Friday, January 24, 2014

Jab We Met...

I am a big fan of watching the movies on the big screen. I have the notion that watching a movie on the big screen increases your chances of liking it by 20% for easily comprehensible reasons. However, I also like watching movies on a laptop. The advantage of watching a movie on the laptop is that I can make notes at my own pace while watching, pause and take screenshots, re-watch the scenes which I did not understand, and observe the minute details in the screenplay. Of course, the charm of the big screen is unparalleled. But living in a city where the nearest Hindi movie theater is 250 miles away, I have become more amenable to watching movies on my laptop. Lately, not only I have become more used to watching them on my laptop, but I also do not mind watching movies again. Once I saw a movie, I hardly watched any movie the second time thinking it to be a waste of time. But now, I think that watching a movie again brings out a perspective that I did not think about earlier. I have been on a movie re-watching spree to learn more about my favorite films. For some movies, I feel as if I have not seen them at all. There is so much to write and I really want to share but given the paucity of time, I am unable to write on them. All I have left is a collection of rudimentary points on the film. Someday, when I write my book, I will write them all. 

But I do want to write briefly on one of my favorite films, Jab We Met. I have already written a lot here about Jab We Met, yet I want to keep on talking about this movie. This is one of those movies which anyone can watch again and again without feeling any trace of exhaustion. I literally speak along the lines while watching it. It is a perfect story of finding life through love. A lot of people adore the character of Geet but in my opinion, Aditya was a far superior character in the movie. Shahid Kapoor did not win as much accolade and acclaim as much as he deserved. Here are some more brief thoughts on the movie.

In the initial few scenes of the movie, a lachrymose Aditya stands in front of a mirror in the washroom. He is staring at himself with a look of wretchedness and melancholy. The script of the movie has a slightly different mention of the scene that we do not see in the movie. The script says, "Aditya stands facing the mirror in the wash room. He is looking down. After a moment, he looks up towards his eyes. He lacks the courage to look at himself. He looks down." In the movie we only see him staring at himself. But if we think a little more, the scene meant that Aditya, the way he looked himself in the mirror, blamed himself for his misfortunes. He is crestfallen and unable to purge the cause of his despair. Later, he meets Geet and they both spend the night in Hotel Decent. It is here that he begins to learn from Geet to let go and purge the cause of his desolation. Again, he goes to the washroom and he flushes the burning picture of his ex-girlfriend. There are no mirrors in this dilapidated washroom, instead he looks at the picture as if he now understands that it is not he, but his ex-girlfriend to blame. The washroom, where earlier he was unable to cleanse himself, was in some way referring to his act of absolving himself and getting rid of his ex-girlfriend's memories. Imtiaz uses this concept of repeating the aspects of the story line, if I may erroneously use the term contrasting symmetry, as we know numerous other times in the movie, such as the Punjab field scenes, and the following your heart scenes among many others..


Washroom - Blaming himself


Washroom - Finally cleansed

As I had written earlier, Imtiaz's films make the point that somehow journeys are more important than the destination. Whether it is Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, or Rockstar - all his films involve some element of a journey travelling to different places. In the song Aao Milo Chalo, Geet and Adtiya use almost every possible means of transportation. They travel in a bus, a rickshaw, an SUV, a tempo, a cycle, and a sedan. They also walk for some time as their car breaks down. When the song finishes, there is even a boat in a river. All these different vehicles refer to the ups and downs of life, the momentum of life; that as the car that broke down, similarly, our life will suffer a temporary setback but we have to keep on moving. The script beautifully describes and accentuates the meaning of the song. Although the actual picturization is slightly different, it says,

The song is about travel. Aditya is going with the flow. He does not know where he will end up but he wants to keep going. This is the song of a man coming out from the shackles of his life and moving into freedom. Geet is the catalyst for this change. In the song, Aditya is getting infected by her bright spirit. He is even copying her subconsciously. His body language changes in the song. After the bus, Aditya is singing as he walks down a street in Kota with Geet. In the music interlude, we see that Aditya withdraws cash from an ATM. Then they take Geet’s luggage from the station and keep it in the cab he has hired. Aditya is wearing new clothes. The car is on the highway now. Aditya and Geet are sleeping in the back seat. Geet is seen drawing water from a hand-pump on the way. Both splash water on themselves. The car drives through a procession of camels. Somewhere on the road, the car’s tyre is punctured, the driver is repairing it. Aditya and Geet are sitting on a milestone. Then Aditya is driving, Geet is sitting next to him and the driver is sleeping in the back seat. At the end of the song, the car is standing at a dhaba somewhere in Punjab. Aditya and Geet are climbing a guava tree that is slanted on a water stream on the side of the dhaba.

I love how beautifully the song is used as a metaphor for freedom. Aditya inadvertently copying Geet, as well as he wearing new clothes symbolize a new lease of life he has got from Geet. Also, this contrasts beautifully with the first few scenes of the movie as well. A morose Aditya leaves everything, he leaves his office and goes to his ex-girlfriend's wedding, he drives his car, then walks, then takes a bus, takes off his tie, his cuff links, and gets into a train. He tried to break free from the world by considering suicide but Geet saves him. In this song, he learns to walk to freedom but not by suicide but by learning to let go, by filling his emotional void, and by taking the path of music. Again, this was another use of the brilliant symmetrical contrast used beautifully by Imtiaz.


Trying to break free



Aao Milo Chalo


Learning to start again


Life is a journey


Manzil se behtar lagne lage hai yeh raaste


Boat

The script also poignantly describes the feelings of Geet when she is finally going to meet Anshuman in the song Yeh Ishq Hai. I find the choreography of the song absolutely gorgeous. Saroj Khan has choreographed it splendidly and she totally deserved the National Award, which she got. The ethereal grace of the Tibetan dancers, the pristine surroundings of Rohtang Pass, the foot-tapping beats of Pritam's music - the song conveys the emotions of Geet being in heaven with aplomb. The script says, 

The road climbs up and snow peaked mountains come into view. We are in the Himalayas. And Geet is on top of the world. Her dream is coming true. She is going home to Anshuman. She wants to smell all the flowers and soak in the clouds. She wants to dance in the hill market-place, she wants to hug everybody on the street. Aditya is looking at her go berserk. He is looking at her with the feeling that he will not be looking at her for long. He is missing her already. Geet sings the song. Geet does the dance. Geet changes clothes and shows the options to Aditya. Aditya watches.



Just before the song starts, we also see that there is a peacock in Geet's bag. Does that symbolize her happiness similar to what a peacock feels when it is about to rain? She is in a trance as she is about to get her love, the same way a peacock dances and spreads its wings, moments before it rains.


Dancing like a peacock

What I also love is that the train played a very important role in the movie. In fact, the title of the film was decided by a popular vote with one option related to trains. Audience had a choice between Punjab Mail, Ishq Via Bhatinda, and Jab We Met. Not only do some of the most important things happen related to trains but there are also many philosophical references to missing the train as well, especially from Geet. At one point, she says, "Pata hai? Mujhe daravne sapne aate hain, kayi maheenon se, ki main na train ke peeche bhaag rahi hoon, aur train chhoot gayee." In the climax of the movie, she says, "Ek ajeeb sa darr lag raha tha, jaise kuch galat ho raha hai, jaise koi train choot rahi hai." Or the dialogue of the station master, "Zindagi rail ki patri hai. Ek inch ka bend aur aage chal ke meelon ki doori. Ek chhoti si bhool tumhaari saari zindagi badal sakti hai." The train also formed a part of another contrasting symmetry in the movie. In the initial scenes of the movie, Aditya is about to jump off the train. But Geet sees him opening the door and starts her monologue on how he should not open the door and then a train passes by in the background and everything goes mute except the sound of the train in the background. Similarly, in the final scene of the movie, Geet and Anshuman are meeting. Anshuman is talking to Geet and then a train passes in the background and everything goes mute except the sound of the train. It is then she realizes what a colossal mistake (almost akin to suicide like Aditya tried earlier) she is making by getting married to Anshuman. The train, thus, became a metaphor for missed chances in life and again, Imtiaz uses the element of symmetry to make his point.


About to jump




Train in the background


Now, I come to my most favorite part of the movie - Aditya. As I mentioned earlier, to me Aditya was the best character in the movie. After Sid in Dil Chahta Hai, if there is any character that I love so much it is Aditya. He is shy, funny, smart, and well-mannered. The way he is mesmerized by Geet's philosophy of life, the way he smiles to himself on seeing the antics of Geet, the way he pines for her, the way he leans on the wall when he sees her, the way he will force her to come with him, the way he cries on seeing the state of Geet's sadness, the way he cries to himself on realizing he cannot get her - Aditya is a gem of a person. Shahid is so good in this film, I don't know what happened to him after this film. My most favorite part in which he won my heart was the scene when he convinces Geet to go with Anshuman. Again, there was this element of contrasting symmetry where he tells Geet to listen to her heart, like earlier Geet had said, "Toh aise mein main vohi karti hoon jo mera dil kehta hai." He says to her, that his parents did not love each other. They loved other people. And his entire life he suffered because of that. They were great together in the office, but home was hell. They should have just followed their hearts and sooner or later everything would have sorted out. Then, Geet says, that she can’t believe he is arguing his case. Aditya smiles and says, "Main tumhari side bhi to le raha hun na, Geet. Tum aur Anshuman ek hi side pe to ho. It's simple, Geet. Jo log ek dusre se pyaar karte hain, unhi ko saath me rehna chahiye, tabhi sab khush rahenge." I loved it that he is the one who convinces Geet, that to me showed his immense poise and maturity. 


















In the scene after that when they catch a toy train, Geet says, "Main tujhein bahut achchi lagti hoon na?" Aditya without making any effort to hide his feelings says, "Bahut. Bahut zyada achchi lagti ho. Magar vo mera problem hai. O yaar asi jo chahe feel kar sakde hai. Tujhe ko tension lene ki zarrorat nahi hai." He is not afraid to admit his feelings for Geet and will do anything to see she gets her love, even though he cries for her silently. As one critic described, Geet truly brings geet and music to his life. This scene was just amazing. Who will not get floored by Aditya? I can just go on looking their pictures together.






Trivia:
Geet wears a shirt with a poster of Mughal-E-Azam. The funniest part was when the guy on the bike calls her, "O Anarkali, sun idhar aa." Anarkali is a character from Mughal-E-Azam :-)


Mughal-E-Azam


Apharan poster


Deewar poster


Zinda poster


Need a Railway Lexicography :)


Hotel Decent


Darshan durlabh ho gaye, jab se diya udhaar. Udhaar pyaar ki kaichi hai :)


Chinta di koi lor nahi :)


Geet - Dil Ki Baat

The script has many small differences from the movie. There are some scenes that are cut short. Like this one: 
Aditya goes to the window. He sees Geet going into her room. He stands there, looking at her room. She appears at her window and looks at him. He smiles. She smiles. They stand for a second. He indicates to her that she should go to sleep. She indicates to him that he should go to sleep. He nods. Waves to her. She waves back. He moves from the window. He takes support of the wall and stands. For a while. Then he switches the light off.


The script says, "Ten years later. Geet and Aditya are sitting on a couch. Their two sons are with them." But in the movie, we see that they have two daughters. 



The song Tum Se Hi has a completely different description as opposed to what we see in the movie. The script says, "He walks into a room in his house, takes down a guitar case from a cupboard, opens the case, strums, starts playing a tune with the beats. He goes into a reverie. A cottage in the mountains – picturesque, serene. Aditya sings in his room, thinking about the mountains. Geet comes out of the cottage. Aditya is singing in his room. Geet walks down the path from the cottage. She crosses Aditya, who is in her path in the hills, wearing his executive clothes and looking at her. Geet is buying vegetables at a market, drying clothes on a line, doing the traditional hill life chores wearing hill clothes. Aditya is following her in the hills, singing. Aditya walks towards a conference hall for an important meeting. He makes to push the door open, then turns to see something. Geet is standing there in her traditional hill clothes, smiling at him. Aditya pauses, looks at her with a smile. Aditya is in the important meeting, talking to the people across the table, Geet passes from behind those people, looking at him and singing. Aditya does not look at her but a smiles comes to his face. So Aditya carries on with his life in the city and Geet follows him and Geet carries on her life in the hills and Aditya follows her. Aditya’s team is taking a lassi break as they are working late hours for the launch of a new product. Aditya is sitting on a table top and singing the song to his colleagues who are sitting at cubicles and chairs and table-tops and looking at him. The song ends."


Geet brings geet to him :)

Also, I find it very interesting that they treated Anshuman very well in the movie. In fact, in the scene when Geet talks about Aditya taking his side, there is a different treatment of him in the script, which is edited out in the movie. Aditya still says that Geet should be with Anshuman, but he also says that she should punish him as she deems fit. He says, "Don’t forgive him. Trouble him. Take your revenge. You have your lifetime to do that. This man has caused you pain. He took too much time, you suffered, so punish him as you see fit. But don’t turn him away. That will be a mistake."

The link of the script is here.

Jab Me Met is such an exhilarating experience that deserves to be seen again and again. The premise of finding life through love and coming of age is a hackneyed theme and it is fascinating to find a film with such refreshing characters that makes it feel like a new experience. Thank you, Imtiaz for this gem of a film :)

Of course, my favorite song from the movie:




More later.

Dialogue of the day:
"Sab kehte hain Mumbai bada crowded hai. Arey? Crowded matlab kya? Crowd hum jaise logon se hi to banta hai? Khud bheed ka hissa hain aur takleef bhi khud hi ko hai. So funny."
 - Geet, Jab We Met

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Love Aaj Kal

I love watching the videos of my favorite songs on YouTube. One of them is Yeh Dooriyaan from Love Aaj Kal. Not only is the song a beautiful melody but also it is gorgeously shot. By watching the song itself, we can get an idea of the film. I have been watching and listening to it repeatedly and it made me want to watch Love Aaj Kal. I have seen it before but I did not like it much then. I watched it again and this time I really, really enjoyed it. I saw many things which I did not understand earlier. I am still quite reluctant to say that I loved it totally because there are some things which I could not relate to, and some things were unconvincing. But still any Imtiaz Ali film is so well written that it makes you think and I love movies which do that.



Love Aaj Kal is an interpretation of how love has changed over the years, what is different in love that was in kal as compared to the love that is in aaj, and why the role of love in our lives has become different. The film is based on the story of Meera and Jai who play contemporary lovers and their love is contrasted by another pair whose story is based in the 1960s - Harleen and Veer. The film uses various props and references to show us the contrast between the two loves. 

At one point, Veer and Jai are talking to each other with Veer drinking a glass of black tea and Jai having a cup of black coffee. That in itself was a metaphor for love. Both of them love this bitter, sugar-less and milk-less drink of theirs. Tea, that was the staple drink in the early period, has now given way to coffee that is more urbane and cool. But we are still addicted to love just as we are addicted to those drinks. The drinks that they love was also referring that even though they might be bitter, they still drink those, symbolizing the fact that perhaps love too gives us a bitter-sweet feeling and it is only after a constant struggle that we develop a taste for it. Later, we see that both Harleen and Meera drink this tea and coffee, respectively, even though they completely fail to understand why their lovers drink it this way. Meera, when she saw Jai drinking black coffee, had said, "Black coffee bina cheeni ke? I feel like puking." Later, she herself drinks this sugar-less drink. Very nicely the film makes a point that she herself accepted the taste of love; what made her puke earlier now gives her comfort and as if by drinking this coffee, she feels closer to her lover. In a way, love is also about accepting someone with their flaws and their unique tastes. Harleen's reaction is even more telling. When she first took a sip, she almost puked but still she continues to drink it. I found this thing very romantic.


Tea and Coffee - Love


Love for Veer


Love for Jai

One of my other favorite references was the Purana Qila. Whenever Harleen and Veer used to meet, they met in the Purana Qila. Wikipedia says, "Purana Qila is the oldest fort among all forts in Delhi and, the oldest known structure of any type in Delhi." Just like love - the oldest and the most perennial theme in our movies that never seems to lose its sheen. Purana Qila was the testimony to love. It was very fascinating that Meera's profession was art restoration. She also worked and restored the Purana Qila, referring to the fact that love has changed over the years and they are giving it a more contemporary look. The film is restoring the definition of old love and giving it a new definition - the old love has become stale with time and hence, a new love has taken its place, just like tea has become coffee. Meera's profession of art restoration was referring to giving love a new meaning. Again, it is no coincidence that when in the climax, Jai comes and professes his love for Meera, she is working in the same Purana Qila (where Harleen and Veer met) and giving its walls a new look - signifying the film's theme of a modern day love. I loved this profession reference. At one point in the film, Meera reads Jai's online profile which says, "To enter the Golden Gate, Inc. in San Francisco and make bridges." What I felt was that this Golden Gate referred to love in the old times (Old is Gold?) and it is Jai who learns the story of old love from Veer. Again, Jai and Veer being played by Saif Ali Khan was also related to he going in the golden age, and making bridges, and listening and connecting with the older generation. The film never mentions he is an architect, and instead only mentions about his passion for making bridges. Also, the story of Veer and Harleen is sepia-tinted which gives a feeling of yellowish (somewhat goldish?), brownish, something nostalgic. Again, I loved this.


Purana Qila refers to Love


Veer and Harleen meet here



Art restoration of the Qila - a new definition for the modern day love


Giving love a new meaning


Jai and Meera also meet here


To enter the Golden Gate - Golden Age of 60s

Not only that, most of the conversations of Veer and Jai happen near a bridge. Most of the film's scenes are shot near a bridge. Even the iconic poster of the movie shows the Golden Gate bridge. The bridge was connecting the love of the aaj and the kal, the present and the past. I also found it very fascinating that Howrah bridge was shown for the love kal as it is located in the East, and the Golden Gate bridge was shown for the love aaj as it is located in the West - symbolizing that old love was more traditional and oriental, and the modern day love has more of Western influences.




Bridges connecting the Love Aaj and Love Kal


Love Kal - Eastern


Love Aaj - Western

When I had earlier seen the movie, I had really liked the old story of Harleen and Veer. This time when I watched the story, for reasons that I cannot explain, I somehow could not care much about their story. All I wanted to see was the story of Jai and Meera. There was something very different about their story that made me care for them. They are not at all perfect, they make rash decisions, but yet at some level, I could understand their reasons for doing so, even though they might be completely ridiculous. At one point in the movie, Veer says to Jai, that "Pehle to main sirf aawaragardi karta tha, Harleen ke saath rehne ki lalach me main serious ho gaya. Tum zindagi me itne serious ho ki tum Meera se alag ho gaye ki tum apna kaam kar sako." I really loved this line because it clearly shows that how our careers have become more important than love. Jai and Meera broke up for the only reason because they knew long-distance relationships are very difficult to manage, even though they had no problems with each other. Would you ever sacrifice your career for love, now? I think I am a very selfish person and I would never give up my career just for the sake of being with my lover who I am not even married to. Maybe we have become more real and more aspirational, and that is why I was able to understand why Jai and Meera broke up. Later in that brilliant scene, Veer and Jai talk about sex. Jai talks about how he is completely fine with someone touching his ex-girlfriend because it is logical and life keeps on changing. "Zindagi badalti rahegi, aur humein uske saath badalte rehna hai." But at the same time, his expressions show that he is not alright with it and there is a slight element of jealousy that he feels when he says that. It was an excellent scene that also showed us that maybe we are not as cool with some things that we pretend to be, we are slightly hypocritical, and we are not as liberal as we may think ourselves to be. Even when Meera calls Jai and tells him that she is seeing someone, he feels jealous and makes an excuse that someone is at the door, just to reconcile himself with what he heard.


Logical Love


Hypocritical Love



Zindagi badalti rahegi, aur humein uske saath badalte rehna hai

In one of the film's another terrific scene, Jai calls Meera back and tells her that he is seeing Jo. Immediately after that call, Meera looks herself in the mirror and smiles as if mentally comparing and assuring herself that she is better than her ex-boyfriend's present girlfriend. Again, referring that may be we are not as alright with things as we think we are.


Jealous


Self assurance

At another point in the film, when Vikram proposes Meera, she meets Jai at Qutub Minar and says that they should get real and stop meeting with each other. She says, "Mujhe vo jagah khali chahiye jisme koi aur aa sake." I loved this line because I completely agree with this and I have written already that I feel once you love someone, you always love someone unless some other person and comes and takes that place. How can you move on if you are still stuck with your old flame? And she says, "Yeh tum vali feeling, aadat." She says he will have to go away from his life. And of course, they were clearly not over each other, because Jai kisses Meera after this and she does not even object, as both of them still had feelings for each other.


Mujhe vo jagah khali chahiye jisme koi aur aa sake


Still having feelings

In her book First Day First Show, Anupama Chopra had written a deeply insightful essay on Dilwale Dulhaniya le Jayenge (DDLJ). One part of the essay focuses on the moral twist in the film. She says, "Rebellion is part of Bollywood's formula for cinematic romance. Every decade has a defining love story in which the lovers confront their parents (Mughal-E-Azam, Bobby, Love Story, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Dil). In DDLJ, Raj's dissent is unique. He rebels by refusing to do so. In a poignant scene, Lajjo gives Simran her jewelery - the only thing she owns - and tells them to leave. But Raj refuses. There are always two roads, he tells Lajjo, the right one and the wrong one. And though the wrong route is seductive  in its ease, he will take the more difficult, correct path. Because, he says, he does not want to snatch or steal Simran. He wants to marry her with the approval of the family. He believes that their love will conquer all opposition."

The reason I quoted the above passage from her book is because at one point I felt Veer and Harleen's story was so reminiscent of DDLJ. Even Veer getting beaten at the railway station reminded me so much of DDLJ. Harleen's mother helps her elope because she knew Veer would keep her happy. It absolutely fits with the old love as well when the only way to take care of parental opposition was to elope as Anupama mentions. And in Love Aaj Kal, they also run away. In DDLJ, Lajjo also tries to do the same but Raj refuses. Maybe that is why Raj and Simran, so many years later, remain our favorite couple. But I digress. 


Mom helps in eloping



Ab aap hi bataiye, Maaji, mera raasta sahin hain ya galat

One of the biggest problems that people felt was with Meera's decision to marry. Earlier, I felt the same as to why did she agree to get married in the first place? And why did she meet Jai just before the wedding? Why did she invite Jai to the wedding in the first place? But I tried to rationalize her decision by thinking from her point of view. Maybe she thought that since she is going to get married to Vikram and with she telling Jai not to meet her, she can love Vikram. She can fill the space that Jai will vacate with Vikram as she had said "Mujhe vo jagah khali chahiye jisme koi aur aa sake." Vikram loved her, so maybe she thought she could love him too. Who does not develop cold feet before the wedding? She had her doubts but maybe she felt that by getting married she will able to forget Jai. Don't people do that today? So, I will support Meera's decision, even though later it might turn out to be wrong. In fact, I was reminded of the brilliant scene from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna when Dev and Maya meet for the first time before Maya's wedding to Rishi. Remember what Dev said to her? He said, "Zindagi ke jis maqaam par tum ho, waha sirf do raaste hain, ek khushiyon ka jo main chahta hun ki tumhe mile, doosaraa intezaar ka, mohabbat ke intezaar ka, jo ho sakta hai, zindagi bhar naa mile. Maya replied, "Aur wo mohabbat mujhe shadi ke baad mil jaye to?" And then he says, "Nahi dhoondhogi to nahi milegi." So, Meera also tried to find some happiness, no? 


Searching for happiness


Aur wo mohabbat mujhe shadi ke baad mil jaye to?


Nahi dhoondhogi to nahi milegi

As it happens, Maya could not find happiness. She felt trapped. But Meera immediately realized that she did not do the right thing. I completely supported her when she told Vikram about her feelings for Jai the second day of her marriage because she says, "Kuch phasa hua hai Jai or mere beech." She says that she cannot be fake to him as it will be wrong for everybody. Did she not then do the right thing, unlike Maya who just kept quiet? Meera takes her car, stops in the middle of nowhere and makes a call to Jai to tell him that she loves him. But Jai told her that he is going to San Francisco, his dream job. So, she stops herself and then turns back the car. The car stopping in the middle of nowhere and then turning back was symbolic of the mental state of Meera herself - she does not know where she is and that is why she says to Vikram, "Main kahan hun? Yahan hun ya vahan hun? Yeh sab clear karna hai."


Main kahan hun? Yahan hun ya vahan hun? Yeh sab clear karna hai


There was one more moment when I felt a similarity to Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Remember how Dev and Maya went completely separate ways and they did not tell each other that their marriages had broken apart. For three years, they lived separately. Here, Meera did the same and she did not tell Jai that she is no longer married to Vikram because she did not want to spoil Jai's dream of going to 'The Golden Gate'. Only later, when Jai realises his love, he comes to know about this. This was so reminiscent of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. She waited all the while and had this belief that Jai will himself come to her one day.

Jai was extremely happy when he went to San Francisco as shown in the song Main Kya Hoon. But slowly and slowly he realized that there is something amiss in his life. Maybe what he was looking for all this while is not what he actually wanted. When the song ends, there is a complete transformation in his appearance. He has a haggard, tired look on his face and grows a beard signifying his restlessness (the beard was also used as metaphor for Kabir's restlessness in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani). The bowl in which he keeps mayonnaise pouches is now full, referring that there is no space within him to store the things he did not want. Even the character of the video game that he plays possibly dies as if referring that Jai too is tired of his own daily battles. The black coffee that he so loved is spilled all over, alluding to the fact there is something amiss. So, he finally breaks up and starts smashing things for reasons that he still cannot fathom.


Main Kya Hoon 


He cannot take more


Tired of the daily battle

It is only later when he is mugged by a bunch of gangsters that he realizes as to why he felt restless. When the muggers ask for the picture of Meera from him, he refuses to give it to them. A lot of people called this scene ridiculous. It might not be realistic but I think it was more referring to the fact that Meera is so deeply entrenched in him that he cannot let go of her. It is confirmed later when he says, "Itne saalon se dekha bhi nahi hai, phir bhi mere andar ghus gayi hai vo." I really, really liked the film's message that that we all make mistakes but it is never too late to correct them, even if you are in love and the other person is married. It is never too late to tell that you love them."Bahut der ho chuki hai lekin zindagi khatam to nahi hui hai." 


Phir bhi mere andar ghus gayi hai vo

As always, I go back to Dil Chahta Hai. I felt that at many places the character of Jai was so much like that of Aakash. Like Aakash, Jai does not really believe in love. Just like Aakash, he likes girls but her prefers more to be the 'khula saand'. He does not believe in soul mates and says that people need to be more practical and logical. Their happy go lucky nature was another thing common between Aakash and Jai. It is through their respective partners, Shalini and Meera, that they understand the importance of love. As I had written earlier here, Aakash and Shalini's relationship was based on the theme of separation. Slowly and slowly, Aakash is in love but he refuses to accept it but when he realizes that Shalini is going to get married to Rohit, and that he is going to lose her forever, then he fights for her. He goes to her wedding and stops it because he just cannot bear the thought of being separated from her. He says, meri saans, meri har dhadkan, mere har pal me sirf tum aur sirf tum ho Shalini. She is his breath, his heart beat, his time and if she is not there, he would not survive being separated from her. Isn't this so similar to what Jai felt for Meera? When he says, "Vo mere andar itna ghus chuki hai", it means that he cannot separate Meera from himself because she is inside him. Distance made them realize the importance of their love for both of them. I found it very fascinating that even in Love Aaj Kal, when Jai realizes that he loves Meera, we see a flashing picture of Meera in Jai's memory, just like Aakash who saw Shalini in the opera scene. Also, remember the deeply moving scene where Aakash breaks down? Similarly, Jai also felt a whole plethora of emotions that he could not control. Aakash calls Sid because he wants to talk to him. Jai calls Veer because he wants to talk to him.  It's amazing that even after so many years, Dil Chahta Hai, continues to inspire film makers, consciously or unconsciously and it is truly a film that has changed so many lives. I love it.


Meri saans, meri har dhadkan, mere har pal me sirf tum aur sirf tum ho Shalini


Vo mere andar itna ghus chuki hai


Aakash breaks down


Jai breaks down


Shalini in Aakash's memory


Meera in Jai's memory

What also struck me the most that all of Imtiaz's films make the point that somehow journeys are more important than the destination. Whether it is Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, or Rockstar - all his films involve some element of a journey either travelling to different places or as is shown in Rockstar - the spiritual journey of Jordan. Also, all his films contain at least one song that beautifully shows these distances. Like the song Aao Milo Chalo has the line "Hum jo chalne lage, chalne lage hain yeh raaste, manzil se behtar lagne lage hai yeh raaste" or Yeh Dooriyaan which says "In raahon ki dooriyaan." And again, it is no surprise that his next film is also called Highway and the first song that is released, Patakha Guddi, beautifully shows another journey all over India, perhaps also referring to the growing up of a girl.

I love, love, love this scene.


Main theek hun, Meera.

My problem with Love Aaj Kal was the songs. No doubt, songs are melodious but all of them are placed randomly in the movie. There was no need of any of the songs. Jab We Met had an excellent song placement; here it felt forced which disrupted the narrative. My favorite song is Yeh Dooriyaan - but I did not get it as to why did he show the entire story in the title credits itself! The song Aaj Din Chedhiya has one of the finest lyrics and it has classical beats. Again, I just could not identify with old story of the 1960s, I did not care much about this song (blasphemy - I know). Twist was the song that was absolutely not required at all. That is why a lot of critics called this Bollywoodization of Imtiaz :) My other personal issue with the film was the lack of melodrama. I am a sucker for romantic melodramas. I felt the movie underplayed the emotional aspect a lot. Films, such as Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani or Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna had similar shades but the emotions in those movies made me cry copiously. I understand that this was perhaps intentional on Imtiaz's part, keeping it with the theme of the film but at some places, I missed the emotional high that a film gives me. Like the scene where Meera cries in front of the mirror is too subtle. But who am I? If only they made films for me :) I liked the film the second time, maybe the third time, I will totally love it :) Saif is really good as Jai. It is one of Deepika's initial films, maybe that is why there is a lack of emotional connect in her scenes, but without a doubt she looks gorgeous and stunning throughout the movie. Somehow, I am more partial to her after seeing her brilliance in Cocktail. She looks so pretty even when she is crying. There are very few people who look good when they cry. Saif and Deepika make a very beautiful pair.


:(






Yeh tum vali feeling 

Like always, some trivia:


Jai's office has a book 'Wireless Web Usability'


A poster of Billy Elliot and Jersey Boys


The background poster - 'The Edge of Love'


Imtiaz Ali does a Vishal Bharadwaj. There is a poster of Shakespeare's Macbeth


Jai reads 'Weather Flying'


Making Bridges and a Deauville poster


Hotel Decent's Clerk in Jab We Met



Taxi Driver in Love Aaj Kal. He is played by Teddy Maurya, who is also a production designer.


Dolly Ahluwalia (Vicky Donor's mom)


No idea whose painting is it :(



Shah Jahan?


Lady Girija College of Arts


Mother India poster


Tapasya poster

Any Imtiaz Ali film will give you much to think about. Love Aaj Kal does the same, even if you do not completely agree with some of the decisions taken by its  characters. Imtiaz never claims that they are perfect because we, humans, are not perfect either. He gives us many insights which I never, ever thought, such as in Hindi romantic legends, the name of the heroine always comes first (Heer-Raanjha, Laila-Majnu), where as in English, it is generally the hero. Love Aaj Kal might not be perfect but it gave me enough to satisfy my thinking instincts. If someone is in love, they would perhaps understand this movie more and maybe help us understand its layers too :)

Dialogue of the Day:


"Aisa kyon hota hai. Chahe jitni bhi bar bye boldo, lekin jaane se pehle ek aakhri baar milna zaroorai kyun hota hai." 
– Meera, Love Aaj Kal