Jab Harry Met Sejal: Imtiaz Ali clears the air on Sejal's character, and Shah Rukh Khan's 'interference'
Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali's latest release, Jab Harry Met Sejal, seemed to polarise audiences, even as most critics panned it. Ali recently took to Facebook to have a live chat with fans, where he cleared up some of the more contentious plot points in the film. Edited excerpts from the live follow:
Why the narrative focused more on Shah Rukh Khan's character Harry
Shah Rukh didn't 'interfere' with the film. These superstars are superstars because of how humble they are. Obviously they are great actors and there are a lot of other things going for them but it is their humility that makes people like me want to work with them again and again. Shah Rukh is a very easy person to work with since he's a theatre actor. I don't have to change anything because of his persona but I do change a lot of things as I go along. There were things that changed — but not because Shah Rukh imposed it on me. It was because I wanted to change them.
Why Anushka Sharma's character Sejal sought sexual validation from Harry
That's a question Anushka has asked me often. I feel that when girls grow up, they, through some ways that are not even nice, get to know about their worth as physical beings — whether they are attractive, beautiful, sexy and so on. And even now, there aren't many ways where a girl can know if she is attractive to a man. Even now we find all of that a taboo in Indian society... For Anushka's character, she meets a man who she doesn't know and is not going to spend a lifetime with — or so she thinks. And he's honest in talking about himself and so she decides to ask him about her latent insecurities — which are about the way she appears.
Why Harry asks Sejal if she is ready to become a 'ghatiya aurat' (characterless woman) for his sake
Obviously, Harry means it in a different way. He means to ask Sejal if she's ready to step away from the person she is and take a position where she will be criticised for her choices. A girl, if she decides to call off her marriage, for the right or wrong reasons, will face criticism. If you play from your heart, very often, you do face criticism. And the criticism is usually about you not being a good person. For a woman, in any society, and especially Indian, if there's some reflection of being a bad woman, it becomes problematic. So Harry is asking Sejal if she is prepared to face the criticism of being a 'bad woman' for her desire to be with him. As Rumi says, you have to keep your hands clean but you have to keep your feet dirty, to reach where you have to.
Watch Imtiaz's full live chat here: