‘Main Apni Favourite Hoon’ – a line that has stayed with us for 10 years now and still cheers you up when you’re at your lowest. Jab We Met gave us one of the best romantic films of the decade and a very strong female character in Geet Dhillon. It was one of Imtiaz Ali’s best films and definitely one of my favourites. People loved the film so much that they still quote the lines from the movie in real life situations. For Imtiaz, Kareena Kapoor Khan was the first and a perfect choice to play Geet.

Imtiaz talks about his fondest memories of the film, now that it completes 10 years, working with Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan after they had just broken up and possibilities of a sequel or a remake of Jab We Met, in this exclusive interview. Here are excerpts from the interview.
What are your fondest memories of the film?

Actually, the moment I remember more fondly is one where after the Punjab schedule got over, I had gone to this place where Guru Govind Singh had rested. When the Punjab schedule was over, I could not believe that we did it because the odds were against us to actually be able to shoot that schedule in that way. Shooting for the major part of the film there seemed like an impossibility when it began because there were so many things and we didn’t have the time to plan anything.

When we reached Punjab, I was thinking one or the other thing is going to mess up and there’s no way in hell that we’ll be able to shoot in Punjab. There was some sort of a blessing and we were able to finish shooting for the film over there so that’s the moment I remember the most.

Would you want to change anything about the film?

I would change a lot of things. I would basically change the places where we’ve shot some scenes. I’ll try to shoot Ratlam in Ratlam, Manali in Manali and Shimla in Shimla. What we have ended up doing is that Ratlam is shot in Manali, Manali is shot in Shimla, Shimla is shot in Manali. So there is a mixture which I would have avoided.

With your subsequent films, do you think you’ve set a benchmark too high with Jab We Met?

Not really. Because obviously Jab We Met is one of the most loved films of mine. At the same time, one makes different kinds of films and hopes to set benchmarks of different kinds. With any film, I would like it to be the highest benchmark to reach. Also, it takes time for a film to be loved so much. If the other films are good, they can take some time and they will also be loved the same way or in a different way but to the same leisure.

How much of an influence was Jab We Met when you were shooting for Jab Harry Met Sejal?
Not at all. Except for the title. Of course, the title suggests that it’s very similar. But it’s unlikely that suddenly after 10 years, JWM will influence if it has not influenced all the movies I did in between.

Kareena Kapoor Khan was the highlight of the film and a lot of her lines from the movie are still quite popular. Why haven’t you worked with her after JWM?
It’s not Kareena or me that are popular. It’s Geet Dhillon that’s popular. A lot of people asked me to make a sequel of the film but there was no story left. Nothing left to be said and that’s why I never made it. I think if something is good and appreciated, there is a demand for it to be replicated. But once you repeat it, people stop liking it and they’ll also stop liking Geet. So I never want to take that chance.
Kareena and Shahid had just broken up before doing Jab We Met. Were you scared that it’ll affect your film in any way?

No, I know them as very good professionals and that nothing is going to affect that.

What convinced you to cast Shahid and Kareena opposite each other?
Kareena was always my first choice because I thought she’ll always be interested in that part. Shahid, I thought would be very young for the part but then I met him and realised that he is a mature guy. He is more mature for his age and that’s why I decided to cast him.

What if Jab We Met had to be remade? Since a lot of directors are into remakes presently.
No, I would never want to remake Jab We Met. In fact, Jab We Met has been remade in regional cinema and it’s a good feeling when your films are being remade but I would not want to remake this one.

In case, a remake does happen, who do you think will fit into Geet Dhillon and Aditya’s shoes perfectly?
Alia Bhatt can be Geet. As for Aditya, I don’t know who can play his role.

Which one of your films is the closest to your heart?

What are you working on next?
Right now there is nothing. I’m just done working on a story. There is nothing to tell as of now.

What do you feel about JHMS’ box office performance? Do box office collections really matter to you?
Of course, it matters. I would like all my films to be very big successes at every point. It wasn’t the case with JHMS. There were a lot of negative responses but I think sometimes, you meet with a lot of harshness and you’ve got to take it only to use it to make your future work better. I hope this will help me to make better films in the future.

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