Agreed that Imtiaz Ali's films aren't everyone's cup of tea but his latest offering Jab Harry Met Sejal managed to impress only a handful of viewers. The film marked the third collaboration between Anushka Sharma and Shah Rukh Khan and the first one between the actors and the filmmaker. While a lot was expected out of the film, the critics ended up thrashing the film left, right and centre.
Some pointed out the inconsistencies with the film's protagonists while still others termed the film boring.
Imtiaz, who's known to play by his own rules when it comes to filmmaking, took to Facebook on Tuesday to live chat with his fans and answer their questions. Here's what the filmmaker had to say about various topics.
On Sejal constantly seeking validation from Harry
That's a question Anushka has asked me very often. Because I feel that when young girls grow up, they, through some ways that are not even nice, get to know about their worth as physical beings — whether they are attractive, beautiful, sexy and so on. And even now, there aren't many ways when a girl can know if she is attractive to a man. Even now we find all of as a taboo in Indian society and perhaps rightly so. For Anushka's character, she meets a man who she doesn't know and is not going to spend a lifetime with, or so she thinks. And he's honest about talking about himself and so she decides to ask him about her latent insecurities about the way she appears.
On Harry asking Sejal if she's ready to become a 'ghatiya aurat'
Obviously, Harry means it in a different way. He means to ask Sejal if she's ready to step away from the person she is and take a position where she will be criticised for her choices. A girl, if she decides to call off her marriage, for the right or wrong reasons, will face criticism. If you play from your heart, very often, you do face criticism. And the criticism is usually about you not being a good person. For a woman, in any society, and especially Indian, if there's some reflection of being a bad woman, it becomes problematic. So Harry is asking Sejal if she is prepared to face the criticism of being a 'bad woman' for her desire to be with him. As Rumi says, you have to keep your hands clean but you have to keep your feet dirty, to reach where you have to.
On critics thrashing the film left, right and centre
By the grace of God, I have never really received an overwhelmingly and only positive review of any of my film. Although people believe that this might not be the case with some of my movies, believe me, it is the case with all my movies. Anyway, it's a good thing. I am old enough to not take criticism ever negatively even if the criticism is negative. Because I think that more gets achieved by honest criticism and by acceptance of it than by dishonest praise. I do stand by Jab Harry Met Sejal. This is the movie I wanted to make and this is the movie it has turned out to be.
On his leading men being different shades of the same character
All the male characters in my film are subconsciously the same characters in a way but I'm not so sure about that. I don't do it deliberately. I think they'll bunch together as people of some common features becasue they come from the same person. Although it was never my attempt to be autobiographical but it is necessary or just happens automatically that some part of me gets reflected through the people that I write.
On the Sufi touch in his films
The Sufi-ana touch is not deliberate. I don't even know too much about Sufism. Nothing that I do in my films is deliberate ever. But accidentally some things I might be feeling, something I must be believing, sometimes I know it, sometimes I don't know it - it gets reflected in my cinema. I guess the same is for Sufi philosophy.
On mending his script while working with superstars, Shah Rukh Khan in this case
It's not easy or difficult to work with a star or a superstar. It depends on the person we're talking about. There are some superstars in our country and I've met each one of them. Each one has a certain personality. And I must say about the superstars in our country, the ones that I've met. That each one of them is an exceptional individual. We think that superstars are foolish people who might be self-obsessed, none of them are. Each of them is extremely sensitive, very humble and very easy to work with and this is why thousands of people have worked with them and wish to continue working with them - that's what makes them superstars. Of course, you've talent and various other things going for you but never without humility and ease of working, does it work. It was very easy to work with Shah Rukh. He's an extremely humble person like all the other superstars. It's also easy to work with him because he's a theatre actor. I didn't have to change anything because of his persona really but as I go along, I change a lot of things while shooting - depending upon what the actor feels no matter who he is. It's an open process. So things changed on the way but not because Shah Rukh imposed or wanted it that way but because I wanted it that way.
On the journey and self-realisation angle in his films
Well, that's a similarity in many of my stories, I'm told - that my characters go on a journey and then they have a self-realisation. The reason only could be that I want to go on a journey all the time. And I desperately need some self-realisation.