In an exclusive interview to The Week, one of the most sought after directors of Bollywood Imtiaz Ali talks about how the young breed of actors are boosting creativity in Bollywood.
The Hindi film industry is often blamed for lacking in creativity. What do you have to say about this?
There is no dearth of creativity in Bollywood. Now, very different kind of films are being made. Of course there are people who take short cuts, lift stuff, but that has been happening forever and such people exist in every industry.
What are the factors that are contributing to it?
I think it’s because audience is looking for different kinds of cinema. The consumer is varied and its exposure level has gone up significantly in the past 15 years because of the information boom. So, their taste has become more specific and refined. There is no longer one broad-based type of film that they all want to watch and that’s encouraging directors to create different kind of films. And multiplexes give you the opportunity to show the movie to a smaller number of people if need be.
How much is the impact of young breed of actors, who are more open-minded and have high risk-taking ability?
It is very encouraging and refreshing to see the new breed of actors, who are open to new ideas and experimentation. Unlike the past the relationship between a director and actor is witnessing a sea of changes too. It’s more casual and friendly, which helps you become one with the actor. And when that happens then both of them can do a better job because you know the other one is watching your back. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Both of them are aware that perhaps on the sets they are the only people who can help each other, suggest changes to enhance creativity. On my sets it happens all the time because I write the script myself, which means i have greater ability to be flexible during the time of the shoot. I don’t have to seek anybody’s permission.
And what are the roadblocks?
The Censor board at time infringes on our creative liberty. Luckily, we didn’t have any problem with Tamasha and I don’t have an immediate grouse that I am nursing. But filmmakers will always resent censorship because when you make something you don’t want it to be cut. According to you it’s your perfect piece.
I am not saying that being a director I should be the one deciding what a country of 1.2 billion people should see. So, then who decides that. I would like to decide that but when I look at it from the macro view I feel that I am going to be looking at it from one point of view. Somebody from a neutral point of view needs to decide but that ‘neutral’ has to be neutral in the true sense – a reputed person. It can’t be anybody.
There are other people, who are specialists and should be decision makers. I will fight with them, try to make them understand my point of view, as long as the censor board is a neutral body, which is not biased and is open-minded and understands the motive.
For instance, in Highway we had a big problem. There were a couple of shots which showcased the female protagonist getting roughed up. I tried to explain to them that if I don’t show this the basic purpose of the film, which is to give women more strength in the society, will not come through. But at least there was a discussion and we reached somewhere. So, there should be more people from the film industry (in the censor board), who are sensitive to cinema and the affect it has on people.
Also, we need more platforms like Royal Stag Barrel Select Perfect Strokes which give directors a chance to interact with people. Everything that a director wants to say is in the film but there are a lot of people, who want to understand the process and we also want to know their point of view. It is only through such platform that you can speak your mind.