Tragic, dependent, and problematic decoding Imtiaz Ali’s heroes


Imtiaz Ali is one of the most widely celebrated and vouched-for filmmakers to ever happen to the Bollywood industry. Known for documenting and bringing out human emotions, raw feelings, and repressed traumas through his characters, Ali’s way of storytelling has fetched a top spot in the industry.
Taking inspiration from the words of Faiz and Rumi, amongst others, he captures the nuances of mundane life, transcends beyond the unknown territories of love, explores the pain of separation, and emphasises the burning passion and longingness for a loved one. The filmmaker also comfortably dwells on the concept of right-doing and wrong-doing and goes beyond the notions of what’s acceptable and what’s not. He features psychological issues and existentialism in his projects as no other filmmaker does and still manages to make them relatable and real.
Ali’s films and his characters are almost always on the run, either from themselves or society, and constantly search for peace, happiness, and life’s true meaning. He writes and shows his male protagonists as wounded and vulnerable, often ridden with the unresolved, suppressed traumas of childhood, burdens of life, remnants of unrequited or unfulfilled love, rage, and rejection. The male characters penned by him vary in age and background, but all of them are shown to be struggling, whether in the workplace or various aspects of life. And easing down these struggling, unstable characters in Ali’s films are his female protagonists. While it was Meera who became a driving force for Jai in Love Aaj Kal and Heer for Jordan in Rockstar, with Tamasha, he stressed that the onus of ‘fixing’ men lies on their partner.
Despite his perplexing, jarring, intense, and woeful representation of male characters, he managed to attract the audience and make them watch more of his work because of its human-like nature. The way his characters are portrayed, one ends up syncing with them and feeling like, with, and for them. Just like Imtiaz Ali, the men in his movies are great storytellers too, and that’s what holds the waggon together.
Here are five male characters from his films whose backgrounds are rooted in misery and complexity, but they still manage to convince you with their emotions and stories.