‘I am not Imtiaz’

His brother Imtiaz Ali’s success helped open doors but Sajid Ali,who makes his debut as a writer with Cocktail,will tread his own path

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza | Published: July 5, 2012 4:40:46 am

His brother Imtiaz Ali’s success helped open doors but Sajid Ali,who makes his debut as a writer with Cocktail,will tread his own path

Nothing prepares you for this industry,” says Sajid Ali,adding,“Not even the experience of two elder brothers.” The writer,who is the younger sibling of director Imtiaz Ali,is making his Bollywood debut as a co-writer with the upcoming movie Cocktail. Sajid and Imtiaz’s other sibling,Arif,is also a writer. He penned the dialogues for the 2006-film Ahista Ahista and is set to make his directorial debut.

On the contrary,Sajid points out,Imtiaz’s success clouded people’s perception of him. “The relationship did open doors,but I’d often have to start meetings with producers and directors with a disclaimer that I am not a clone of or a replacement for Imtiaz. A producer didn’t even bother calling me back when I told him that I cannot write him a Jab We Met; my zone is different and closer to reality,” says the 28-year-old.

Working out of his Andheri residence,Sajid claims he has few things in common with Imtiaz: “I don’t read so much; the books belong to my wife,” he asserts. However,he shares with his brother the same polite deliberation in the way he speaks. “Imtiaz is 12 years older and he left Jamshedpur to pursue studies when I was in kindergarten. I would see him only once or twice a year and he,with all his achievements,became like a father figure to me. There are so many aspects of Imtiaz that I imbibed subconsciously,” he admits.

Today,the young writer is keen to establish his own identity. “Imtiaz had established himself as a writer by the time I was making career choices,” he reminisces. He got some exposure to theatre writing and developed an interest in writing short stories during his graduation years at Jai Hind College in Mumbai,but did not openly express it for the fear of “copying his brothers”.

Eventually,Sajid went to London in 2008 to pursue a course in filmmaking. “But I was always drawn to current affairs and socio-political issues,” he points out. Two years after he returned in 2009,Sajid wrote a script in this similar space for Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision,but the project didn’t take off. Around the same time,Cocktail happened. “The makers were looking for a dialogue writer who would be well-versed with the lingo of Asians in London,and Dinesh Vijan (the producer) met me,” he explains.

Though he has been credited for both screenplay and dialogues of Cocktail,the writer,says Imtiaz — who has penned the story — is “magnanimous” in sharing credit. “He wrote the story in such detail that very little work was required on it,” he points out. But Sajid says that while the story bears the stamp of his brother,one may see a bit of him in the dialogues. “They are extremely contemporary and some were written during brainstorming sessions with Dinesh and director Homi Adajania. We’d say things in jest,some of it made its way on paper,” he adds.

The film releases on July 13 but Sajid is not anxious. “I was happy with the end product when I saw Cocktail,but perhaps I need to be a little nervous,” says the writer who is set to sign a thriller next. “I am aware that much for me depends on this movie,but to me,the real test of a writer is after his second or third film. Do-teen achi kahaaniyaan toh sab ke paas hoti hain (everyone has a few good stories to tell).”

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