Imtiaz Ali has always drawn inspiration for the basis of his films from travel, whether that is mainland India or overseas. This theme also transpires down to his characters, who also embark on a roller coaster journey of their own. However, Ali has said next will not follow in the same footsteps.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Ali says his next with Shahid Kapoor will be completely different to anything his has done before. “The film is a human story. It’s in one place. If I can tell you one thing, it would be that it is not a travel-oriented film, which is a good thing for me, it will be different for me.”
Not giving much away about his next, Ali confirms that nothing has been finalised yet. “It’s not really decided (when the movie goes on floors), even the casting isn’t decided yet. Shahid and I have met and spoken about it but it’s not as if we have decided and signed anything at all. There’s nothing officially planned about it.”
Ali reveals the location of the story starts at the scripting stage. “With me, it has always been at an early stage where I figure out a city, state or a country I’d like story in. While I was writing Jab We Met where there was a girl on the train I kept asking questions to myself, that she’s speaking in a certain way and is going to a certain location, which was from Mumbai to Delhi. So it had to be somewhere over there. It could’ve been Rajasthan, which I was earlier thinking. But the way she spoke, I felt she’s a Punjabi girl. That’s why it went to Punjab.”
From ‘Tamasha’ (2015) where Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) and Tara (Deepika Padukone) first met in Corsica, to J Janardan Jakhar (Ranbir Kapoor) who reunites with his beloved ‘Heer’ (Nargis Fakhri) in Prague in ‘Rockstar’ (2011), the locations used have been integral to the storyline. “For Corsica or Prague, they stayed while I was writing the initial screenplay of these films. I had neither been to Prague nor had I gone to Corsica or Bhatinda when I wrote about them but I had an impression of these places, largely from the pictures I had seen or from what people might’ve told him. Or historical details, whether the bombings had flattened Prague or not it wasn’t flat earlier and so I went. When I go to these cities, I take them in my script as well and work the screenplay around them,” say Ali.
Ali who recently attended the FICCI Frames, revealed that he had written a script about two countries. “There is something about displacement there. It is about two cultures, about the obvious differences between them but also similarities. It’s a character which crossed from one to the other. So I felt India and China could be interesting.”
The 46-year-old director also shared what happens to the stories which don’t materialise into a film. “Sometimes, they merge into other stories, become a part of several films, on their own. That also happens. But they never leave.”