Imtiaz Ali is all praise for Alia Bhatt, the leading lady of his next, Highway. But most of all, Imtiaz credits Alia for her straight forward approach to work. “The thing with Alia is that she is very black and white when it comes to a scene. She either understands it or doesn’t understand it and is she can’t understand, she will tell me so and then I have to find another way to explain it to her again. She is very simple that way, and it is a good thing,” says the director who is best known for his films like Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal.
Alia is perhaps the third newcomer that Imtiaz is working with. He has in the past cast Giselli Monteiro (Love Aaj Kal) and Nargis Fakri (Rockstar), both of who made their Bollywood debut with Ali’s films. Ask him if it is a conscious decision to work with freshers and he says, “New actors bring in a lot of energy and often a fresh perspective. It’s very rewarding to work with new actors. But, that does not mean that I don’t like working with established stars. They have the advantage of their experience, which can also be helpful.”
Ask him if he also agrees that this is indeed the best time to be a filmmaker in Bollywood, as many of his contemporaries have said, and he shares, “One has heard stories that earlier directors wanting to make different films did not have it easy. Well, that has changed. Now, there is a place for every good story. Bollywood has indeed widened its base and the line between commercial and parallel cinema has blurred. When I made Socha Na Tha in 2008 it was not part of the mainstream, then when I made Jab We Met, which was similar, it was kind of mainstream and when I made Love Aaj Kaal, it was treated as absolutely mainstream. So, the steam has widened and it is a great time to be here.”
So, how does he rate his contemporary filmmakers, we ask. “They are all my friends and I will shoot down all of them (laughs). But frankly, I like both the Anurags — Basu and Kashyap and Zoya (Akhtar).