What have you been so busy with lately?
I've been shooting one day a week for Indian Idol. I've also been constantly travelling in and out of the city. I'm doing up our house with Shabana (Azmi). It's taking up a lot of our time. Right now, it's in a mess.
How come Shabana Azmi agreed to fill in for you on Indian Idol?
I had to choose between the show and San Francisco for a conclave where I had to speak on creativity. Shabana agreed to fill my seat for an episode. I went peacefully. I was quite anxious on how would she handle it.. but I'm proud that she did complete justice to the role of a judge.
What was the trip all about?
It was a conference of people from different walks of life to talk on their core areas of discipline. Hillary Clinton spoke on politics. I spoke on harnessing creativity. It was fulfilling to interact with young minds and experts.
Anu Malik and Alisha Chinai have been constantly getting into fights.
No, no. I wouldn't say that. I'm on the sets with them all the time, there's no malice between them. They're quite friendly on the sets. I think that's the way they are and have been for years now. That's their way of talking to one another. They're friends. There's no bitterness between them. Creative differences are inevitable.. so there's minor banter. The fights on the other shows are much more bitter.
What do you think about Sholay's remake by Ram Gopal Varma?
A film made nearly 32 years ago has had such an impact on every generation. There have been ads revolving around the characters, people have produced gags. Lines of dialogue from Sholay are still spoken at functions and shows.
Sholay has been the most powerful script of all time. Actually, whether it's Ram Gopal Varma or anyone else who remakes Sholay, leaves me indifferent and amused.
<b1>The original will always be fresh in everyone's memory. After everything now, here's a full-fledged movie basking in the glory of Sholay. My best wishes to Mr Varma. Don faced flak from the critics. I'm not against remakes per se. But a filmmaker must be creative, give it a different perspective.
Martin Scorsese's The Departed won an Oscar this year was a remake of Hong Kong movie. Ten Commandments was reattempted by a few people. Mother India was a remake of Aurat. P C Barua's Devdas was a remake.
Even Mughal-e-Azam had shades of Anarkali. But Ben-hur is among the few classics which has never been re-attempted.. there was no scope left for another version.
How is your daughter Zoya's film turning out?
Inshallah, she will do very well for herself. I hope to be associated with her film in some way or the other.
How has your father Jaan Nisar Akhtar's poetry influenced you?
As a writer and poet, I've read the finest authors and poets, nationally and internationally in English and Urdu. I have the highest regards for abba's work.
He was a fine poet. I've read his work all the time all my life but it's difficult for me to gauge how much his thoughts inspire me.
Do you remember any piece of his advice?
When I was a kid, he told me, "Beta, it's easy to write tough lines but tough to write easy lines."
I'm doing a lot of song writing, completed two scripts.. and written my next book Lava which I intend to release by the end of the year.