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‘Your movies are code of your secret’

Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali the brain behind the movies like ‘Rockstar’ and ‘Jab We Met’ strongly believes in the story of a film and often showcases the internal conflict of an individual, which is complex. Speaking at NFDC’s Film Bazaar’s Knowledge Series, held on the sidelines of the 47th IFFI, he elaborted about his movies, why he makes love stories and his theatre roots


Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali who is known for his love stories right from his debut movie ‘Socha Na Tha’ till the recent movie, ‘Tamasha’, expressed that he is not a romantic person and the source of inspiration for his movie is definitely the woman. He was speaking at the Knowledge Series of NFDC, which is held on the sidelines of the 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) at a city hotel on the topic ‘To Love Or Not To Love— Redefining Romance On Hindi Celluloid’. He was in conversation with documentary filmmaker and author Nasreen Munni Kabir.

During this hour-long interaction he spoke about his journey towards stardom, why his movies revolve around couples and the music.

Ali who started his career in theatre never aspired to be a filmmaker. He came from the small town of Jamshedpur to Mumbai in the hope of getting any job. He worked in production companies and then went to direct television serials. “I always kept myself busy with working as I wanted to keep my kitchen running. And then I happened to narrate the script of the movie, ‘Socha Na Tha’ to the actor Sunny Deol. He patiently listened till interval and then invited me to have lunch with him,” said Imtiaz about the process of his first film.

Imtiaz said that he always ended up watching films in Jamshedpur Talkies though he never had any favourite director or actor. “Watching movies was a blinding experience. To watch a movie in a big space on big screen, the whole experience was larger than life and not necessarily relatable,” he said. He further commented that the area outside the movie theatre was not less than a film bazaar and the whole atmosphere added to the movie watching experience unlike in big cities where the experience is quite isolated. “Outside that theatre there used to be a barber’s shop which used to sell looks of actors, chaatwalla, etc. It was like a film bazaar. In big cities you do not get that experience. Once I told Amitabh Bachchan that perhaps you don’t know yourself that well, the way I know you.”

The movie that had a huge impact on him was Shyam Benegal’s ‘Junoon’ along with other Benegal’s movies, as well as the movie, ‘Sholay’.

Imtiaz started making plays right from his school days, when he first encountered an actor narrating lines written by him, in a different manner as compared to what he wanted. But, then he realised that it had its own beauty.

While speaking about the difference between theatre and cinema, he said that the major factor is time. “In theatre you have to rehearse, un-rehearse, learn, unlearn. Also you have lot of time in hand to explore and find out what you really want to do.” About acting he said for a theatre actor when he is on stage there is no room to hide and he has to go with the flow. Whereas in movies the acting is fragmented, but the trick is that it should not look fragmented.

During the interaction some of the clippings of his movies were also screened. While speaking about it, he said sometimes, some things which are there in your mind, gets placed in your movies. “In this movie ‘Socha Na Tha’ the actor mentions about going for striptease show. In reality I had never gone for one. But, I used them in many of movies after this movie, especially in ‘Rockstar’. In my next movie there’s an a character who is a stripper. So, I think your movies are code of your secret.”

As it is a well-known fact that Imtiaz’s movies are based on love and couples. However, he confirms that it is not deliberate. He said that it might emerge from his own interaction with people. Also in his movie there’s no external factor or a villain between the couple. But, here the issues are internal which is relevant to today’s generation.

He also confessed that he is not tired of being typecast as a filmmaker who does love stories.

In love stories songs play an important role and that’s true for Imtiaz Ali’s movies also. He said that he is attracted to songs. “I enjoy songs and I think they should be part of the narrative. I think songs give you liberty and in songs you can speak about the things which you wouldn’t have spoken otherwise,” he said.

While speaking about current trend of songs in movies, he said that they are becoming less and less relevant. He added that filmmakers should find a way to retain them.

He also spoke about music director A R Rehman describing him as an intuitive person. “His procedure is no procedure. When you see him working, it looks like that he is not doing anything. I sometimes get worried. But, the one best quality is that he disseminates his image. Also working with him is nice and therapeutic,” said Imtiaz. He also shared that he likes to work with a single music director for a movie. “I believe that music director is also a filmmaker and that’s the reason I select one person for my movies,” he said.

The one common factor in his movies is the journey or the travel which the protagonists are part of. “I feel that when you are on journey you don’t have to enact yourself and there’s no pretending. There’s heroic pleasure about it. Thus, it creates an atmosphere of magnificence about it and thus there’s romance in it already,” he said.

About the women characters in his movies, he said that they are inspired from the women from his real life. “The women in my life, I am superficially hating them but secretly loving them,” he said.

Regarding the emergence of social media and its impact on relationship, he said that it has its flaws and advantages. “Now because of social media the secret is out. But, the mystery and romance is lost. It has its flaws and advantages but I think that social media makes you lonely,” he concluded.

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