It was a great pleasure to have the good-looking director Imtiaz Ali as our guest on The Boss Dialogues. The ladies certainly weren’t complaining, and he was greeted with a huge, warm round of applause as he entered the venue. With his casual attire, laid-back vibe and that messy just-out-of-bed look, he was relaxed and revealed a sharp sense of humor which endeared him even further to the audience. His comfort level with our host Indu Mirani was amply evident as he spoke candidly and revealed more of himself than he ever has in any interview before.
Indu started off the session by asking him about his fascination with journeys. Imtiaz shared an anecdote about the beginning of his journey, “The first person who thought I should make a film was Mahesh Bhatt. So I met him and asked if he meant I will direct a film for his company. He said, ‘Ha ha ha. This is the beginning, you will learn.’ I didn’t know what to do. I would call him and sometimes he’d cut my call, sometimes he would talk to me for an hour about nothing.
“When I finally asked him what’s going on, you know what he said? ‘I’ll give you a story, you work on the story and direct it. I look at you now. You’re worth nothing. I’m Mahesh Bhatt, I’m a celebrated director, but you’re nothing. But the point is when I look at you, I feel jealous because you’re starting out and you’ve got something that I’ve lost. Make a movie out of this.’ I worked on it for nine months. Nothing happened. He said, ‘You will live your destiny.’ He’s the only one who understood me.”
Imtiaz revealed that he was trying to make Highway before Socha Na Tha. “I wrote Socha Na Tha for television but it never happened.”
The number of filmmakers-in-waiting at our sessions hoping for seasoned advice is always high. To them, he said, “Bombay’s film industry is a superb place. Just don’t get on the side of complaining. If you’re complaining too much, then you know the time has come for something else. When you do a narration… and I’ve done it hundreds of times… each narration teaches me something. After every narration, I find myself going back and changing something. And finally, don’t get arrested by the idea of one producer.”
So does each film also teach him something new about himself? He replied, “Yes. I’ve become a little more impolite after Highway. Earlier, I would’ve been more guarded, worry whether people think I’m a nice guy. Too much politeness is hypocrisy. This movie was about that and I’ve imbibed it.”
And finally, he spoke about why relationships fascinate him and the reason they play a central role in his films, “I have no answers about relationships, perhaps that’s why I keep going back to relationships in my films. It’s very intriguing. Love is different for people, it’s different each time for one person. It’s really confusing.”
We hope he finds the answers on his fascinating journey, we certainly found a few while listening to his experiences in the session that proved to be such an inspiration.