It was 10 years ago that ‘Jab We Met’ came into our lives but thanks to constant reminders of its existence by multiple Hindi movie channels, the film hasn’t escaped our mind. Over the years, this film has gained cult status in the world of Hindi romantic comedies and can easily be addressed as the most adored love story since 1995’s ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’. When Imtiaz Ali made his second feature film, he was telling the story of a girl that we all seemed to know. The girl who talks too much, the girl who is always ready to run, but the girl is actually an iceberg. We see just a fraction of what she actually is. She doesn’t need to brood to recite philosophical quotes but utters out pearls of wisdom even when she’s stuck in a dingy hotel with a stranger.
With this girl, Imtiaz Ali gave the entire generation a girl who was easily identifiable just because she was everywhere around us.
While ‘Jab We Met’ can be perceived as a love story, it talks about the many insecurities that people deal with, much like Imtiaz’s other films. Aditya (Shahid Kapoor) is struggling to get himself together after a bad break up and a ray of sunshine in the form of a vivacious girl just changes his perception of life. Geet (Kareena Kapoor Khan) has a plan in her life and even though it’s short-sighted, she believes in it until it explodes in her face. Her journey from then on, is what makes her a believable person. A girl who becomes the life of a party on her good days but is probably seen drinking alone with a cigarette in her hand on her bad ones.
But what is it that makes ‘Jab We Met’ click even 10 years after its release?
The first striking thing that this writer noticed about ‘Jab We Met’ back in 2007 was the film’s dialogues. The usage of colloquial language might have become common practice now, but back then, it felt refreshing. Prior to this, there were only a handful of films whose characters spoke the language that you and I use in regular conversation. The film’s organic flow of dialogues added to the natural appeal of the characters and that was what made them real. We often talk about realism in films but isn’t making your characters speak the language your audience speaks the first step in achieving that? Geet’s confusion over the difference between mountains and hills and Aditya’s irritation over Geet’s never ending blabber doesn’t feel over the top because they voiced it in words that could have been said by anyone sitting in the audience.
The film is constantly on the move and never lets the audience settle in and with that, it keeps us invested. ‘Jab We Met’ has its moments where it delves deep into the psychology of its characters. Like the scene when Aditya drops Geet off at her destination in Manali, his expression reveals the baggage that has just been lifted off his chest. Or the moment when Geet is running away from her home and is hiding out on the terrace and compares life to a game. It is with moments like these that ‘Jab We Met’ never gets reduced to just a love story but a deeper commentary on life’s philosophies.
The families of both these protagonists make them the characters they are. While Aditya comes from an urban household where his mother left his father for another man, Geet comes from a close knit patriarchal family. Aditya finds it hard to accept that his mother could fall in love with another man who wasn’t his father and Geet finds it completely acceptable to make a fool out of the guy who she has met for an arranged marriage proposal.
Imtiaz Ali hit a masterstroke when he cast this film with actors who were just perfect for their parts. Anshuman (Tarun Arora) gives the impression of the boy who will never end up with Geet and gives us enough reason to believe as to why he shouldn’t. Pavan Malhota plays Geet’s uncle and his frustration in not finding his niece is visible in every moment. Even actors like Teddy Maurya (who plays the receptionist at Hotel Decent), Brijendra Kala (who wouldn’t speed up his taxi), Kishore Pradhan (who believes ‘ek ladki khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai’) were so apt for their roles that they convince you on every viewing that no one could have played that role better than them.
Another shining factor for this film is its music. With Pritam, it’s music was catchy, popular and has even stood the test of time with an album that delivers for every possible mood.
‘Jab We Met’ was the last near perfect rom-com by Bollywood since DDLJ in 1995 and we’re still waiting for another one that will follow in its footsteps and be the love story that we can rewatch for ages.