He may be just two films old and his third film is about to release yet there is no denying the fact that Imtiaz Ali is a director who any actor in Bollywood would give his whole and soul to work with. His first film Socha Na Tha has its own loyal fan following while his next Jab We Met is a cult film of this generation that catapulted Shahid and Kareena to super-stardom. Now Imtiaz is all set to present his third film Love Aaj Kal which as the title suggests talks about Love Aaj (today) and Kal (yesterday). In this exclusive interview with us, Imtiaz Ali gets candid on his take on love, the loveliest heroines in Bollywood and even confesses the craziest thing that he has done in love.
Imtiaz...in each of your films the journey undertaken by the protagonists plays a very important part. How has been your journey from Socha Na Tha to Love Aaj Kal?
There have been a lot of ups and downs, lot of starts and stops. Between Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met, I tried to start 4 -5 different films but never really succeeded. After Jab We Met nothing much changed in my life though the movie was a huge success. Soon after I started working on Love Aaj Kal. But I must say, throughout this journey I have met a lot of interesting people and have got a lot of good wishes and blessings from people which feels good.
Love Aaj Kal takes a look at the how 'Love' has evolved over the years. Could you tell us a little bit more about the film?
The film essentially is about two sets of people. One set of people believe that what used to happen in the olden times in love relationships is very silly while the other set of people (the older generation) feels its not possible to deal with things so practically especially when it concerns matter of the heart. Both plots (Veer Singh's romance with Harleen many years back and Jai and Meera's relationship in the present) simultaneously reveal in the movie. Finally both stories end up believing in the same message that in any era, the routine of love may be different but the experience is the same
How did the seed of Love Aaj Kal germinate?
On a lot of occasions I have heard this comparative analysis of how things were in a relationship in the past and how they have changed today. Many often we hear, Humare Zamane Mein Aisa Hota Tha Lekin Aaj Kal Aisa Hota Hai. The beauty is each generation of people believes that what they are saying is right and what the other generation is saying is bullshit. This on-going debate kind of triggered the idea of Love Aaj Kal
After the huge success of Jab We Met, weren't you tempted to repeat the jodi of Shahid and Kareena for this flick?
No... because as a director I am the first audience of the story and hence need to give what is best for the story rather than just cast for marketing value.
You are the first director to have worked with Saif the actor and Saif the producer. How has been the experience?
As a producer Saif is completely non-existent. He just provided Vision as well as Vijan (Dinesh Vijan) to the film (laughs).As an actor he is extremely exciting to work with.
Jab We Met has been a turning point in Kareena's career. Do you think Love Aaj Kal would do that for Deepika?
I hope so (smiles)
Among other things, the USP of the film is also the coming together of Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh on the big screen after a hiatus. How did that happen?
Rishi Kapoor is playing a full-fledged role in the movie. His is a very important part. However Neetuji's role is more of a cameo. So let's not expect it to be a comeback kind of a role. She has been very sweet to grace the film with her presence and I being a huge fan of hers since childhood, for me it was a dream come true moment for directing her. It was wonderful to see her coming back on the studio floor after nearly 30 years. She was a bit nervous in the first shot but I told her, "I am sure you will give a great shot"
Apart from Deepika, there's yet another PYT (Pretty Young Thing) who is seen in the promos. Could you tell us who she is and why she is being kept under wraps?
Well...her name is Harleen in the film and that's all we would like to reveal at this stage. We would like to keep something for the audience to watch the film and check out for themselves.
The film has been shot at a wide variety of locations be it Delhi or San Francisco, London or Kolkata. How did you zero in on these cities?
We did extensive travelling and recce to finalize the locations. We chose London because it's like any Indian city. There are a lot of Indians in London. There is a connection of bridges in this film and so we chose San Francisco and Kolkata which have two of the most popular bridges in the world- the Golden Gate Bridge and the Howrah Bridge. In fact, San Francisco and Kolkata also have the tram in common. As for Delhi, in Delhi there have been things which have existed in the past and the present e.g. Qutub Minar So in a way it forms the connecting place between the present and the past in the movie.
With Saif around the Fun Quotient can never be down... Any memorable incidents on the sets?
Oh...lots of them. Saif would often make a commentary to the making camera and go to each person and say things that would make us all crack up. Another funny instance was when a German lady was acting a bit rude while we were shooting in important scene with Saif and Deepika at the airport. Just the way Saif handled her and spoke to her, the whole unit was in splits. In fact after the episode I told him, "If she understands the sarcasm in your tone she will come back with a gun and shoot you"
The promos of the film show quite a few kissing scenes between Saif and Deepika. Do you think it will keep the family audience at bay?
The kisses in the film are just pecks. I am very aware of the family audience and can safely say that this is a cleaner film than Jab We Met. In Jab We Met there was a smooching scene but here you just have a cute kiss here and there.
The music of Jab We Met is still playing on the airwaves. Following up on such a successful music score what brief did you give to Pritam?
No brief in general. The brief is always the script of the film.
How satisfied are you with his compositions this time around and which is your favorite track in the film?
Yes I am extremely satisfied. I must say Pritam and Irshad both have done really well. My favorite track would be 'Dooriyan' sung by Mohit Chauhan
Whose idea was it to incorporate the famous 'Nagin' tune in the 'Twist' song?
It was a joint idea... We were looking at a different song at first as a backdrop to 'Twist'. I wanted something instrumental and which had a high recall. That's when Pritam suggested the 'Nagin' tune.
Since you are known for your love stories, let me ask you what's the craziest thing you've done in love?
Travelled a 1000 miles to see somebody's face and then travelled all the way back
Who according to you are the 3 'Love'liest heroines in Bollywood?
Kareena, Deepika and Katrina
On a closing note in what way has Love changed from Kal to Aaj?
1. Longing happens later now...Intimacy happens first
2. People are much more honest in relationships now...People used to get honest much later then
3. People were more obsessed with Sex then than they are now.
Finally audiences have huge expectations from the film. What do you think they should look out for?
They should just go with a clean slate and watch it for the experience and decide for themselves if it was worth it