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.