The ameer-gareeb class divide, the curious case of a love triangle and an age long family rivalry, Bollywood’s romance has been flirting with one of these plots since ages. Stereotyped but successful. Not just these plots have entertained us as an audience but they have inspired us. Whether it be DDLJ’s Raj whose love gives him courage or the devastated Devdas who drowns himself into self condemnation, be it Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s Anjali who finds love in her best friend but is unable to express or the iconoclast Bobby who breaks societal shackles for her love, we all have one character we identify with in our romantic lives. We tried to be them.
But times have changed it seems.
The time has taken a flip turn.
Now we don’t have to be them. They are more of us. The exuberant outspoken and babbling Geet from Jab We Met, the confused goal oriented practical Jai from Love Aaj Kal and (sadly) the clammed up Veera from Highway borrow traits from our lives rather than lending to us. The plot has changed too. It breaks the stereotype of romantic scripts. Depiction of love has changed with it. It is more modern and subtle, yet sublime. We don’t see hammy assertion of love and melodramatic display of separation anymore (I am not talking about Aashiqui 2). This change, which is so unbecoming of a Bollywood movie, is magical. And this Magic casts out from the wand of one man who in my ordinary wisdom is the new King of Romance in Indian Film Industry- Imtiaz Ali.
A star studded audience drawing caste, an extravagant foreign location, an out of the blue song sequence in mustard field, an unrelenting father and dialogues deifying love, his film has nothing which a bollywood romantic film must have (except good music). Yet this eccentric looking director who could have been a scientist if not a filmmaker (for his looks) quite emphatically stimulates your emotions when he tells a story.
Coming from a school of thought which believes in sensibility in cinema (like Anurag Kashyap) his characters are both commonplace and unique at the same time (Jordan in Rockstar) and his idea of love is casual rather than exceedingly formal. The emotions are intertwined with dilemma and are thus realistic and his expression is colloquial than poetic. The humor is organic not punchy and the story in all is innervating.
Therefore, when the complex stories where the protagonist,s inner self is the antagonist itself are so easily told by him with the help of engaging music and refreshing real locations they don’t actually leave an impact but stay with us and we have an aftertaste of his character’s experience on screen. This is why now, when we think of losing something we cherish we feel like missing a train. Truly he is changing the definition of love in Bollywood and in life (at least mine)