Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali talks about his love for directing, but also tells how as a producer and writer he can tell more stories to the world. The filmmaker also talks about the positives of web platforms, his latest outings SHE, Dr Arora etc., his next film and how he can’t wait to get back on the sets. fragments:
You started a production house a few years ago, Window Seat Films. How did the journey as a producer go?
We have been associated with this production house for three and a half years. I feel like I’m making movies at a rate of one movie every two years, which was my average. But I think of stories at the rate of one story every few months. So, just by math, we know that I won’t be able to make all the movies I think of or want to make if I direct them. The best I can do is produce them and also have some kind of creative supervision so I can still tell those stories. With that plan, Window Seat was launched. We started with digital shows — had done two seasons of SHE and one season of Dr Arora. My first love is directing, and I will continue to do so — but I also hope to write and produce other stories.
You are known for love stories or romantic movies, but you have also discovered new genres with SHE and the recent releases Dr Arora and Thai Massage. Is it a conscious choice to venture into new genres?
I want to make all the stories that come naturally to me. When I made Highway or Jab We Met, I didn’t think of them as love stories — writing or making them, but I think the audience decides what genre a movie or director belongs to. If a certain type of movie is fun, that’s good for me. However, I am not aware of keeping that distinction alive when I decide to make a film. So SHE and Dr. Arora are very different from the ones people have seen me make. But I do think of many different stories. It’s just that the ones I’ve made already have a reputation for me. But I hope to make different kinds of movies. But there is something central, which resembles the stories I have. There are certain things about personality, relationships, aspirations or dreams — that I think are the common thread running through all stories, even if it’s a story like SHE or Dr. Arora.
What was the experience like exploring the web space with web projects like SHE?
The good thing about web space is that its duration is not fixed. If you have a longer story that goes on and on, you can always make a show. As if I could never make SHE as a movie, although I thought about it a long time ago, because in those days only movies were made. When shows started to get around these days, I thought ‘yeah, I can make a show out of it because it’s more of a character study and less of a plot-oriented story.’ It also needed more time. It just doesn’t fit in two hours. It took about six, seven or ten hours to complete, and that’s what we did with it.
When can your fans expect another love story on screen?
Of course there are many such stories that I have. What happened in the pandemic is that I had a lot of time to work on many of my old and new stories that came to my mind. I have a lot of stories that I’ve worked on and a lot of them are love stories, a lot of them are unconventional love stories and some of them are different in nature too. I’m looking forward to being on set and actually directing. I should be shooting a new movie in a few months. After all, every story is a love story. But in this (my next movie) there is love — but there are other things too!
After being in the industry for nearly two decades, does the cash register success or failure affect you?
You are always influenced by the success or failure of the cash register. But it’s not the only thing that matters. There are also other things that are important.