Imtiaz Ali reveals how he wrote script for Jab We Met in 2-and-a-half days

On the occasion of putting his film scripts online for fans to read, Ali spoke about the interesting genesis of Jab We Met.

Shriram Iyengar

There are few directors who can compete with the storytelling abilities of Imtiaz Ali. With films like Tamasha (2015), Love Aaj Kal (2009), Rockstar (2011) and Highway (2014), Ali has set a new benchmark of telling sensitive, different and humane stories. Recently, the director sat down for an online chat with fans on one of his most successful, and popular films, Jab We Met (2007)

Ali recently made the script of Jab We Met available online for fans and film students. However, the story behind the creation of the script is just as fascinating. Speaking in a Facebook chat, Ali says it began as an effort to divert a friend who was depressed. The two then got talking about ideas, and the characters started forming. Ali said, "In the mood that he was, he said, 'A man who wants to kill himself fascinates me, and I said that a girl on the train fascinates me'." The conversations on these characters fuelled the progress of the script. 

Sadly, Ali's friend lost interest in the idea soon after, but the director persisted with it. He says, "The idea of a guy and a girl meeting on the train, and the guy wanting to end his life for some reason, and the girl being so full of energy etc, and what would happen as a result of that kept (going) on in my mind. One day I just sat down and wrote it. That's the genesis of Jab We Met." The speed at which Ali came up with the script is also amazing. He says, "I wrote it very fast. I wrote it in 2.5 days."

The film went on to become a huge commercial hit and also won Kareena Kapoor the Filmfare Award for best actress in 2008. However, Ali was not too sure of its prospects during the creation. He said, "The unique thing about the script of Jab We Met is that I was never really very confident about it. I always felt that there is nothing meaningful or substantial really happening in this script." That opinion changed when Ali came upon the climax sequence. He said, "When I came upon the scene where the girl comes up to Aditya and says, "Woh aa raha hai peeche. Woh dekh raha hai?". At that point of time, I felt that this film is going to get made. That scene gave me the confidence that 'Chaahe kuch ho jaaye, ye film banegi."

The pivotal journey on the train in the film is also a byproduct of Ali's own experiences. He narrated the story of how he would often take the Rajdhani Express from Delhi to Mumbai, which drove his script. Speaking about the train journeys, Ali said, "I used to take the Rajdhani Express from Delhi to Mumbai a lot, and these stations of Kota and Ratlam, this was the route that I used to take. I used to sit on the seat and look out and wonder what goes on in Ratlam and the streets of Ratlam, which comes out in the fascination of this girl." 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the director had a chance of visiting Ratlam when he had to be present in court for a case against him. He says,"I was able to visit Ratlam when I had a court case against me and had a chance to walk in the lanes of Ratlam seeing how it was in the place I used to wonder about." 

This revelation is a fascinating insight into the mind of the director touted as one of the best storytellers in this generation. Ali's imagination and curiosity sets the tone for a film that continues to rank high on the popularity charts of fans of Hindi cinema.