Imtiaz Ali has responded to claims that women in his films have no agency. He has also revealed how he was influenced by Western women while writing his film Cocktail, which was called problematic due to its portrayal of women.

Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali told how he was fascinated by ‘western girls’ while writing his film Cocktail. It starred Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty and Saif Ali Khan and attracted a lot of attention for its portrayal of women. When asked about women who have no agency in his films, Imtiaz said that not every film can revolve around the same subject. (Read also: 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 became famous 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 movies have often raised questions about the lives of the female characters who depend on men.

In response to the criticism, Imtiaz told Vice India that he is fascinated by oppressed women. He cited the example of his projects as Highway and She, claiming that his films often emphasize women. “Not every story can be about a woman who finds the desk. Why can’t I mix up stories of different natures or do they mean something different? I’m not here to tell people how to live their lives,” he said.

Imtiaz added: “In Cocktail, I was very fascinated by the fact that Western girls I meet in London are much more eager to be domiciled in that extremely traditional way than the girls I met in India.” He agreed that some people may think it internalized patriarchy. He went on to say that Cocktail targeted two women with different upbringing and mentalities, who met in London and went “the other way”.

Imtiaz Ali’s latest web series Dr Arora was released last month. The show stars Kumud Mishra, a sex therapist who treats patients in the late 90s. It was released on SonyLiv.

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