Published: Verve Magazine, Verve Men, February 2010
Photograph: Colston Julian; Illustration: Bappa
Director and scriptwriter of popular romantic dramas Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal, Imtiaz Ali, does not know whether happily-ever-after exists, “since the world is designed for relationship disasters. When people decide to get together, it is not a cerebral decision or a love formula, it’s an instinctive one. The one that got away occupies a person more, and anyone who is accessible becomes ordinary. No relationship can satisfy all the needs of a person. There is a reason why love stories end when they do”. In all his movies, the director believes that if we had the opportunity of seeing what were to happen a few years down the line to his characters, post the kiss-and-make-up; we would not be guaranteed a happy ending. So in a piece of wicked cross-scripting with Sitanshi Talati-Parikh, he plots a volatile fictional love story concocted with the unrelated characters of his two films, to see what would happen if Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s characters, Geet (Jab We Met) and Jai (Love Aaj Kal), actually met!
Ten years after Jab We Met (about eight years after Love Aaj Kal). Geet is married to Aditya Kashyap and they have two children. Jai and Meera are also married. There is a crisis of the “end of excitement”.
GEET, the essential free spirit, chafes under the boring normalcy of her life. She finds that Aditya Kashyap has changed – or maybe this is who he is – an industrialist who has a lot on his plate. He can’t take off anytime he chooses; having children has also changed the equation. While they balance each other out, she is haunted by the fact that now she doesn’t have a place to reach; without a destination, there is no journey. She is deeply disillusioned by the fact that she has no train to catch, nowhere to run off to with wild abandon and therefore no major thrill that keeps her going. There is a vacuum inside her, working its way towards a silent depression. Something sparks off a renaissance….
ADITYA doesn’t like the fact that his wife, Geet, talks to everyone with unnatural friendliness. This is a part of who she is, and he can’t change that, but it bothers him. He tries to bring a semblance of order in her life, but she constantly resists it. While she needs this stability to balance her out, she tends to react violently to it. Work keeps him so preoccupied that he finds he has less time and patience to pander to her impulsive needs.
JAI always believed in the concept of a live-in relationship as opposed to marriage. His love for Meera keeps him going, but the inability to walk out at any time, to experiment, to go with the flow, or change direction if he so desires, makes him feel shackled. The pressures of life are building up and he’s just looking for an escape route.
MEERA can’t seem to understand what is bothering Jai. She keeps reminding herself that this marriage is what he wanted – he had come looking for her. The fact that he may not be happy worries her, but she doesn’t know what she can do to fix it. She decides to wait and watch for an opportunity when things can go back to normal.
Geet is driving, with a lot of pent-up rage, to pick up her kids from school. She is manoeuvring the Mumbai traffic, amid construction, while simultaneously on the phone trying to negotiate keeping her maid who suddenly wants to quit. She has woken up early to make aloo parathas for Aditya. Her frustration has been building up for a while but she just doesn’t have the nerve to tell Aditya, “I can’t do this anymore, this is not me!” Suddenly as she is distracted, her car slams into an island, and shudders to a stop. She fumbles, trying to start it while continuing to talk on the phone. The traffic piles up behind her; loud curses can be heard in the background, accompanied by a lot of disgusted gestures.
A car slides into position next to her, a window rolls down and a disgruntled man (Jai) looks at her, saying, “There is a reason why women shouldn’t drive. Why don’t you do something that suits you more…like look after your home, and leave driving to men?” That chauvinistic statement gets Geet completely riled up – the years of dissatisfaction and disillusionment with marriage are simmering under the surface waiting to explode. She gets out of the car to scream at him. Jai has already driven past, the window is up – with the noise of the traffic and his music in the car, he can’t hear her. She can be seen in his rear-view mirror getting smaller and smaller.
She gets back into the car, manages to start it, slams the door and drives after Jai furiously. He enters a tall office building, and the elevator door is about to close behind him, when she wedges a foot into the door. She starts yelling at him, abusing him, trying to get the pent up fury out of her system. She follows him into his office, still yelling about the woes of her life – domesticity, the children, a husband who’s forgotten how to live life. The entire office is looking at them. Suddenly, realising where she is, she flushes a deep red, turns around and leaves. Jai’s visibly shaken; he doesn’t know what hit him. He needs to make a pitch before a very important client, and he can’t perform because he’s so nervous. Stammering and suddenly not his usual confident self, he doesn’t paint a convincing picture. He loses the account…and is completely shattered.
Driving to work the next day (at approximately the same time he’d met Geet the day before), Jai, feeling really miserable, suddenly notices her waiting in her car for her children. He immediately swerves to a stop, running over to her to give her a piece of his own mind. His problems are mounting: EMIs, a wife who’s threatening to leave him, the competition…. He ends his tirade with, “Maybe I have a wife who’s a bigger bitch than you are.”
[This is the excitement they are both missing in their lives. An escape from their own problems. Both Geet and Jai are people who would want to breathe more air, do more and say more than their partners.]
The next time they see each other, it’s like they’ve known each other for a long time…. Their vivaciousness and outgoing personalities leave no awkwardness between them. She needs to go back home to Aditya, but Jai suggests an excuse that works well on husbands, she thinks for a moment and gives into the thrill of a new experience, continuing their conversation over another cup of coffee.
Jai has an anniversary coming up and Geet needs to shop for Aditya’s birthday. They decide it’s an excuse good enough as any to shop together. Jai confesses that his wife has hated all the gifts he’s bought her in the past, that she’s a very sensitive kind of woman. “She would be happy if she thought that I thought about the gift!” Geet thinks it would be fun to help out, while Jai can help her choose something for her “fuddy-duddy boring industrialist-type of husband”.
They continue to meet; putting in the effort to look better, in response to the passion and electricity the air. They connect at various levels – they find their childish pursuits a great diversion, which their spouses would not. They gravitate towards each other. Neither wants to commit, but they believe that they have found their soulmate in each other. They are too volatile to actually be able to have a fulfilling, stable relationship together – and they know that. They are both people who are constantly in conflict, it is difficult for them to reach resolve – but they thrive in the conflict.
ADITYA, when he sees the change in Geet, senses that something is not right. He begins to look back at their life and see what’s missing, what is eating away into the Geet he fell in love with. He never confronts her or makes her uncomfortable, but makes an effort to be more attentive. Geet, for her part, can tell that he knows or is aware that something has changed. She finds its oddly disconcerting that he continues to be there for her – often suggesting doing things that she loves, which makes her feel guilty and confused about her feelings. She wants to come out and talk to him about it, but something holds her back – the fear of hurting him. She wishes he would react with anger or violence – not this silent niceness. It makes her feel like a bitch. In the middle of the night, having no one else to talk to, she frequently calls up Jai.
MEERA instinctively knows when Jai is unhappy or is not being faithful, especially with the increasing calls late into the night coming from Geet. Meera’s way of dealing with it is very matter-of-fact. She invites Jai out to his favourite restaurant, dresses up in his favourite outfit; and in the middle of the wine and meal, asks him directly, “Jai, I think you’re seeing somebody…just tell me about it.” Jai looks taken-aback and then decides to come clean. He talks about Geet – a girl whom he has been hanging out with, but insists that there isn’t anything serious between them. “I didn’t tell you because you’d be upset…but I can see I’ve upset you anyway. I’m sorry. But if you say the word, I won’t see her again.” Meera looks at him for a minute and says, “If I ask you not to see her, then I’m making her your lover, so do what you want.”
It appears to be a doomed love story of two people who can’t get rid of each other. Geet and Jai are the kind of people who consume each other – a relationship that scales the heights and plummets to the depths, making it a nervy ride. They make each other more insecure and it leads them to miss the stability provided by their spouses.
Jai meets Geet to tell her that they should stop seeing each other. Geet reacts explosively – talking about how much they are actually made for each other, and how they are not being unfaithful at all. They deliberate breaking up often. Eventually, in the midst of an emotional scene, Geet perks up with a suggestion – if they must end it, then why not with a bang – something that matches their personality? And she reminds him about the trip they had spoken about taking together…