Ali Abbas Zafar
Ali Abbas Zafar is one of those Bollywood directors who has been producing successful films one after the other.
His first movie 'Gunday' did quite well at the box office, but it was his last film 'Sultan' that created a record. It was one of the only four Bollywood films that crossed the Rs 300 crore mark. He's back again to break records with 'Tiger Zinda Hai', starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif which released this weekend.
In a chat, Ali talks about the pressures of making a big-budget film like this.
'Tiger Zinda Hai' is the sequel of 'Ek Tha Tiger'. What were your expectations while making the film and how did it turn out with the final cuts?
It was an exciting film to make, a genre that any director will enjoy. It's a contemporary style of filmmaking and I had a lot of fun with it. After a film like 'Sultan', which is a personal and intimate film, 'Tiger...' was a completely different one. But I'm glad that it shaped out well in the end.
You shot in some of the most beautiful places. Which one was your favourite?
I loved shooting in Austria. It was absolutely stunning and our shooting location was in the Alps. What made those scenes interesting were the wild wolves we worked with. Yes, they are trained wolves but we had no idea how they would react to certain conditions. It was definitely challenging and a great learning experience.
After a film like 'Sultan', do you feel the pressure to do well in this film as well?
Of course! Whenever you do a film with superstars like Salman and Katrina, the pressure slowly builds on. 'Sultan' was a very special film and 'Tiger...', especially being the sequel film of an already hit film, made it challenging. The expectations of the audience have also risen and it is my duty as the director to deliver. Nevertheless, I'm happy with my team and everything from the promotions to the songs was executed brilliantly.
There's a comparison of the film being similar to the Malayalam film 'Take Off'. What do you have to say about that?
The basic plot might be the same - the abduction of Indian nurses - but my film is completely fictional. I started writing the film much before 'Take Off' was released. I haven't seen that film yet but I've heard great reviews about it. Having said that, 'Tiger...' has fictional characters like Tiger and Zoya and it's about their emotional journey throughout the film. It's about the way the characters are dealing with situations in that particular place and how they handle the situation.
'Sultan' and 'Tiger Zinda Hai' are compared to 'Dangal' and 'Take Off', both of which are based on real-life stories. Do you think that you might be known as the director who makes fictional versions of realistic films?
The point of filmmaking is such that you can use fiction to show a real event. The cinematic effects allow you to broaden your horizon while keeping the emotions intact. Take 'Titanic' for example. It's a completely fictional movie based on real events. So is 'Lagaan'. It's the job of the director to portray things and use that creative freedom to tell that story.
There's always something that actors learn from directors. What's something you learn when working with actors?
The years of experience an actor brings on screen is a learning factor. I am open to improvisation and I give my actors complete freedom to do so. I let them know it's their scene and it's in their hands to keep the essence of the scene alive.
What are you planning next?
I just want to get a few days of sleep and then decide what I want to do.