A genius when it comes to mesmerising the hearts of many through his romantic narratives, Imtiaz Ali has made a niche for himself in the ever-evolving world of Indian cinema. A prolific writer, director and producer, he has enamoured the heart and soul of youths with films like Jab We met, Tamasha, Highway and Rockstar, to name a few.
Starting out as a writer and director of television shows, Ali made his directorial debut with Socha Na Tha in 2005. In a candid interview with EastMojo, the master storyteller gives us a peek into his creative mind.
The 48-year-old Jamshedpur native was in Guwahati on Friday as part of the 7th Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival.
Excerpts from the interview:
It’s your second time at the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival. What are your expectations for this year?
Well, the most enchanting thing about Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival is that I get to meet a lot of young film-making talent from the east of the country, the Northeast of the country. They have a very unique voice, they are very creative, they are very talented, they have their own brand of stories. It’s just like in music eastern Indian music which has a different ‘laya’, it has a different beat pattern and I feel that the filmmakers from this part of the country also have a different beat pattern. So it’s refreshing to meet them and see their work.
You are often heralded as the filmmaker who understands the nuances of modern romance, Can you tell us why?
I feel that I don’t know about that. I feel that I am interested in what’s going on around me and I am an observer, basically I am a looker, a watcher, so things that happen around me are very intriguing and they find their ways into my film. That’s why I guess it is contemporary and modern because I live in this world so I can only report the stories or thoughts that have been evoked from this world.
Which has been your most personal film so far and why?
I don’t think that there has been a most personal film but I do feel that in some movies some scenes have been very personal and it’s not as though those scenes were based on my life. Like there is nothing in common with my life and the life of Jordan in Rockstar but then in that movie, I think there were many occasions where I felt that this is a very personal expression. So similarly, I felt it in some scenes of Love Aaj Kal, for instance, or Highway, or even in Tamasha.
In many three-tier cities of India, we see quite a decline in viewership of regional films. It is not the matter of content for many films from this region has got international recognition but still fails to score in the home base. From a filmmaker’s point of view, why do you think it is so?
I feel that the kind of exhibition that conventionally features films have had in this country and especially in this part of the country has restricted the growth of a certain type of experimental cinema. People over here, for instance, have a great way of telling the story but they are not businessmen. You know they cannot tackle the problems of exhibition and distribution, etc. So they are going ahead and making films that are very interesting and creative but this is how any cinema begins. You know it begins with the story and the thought and the film and then later if they are good enough the business will find its way.
While writing a film do you derive inspiration from your own life or is it observation or even imagination?
It is the imagination of my experiences that give rise to the cinema that I make. That I see something and then I imagine something on top of what I see and that is what makes the story.