Imtiaz Ali

Open Letter: Dear Mr Imtiaz Ali, Yash Chopra You Are Not!

Dear Imtiaz Saab,

I once knew you well. This was during those heady but steady days of Jab We Met when your talent was young and driven and  your emotions  were  genuine.  Now I no  longer know you.  Not in person. Certainly  not through  your cinema.

Now before I go any further I must warn you there is an imposter named Imtiaz Ali who has put out a film with your signature called Jab Harry Meet Sejal. Either that or, you Imtiaz Saab, have lost the plot completely. This flaky saga of a tourist guide who accompanies a headstrong Gujarati girl across several European countries is so devoid of any spiritual substance or existential  motivation  that it makes the cinema of Madhur Bhandarkar  look worth our while.

Harry Met Sejal is  an utter waste of time. At the end  oof the ordeal  by odyssey I couldn’t care  less  about Sejal  or Harry. They are both so  mean-spirited and spaced out.And it’s not just me…I saw several disappointed families, defeated  armies of Shah Rukh Khan’s fans, trooping out long before the film ended.

What  is it about this goodlooking mannequin of  a  movie that is so off-putting? In my humble  opinion  it is the arrogance  of the filmmaker and his leading man, the superstar who  is also the film’s producer.Their joint belief that they understand the sexual dynamics of  diasporic relationships far better than the audience. There is an emotional smugness in your storytelling, as though being jaunty,flippant and ‘cute’(a word that Shah Rukh uses quite often to facetiously describe his shrill mate) are your birthright because , well, you know what women  can do to men.

For a  majority  of the  playing-time for this powerless high-flyer of a film we have  just the invincible Mr Khan  trying to reason with the Gujju girl played by Anushka Sharma. He is a wanderer on a  slow burn-out mission. She is  a waif  coping with an engagement where somehow the ring is  more important than actual relationship.

Together Mr Khan and Ms Sharma whip up a  storm of swift-speaking significances that add up to zilch. In an interview Shah Rukh Khan described you, oh Ali of insightful relationships, as the Yash Chopra  of the current times.

Ignore him.  Shah Rukh was just trying to be smart . There was a disarming  honesty to Yash Chopra’s  cinema. When his couples serenaded the sarson ka khet it looked as though the  director wanted them there because they belonged there. When  Shah Rukhand Anushka get into the fields it is because they have nothing better to do. By that point in the narration they’ve travelled Europe and exhausted themselves, and us.

We  desperately  need  a home to belong to. Jab Harry Met Sejal is that journey undertaken without the surety  of  returning home. You wish these two footloose travelers  a life of shared bickering. But you really can’t be bothered with what they do  with the  love that they find in exotic lands.

Maybe hawk their love(and the ring)  for some sense?

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