So I am listening to my crime podcasts, and I just hit two in a row where an older man grooms a teenage girl, which is CREEPY and WRONG. And it made me remember the one time rom-com makers successfully made it NOT creepy, and then think “why has this not been an Indian movie?”
Never Been Kissed
Pretty simple plot, a young shy reporter who had a horrible high school experience is sent in undercover to a local high school to write an article about The Kids Today. She gets a chance to sort of do-over her high school experience and ends up part of the popular crowd before realizing they are shallow and horrible and disowning them. But also, she forms a bond with her favorite teacher, and vice versa, including the immortal exchange “you are just saying I am pretty because your my teacher” “no, I shouldn’t be saying that because I am your teacher”. And then of course the truth comes out in a spectacular fashion and the teacher feels justifiably betrayed, and then she writes a lovely article about all the good things she saw in high school including a teacher who really cares, and they get together.
The tension of the taboo teacher-student relationship combined with the audience knowing it ISN’T taboo, plus our heroine knowing it isn’t taboo but also not being sure she is reading the signs right and that there is something actually here, it’s all just a sea of loveliness. And I can’t believe it hasn’t been an Indian movie yet.
Picture it! Alia Bhatt is a young reporter at an online outlet. Her editor assigns her to go undercover at a high school, her shot at a big series of articles just because she looks young enough. In high school, she was always shy and awkward and ignored, so she is afraid to go back but forces herself for her job. The first day at school is awful, but at least the English teacher Sid M is really nice to her. Her editor insists she get in with the cool crowd, because that’s what the readers will want to know about, so with the help of the other reporters on bluetooth she learns how to be “cool” and say the right thing.
Oh! And here’s where we can differ! Let’s say, the assignment is partly to see how Star Kids Really Live. But once she gets in with the cool Star Kids crowd, she learns they are just human and struggling like anyone else. She ends up sort of taking care of them, instead of writing about them getting into fights at clubs, she is the one who calms them down and takes them home when they get drunk. And that’s why Sid M starts noticing her, he has been worrying about his star kid students too, and he appreciates that she is a good influence on them. They also bond because he thinks she is a really good writer and insists on helping her apply for a scholarship, so they have to spend hours together talking. Maybe one night when she is out with the Cool Kids, someone spikes their drinks and she calls him for help and he is sweet and understanding and kind to her, and when she drunkenly talks about how no boy is ever interested in her and she isn’t pretty or sexy or anything, he tells her that he thinks she is pretty.
It all comes out when she has to admit her age in order to prevent her friends from going to jail. Let’s say, they are pulled over for having alcohol or something, and either they will go to jail, or she has to show her ID and take responsibility. It’s a story in all the papers, and Sid M is heartbroken, thinking she was just playing him like she was playing everyone else, AND she was betraying the trust of the other kids in school. But then her series of articles comes out that she has been writing this whole time and it’s lovely and kind and about how kids are just kids and struggling like everyone else, and there are no names used. And her growing feelings for Sid M. are revealed in the articles too, as she talks about the little things he did in class that were so kind for his students, and then how he pulled her aside and encouraged her, and so on. All the comments on the online articles start to be “OMG, this teacher is perfect, I am so in love with him, why can’t you see he is in love with you too?”
In the end, the teenage friends reach out to her again and say they still want to be friends, and she was a good part of their lives. And also, they want her to get together with Sid M. She refuses, because it wouldn’t be right and he probably hates her. So the teenage girls plot a plan and trick the two of them into being locked in together in the same classroom where they first met during a school fire drill. And she confesses that she fell in love with him for real, and he confesses that he was secretly thrilled to learn she was an adult but has been fighting his feelings. And then they kiss.
Wouldn’t that be a nice movie? Why has this movie not already been made? Never Been Kissed came out so long ago!