Having a separate fan base of his own, stellar writer-director Imtiaz Ali is responsible for rebooting the genre of romance and has managed to strike certain complex vulnerable cords with the young working generation that was often swept under the carpet. Normalising the situations of extreme privacy and mature social awkwardness, Imtiaz’ characters are not just relatable, they make the audience find their soulmate in them.

Making one unlearn all preconceived notions of love by bringing the emotion alive in its most raw and nuanced form, Imtiaz is credited for bringing out the extremes of romance in the audience as his movies have stirred and left fans introspecting for days and sometimes even for months and years down the line. From giving us typical cheesy moments to mushy-less real love stories, fans wish they could make Imtiaz take a bow for spectacular frames and eye-for-detail and we don’t blame them.

Blessed with an excellent prowess of film-making, Imtiaz has a plethora of successful work to his credit and each is a classic saga in its own way. On his birthday today, check out our list of favourite five that leaves one wishing to be lucky enough to meet such characters in real life:

Jab We Met (2007)

A romantic comedy, Jab We Met was not just directed but also written by Imtiaz, starring Kareena Kapoor as the chirpy, footloose “Bhatinda ki Sikhni” and Shahid Kapoor as the composed yet fun-to-have-around Aditya Kashyap, an anchor we all look for in life while we jump around. Simple in its treatment of romance, even if it involved a fiesty girl urging a random hopeless businessman from Mumbai to accompany her all the way home, after they meet on a train, or to help her elope with her secret boyfriend in Shimla, the movie establishes that nothing can replace innocense in love. A favourite of every Bollywood buff, the film makes Imtiaz stand apart not just for well-written characters and dialogues, which by the way is memorised and used in day-to-day life but also for featuring travel on a rather unconventional route of the not-so-scenic streets of Ratlam, Kota, to the journey on the roads of Bhatinda, Manali and Shimla.

Love Aaj Kal (2009)

Starring Deepika Padukone and Saif Ali Khan in the lead, the movie explores the “it’s complicated” status, an emotion that connected well with with the commitment-phobic generation. Portraying parallel love stories simultaneously with one in dream sequence, Imtiaz showed the frolic and despair of modern living highlighted from the start as the movie opened with a break-up between the lead characters. The liberation and confusion of the contemporary story paired with the times of innocence and compulsion in the past, the distance, only physical and the fondness that increases with it, allowing bridges to keep growing, connecting them in the union of love at the end is too beautiful even for silver screen and Imtiaz managed to bring it all in its rawest essence. The movie was not just written and directed by Imtiaz but also edited by him. Hence the finely skillful cuts of every scene.

Rockstar (2011)

From the script, to its dialogues to the sad vulnerability of Jordan and the individualistic streak of Heer, Rockstar was a love story that existed beyond the worldly life, where the music is pure with love as the only drug needed. Every love story in Imtiaz’ movies can be based on a quote from the famous poet Rumi and this one was tightroped on, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” Imtiaz and his intense filmmaking made fans reel in Jordan’s pain of separation, yearn in his relentless pursuit of love and cry as he pined and accepted Heer’s loss. With Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakri in the lead, Imtiaz redefined passion and eternalised a priceless piece of love with chartbuster sound tracks. This too was written and directed both by Imtiaz Ali.

Highway (2014)

This movie will always be remembered for two things – Alia Bhatt’s transformation as an actor and for making the horrors of childhood a living room discussion instead of letting issues like sexually abuse by family members be brushed under the carpet. The meticulous way by which Imtiaz unfolds the story of a girl who, for reasons later revealed, discovers freedom after being kidnapped, deserves a bow. Technically a road-trip film, Imtiaz captures the scenic beauty from the dead yet captivating desert to brazen cold mountains of our country and in middle of this weaves a beautiful love story. The unsaid mystical chemistry between the lead, Alia and Randeep Hooda, is bound to leave one misty-eyed. Such is the power of Imtiaz’ writing, direction and production.

Tamasha (2015)

Tamasha

Don’t we all need a Tara in our lives for the unsure Ved within us? Don’t most of us wish to give up our 9 to 5 mundane lives in exchange for the 24×7 pursuit of passion despite the struggles involved? Don’t we all want to put a permanent end to the ghosts of the past? Imtiaz Ali addresses all of this and much more through the angst of the relationships between the characters in Tamasha and a more spectacular form of art has never been painted on the silver screen. Imtiaz, for the first time in the most beautiful way, narrates the journey of our generation people, losing the edge in trying to behave according to socially acceptable conventions of the society. Based on the central theme of abrasion and loss of self, that happens in an attempt to fit oneself back in her/his own system, Imtiaz presented epic characters through Tara and Ved and an even exceptional love story despite its toxic traits in the middle. Written, directed and produced by Imtiaz, the movie surprisingly released to negative reviews in India (though not from us, never!) even though it did well overseas.

Imtiaz Ali changed the prism through which we love our careers, our better halves and paternal bonds, presenting us a fresher kaleidoscope and how! Here’s wishing our favourite a very Happy birthday!