When it comes to defining an original voice in films today, director Imtiaz Ali leaves a unique stamp on conventional genres, from Socha Na Tha to Jab We Met and his soon to be released Love Aaj Kal, his ambitious take on the classic romantic era of the 1960’s and today’s 2009. With its old fashioned and grown up romance that is heart pounding, thrilling and cinematically exquisite, Love Aaj Kal seems like an unapologetic work of a visionary filmmaker with his own unique style, who is clearly happy that the journey has ended. So when asked by a journalist what his take on love is, at the recently held press meet to promote Love Aaj Kal, Imtiaz said, “Love is something that I don’t understand. It’s an inappropriate word.” UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent met the ‘Lost in Love’ director to figure out what he thinks of the saying ‘Love makes the world go round’, the in-love Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, the lovely Deepika Padukone and his take on love yesterday and today.
Jab We Met was such a big success. As a filmmaker do you think you’ve graduated with Love Aaj Kal?
Honestly, it’s difficult to say because you become very subjective towards the film you do and you can’t really be a critic as well. When I was making Jab We Met, I was trying my best to make the best. In Love Aaj Kal, I’ve done the same thing.
I’d like Kareena to be in all my movies but the point is that I need to be fair to her and her talent
You obsessed with love?
Yes. Mere andar bahut pyaar hain. It gets reflected through my films, I guess.
Your films have got this earthy feel and innocence in them. Is it to do with your upbringing?
I have grown up in a middle class family in smaller cities of India. My father has been on a transferable job. When I finally reached Delhi and Mumbai, I saw the grandeur of big cities. So obviously, the movies that I make will be in some way a reflection of what I’ve seen in my life. The fiber that you’re talking about comes from my upbringing.
Kareena has expressed a lot of sorrow as you didn’t rope her in Love Aaj Kal in spite of her calling you her favourite director.
I’m very happy to hear that Kareena thinks so highly of me. I should also say that Kareena is my favourite actress. But just for the greed of working with your favourite actor, you cannot cast her wrong because you’ll be doing injustice to everybody including the actor. My role as a director is to avoid such mistakes. I’d like Kareena to be in all my movies but the point is that I need to be fair to her and her talent.
Deepika has impressed me completely because of her synergy with the character she plays, just like how Kareena impressed me while she played Geet
So what was special in Deepika then?
When you see the film you’ll know better. There is a sense of silence in Deepika and a sense of innocence. I cannot express that in words. There is a certain character or the nature of Meera, the role which Deepika plays in the film, which suited her. Deepika has impressed me completely because of her synergy with the character she plays, just like how Kareena impressed me while she played Geet.
Are you nervous of your film being pitted against Kambakkht Ishq?
You see, I don’t get time to get nervous, luckily. As the release date is just around the corner, I feel happy that the film is finally going to be seen by the world. But I think that nervousness is a luxury that I don’t think directors can really afford because we are always working.
Saif was never a producer for me. He was only the actor for me
In better words, what’s going through your mind now?
I am not scared. The last thing I want to do is to make myself embarrassed in front of the audience. I like such films that don’t embarrass me. That’s going through my mind right now.
How about your new producer?
Saif was never a producer for me. He was only the actor for me. He was really happy only to be an actor too. He has come in with his intelligence, common sense and an extremely good creative idea for the publicity of the film. Only as an actor he could’ve done justice to Love Aaj Kal.
How was the title born?
Aaj Kal thoda boring ho raha tha. We wanted to go ahead with ‘Aaj Kal‘ as the title of the film but because I’m such a lovely person making films that are based on love, the title changed to Love Aaj Kal.
Are you judgmental about love yesterday and love today?
Love is something that I don’t understand. It means different things for different people. It’s a very confusing term. I believe in words like affection, intimate, togetherness, but love for me is always an inappropriate word. I am not judgmental about it. There is really no message that I’m trying to convey through this film. I cannot comment conclusively. I can only tell you that if you think there is no innocence and love now, and you only consider that there was love back then, you’re wrong. That’s not true. If people get a bit more physical in love now, it doesn’t mean that the intensity of pure feeling between two people is less in this generation.
Are you in search of love through the films you make?
May be yes. People who write books about Gods don’t know Gods. They are trying to look for him. May be I’m too.
If people get a bit more physical in love now, it doesn’t mean that the intensity of pure feeling between two people is less in this generation.
Did the yesteryear couple Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor give you any insights on love back in their era?
Both Neetuji and Rishiji didn’t give me any inputs. They gave me this positive romantic energy.
Has success ever pressurized you?
When I will get success I will answer that question. I am not being modest here. This is the truth and I know it.
You think Love makes the world go round?
Yes I do. That’s why I’ve made this film. The whole idea of the story came from us talking about love back then and love in today’s time. People say that today love is only about having sex. All the fifty plus say that love has lost its essence. Whereas in the current world, we think that yesteryear lovers were fools. They took their entire lifetime to convey the message of love. But the elders think that the 2009 love is like an equation. How one can solve it is pretty strange. Love is surely making the world go round.