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Imtiaz Ali reacts to claims that women in his films don’t have agency

Imtiaz Ali has responded to claims about women in his films not having their agency. He has also revealed how he was influenced by Western women while writing his film Cocktail, which was called problematic for its depiction of women.

Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali shared how he was fascinated by ‘Western girls’ while writing his film Cocktail. It starred Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty and Saif Ali Khan and grabbed a lot of attention for its portrayal of women. When asked about women not having an agency in his films, Imtiaz said not every film can revolve around the same subject. (Also read: Dr Arora- Gupt Rog Visheshagya review: Imtiaz Ali’s show needs a lesson in sensitivity)

Imtiaz Ali made his directorial debut with the 2005 film Socha Na Tha, starring Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia. He rose to fame with his hit film Jab We Met, with Kareena Kapoor Khan and Shahid Kapoor. While he went on to deliver some great hits like Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar, Tamasha, and more, his films have often raised questions about the lives of the female characters relying on males.

Reacting to the criticism, Imtiaz told Vice India that he is fascinated by repressed women. He cited the example of his projects like Highway and She, and asserted how his films often put focus on women. “Not every story can be about a woman finding the agency. Why am I not allowed to mix stories of different nature or do they mean something else? I am here not to actually tell people how to live their lives,” he said.

Imtiaz added, “In Cocktail, I was very fascinated by the fact that western girls that I meet in London are much more eager to become like domiciled in that extremely traditional manner than the girls I’ve met in India.” He agreed that some people might think it internalized patriarchy. He further said that Cocktail focused on two women with different upbringing and mindsets, who met in London and went the ‘other way.’

Imtiaz Ali’s latest web series Dr Arora released last month. The show stars Kumud Mishra as the titular character, a sexologist treating patients in the late-90s. It was released on SonyLiv.


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