Why I’m Looking Forward to Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’
Navjot Gulati on why this Imtiaz Ali-Shah Rukh Khan partnership is worth waiting for.
Jab Harry Met Sejal has been receiving a lot of brick-bats on social media, thanks to the mash-up title of When Harry Met Sally and Jab We Met. The film was struggling to find a title for the longest time and people had expected wonders out of it. For about three days, from Andheri to social media alike, all they did was talk about the film's title. Next there was the clash with Akshay 'Content' Kumar's Toilet: EK Prem Katha. And then the mini trailers left people wondering what the film is all about.
The songs came out. Radha worked for most; Butterfly did not fly; Beech Beech Mein is growing on people; Safar managed to intrigue, while Hawayein seems like THE song of the album. The main trailer did not quite fly for me and many other film enthusiasts, yet I still look forward to Jab Harry Met Sejal with full gusto.
Read along to know why!
It was 2005 when Socha Na Tha released after multiple delays. My brother and I went to watch it as we had heard about the film from a babaji, whom my family and both the Deols used to follow. I had heard that Abhay Deol had come to meet babaji with Sunny Deol, after which the film finally saw the light of the day. Now whether this story is factual or not is something debatable, but this surely made me and my brother want to check out the film.
We went to watch the film and there were just 10 of us in auditorium 1 of PVR Ansal Plaza, Faridabad. My brother thought it was a terrible film, hence no one had come to watch the night show. By the time the movie ended, we agreed that we had just witnessed the evolution of romantic dramas in India. Socha Na Tha turned out to be a marvellous film with terrific music and performances. While coming out of the theatre, I told my brother, “Yeh director toh kamaal hai yaar, lambee race ka ghoda hai” (Not sure if this was the actual line, but this is what I had meant).
Socha Na Tha did not make any money at the box office, got good reviews and became a cult on satellite. Many years later I saw the trailer of Jab We Met on TV and giggled like a teenage girl when Geet said, 'Sikhni hoon Bhatinda ki, koi doubt mat rakhna'. I was sold. Kareena had always been someone I had a crush on and here was a film made by the director whose greatness I had already declared to the world. The Friday Jab We Met released, my mother and I caught the movie in Noida.
Till then I was just a film buff and had never actually thought that I could make movies. Cut to three hours later, I was smiling like a retard from the Jab We Met experience, and I jokingly told my mom, 'Yeh director toh mere jaise sochta hai, main yeh kahaani aise hi banata'.
My mother laughed it off, but Jab We Met gave me courage to dream because it was a mainstream film that was not melodramatic, had a lovely soundtrack and most importantly, the secondary cast comprised of all new and good actors. Actors I never knew existed. Also that night I, along with half of the country I presume, fell in love with a motormouth called Geet.
Now those were the times when there was no social media and word-of-mouth actually meant people talking to each other and spreading the word. As time passed, Imtiaz Ali turned braver and has told stories that challenge the idea of a safe Bollywood film. Hell, he has created a sub-genre!
Love Aaj Kal was a film that I immensely liked, especially the flashback love story. I was like - what in the hell would this guy make next? Next up was Rockstar, the film that transformed me personally because I actually understood the value of PAIN in the life of an artist after watching it.
The thing about an Imtiaz Ali film is that it is always a story about the most basic of human needs - love and finding oneself. His characters all seem like people you know and want to be friends with, these are flawed yet likeable people. What makes the movies even more special is the craft at display.
The way he stages his scenes and shoots his songs is a crash-course in mainstream filmmaking and add to it his partnerships with Irshaad Kaamil, Pritam Da and Rahman Sir.
Coming back to Rockstar, it is also special because post a screening organised by Anurag Kashyap and Somen Mishra, is where I met Imtiaz Ali for the first time. Today I'm almost a friend of his, but always more of a fan. Rockstar was a flawed masterpiece with outstanding music and a fantastic performance by Ranbir Kapoor. I remember having a long conversation with Imtiaz, post the response to Rockstar suggesting, 'Sir, ab love story nahi, aur kuch banao'. He said:
Yaar dil sey jo nikalta hai, main wahee bana sakta hoon.Imtiaz Ali, Director
Then came Highway and then Tamasha. Somewhere all these films have the same universe and tackle themes that are similar to each other, yet they are all different. Any true Imtiaz fan will get what I mean, as for the others... well people also had issues with the great Guru Dutt. People will be people.
Coming to Jab Harry Met Sejal, I vividly recall bumping into Imtiaz at one of our many roadside and coffee shop bump-ins in Andheri where he told me, 'Sir, is baar kuch paagalpan wala bana raha hoon...full masti'. And much before this meeting, there was another in 2012 when he told me that he is trying to do something with SRK. And almost everyone, who like me, loves these two artistes, have been looking forward to this jodi - the king of romance and the torchbearer of soulful love stories.
The trailer of JHMS did not quite fly with me, but then a part of me believes that the film has way more than they have revealed; and that Imtiaz has actually conned Team SRK into believing that it is an out-and-out comedy but thrown in something unique thematically. I won't say what that is, but then if it is what I think, then we might have another flawed masterpiece in hand a la Rockstar. However, I do hope that the film is more Jab We Met, for the love of SRK.
So, to hell with naysayers!
4 August, first day first show, it is going to be for me and many others, The Ali-ans Day (I'm joking, no such term has been coined).
(Navjot Gulati is the screenwriter of Running Shaadi.com. He is now working on his first feature film as a director.)
(We all love to express ourselves, but how often do we do it in our mother tongue? Here's your chance! This Independence Day, khul ke bol with BOL – Love your Bhasha. Sing, write, perform, spew poetry – whatever you like – in your mother tongue. Send us your BOL at email@example.com or WhatsApp it to 9910181818.)
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