Imtiaz Ali: My films are my travel diaries

From the terrain transitions of Kashmir in his “Rockstar” and “Highway” to the culturally rich lanes of Prague for “Rockstar” and the azure waters of Corsica — travel has been an intrinsic part of Imtiaz Ali’s cinematic works. The filmmaker considers them his “travel diaries”.

Imtiaz Ali diaries

The avid traveller, who likes to explore the local culture and connect with the vibe of a place rather than do the tourist routine, says he has never made a scrap book or diary in which he puts down his experiences.

“It is just the movies that I make… The films that I make are the diaries of my travel… Because for me, moviemaking is sort of linked with my personal travel,” Imtiaz told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

“When I watch a movie for which I’ve shot in Portugal, it will reflect what I feel about Portugal,” added the filmmaker, who was on Thursday felicitated at the India International Film Tourism Conclave (IIFTC) for outstanding contribution to tourism.

Having widely shot for his films across myriad destinations in north India and Europe, Imtiaz said an award for promotion of tourism via films goes to “show that the work I have done in different countries, has encouraged Indian tourism there and that’s a good feeling for me”.

“Having gone to these places and having worked there with different kinds of people, and working in different cultures was very rewarding… and this award is now time for me to reflect upon the various places I’ve been to, and all that I have learnt there,” he added.

Is it easier to shoot in foreign destinations than in India?

“I feel there is no place called abroad, and there is no one place called India either. Every place will have its own difficulties… It’s not always difficult to shoot in India, and it has not been easy either always to shoot abroad. And vice versa. It’s a mix of both types,” said the 45-year-old Jamshedpur-born talent.

Imtiaz’s travel escapades have been enriching for his professional career.

“For two reasons — one, travelling in itself makes you discover newer things about yourself, and this kind of a self-reminder and awakening is very important for filmmaking.

“The other thing is that when you work abroad, it’s a very different way of working and you learn different things from them… Things that people don’t use in India, and that happens wherever in the world you shoot.

“There’s a different discipline and different ethics of work. So both ways, travel benefits me as a filmmaker,” said the director, who has cast superstar Shah Rukh Khan as a travel guide in Europe for his next directorial, tentatively titled “The Ring”.

Does he think Shah Rukh — who enjoys superstardom like none other in the country — will be convincing as a mere tourist guide?

Laughing it off, Imtiaz said: “Well, why not? That depends on how good an actor he is and how good a director and team we are to make him look convincing as a tour guide.”

“This should be answered after you watch the film,” he said, voice exuding the confidence that he’s out to make another successful entertainer.

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