Mumbai: It’s while travelling that all of Imtiaz Ali’s characters undergo a life-altering experience but the director says his next won’t involve travel, which would be a change for him.
Right from his debut, Socha Na Tha, where Viren and Aditi travel to Goa and fall in love, to his last, where Harry and Sejal realise they are meant to be together while searching for a ring in Europe, journeys have been an integral part of Imtiaz’s films.
His next reunites him with his Jab We Met actor, Shahid Kapoor and the director is tight-lipped about the project.
In an interview, Imtiaz says, “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.”
Imtiaz says while he did discuss the film with Shahid, nothing is official 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,” he says.
For Imtiaz, the decision to base his films in a certain city comes very much at the scripting stage.
His breakthrough Jab We Met, for instance, could’ve been based in Rajasthan too, but the director says the reason to shift it to Punjab was natural.
“With me, it has always been at an early stage where I figure out a city, state or a country I’d like the 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.”
Just as much his characters, the cities in the backdrop form an important part of Imtiaz’s films be it Ved and Tara bonding in Corsica in Tamasha or Rockstar‘s Jordan who spirals down on the path of self-destruction post reuniting with Heer in Prague.
“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,” he adds.
At the recently concluded FICCI Frames, Imtiaz had mentioned a script which he had written about two countries.
When asked what the film is about, the 46-year-old director says, “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.”
While it’s “another story” why the movie couldn’t materialise yet, Imtiaz says his scripts which do not turn into films stay with him, and become a “part of me”.
“Sometimes, they merge into other stories, become a part of several films, on their own. That also happens. But they never leave,” he adds.