It’s no secret that Imtiaz Ali has given the millennial generation some of their most favourite romantic dramas. While most of his films–that talk of intense passion, misguided actions, and the destructive power of love–end on a happy note, Rockstar and Highway didn’t make the happy ending.
And one more film that talked of love, lust, and friendship, and ended in heartbreak, was the 2006 romantic drama, Ahista Ahista. A film where Imtiaz Ali once again collaborated with his debut film’s lead, Abhay Deol. A film that today remains forgotten, even though, it’s definitely worth a watch.
The directorial debut of Shivam Nair, Ahista Ahista also starred Soha Ali Khan and Shayan Munshi, and was written by Imtiaz Ali.
Originally based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story, White Nights, the film was a feature-length development of a telefilm that Ali and Nair had worked on for Star Bestsellers, called Witness.
It’s a seemingly simple tale of a young girl, Megha (Soha Ali Khan), who plans to elope with her partner Dheeraj, (Shayan Munshi) for a court marriage. Only, on the day she runs away, she is left abandoned at the registrar’s office.
A ‘witness’ Ankush (Abhay Deol), whose job is to act as a fake witness for people registering for court marriage, offers to help her. Ankush helps her rebuild her life, takes a loan to help her, and finds a job for her.
During the process, he falls for her and turns around his own life. The two slowly move towards a relationship, and ultimately decide to get married, only to be stopped by Dheeraj’s return. In the end, Ankush realizes that for Megha, he was never more than a friend.
From loneliness to heartbreak, the film touches many topics and while it may not be a novel story, it does strike a chord with you. It is a gentle, at times melodramatic, reminder of the love you lost.
For a Bollywood fan, like yours truly, it appears like an alternate ending to Ali’s first blockbuster hit, Jab We Met. An ending where Geet ends with Anshuman instead of Aditya. Perhaps Ali penned Jab We Met because he wanted to gift Ankush a happier ending – one that Aditya got.
Ahista Ahista touches upon many themes that we now associate with an Imtiaz Ali film – a hero’s journey of transformation, a couple that helps each other overcome life’s tragedies, a tale of love powered by the complications. And yet, it became a minor blip in Ali’s illustrious filmography.
Perhaps Ankush’s heartbreak got buried under the power of Geet’s self-love, Jordan’s music, Veera’s self-discovery, or Ved’s passionate pursuits.
But while it’s definitely not one of Bollywood’s timeless classics, it is still worth a watch. If for no other reason, than just to see Abhay Deol’s innocent smile steal your heart, even as his heartbreak leaves you crying.