Imtiaz Ali from Jab We Met to Amar Singh Chamkila Establishes Directorial Finesse

If you are currently a student from Hindu College or have graduated from this institution, it is your time to flex because we will be discussing Imtiaz Ali today. For those of you who missed the reference, Imtiaz Ali is an alumni of Hindu College who made it big in Bollywood with his thought-provoking films. And he often keeps visiting back his alma mater to impart wisdom to the students.

Jab We Met starring Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor is the banger that absolutely nailed it in the Indian Cinema, to the extent it finds comparison to the status of a cult classic. Similar status is enjoyed by another movie named Rockstar. Falling on the line of the underrated gems are Tamasha and Love Aaj Kal. The recently released Amar Singh Chamkila on Netflix is a movie which I hope garners as much viewership as possible so that it supersedes the realm of underdog as for a movie of that magnitude and depth, it would be a real shame if it doesn’t.

The brain behind the aforementioned projects, you ask? The myth, the legend, the man himself – Imtiaz Ali. Being a huge fan of his films, today we will be looking at the journey of Imtiaz Ali as a director and how managed to harbour such a loyal fanbase.




Be it Geet from Jab We Met or Tara from Tamasha or Jordan from Rockstar, the lasting impact and the void that they have left in the viewers’ heart is proof enough that the director has done his job well. The beauty of his characters lies in their relevance and how highly relatable they are to the audience. Say for instance, the character of Ved from Tamasha battling between his soulless life working for an MNC, eyes filled with agony over a passion lost; a robot in the body of a man living by the clock for a paycheck. This very idea of monotony contrasted by his passion for storytelling that leaves his eyes with a certain glint, as if finally there’s some life that has been infused in him; a clock that froze to allow him some time for passion.

Geet, who with her mindless gibberish, saved Aditya from committing suicide in Jab We Met. And what followed was a love story on the silver screen that still stands as an ideal for a lot of hopeless romantics out there. Had he left it at that, it would’ve been a cliche. But no, that is not Ali’s style. Both Aditya and Geet save each other, just at different times.

Jordan and Heer from Rockstar and their falling and flaunting relationship to give Jordan the ultimate “dard” he needed, paired with being thrown out of his home, to finally fully surrender himself to art. The same art that over the course of time transforms him into a happy, anxious and a borderline mad man.

Not only do these characters, rooted in reality, flaunt a sense of authenticity but also lend credibility. If you set out on a hunt (and no, this ain’t a big claim), you won’t find these characters not just inspired by reality with a heavy dash of imagination. These characters are people themselves, spread around the world, living this very fiction. Such characters are bound to leave an emotional imprint on the audience which is why every single of Ali’s work feels so personal to the viewers. The characters represented are not black and white and ideal, they are complex and morally grey; flawed.




The most recent project Amar Singh Chamkila on Netflix derives its story from a true incident. It involved the life of Amar Singh in Punjab who was publicly shot owing to the controversial nature of the songs he sang throughout his life. The movie is a brilliant social commentary that looks at the struggles of class. Though the incident happened 30-40 years ago, the issues that it raises such as moral policing, censorship and how the artist is a slave to its audience are still so relevant in today’s day and age. Further incorporating the angle of the so-called guardians of the society who condemn artistic freedom in the name of morality is the final nail in the coffin.

With Tamasha, on the other hand, failing at the Boxoffice bigtime, is just a sad, sad thing. Rare movies have managed to capture the essence of what it’s like to be passionate but still in tune with your reality. Ved though incredibly talented in storytelling, out of family restraints, couldn’t pursue it professionally. He does what is expected out of him. A job in a multinational that has him functioning by the clock with almost zero flavour in life. His saving grace? Tara who both realises his potential and makes him realise his true potential. She is the true embodiment of empathy, emotional and driven. The movie makes its viewers question if they have ever truly lived for  themselves.

Love Aaj Kal is another movie that focuses on the very theme of being parallel with reality. A movie far ahead of its time saw Jai and Meera break up as she chose her career over her love life. In an era where movies glorified love in slow motion. This movie was challenging the very notion of it – is love truly enough, is it all you need?

Another movie that brilliantly captures the poignancy of the artist’s life is Rockstar. The movie is so raw and ripe with emotions that it is bound to leave you misty-eyed on several grounds. The family issues, his love for music, his musical high and lows, paired with the troubled artist persona is sheer perfection.

Themes like such mentioned above are some that we may have seen unfold in a vicinity near to us. It has made us uncomfortable, it has made us ponder. It has achieved its success in creating a greater affinity among us.




Right from Jab We Met to Amar Singh Chamkila, a crucial aspect of Imtiaz Ali is the music that figures in his films. Music that finds place in such stories are by the likes of Mohit Chauhan, A R Rahman, Pritam, Arijit Singh, Neeraj Shridhar, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Lucky Ali, Diljit Dosanjh, among many more.

The music in these movies always comes coupled with one of the most beautiful lyrics that don’t just cater to the aesthetic appeal of the movie but also play a pivotal role in plot progression. They contribute to the tone of the movie and are a great insight to the character’s psyche and their development thus far.


“Teri nazron mein hain tere sapne

Tere sapno mein hai naaraazi

Mujhe lagta hai ki baatein dil ki

Hoti lafzon ki dhokebaazi”


“Mann ke mere ye bharam kacche

Mere ye karam leke chalein hai kahan

Main toh jaanu hi na”


These lyrics from ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’ and ‘Faya Kun’ are truly what masterpieces are made of!




Most of the movies of Imtiaz Ali follow a nonlinear narrative which is a type of narrative that keeps switching between the past and the present to convey a story. It doesn’t follow the set linear progression of a timeline. For most of the audience, following a nonlinear progression of the storyline does get a bit challenging and/or taxing but for the others, it acts as nothing short of a treat.

Jab We Met with Geet and Aditya is a journey of togetherness where they help each other heal and rediscover themselves. Though both of them are of opposite nature with Geet as your bubbly next-door girl while Aditya is the reserved man with a few words, they have amazing chemistry. As time flies by, they undergo so much character growth both as a couple and as individuals. Or to say it as the Gen Zs do, they both transform into a green flag over time.

In Tamasha, love figures between Ved and Tara in the form of resurrection. Ved is firm on his stance that Tara loves the version of Ved that she met in Corsica on a vacation years back but that is not his true self. She is adamant and eventually becomes that force that makes Ved realise what his true calling is. Her love is soothing and unconditional; almost acting as an inspiration for Ved.

Jai and Meera in Love Aaj Kal with distinct personalities fall in love with each other only to have life happen to them. Exercising great practicality, the couple chooses to prioritise their career over love, something that sets aside this movie from most of the Bollywood movies that have been released.

In Rockstar, Heer’s love acts as a muse for Jordan. That extended pain that fuels his music. While with Amar Singh Chamkila, the singing duo falls in love after they find their mutual liking for singing.

Hence, the concept of love in Imtiaz Ali’s movie is that of a comforting space residing in a person that helps you grow and transform into a better person. It is not an extended utopian idea that makes the violin play in the background as the hair of the protagonist slowly falls on their face. Love exists in these films because it is that fundamental concept of learning and teaching and not as the be-all and end-all of life.

Imtiaz Ali doesn’t make use of extensive sets but instead shoots in real-time geography which again adds to the rootedness of his movies. Most of the locations he uses are in India with obviously, certain foreign locations for specific parts of his project. This combined with the above mentioned characteristics that he employs in his films are the reason for his wide acceptance and appreciation of his movies.


Let us know your favourite Imtiaz Ali movie in the comments!