‘Jab We Met’ completes ten years of its release today (26 October). The film was director’s Imtiaz Ali’s first commercial success and it also gave Kareena Kapoor Khan her most iconic role till date. Interestingly, the lead actor Shahid Kapoor has not delivered a clean hit since then. The film was a respectable success when it released but the box-office numbers were pale when compared to the likes of ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘Welcome’, the biggest box-office hits that year. But, very few films age as well as ‘Jab We Met’ has. The DVDs, released by the now-shut Moser Baer Home Video, sold like hot cakes and the film runs on television channels very frequently. While a lot of young men empathised with Aditya (Shahid Kapoor), they also wished to bump into someone as magical as Geet on a train journey. Here is some trivia about the much loved film.
1. After making his debut as a director with ‘Socha Na Tha’ produced by Dharmendra and Sunny Deol’s company Vijeta Films, Imtiaz Ali was supposed to make his second film (titled ‘Geet’ then) for the same production house. Ayesha Takia, who had played the female lead opposite Bobby’s cousin Abhay, was going to play the titular role. Vijeta Films, which was reeling under several financial problems, backed out but Bobby had tremendous faith in the project and even started talking to financers and producers.
2. Imtiaz found a producer in Dhilin Mehta, who was heading Shree Ashtavinayak Cinevision, a production house formed in 2003 that had backed hits like ‘Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya’, ‘Golmaal – Fun Unlimited’ and ‘Bhagam Bhag’. ‘Jab We Met’ was one of the company’s earliest successes. Though the company went to produce successful films like ‘Dabangg’, ‘Golmaal Returns’ and ‘Bol Bachchan’, among others, it had a slew of flops as well. It went bankrupt and Dhilin Mehta was arrested from an airport in Rajasthan in 2013.
3. Music director Sandesh Shandilya, who had collaborated with Imtiaz Ali on the latter’s first film ‘Socha Na Tha’ was signed on to compose the songs for ‘Jab We Met’. However, lead actor Shahid Kapoor suggested Imtiaz to rope in multiple composers for the film. He was not too convinced about Sandesh, who was not exactly someone delivering chartbusters, to do the entire score. Pritam was asked to do a couple of songs. Eventually, he ended up composing all the songs, barring one (the very soulful “Aaoge Jab Tum”) which was composed by Shandilya.
4. For the longest time, the film did not have an official title. It was called ‘Geet’ at the scripting stage. While the film was being shot, the clapper board bore the name ‘Train’. Finally, Imtiaz had to choose between two titles ‘Punjab Mail’ and ‘Jab We Met’. Though Imtiaz liked the former better, he thought it would give the audience an idea about the film being very serious, which it was not. So, he settled for ‘Jab We Met’.
5. The basic story idea for ‘Jab We Met’ came to Imtiaz Ali through a then-jobless friend. Imtiaz asked him to write a story to let go of his frustration with life. The friend developed an idea about a man contemplating suicide meeting a girl on a train. Imtiaz was not too confident about the plot as he thought it did not have anything of substance to offer to the audience. But, he decided to pen a screenplay based on the idea anyways. It took him just about two days to come up with the first draft of the screenplay.
6. Remember the scene in which Shahid and Kareena walk into a lodge/hotel named ‘Hotel Decent’? You might also remember the umbrageous receptionist/manager that misunderstood the duo’s intention of checking into the hotel. That small but memorable role was played by Teddy Maurya, the set designer on the film. As the film was being made on a tight schedule, they would shoot certain scenes according to availability of the location, actors etc. At the last minute, Imtiaz announced that they would be shooting that scene on that particular day. As they did not have an actor who could play that part, Teddy, who was a trained theatre actor, was asked to do the needful.
7. The character of Anshuman, Geet’s boyfriend, was played by Tarun Arora. Tarun was a model who had hit a rough patch as an actor after starring in a bunch of unsuccessful films. He had shifted to Bangalore and was running a restaurant there. The film resurrected his career in a way and the actor went on to act in a couple of Telugu films post the success of Jab We Met.
8. Initially, Pritam was asked to do only two songs (“Mauja Hi Mauja” and “Yeh Ishq Haaye”) for the film. The composer thought he was done with his job for the film till the day Imtiaz called him and requested him to meet him for a music session. Imtiaz told him they had scheduled to shoot a celebration song next week but they do not have a song ready. Pritam got this call from Imtiaz the day he was supposed to get married. Imtiaz sent lyricist Irshad Kamil to Kolkata to fetch Pritam. After seeing off the guests at the wedding reception, Pritam, along with Irshad Kamil, went to meet Imtiaz and after half an hour of jamming together, they had locked in a song that went on to be called “Nagada Nagada”.
9. After the success of the film, many producers from South showed a keen interest in adapting the story and remaking the film in different South Indian languages. It ended up being remade only in Tamil as ‘Kanden Kadhalai’. While Bharath stepped into Shahid’s shoes, Kareena’s role was reprised by Tamannaah. Interestingly, Tamannaah was a huge fan of ‘Jab We Met’ and had seen the film eight times in the theatre.
10. Geet continues to inspire several young women. One such woman who got inspired by Geet was Anushka Sharma. Anushka was a model when ‘Jab We Met’. She had not given acting a thought till then but after watching the film and bring mesmerised by Geet and the way Kareena played it, she decided to give acting a thought.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.