Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali talks about his love for directing, but also shares how being a producer and writer helps him tell more stories to the world. The filmmaker also opens up about the positives of web platforms, his latest outings SHE, Dr Arora etc., his next film and how he can’t wait to be back on the sets. Excerpts:
You started a production house, Window Seat Films, a few years ago. How has the journey been as a producer?
For the last three and a half years, we’ve been associated with this production house. I feel that I make movies at the rate of one movie per two years, which has been my average. But I think of stories at the rate of one story every few months. So, just by mathematics, we know that I will not be able to make all the films that I think of or want to make, if I direct them. The next best thing to do is to produce them and also have some sort of creative supervision, so I’m still able to tell those stories. That is the plan with which Window Seat got launched. We started by digital shows — had done two seasons of SHE and one season of Dr Arora. My first love is to direct, and I’ll continue to do that — but along with that I’ll also hope to write and produce other stories.
You are known for love stories or romance films, but you have also been dabbling in new genres with SHE, and the recent releases Dr Arora and Thai Massage. Is it a conscious choice to venture into new genres?
All the stories that come to me naturally, I’d like to make. When I made Highway or Jab We Met, I didn’t think of them as love stories — while writing or making them, but I think it is the audience that decides what genre a movie or a director belongs to. If a certain type of movie is liked, then it’s good for me. However, I am not conscious of keeping that distinction alive when I’m deciding to make a film. So, SHE and Dr Arora are very different from the ones that people have seen me making. But I do think of many different stories. It’s just that the ones I’ve made already have set a reputation for me. But I hope to make different kinds of films. But there is something central, which is something similar to the stories that I have. There are certain things about personality, relationship, aspirations or dreams — which I think are the common fiber for all the stories, even if it’s a story like SHE or Dr Arora.
With web projects like SHE, how has the experience been of exploring the web space?
The good thing about the web space is its duration is not fixed. If you have a longer story, which runs on and on, you can always make a show. Like I could never make SHE as a film, although I’ve thought of it a long time back, because those days only films were being made. Nowadays when shows started getting made, I thought ‘yes I can make that into a show because it’s more like a character study and less like a plot-oriented story.’ Also, it needed more duration. It just won’t fit into two hours. It needed around six, seven or 10 hours to finish, and that’s what we’ve done with it.
When can your fans expect to see another love story on-screen?
Of Course, there are many such stories I have. Actually what has happened in the pandemic is I had a lot of time to work on many of my old and new stories that were coming to my mind. I’ve many stories that I’ve worked on and many of them are love stories, many are unconventional love stories and some are of different kinds too. I am looking forward to being on set and directing actually. In the next couple of months, I should be starting to shoot a new film. Every story is a love story afterall. But in this (my next film), there’s love — but there are other things as well!
After being in the industry for almost two decades, does box office success or failure affect you?
You always get affected by box office success or failure. But it’s not the only thing that is important. There are other things that are important too.