So overwhelming is the response to Love Aaj Kal in Punjab that Imtiaz Ali is now taking time off from his schedule in Mumbai to be in Chandigarh for a while this week, on heavy demand from the Punjabi audience.
Imtiaz said: "Punjabiyat and the Punjabi culture were very much a part of both Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal. I can't deny I share a special affinity with that part of our country."
So warmly has Punjab responded to Saif Ali Khan's performance as a Sikh that they wanted nothing more than to have Saif visit them. Chandigarh-based theatre actor Kamal Tiwari who played Kareena Kapoor's father in Jab We Met suggested Imtiaz and Saif should immediately come to Punjab to witness for themselves the level of adulation and adoration for Love Aaj Kal.
Imtiaz said: "I am in Chandigarh right now. My lyricist Irshad Kamil is with me. I don't know about the others. I've got the maximum response from Love Aaj Kal from Punjab. I was wondering how to reciprocate this love when actor Kamal Tewari suggested the trip to Chandigarh. It's exactly what I needed."
Interestingly Kamal Tewari's wife Dolly Ahluwalia styled Saif's much-talked about Sikh look which the star himself has been raving about.
While the accolades for his performance have been pouring in from all quarters Saif has been unusually subdued and reclusive about enjoying the success.
He even excluded himself at the last minute from the intimate party that Rishi Kapoor hosted last week. Director Imtiaz Ali has been seen doing the rounds of theatres all alone. On Monday he went through a dream-come-true experience when he saw his film with the audience at the Regal theatre.
"Regal, you've to understand, is a movie monument in Mumbai. I used to watch the best films wide-eyed in this theatre. And now I was watching my film at Regal. It was a life-changing experience."
Predictably Saif didn't share this monumental experience with Imtiaz. Imtiaz had brought along his closest friends from his student days who had been specially invited from different corners of the country to share the 'Regal' experience.
Imtiaz said: "There was Joy who makes ad films, Avi who's in telecommunications, Anil who's the COO of an ad agency and Rakesh a video maker from Canada. We savoured the film at Regal and then drank ourselves silly all night. My other long standing buddies are Nassif from Assam and Jaggu from Imphal. They couldn't join us at Regal. They are my reality check. Instead of praising my film they kept bullying me. 'Tu apne aap ko bahut bada director samajhta hai?'
"We had all come to Mumbai from various cities to study at the Xavier Institute Of Communications. We were in hostel for a year. Then bunched together and lived in a flat in Parel for two years."
Now since the promised post-success celebration from the producers is not happening Imtiaz intends to throw a party for his loved ones as soon as he returns from Punjab.