This question has been bogging me for quite a few years that whenever Jab We Met is airing on the television, I begin to watch it and I don’t feel bored and even though I have watched it a hundred times, it doesn’t feel repetitive. Same is the case with Love Aaj Kaal or Rockstar and even Tamasha. But the reason for watching Tamasha is a bit different for me. I have given a detailed analysis about that. If you want to read then you can click here.
Now, I don’t have a huge demographic on which I can base my theory on. I have a small circle of extremely trustworthy(sarcasm) people who give very honest reviews(sarcasm). Plus the Imdb ratings help in creating a theory.
Like all my analysis, this is just a personal opinion. If someone disagrees, they are free to do so. If someone can correlate with my ramblings, that would be great.
Now, the comparison that I am about to make are between Imtiaz’s four love stories versus some of the most hyped love stories of 2016-17.
So on one side is Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar and Highway. On the other side stands Fitoor, Befikre, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and OK Jaanu.
Without any argument, I think I can say that the setup to Imtiaz’s movies are realistic.There are stakes, real life stakes which can make or break the central characters. Meaning, the things that are going around are a deciding factor, just like in real life. Though that is not the spine of the story but it is always kept in the background to show that there are consequences to the lovey dovey affairs of the boy and the girl.
In Jab We Met, Aditya’s workplace problems are at stake and Geet’s family is introduced in order to give some weight to the actions that take place throughout the movie.
Even though, I consider, Love Aaj Kaal to be a bit of a drag sometimes but Imtiaz does keep Jai’s job and Harleen’s family a pivotal factor in the parallel running stories.
Rockstar hinges on Jordan’s public image and also, Heer’s family. And finally Highway, which has well, the life or death consequences hovering over Mahabir.
Now, please shift your gaze to Fitoor. There’s a vague Kashmir related turmoil, a falsely hyped tension created by Begum. A huge cushion is kept underneath the characters to fall back on and the cushion is made out of money. Even though the characters start from very different backgrounds, in the blink of an eye, Noor visibly becomes equal to Firdaus and the sudden introduction of Bilal makes a great effort to raise some stakes it fails as the characters haven’t been established. Ok Jaanu keeps the family background but makes it a source of comedy and their real life jobs are equal to not being existent. Befikre doesn’t even make the effort to create any grounds and introduce no stakes at all and expects Ranveer’s abs to do all the work. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil also walks the same line and makes their surroundings close to zero and that’s why Karan resorts to a last-minute twist with Alizeh’s sickness.
Imtiaz’s movies not only have real life stakes but have a touch of reality in it. I can’t say originality because everything in movies imitate real-life and real-life is the original. Did that make sense? Okay, my point is that Imtiaz’s choice of surroundings can actually effect the protagonists. They interact with the character. The people in Ratlam station pose a grave danger to Geet or the mob pose a great danger to Jordan. Does anything interact with the characters in ADHM or Befikre and do they pose any threat or suggest they can be the reason for consequences in the character’s lives? Think about it.
I have groaned about the use of songs in Bollywood movies since I have been reviewing movies. It has not been a very long time but I think I have done a lifetime’s worth of complaining about Bollywood songs in these few months. But if you think, Bollywood has always had songs in them. Why has it become so irritating now more than ever? That’s a rhetorical question. I am going to answer it. It’s because they serve no actual purpose.
As I was reading through the script of Jab We Met, I noticed that the feelings of the song are written into the script. The progress that will be done is written into the script via the song. Oh, just in case you don’t know, Film Companion is doing a Imtiaz Ali celebration thingy and all of Ali’s scripts are being uploaded onto their site. In case you are interested you can click here and check them out. It’s free, in case you are worried that you have to pay for it or not.
So, the songs don’t bring the movie to a halt. As all of Imtiaz Ali’s returning theme in all of his movies is journey, so it’s fitting that his movies don’t come to a halt unnecessarily and especially not due to songs. Not only do the songs progress the movie but also the characters. This is an excerpt from the script of Jab We Met, which is describing the song Aao Milo Chaale.
You see, he describes what is happening to the character whereas in a movie like Ok Jaanu you hear them singing Humma Humma and they don’t even know each other properly. Also, and I should have added this to the previous para, where Imtiaz uses a sleazy hotel for some character development, Shaad Ali uses it for a peppy dance number which serves no purpose and looks extremely staged. Now, this is another excerpt from Rockstar‘s Jo Bhi Main when it is played with a montage during the opening sequence.
In contrast, Channa Mereya or Ae Dil Hai Mushkil(Title Track) serve the same purpose and doesn’t do any progress from Ayan’s perspective. He ends up being needy and heart-broken like he was at the start of the movie. Ude Dil Befikre portrays their characters who were already Befikre to be more carefree, I think. While, Fitoor brings some melodious songs like Pashmina and Yeh Fitoor Mera to bring the angst in their relationship before even it has been established in the movie. Great.
I keep saying that the theme of journey is prevalent in all of Imtiaz Ali’s movies. Because, it’s not just a physical journey but also a depiction of the change that is going through the character or how that journey is affecting our central character. That is where the last two points come into play simultaneously. The shift from one place to another usually means that the character has changed so much that he/she is ready to move. Geet’s move from Bhatinda to Manali is for love and her staying there suggests how she hasn’t yet gotten over it, whereas Aditya’s constant shifting, shows his erratic nature and lack of solidarity and not being able to take a firm decision. So when he finally gets back to where he started, we can see the difference in his character because he sees himself in a different way in similar surroundings. For Jordan, his frantic nature is suggested by the multiple tours. His heart is broken and in order to run away from Heer, he chooses the life where he has to stay away from her due to the circumstances.
So, Adi and Geet, start as suicidal and immature respectively and end up successful and self-dependent respectively. The journey helps the audience to understand the chemistry between the character so you at least know that after the film ends, the characters won’t end up making a family without knowing each other.
Jordan starts rudderless and unable to channel his talent and through the journey, well, ends up being a Rockstar. Similarly, Jai and Meera start off as casual lovers and end up understanding the chemistry they have which they initially weren’t able to understand due to the trends of their generation. Veera begins as a meek and silent girl with a dark past and by the end of the movie becomes vocal and gains the ability to face her demons. That’s called character arc.
All in all, Imtiaz Ali makes the effort to bring change in the character, because in reality that’s what life does to us. We are never the same as we were even yesterday.
Now, when you come to the other romantic movies, there is no character change. Firdaus and Noor were in love and ends up being in love. Tara and Adi starts of calling each other Jaanu and at the end of the movie they get married(surprise!). Befikre begins with Dharam being childish and over-charged and I don’t even remember the ending. Probably ends up the same(mention the ending in the comments if you remember). ADHM starts with Ayan as needy, childlike and well ends with him being needy and still friendzoned, I suppose. He still loves her and doesn’t give her the respect she wants from him and even ends with the song which suggests he hasn’t matured in any way.
FINAL VERDICT – I was actually triggered to write this movie after watching La La Land. It’s such a cliched movie and uses old tropes to tell a simple story but instil a feeling to rise above the rest and follow your dreams and I thought the Hindi Film Industry shells out a dozen love stories and none of that have any impact whatsoever but all of Imtiaz’s movies leave a lasting impression even if his movies’ main theme is love.
I hope this analysis brought some perspective as to the re-watchability of Imtiaz’s apparently simple love stories in comparison to the recent unwatchable “romantic” movies. I mean, the dude doesn’t even demand his characters to show any skin because like the great Michael Caine said, and I am paraphrasing, that once you become nude then you distract the audience from the main plot and possibly lose them for the rest of the movie. And I think I don’t need to need to explain what the recent romantic movies resort to.
I wish that Imtiaz keeps making these amazing movies and, even though this is improbable, I hope the directors and writers who are going to make romantic movies take some cues from his movies.
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