His stories happen in a world where there is no evil but in his latest film Rockstar, director Imtiaz Ali has taken a detour to explore the "vulnerability and anger" that come with love.
The director, who has given lovable, relatable characters like Viren-Aditi (Socha Na Tha), Geet-Aditya (Jab We Met) and Jai-Meera (Love Aaj Kal), is himself surprised by the anger in Rockstar, which stars Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakri.
"I have also asked this question to myself. It is an angry film but the anger does not come from me. It is not autobiographical in that sense, it must have come from my environment. It was an emotional and cathartic experience," Imtiaz told PTI in an interview.
Another thing that is very unique to Imtiaz's direction is that his characters are mostly in transit and the director, who has a fascination for travelling to remote corners, says the physical journey in his films are indicative of the journey within.
"The physical journey in my films is indicative of the internal journey that my characters take. Rockstar is again about Jordan's journey from being a gawky Hindu College student to becoming the rockstar. Coming from a small town, he later goes from place to place. From the mundane, the regular, he discovers what is spiritual and uplifting."
Imtiaz, 40, first tried to make the film in 2005 with John Abraham but when he picked up the story again, everything had changed and he wanted a younger lead. The director says he found his perfect rockstar in Ranbir.
"He (Ranbir) is very receptive. I was thrilled to notice the emotional depth that he brought to this character. Ranbir was always the first choice because, he has this emotional vulnerability. He brought new nuances to the role. Praising him feels like I am praising myself," said Imtiaz.
The film's music, especially songs like Sadda Haq, Kun Faya Kun and Tum Ho, are being hailed as A R Rahman's finest compositions since Delhi 6 but Imtiaz feels that the Oscar-winning musician's full potential is yet to be realised.
"He was the most approachable and easy to work with colleagues. Rahman has amazing range and I feel that his true potential is only half exposed."
Relationships and marriages are quite pivotal in Imtiaz's plots and the director says the confusion of his characters stems from his own experience.
"There is lot of emphasis on marriage in our culture. I myself got married at a very young age. It has always intrigued me because marriage is very synthetic in an otherwise natural world," said the director.
Another thing that he is not ready to part with in his cinema is the middle class world that he comes from, which often forms the backdrop of his movies.
"I come from a middle class background. I have travelled a lot by trains and have lived in the world. It is a world I cannot get away from, I would not even want to."