Arif Ali – My brother Imtiaz has made challenging films

Arif Ali’s debut directorial venture Lekar Hum Deewana Dil has just released and excitement levels are nerve-wrecking. To add to the pressure, people have already been comparing him to his older brother – noted director Imtiaz Ali (Jab We Met, Rockstar). But Arif remains determinedly nonchalant about the comparison.

“Neither am I trying to prove that I am making something different from his films nor am I here to prove that I am like him. All said and done, I am happy that I am being compared to Imtiaz because he is a very good director!”

But Arif’s cinema is not as experimental as Imtiaz’s. Says Arif: “He has made more challenging films with Rockstar and Highway. I would, however, love it if my film is in the popular vein like Jab We Met! I believe in the popular genre of films, something that reaches out to maximum number of people.”

Imtiaz has been the supportive elder brother to Arif while he struggled to make his first film. Arif says, “He is protective but not in a vocal way. During the promotions of my film, he did not give any interviews. And that’s fine. I know he is there but I would like to do this on my own.”

The brothers grew up in a small town in Jharkhand and Arif recalls Imtiaz and he would often catch movies for free at their cousin’s theatres. He reveals with a smile, “We have watched really obscure movies multiple times. We actually remembered scenes of movies that many would have not even heard of!”

Making films was a natural progression. He relates, “Stories interested me since I was a child. I would watch a lot of plays and would come up with my own stories. And the fact that Bhaiya (Imtiaz) was into it too was an added attraction.” But Arif had a tough time landing a break into the film industry. “I wanted a family and a house. So by the time I was ready to make a film I had a lot of responsibilities to take care of,” he says. “Staying away from my family was the hardest part of making a transition into films. You are used to a certain lifestyle after some years of working and to compromise on that is difficult,” adds the director whose wife had to take up a job abroad to ensure regular cash flow.

And he remained adamant about not using his brother’s name. Arif feels that things fall into place when you have a strong yen. He says, “In my email to AR Rahman. I did not mention that I was Imtiaz’s brother. I just told him about my story and that it would be wonderful if we could meet and discuss the possibility of working together. He mailed back in no time and things just fell into place. Like magic!”

- Noyon Jyoti Parasara, Bollywood News Service

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