'Our film is not a 100-cr project, not multi-starrer'

Producer's cut

This is for the first time, designer Meera Muzaffar Ali of label Kotwara has turned producer for Jaanisaar which released over the weekend. Metrolife caught up with the wife of filmmaker Muzaffar Ali at a Bridal wedding exhibition, Wedding Asia, recently.

She said, “Our film is not a multi-starrer and is not a 100-crore project. This is kind of a film which is art and content driven. It is a kind of independent cinema done by Muzaffar after a few years and it has already created a lot of curiosity.” Starring Imran Abbas and Pernia Qureshi, this period drama revolves around the passionate relationship between a courtesan in Awadh and an England-bred confused young prince.  

Touted as Muzaffar’s comeback film after the cult Umrao Jaan starring Rekha in 1981, Meera believes the film will showcase his potential as a filmmaker all over again. “He is a painter, a designer and is very fond of poetry. He composes music and now he is into acting as well. So what better than being a filmmaker because it (filmmaking) encompasses all sides of creativity,” She told Metrolife. “Being a painter, he can visualise his sets and each look and frame well. Being fond of poetry, he could research and get the best poetry for his film. He has also composed songs for the film, along with Shafqat Ali from Pakistan. He has acted in the film and, together, we have designed the costumes. So, his multifaceted personality is fully visible.”

Earlier, the duo had decided to name the film as Raqs, but it was later changed to Jaanisaar. On the change of the name, Meera elaborated, “Raqs, which was a working title, was not doing justice to the theme of the film.  As we developed the story and started shooting, the film became more than just dance, as Raqs means dance.”

“It is a love story set in very turbulent times of 1870s, a time when the struggle for Indian Independence was simmering. So we needed a bigger name which could encompass that feeling. Jaanisaar means, ‘one who gives up his life’. It could be for the country, for the love, or for the beloved. So it had all the connotations that we needed. That’s the reason why we changed the name.”

Meera was all praise for the leading co-stars who have made their Bollywood debut with this film. “It being Pernia’s first film, she was nervous in the beginning, but she was hard-working. So by the end of the film, she had become a pro. Imran is a veteran TV actor from Pakistan. He is a very good and accomplished actor who understands the language and the milieu of that period because he comes from such a background, so it was good to work with him,” she said, adding finding the right face for the male
protagonist’s role was a bit tedious since they wanted someone fresh.

“We wanted a new face for the Indian Cinema. We were looking for someone who could be the character and not bear the load of his personality. Suddenly, he appeared out of the blue. He was in Delhi and called up Muzaffar saheb, and asked if he could come and meet. The minute Muzaffar saw him, he realised, he was the perfect fit for the film.”

The designer duo relied heavily on research for the costumes for the film, something they have been doing since 1990 for their couture label House of Kotwara, which draws inspirations from the traditional craft techniques from regions with royal legacies like
Hyderabad and Kashmir.

“We were dealing with a certain period and so we had to be true to that period. At the same time, we wanted to add the Victorian touch to it because it is a period of the British. So we played with that and the boy (Abbas) who has come from England in the film has a completely Western style of dressing and the girl (Qureshi) has a completely Indian style of dressing.” 

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