Express News ServiceIt’s only befitting of a person gifted with the art of telling stories on silver screen to speak on ‘The power of stories’. And there could not have been a better man than Imtiaz Ali.
Young, handsome, intelligent, soft-spoken and down-to-earth, Ali, among Bollywood’s frontline filmmakers, came, spoke and conquered many hearts at the Odisha Literary Festival (OLF) 2015 here on Saturday.
The ‘self-effacingly brilliant’ man started off by saying that he wanted to become a writer for as long as he can remember. For now, he believes that if he ever contemplates writing a book, it would not be to adapt the same into a movie. There should not be any tampering with the written word.
“I wished to be a writer as a child, was passionate about being a journalist but ended up as a filmmaker,” the director said at the fourth edition of OLF.
Talking about adaptations, he said books have a wider reach and give greater ease to communicate with readers while a film involves many elements to portray the story, Ali said.
Asked, how his movies are seemingly real and deal with emotional issues of the current generation, Ali said he draws mostly from life and people around him. Also, he involves the aspects of travel and journey, a theme common to all his films, for he believes it gives a sense of self-realisation. “I am yet to find myself and I will be scared if I ever discovered my own self completely,” he said adding, cinema allows a filmmaker to do something he/she has not been able to achieve or accomplish in life.
The ‘Highway’ director described stories as infections. “One needs to have an internal need to tell a story and it should come naturally. They cannot be cultivated,” he said. The star director said he believes small-cities provide tremendous contemporary stories for film-making.
Ali advised aspiring writers to go by their instincts. “No guru mantra works unless one is focused and charts his or her own path,” he added. “Shakespeare wrote plays to earn a living. He never actually knew that his creations would turn into masterpieces and used as literature study in future,” Ali said.
Pitching in for artistic freedom, Ali said he did not believe in the censor system which is an external body. He said he went with the edits in ‘Rockstar’ because that way he could show what he wanted to, referring to the controversy over Free Tibet issue.
Odisha and eastern India in general is beautiful, said Ali who has a link with the State and has come here often in the past. The filmmaker who spent his childhood at Bhubaneswar recollected his days at Surya Nagar and said the City is a second home and gives him a sense of responsibility. “I was fluent in Odia during my childhood but now I lack confidence to speak in the language,” Ali said. He said he relishes Odia delicacy ‘Chhenapoda’ and fondly recollected memories of a dessert outlet in Cuttack which he frequented. Without getting into the Rasagolla tussle between Odisha and West Bengal, Ali said he believed the sweet originated from Odisha and offered to Lord Jagannath.