Rekha speaks through her eyes, which made her my choice for Umrao Jaan: Muzaffar Ali
On a wintry Sunday morning, our cameraman and I set out to explore a story idea that wasn’t quite an oft-explored one. We were going to meet the acclaimed filmmaker, writer, painter and fashion designer, Muzaffar Ali, at his farm located on the outskirts of the Capital. As we entered, we were welcomed by a large green spot, a view that’s hardly seen in the expanse of the urban jungle we live in.
For every art enthusiast, Muzaffar Ali’s home is a treat to the eyes. His wife and he have worked on the interiors of their home and I was particularly in awe of the beautiful paintings, artwork on the mantelpiece and fireplace and the work on the centre table in their drawing room, where they mostly host their guests. He is a man who defines art and is a wonderful host all the same. Speaking with him about his films while laying focus on his best-known work, Umrao Jaan (1981), we got to know a bit more about him and his process of bringing poetry and art to the 70mm screen, followed by the small screen through his show, that aired on Doordarshan and is available on YouTube for fans to catch up on.
“I paint everything”, he said about his filmmaking process, which helps him storify something better. He had seen Rekha’s pictures in a magazine that helped him decide that she would be his film’s heroine because of the way she could emote with her eyes, without much use of dialogue.
We met him ahead of this year’s edition of Jahan-e-Khusrau, which starts on March 8 until March 10 and is a tribute to the River Ganges this time around. Watch the videos below to know more about him, his films, the festival and much more.