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Will Imtiaz Ali Regain His Mojo With Love Aaj Kal?



One of our finest auteur filmmakers Imtiaz Ali has   lost the plot. And  going by the response  to the trailer of  his latest work his, shall we say,  ugly peshkash,  Love Aaj Kal,the chances that Imtiaz would regain his paradise seem slim. Even Saif Ali Khan who starred in Love Aaj Kal in 2009  says he liked  the trailer of his own film more than the new avtar which stars his daughter,

I don’t blame  the  forthright Saif for being disappointed with the trailer  of the  new Love Aaj Kal. It does look like a rehash  of  Imtiaz Ali’s  earlier film with even the  title being replicated.  Imtiaz is  no stranger to rehashing his own output. His  very first film Sochna Na Tha(Abhay Deol Ayesha Takia) was  altered and served  piping hot as Jab We Met.

That  film fetched  him  the kind  of  adulation  very few filmmakers  get in their sophomore  endeavour. Lamentably, the critics went overboard with the praise and  before long, Imtiaz began  to look at himself as  the cheerleader  of avant-garde  filmmaking in  mainstream cinema.After  Jab We Met  , Imtiaz’s Love Aaj Kal was  a  decent followup, though  not  what we expected  from him. Only Imtiaz  knows why he  cast a Brazilian model as a  Punjabi  heroine in Love Aaj Kal.

 His  next grossly overrated film  Rock Star was a tonally  exaggerated,arbitrary  re-working of the Devdas legend with Ranbir Kapoor as a rock musician who loses his wild adventurous  Paro to  another man, drinks  himself and plays some roughneck A R Rahman tunes …Again Imtiaz  cast a non-Indian, this  time, Nargis Fakhri, who admitted to me that Rock Star  could have been in Chinese and it would have been equally alien to her.

I remember Ranbir Kapoor telling me Nargis would win the National award  for Rock Star. Knowing him, I now  feel he was being ironical . Rock Star was a mess,and so was  Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha which to  this day, remains an incoherent  mystery to me. Why were Ranbir and Deepika behaving like two  characters  from two different  films trapped in  a mindbending merger? Some critics  loved  Tamasha


This  was  a pavlovian  response: if it’s Imtiaz Ali it’s got to be cool.

I liked Imtiaz Ali’s   Highway mainly for Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda’s raw hurting performances.  But in hindsight, the whole sexual abuse angle was  so  forcibly brought into play,like a government sponsored message  during a  Van Halen concert. By the time Imtiaz arrived at  the Shah Rukh Khan-Anushka Sharma disaster when Harry Met  Sejal(the pair gave us an even bigger disaster thereafter, but that’s another story)  Imtiaz Ali had become  a  casualty  of  his own ‘cool’ image. 

His characters behaved as though they were pantomining the emotions that modern urban  lovers are expected to feel. The sparkling spontaneity  of  expression that was so spot-on in Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met was now replaced by a tedious trading of designedly casual talk. 

Sad but true, his cinema has  become a visual  equivalent of hand-ripped jeans.The more Imtiaz strains for  a casual impact the more selfconscious his cinema seems.The new  Love Aaj Kal  seems no different.  I do hope  the director who once gave us hope, proves me wrong.

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