His latest film Love Aaj Kal has sent cash registers ringing, raking in Rs.8 crore (Rs.80 million) on the opening day itself, but director Imtiaz Ali says money is not a "driving factor" for making films, as cinema is his passion.
"Yes, money is important, but that has never been my driving factor for making a film. If that was the case I would have chosen to do multiple films a year. My passion is cinema...money will follow," Ali told IANS.
The filmmaker, who first hit the jackpot in Bollywood with Jab We Met, insists he is still not part of the 'big league' as he is not yet a "Rs.10 crore director".
"No one has approached me with a 10-crore offer yet. I'm still awaiting such a price tag to be attached to my name," Ali laughed when asked if he has entered the '10 crore league'.
Imtiaz had a jerky beginning to his Bollywood career with Socha Na Tha taking years to reach the finish line. The film starring Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia was a critical success and though it didn't work at the box office, it is a favourite on the DVD circuit.
Then came Jab We Met in 2007 that featured Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. It took time to kick off, but it finally won hearts all over and was hailed as a 'cult film'.
"And to think about it, what is being considered cult today didn't really enjoy such high critical response when it released," Ali said.
"Most of the reviews had a 2 or 2.5 stars rating. It is so amusing when the same critics today remember the film as cult, memorable, pathbreaking cinema, etc etc," the filmmaker added.
Coming back to his price tag, how does he plan to play his cards post Love Aaj Kal?
"See, there are different kinds of propositions that different filmmakers consider. Some make multiple movies a year while my sensibilities don't allow me to work on more than one project at a time. My journey would most likely mean directing one film every two years. This by itself has a bearing on the entire economics," he explained.
"I don't want to unnecessarily charge a producer the kind of money that would be unaffordable for him and hence make the entire business prospects unviable," Ali reasoned. "I'm now primarily looking at a combined model where I get some amount of money as my price while the rest comes as profits from the film."
He is looking at being even more flexible when it comes to smaller films.
"If at all a subject is of the kind that requires to be made on a small budget, I would have profit-sharing as my prime mode of reimbursement," Ali said.