Delhi is like a scrapbook to me: Writer-director Imtiaz Ali

The writer-director recalls his love for the Capital and why he feels connected yet distant with this city

Published: 02nd December 2022 08:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd December 2022 08:34 AM   |  A+A-

Imtiaz Ali

Imtiaz Ali (Photo | Twitter)

Express News Service

Stories and storytelling help people escape reality. However, at times, it also provides people with an opportunity to explore different aspects of life from different perspectives. Those familiar with Imtiaz Ali will agree that this—creating characters that the audience can completely relate to—remains the filmmaker and writer’s USP.

We recently caught up with the extraordinary storyteller at Kathakar—an annual festival that celebrates the art of oral storytelling—in Delhi, where he spoke about the power that stories have and how they can, in a number of ways, change lives. 

In conversation with us, Ali recalled his love for the Capital, a location that remains an integral part of his movies—he has often explored the city in his films including Rockstar, Tamasha, Love Aaj Kal, and others. He also shared how he feels connected yet distant from Delhi. 

Stories of the storyteller
Though born and raised in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, Ali—he made his directorial debut with Socha Na Tha in 2005 but gained popularity with his second film, Jab We Met (2007)—has often mentioned in interviews how he found his expression in Delhi. An alumnus of Hindu College, it is in the Capital where Ali was introduced to Experimental Theatre. In fact, he also participated in the campus theatre programme and founded Ibtida, the dramatics society of Hindu College.

Ali rarely goes without cinematically showcasing his affection for Delhi. From scenic shots of Purani Dilli in Love Aaj Kal to the surreal ambience of the Nizamuddin Dargah seen in the song Kun Faya Kun from Rockstar, his movies never fail to capture the essence of Delhi’s historic architecture as well as its vibe.

Sharing his fond memories of the Capital, Ali said, “Delhi is like a scrapbook to me. Every turn on the roads here brings back many college-day memories and I miss those days. I still remember that we used to take bus no 220 and bus no 240 from Mandi House to go to my hostel in Delhi University.” Giving us a glimpse of his fun, young side, the calm and composed Ali recalled, “My friends and I would steal laddus from Nathu Sweets at Bengali Market (laughs).” 

A love-hate relationship
Referring to the vibe of the city and its traffic, Ali added that people have become more polite and a little less aggressive than what he remembers from his college days. When asked about his relationship with the city and its representation in the movies written and directed by him, Ali mentioned, “Delhi and I are like siblings—brothers mostly—the kind of brothers who fight a lot when they are together and miss each other when they are apart. To be honest, I used to hate Delhi when I lived here. I used to think ‘this place is very aggressive’ and ‘people here are very rude, they always fight,’ etc. But now, I just miss this place so much.” 

Concluding his tête-a-tête with us, the director said, “This city is very close to my heart and I keep finding ways to revisit it through my films. As I mentioned previously, Delhi is like a scrapbook to me with millions of memories. To share it [the memories] with my audience, I use movies. I will keep shooting in Delhi whenever I get a chance.”


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