Bollywood is not my cup of tea: Muzaffar Ali

Filmmaker-fashion designer Muzaffar Ali
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By Sukant Deepak

New Delhi– Filmmaker Muzaffar Ali, credited for giving some critically acclaimed films including “Umrao Jaan”, “Anjuman”, “Gaman” and “Aagaman” feels that he does not fit in the scheme of things in contemporary Bollywood. “Though I still have a house in Mumbai and my son, Shaad Ali works in the industry, I dont think I would be very comfortable working there right now. The whole attitude and worshipping of icons, and they calling the shots just does not work for me. Not to mention, content is very strangely driven in that industry now,” he told IANS.

After having completed a series of films on crafts recently, Ali says is now working on some “very strong scripts” and waiting for the right time to start a new project. Stressing that though the documentary format may have its own charm, it is essentially fiction that is important for him, the filmmaker elaborates, “When you create fiction, people take out the truth and identify with it. There are so many parallels in real life with what we call fiction. That is the charm of it.”

For this Padma Shri recipient, whose films have always boasted of strong women characters in substantial roles, any deeply cultural film needs such protagonists. “They take you deep into the world. Let us remember that not only are women very strong but they are also strong carriers of cultures. One’s heart reaches out to people who haven’t been given a fair deal. If you take the courtesan, she is the most evolved person as far as culture is concerned’ but look at her predicament. Also, my mother, wife Meera, and women I was married to earlier – all of them are very strong.”

At a time when directors from hinterland are bringing stories of the soil to Bollywood and erasing the compartmentalization of mainstream and alternate cinema, Ali feels that the audiences have changed rapidly over time and want things loud, asserted with a harsh language to wake them up. “Yes, things are definitely changing, and like always there’s good and there’s bad. What I have noticed is that films have become more conversational and user friendly. The single big-screen, which demanded a larger than life depiction, has become a thing of the past. The multiplexes are also on the fade out as real estate is touching the sky. Now people are watching films in their homes, on phones. Also, it’s never just about the story, but how you make it and that is improving. Another bright side is that you can shoot faster and cheaper.”

Ali has not really given up home on his still-unreleased film “Zooni”, starring Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia, revolving around the 16th century Kashmiri poet Habba Khatoon. “For me, it will always remain a very important film. We went through a very interesting process, experiencing both beauty and turmoil. As far as it being completed, well, anything is possible.”

Talking about “Anjuman e Dil”, a season of six evenings sharing poetry and giving musicality to verse, conceived by Ali, he elaborates, “We organised the first one on Khaiyyam on November 16 in the capital. He worked with me on four films and each one gave both of us a new dimension to music, poetry and composition. The second will be on Faiz, whose poetry I have used extensively in my films. Frankly, I feel that he is one of the most relevant people in contemporary times in the sub-continent. Other evenings will witness works by poets including ‘Shahryar’, Rahi Masoom Raza, Wajid Ali Shah and Rumi.” (IANS)


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