (I think she would be good for this) the wife, trying to prove he wasn’t wrong about the infidelity. Than Rani rubbing her rich handsome trusting fiance in his face (maybe Bobby Deol for this role?), until he turns it around by pointing out the fiance is a bit of a countrified miss-match with her. And she gets her own back by surprising him with his very dim rebound sexy fling (Lisa Haydon). Followed by a serious sequence when she comes to understand the fiance really is wrong for her and they have a gentle break up conversation when he advises her to just let her pride go and start again with Shahrukh. And then comedy as she meets Shahrukh with his extremely proper stiff old-money new fiancee Katrina. She realizes there is no chemistry between them and sets off to break them up, showing up and pretending to be a terribly embarrassing and inappropriate ex-wife. The fiancee is to smart for her though, refuses to let Shahrukh go even if her family objects. She is crushed, Shahrukh senses her heartbreak and sympathetically offers to drive her home. On the way, the car breaks down, just like she said happened when he accused her of infidelity right at the beginning. They end up having to spend the night in one room at an inn, Shahrukh finally apologizes, Rani says it doesn’t even matter, they realize they still love each other, and kiss. And it ends with a vow renewal and a quit cut to show that they invited everyone who was along with them on this journey, Bobby and Lisa and Katrina along with the singing teacher that Shahrukh suspected back at the beginning (maybe Abhishek for that?).
Holiday (watch it here!)
This is kind of a dark one, but very romantic. And it’s not really a Cary Grant movie, it’s a Katherine Hepburn movie. Katherine is the middle child of a very rich family. The oldest is blond and charming and everyone loves her. The youngest is a very troubled sad young man. And then there is Katherine who is too smart and too odd for people to like, but stronger than her brother and able to stand up to family pressure to fit in. The oldest returns home from a trip to announce she had a whirlwind romance and is engaged to a rising young businessman. Their father approves and wants a big fancy engagement party. Katherine begs to be allowed to also have a small family party in the nursery at the same time. The fiance is Cary Grant, the movie takes place over the night of the two engagement parties. Cary begins to realize that he belongs more and is happier with Katherine’s small strange party than the fancy one downstairs his fiancee arranged. And Katherine is torn up to realize she cares more for her sister’s fiance than she should. It ends with Cary breaking up with the sister, and the sister in anger telling Katherine that it is all her fault, leading to her finally breaking free of their abusive family and running after Cary. It’s a dark film, with the theme of a seemingly “perfect” family that is actually miserable, Cary realizing the hardness at the heart of his fiancee and how he almost became part of this cycle of abuse, Katherine realizing that the sister she thought she loved was actually using her, and finally our small glimpse of happiness in the end.
This would be a great Rani-Shahrukh movie. Rani is very good at having that sense of strength and intelligence with a little bit of heartbreak. I want to make Aish be the sister, but it should also be someone visibly younger than Rani (although still on the older side). Maybe Vaani Kapoor? Someone who is beautiful and charming and yet doesn’t feel real somehow to the audience. And Aditya Roy Kapoor as the broken little brother.
I want to lean into the darkness of the original. They are an old political family, early on Rani bitterly jokes about how her father killed her mother (“car accident”) and the police all looked the other way. Her father snaps back that saying things like that is why she will never be married or let out of the house, but just stay around his neck forever. Rani and ARK talk, he encourages her to just walk out and leave, but she says she can’t leave him and Vaani alone, she promised their mother to take care of them, so she will stick it out. And then Vaani, the charming pretty daughter, returns home from vacation to announce she just met and romanced a rising young political star and they are engaged. Her father is delighted and, once Rani confirms that Vaani really is marrying for love, Rani is delighted as well. And begs to be allowed to throw a private party to meet him, just for the young people, in their private quarters. Vaani then goes and meets with her father and delightedly works with him to expand the official party to have all the movers and shakers. Rani doesn’t know, but the audience is already beginning to doubt Vaani is all she appears to be.
Shahrukh finally shows up and can’t find Vaani in the big house, so he hunts around and finally finds Rani instead. They immediately start a back and forth, teasing each other. Vaani shows up and drags him off to the fancy party, but he escapes her and finds Rani’s silly young party and loves it. Vaani drags him away and subtly insults Rani at the same time. Rani ends up being forced to make an appearance at the fancy party and Shahrukh sees how her family (including Vaani) dismiss everything about her. He finds Aditya Roy Kapoor and has a private talk with him, ARK explains that no one pays attention to him, he is the disappointment son, but he sees everything Rani is the best of them, Vaani has the same hardness that their father has and Rani is too bighearted to see it, and he is simply a coward. Vaani is keeping Rani around because she likes having someone to clean up after her, someone to take the blame when things go wrong, but Rani has to get out. Shahrukh listens respectfully but doesn’t believe it. Until he talks to Vaani and learns she wants him to get more serious about politics, try to make connections and move up. They fight, Rani overhears, and begs him to forgive Vaani, she got confused and didn’t know what she was saying. Shahrukh begins to realize that ARK was right.
He breaks things off with Vaani, but Vaani gets to Rani first and cries on her shoulder, convinces her that Shahrukh broke things off because he loves Rani but gets Rani to promise she will never have anything to do with him. Shahrukh tries to talk to Rani at the house, but the servants turn him away. ARK sees him leave and follows him. He explains that Rani is caught and will never leave the house unless she is forced to. ARK is going to make her live, Shahrukh just has to swear he will be waiting for her. That night, ARK sets fire to the outhouse where they had their party, the little room left over from their mother. Rani runs and tries to stop him but ARK shakes her off. Vaani, in fear and anger, slaps ARK and reveals her true disgust with him and tells Rani “shut up and stop playing the martyr”. Rani, finally, sees Vaani for what she really is. ARK tells her in that moment to leave out the back gate and, traumatized and not thinking, she automatically follows his directions. And goes out the back to find Shahrukh waiting to take her away.
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (watch it here)
This is a very very silly plot that I DESPERATELY want to see Shahrukh try to manage. A man sentenced to pretend to date a teenage girl while he is falling in love with her older sister.
Here’s my Shahrukh version of the plot. A young female judge (Kajol or Juhi) has a movie star brought up before her on a traffic complaint and she decides to make an example of him and sentences him to community service. Then returns home to find her teenage sister furious with her and threatening suicide over putting her “true love” in jail. The sister is as bratty and horrible as possible and finally, after consulting with a doctor, the judge makes a wild decision. The movie stars “community service” is going to be hanging around with the sister until she gets over the crush. Meaning the movie star has to throw himself into the wild life of a teenage girl, try to understand snapchat and instagram and house parties and the rest of it. While, at the same time, trying to charm and flirt and win over her cynical judge sister. Make this a movie with Kajol and Sara Ali Khan, or even better Amrita and Sara, and Shahrukh caught between them, and I am a happy camper.
Phew! That’s it! 6 Cary Grant movies for Shahrukh. Which ones do you like?