How ‘Jab We Met’ Changed Bollywood Romance Forever

The 2007 Imtiaz Ali film broke the rules of Hindi cinema, creating a female lead with depth and a romance rooted in friendship. Fifteen years later, it remains the perfect rewatch.

Snigdha Sur

October 26, 2022

How ‘Jab We Met’ Changed Bollywood Romance Forever
Geet, Kareena Kapoor, and Aditya, Shahid Kapoor (Jab We Met)

First comes the luggage, then a stuffed animal, a framed photo of Babaji, a plant, another stuffed animal, and a white bag tossed from a sprinting porter into a moving train. Then, the woman herself jumps aboard, breathless and grinning. “Aaj tak life mein, ek train bhi nahin chooti meri,” the woman, in a white shirt and colorful scarf, proudly declares as she gets on the moving train. So far in my life, I’ve never missed a train. She tells the man who helped pull her into the car to let go of her hand (“I’m not that beautiful,” she jokes), proceeds to explain that she likes to travel in non-AC cars, and spills her entire life story to the solemn, silent businessman she finds sitting in her seat.

That is how filmmaker Imtiaz Ali introduces Jab We Met’s Geet — arguably Kareena Kapoor’s most iconic role — a talkative, energetic woman with an exceedingly positive attitude. When it came out on October 26, 2007, even Kareena treated the project like an “underdog” film with few expectations. It was only Ali’s second feature, made on a relatively small budget of ₹150 million (then around $3.8 million). Ali had also cast actors Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor — a real-life couple who would split up during filming. This was the couple’s fourth pairing, and their prior movies had failed to make a mark. Yet, Jab We Met went on to gross ₹509 million worldwide (around $12.7 million), more than three times its budget, and was revolutionary in giving depth to its female lead and bringing realism to romance. Fifteen years later, Jab We Met still resonates. In a way, the film’s existence and lasting legacy affirms so much of the philosophy it espouses: trust yourself, love yourself, and take chances.