Imtiaz Ali believes that his films truly reveal who he is, something he might not reveal otherwise while discussing his thought process or personality. His “fascination with women” is one of these characteristics. Even Ranbir Kapoor believes Imtiaz Ali understands the mentality of a woman better than anyone else.
Whether it’s Geet, Meera, Heer, Veera, Tara, or Veronica, they all have one thing in common: they’re vulnerable yet strong, unique yet ordinary, and lovable yet annoying.
Imtiaz states that he draws his inspiration from life and the women he meets. It is a combination of fascination with and knowledge of women. In a 2012 interview with Zoom, Imtiaz observed that it is always the women around us that are the motivation behind building a character like that.
In the 2005 film Socha Na Tha, Imtiaz Ali exposed us to his style of filmmaking and characters. The sweet love story centres around a boy and girl who reject an arranged marriage only to fall in love and flee since their once-friendly families have become bitter competitors. Aditi, a demure girl who desires to see the world before settling down like her family wishes, was played by Ayesha Takia. Although the plot is predictable, you find yourself anticipating what Aditi will do next, sparking the rebel in you as a viewer. She was unaffected by the way female roles were portrayed at the time.
The impulsiveness of interpersonal relationships that Imtiaz’s characters bring to the table is addictive. Kareena Kapoor’s career was defined by Geet, who taught every girl that “main apni favourite hoon” is “main apni favourite hoon.” Geet acted rashly, made mistakes, and accepted responsibility for them. She played an important role in changing the path of Aditya’s (Shahid Kapoor) life, in keeping with the manic pixie dream girl cliche.
Imtiaz’s world has a distinct aesthetic, in which both male and female protagonists are equal. The man is a “damsel in distress” who is waiting for his “Princess Charming” to rescue him from the chaos. Imtiaz manages to defy prejudices in the most basic of ways. Ironically, they are the ladies we meet on a daily basis; we are just so distracted by the glamour of movies that we miss their honesty. Imtiaz elevates them, bringing them back to the forefront of his cinema.
Imtiaz has given us women who question society systems, like unsung heroes who we miss out on taking notice of, around us, from Veera being a victim of child abuse and eventually finding liberation in captivity in Highway to Meera becoming a catalyst in Ved’s self-discovery in Tamasha. If Highway hadn’t happened to Alia Bhatt shortly after Student of the Year, we would have discovered her much later. Imtiaz snatched her from a Karan Johar canvas and plopped her into an untidy road drama scene.
“He’s well-read,” Ranbir Kapoor, who worked with Imtiaz in Rockstar and Tamasha, said in 2011. He is aware of the intricacies and dynamism of interpersonal connections. He has a great understanding of women, and he does so in a really accurate and realistic manner.”
Imtiaz hasn’t given us one of his branded female characters in a long time. We’ll be patient. Until then, we may rely on Meera’s calm and Geet’s pandemonium.