Oh boy, a totally indulgent post! I love writing fanfic, and I am having a lazy happy evening with my dog. Don’t care if none of you read this (well, I care a little bit. It makes me really happy when you comment on my fanfic, especially with your own ideas), this will just be happy for ME.
This doesn’t work for a lot of his films. But it works for more than you would expect. The scripts are so strong on their own, and the heroines are often more the lead than Shahrukh, so it works perfectly well if you just remove him and then fit and fidget a bit around the edges to make it work. Or more than a bit for some of these.
Kabhi Alvida Ne Kehna Without SRK
This is my favorite one, and also the one that needs the most shifting about to make it work. Picture this: Rani plays the Shahrukh role, Arjun Rampal plays the Preity role, Preity plays the Rani role, and Abhishek stays in place.
Rani is a dedicated athlete, a female soccer player. Her husband Arjun Rampal is a sports writer (always seemed odd to me that Preity and SRK had such divergent careers). And then she has a difficult birth of their son and it makes her no longer able to pursue her career. Arjun shoves her into place as a stay at home mother and reassures her that he just got a promotion at work and can “take care” of them. Rani ends up resenting her son for multiple reasons and being a caring but unhappy mother.
Meanwhile, Abhishek is the son of Kirron Kher. His parents were cousins and had an amazing close loving happy marriage. He wanted that and was determined to marry Preity, distant relative who was adopted into their family after her parents died. Only on their wedding night, he can tell she isn’t really into it. He asks her what is wrong and she says “nothing” with a dimple smile, but he knows it isn’t nothing.
Years later, Abhishek is organizing an event for Arjun Rampal’s magazine. At the party, Preity is playing the happy perfect wife and it suddenly infuriates Abhishek, to see her play like everything is perfect when she never lets him touch her. He bursts out with an angry song about other sexy women. Rani, also angry with her husband because he dragged her out to this party and casually avoided holding her hand in the car on the way there, notices his anger. Kirron Kher does the sexy dance with Abhishek and Rani notices her too, and comes up to her afterwards making bitter comments about how it’s easy to feel sexy when you are a widow and have a young boyfriend. Kirron sees her unhappiness, and also sees Abhishek’s unhappiness. She separately makes both of them promise to meet her for tea the next day. Only when they show up at the coffee shop, they are shown to a table where the other person is sitting and handed a note from Kirron. She thinks they are the perfect person to help the other one with their marriage problems. Just don’t be afraid and tell each other the truth.
Rani uses all her bitter sarcasm to try to drive Abhishek away like she drives away everyone else. But Abhishek is so easy going it rolls right off him, and he likes having a woman who shows actual emotion around him instead of just smiling and saying everything is wonderful. They end up sparking and becoming friends and encouraging each other in an attempt to make their marriages better.
Rani decides to try being more like a “usual” wife, understanding and sweet and all that. And Abhishek’s going to try being a better husband, surprising Preity with gifts and dinner out and all of that. Their spouses are happy, but at the end of the night they are back to the same old problem. Arjun would rather work than be in bed with Rani, and she breaks and returns to her usual self and snaps at him. And Preity goes about having sex with Abhishek as a present, to show she is grateful for the dinner and flowers, and doesn’t even understand why he is angry, what more could he want? She is being the best wife she knows how.
After this complete failure, they commiserate with each other, and then Abhishek says they need to stop being sad, and are going to do something happy. They spend the day being happy together. And return home and it actually does seem to have improved their marriages a little bit, being happier themselves. But somehow, even when their marriages are good (Preity voluntarily kissing Abhishek, Arjun bringing flowers for Rani and telling her that he will spend less time at the office), they still toss and turn and feel unsettled. Abhishek leaves the apartment in the middle of the night and walks to the park across from the coffee shop where he and Rani first met and finds her there waiting for him. In a passionate speech, angry at fate, Rani talks about how she is happy with him, feels desired and knows he feels the same, and yet because of a stupid rushed marriage that they made back before they knew what marriage was they can’t be together. Even though now they are old enough to know what love really is and marriage really is. Abhishek keeps telling her to stop talking, and finally embraces her and kisses her. And then rushes away. The next day, they meet in the coffee shop one last time to say good-bye. Only after Rani walks away, Abhishek has a change of heart, rushes after her, finds her, and they silently look at each other and realize they can’t say good-bye.
It remains an emotional affair until one day when Rani runs into Preity and learns Abhishek is taking her to the Opera and she is happy at this big romantic gesture. Rani quickly buys tickets for the same event and invites Arjun. The two couples watch each other, Rani sees Abhishek making advances on Preity and the way she calmly tolerates them. Abhishek sees Rani with Arjun ignoring her. The next day they meet and Rani bursts out in anger at Abhishek being trapped for life with a woman who won’t even smile at him, while Abhishek is angry at Rani being trapped with a man who won’t let her talk. It explodes into a passionate kiss and they end up going to a hotel together and joyfully making love. Abhishek is so amazed at the experience of being with a woman who enjoys being with him that he cries with joy. But then they both go home and immediately are consumed with guilt. They meet one last time and tell each other the practical wise things, cheating just is a symptom of problems in their marriage, they can’t throw away all those years, this was just a crazy moment, they will go back to their marriages and forget it ever happened.
Luckily, Kirron notices that something is up with Abhishek and pulls him aside to talk with him. Abhishek resists opening up, but Kirron tells her own story. She had the “perfect” marriage, but in fact she was sexually unfulfilled the whole time. Her husband was gay, his true love was Preity’s father his “best friend”. He and Preity’s father died in that accident together because they were having a weekend away together. After his death she swore she would never lie to herself, or about herself, ever again. She knows what lies look like and she knows that Abhishek and Preity’s marriage is a lie. He needs to give himself permission to walk away and find happiness where he can.
Meanwhile back at her house, Rani is trying to force herself to have a family dinner with Arjun and her son when her son suddenly bursts into tears. They talk to him, and learn that the stress and tension of the household is making him miserable. They reassure him that they both love him and, somehow, Arjun and Rani end up talking their way to a realization that they need a divorce, for the good of all three of them.
But they also both make the decision to not call each other. Rani talks it over with Arjun (who is a surprisingly good friend now that he doesn’t have to be a husband) and decides she has to figure out her own life instead of seeing Abhishek as a magic way to fix her problems. She goes out and gets a job coaching a girls soccer team, finding fulfillment and success she has been missing. Arjun picks up the slack as a parent. Meanwhile Abhishek had the same conversation with Kirron, he needs to be free of Preity for once and for all and live alone for a bit and know he can make it on his own. Kirron decides to stay with Preity, because she has been suffering all this time too and she needs someone of her own. Two years later, Abhishek is giving Preity away at her wedding. She is marrying Sharman Joshi, he’s skinny and funny looking back he makes her tingle when he touches her somehow in a way that Abhishek never did. Sharman is a single father and has invited his daughter’s soccer coach…..Rani! Rani is overcome when she sees Abhishek and somehow gets the idea that he and Preity are renewing their vows, and rushes out. Kirron sees her go and quickly makes up an emergency and tells Abhishek to rush out and get more flowers. He sees Rani crying outside, goes up to her, touches her shoulder, she tries to wish him happiness with Preity, he thanks her for her wishes for him and “the woman he loves” and then reveals that woman is Rani.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai Without SRK
Okay, this one will be much faster. Rani and Kajol are best friends all through college, Rani always has a million boys dating her and Kajol is a happy tomboy following her around. Kajol starts to realize she might be in love with Rani, and Rani says and does things that make it seem like she might love Kajol. Kajol rushes to confess her love, only for Rani to excitedly reveal that her parents have arranged her engagement and she is going home to be married. Kajol sadly plans to sneak away from college, Rani chases after her and begs her to stay, and reveals in her passionate demands for her to stay how deeply she feels for her. Kajol tries to say that Rani will be married soon and will forget her, Rani declares she will never forget her, will never stop missing her, never as long as she lives.
8 years later, Rani and her daughter “Kajol” are happily living together, the husband is dead. Her daughter finds an old photo album from college, and a letter in it from Rani to Kajol written on her wedding day talking about how she has a strange feeling that Kajol is the one she should be spending her life with, that this husband is a stranger and Kajol is her real soulmate. The daughter sees how lonely Rani is, and decides she must reunite her with Kajol, see her smile again like she did in the pictures. The daughter goes for help to Rani’s mother Farida Jalal, and they track down Kajol only to learn she is about to be married to Salman and will leave the country. Farida and Little Kajol decide they must break up the engagement, convince Kajol that her real happiness lies in spending her life with Rani. Little Kajol goes to summer camp and meets Kajol who eventually learns who her mother is but tries to hide her emotions. Then they arrange for Rani to come visit the camp, when she and Kajol meet again they cannot speak because of the emotions they feel. They are awkward together at first, until the kids set them up to have a dance off which brings them right back to college. They spend days holding hands, walking together, talking about everything. Finally on the last night of camp, they are caught in the rain together. Rani drags Kajol into a gazebo to get out of the rain and then signals suggesting a dance. They dance together closely, waltzing like they used to in the girls’ dormitory. But then it changes, Rani spins Kajol out and then in again and draws her finger along her neck. Kajol gasps, turns away, then turns back. Rani pulls her close and kisses her along her neck. Kajol closes her eyes in ecstasy. She turns away, then turns back and reaches for Rani’s face. Only to see her engagement ring gleaming on her hand. Shocked, she runs off. She feels Rani behind her and sobbingly confesses her love, only to turn around and find Salman instead. NOOOOO!
Salman observes the two women together, the longing looks and lingering hand touches. That night, with Kajol to leave and be married the next day, Rani comes into her tent and crawls into bed with her. They fall asleep cuddled together, Salman finds them the next day and looks thoughtful. Little Kajol forces Rani to come to Kajol’s wedding, at the Mehndi party she sings a heartbreaking song about leaving and good-byes and so on, and Kajol cries. Salman overhears. And then when Kajol is to come to the nuptial fire, she stops. Salman drags her down and then gives a lecture about how she is not meant for marriage, marriage is supposed to be a union of two people, and Kajol belongs with Rani. In a happy ending, the two women dance together again at the wedding party and then bring Little Kajol and Farida in to dance with them.
Kal Ho Na Ho Without SRK
This would be a much more interesting movie! Instead of getting dragged down into the love triangle and the magical strange and all that, I want to see Preity and Saif grapple with their real issues and the same with everyone around them. No magical Shahrukh fixes allowed.
Same set up. Preity’s grandmother hates her mother, and hates her little sister, only loves her grandson. Preity struggles to maintain the peace at home and protect her sister. She escapes to evening classes where she befriends spoiled rich boy Saif. They both try to keep their friendship isolated, Saif doesn’t talk to her about his overbearing parents who want him to get married, and she doesn’t talk to him about her horrible family, they are just sarcastic superficial funny class time friends.
In my Kal Ho Na Ho, Preity would finally snap, as she has threatened to over and over from the stress. She will tell some hard truths to Evil Grandma and storm out. Upset and crying, she will go to Saif for support because he is the only person who is really “her” friend, not connected to her family. He will respect her privacy and not ask for details, but let her stay on his couch. She goes back home the next day to walk into more misery and finally decides she has had enough, once and for all. She tells Jaya that she has to move out, she can’t keep pretending everything is okay. She packs a bag and ends up on Saif’s doorstep again.
Saif takes her out disco dancing to cheer her up, and succeeds in getting her to smile. Preity’s bravery in going out on her own inspires her friend from next door to talk to a cute boy and start a relationship. Saif, having Preity at home every night, starts to realize that he is in love with her. But before he can propose, she bursts out that she has to go back home. She has learned that her mother’s restaurant is about to go out of business, she walked away from all those problems and is grateful that Saif was there for her, but it is time to go back. Saif puts aside his own feelings and goes back to being the supportive friend she needs right now. He offers money to help the restaurant, she refuses but asks for his business advice instead. Saif and Preity work together to restructure the restaurant and re-open it, first disaster averted.
Saif’s parents, misunderstanding about the “friend” from school who has been living with him, think he is gay and in a relationship with a male friend. They learn the truth, that he was living with a woman, and are so relieved that they rush to surprise Preity and her family with a proposal. Her grandmother is so excited about this rich boy offering a proposal that she tries to force Preity into it so she can marry “well” and get out of this house and all these other insults to Jaya. Until finally Preity has had enough and she bursts out with the truth, that Gia is her father’s daughter and her grandmother needs to get over herself and treat Jaya better. Preity rushes out after this emotional speech, Saif follows her. Saif is kind and supportive and tells her that she has been carrying all of this on her heart for so long, all he wants is a chance to help her, be her partner, help make her heart lighter. Preity is won over and, with many reservations, agrees to marry him.
For a while everything is happy. Preity is resolved on this wedding, her mother and grandmother are united and happy, Saif and his family are super delighted. But it almost falls apart at the last minute. Preity finds an old diary from Saif and reads his initial reasons for planning to propose which involved feeling sorry for Preity, and worried that she would be living on the streets without him, and so on. She tries to break the engagement, says she doesn’t want to be married to a man who pities her. But Jaya finds her and talks to her, says that her father always wanted her to be strong because he was weak. Saif is strong enough to want to help her, that isn’t pity, that is love. Preity agrees to the wedding but is nervous about leaving her family, even though Jaya says they will be fine. Just before the wedding, when she is walking to the wedding fire, she hesitates. Saif gets up and walks over to her and takes her arm and walks her forward. Months later they have returned from the honeymoon to visit Gia in the hospital. Her grandmother pushed her down the stairs and broke her arm. Saif is charming and sweet to her, Preity is worried, Saif sweetly begs Gia to come live with them so he doesn’t have to be stuck with “boring grumpy Preity”. After Gia falls asleep, finally happy, Preity looks over at Saif and whispers “I love you.”
Hey look at that! All Karan movies! He does have a tendency to use Shahrukh as kind of too perfect for realness, the characters are stronger without him.
Anyway, which do you like? What would you change? What other movies should get the same treatment?