New Delhi: Imtiaz Ali's films have an unmistakable Sufi influence in them, with Persian poet Rumi's writings finding a special mention in his cinema.
The director, however, says he is credited with a lot more understanding of the faith than he actually has. 'Rockstar' was the first film where the director touched upon Rumi's poetry. His lines, "Yahaan se bahut door, ghalat aur sahi ke paar, ek maidan hai. Main wahaan milunga tujhe (Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there...)" echoed throughout the film.
And now his latest release "Jab Harry Met Sejal" has a tagline - "What you seek is seeking you". "It is coincidental, particularly about Maulana Rumi, because a lot of things that he has written, they have found relevance to what I was doing at various stages of my life," Ali told PTI in an interview.
"I am given more credit about understanding it than I have." Recalling the background of the 'Rockstar' song 'Nadaan Parindey', the director says someone sent him a poem of Rumi and it became the central refrain of the song.
"I was doing the opening part of 'Nadaan parindey'. We were doing the drum tracks and shooting certain scenes to go with the song in the movie.
"At that time someone sent me a text saying, 'When will the bird come home'... We then came down to 'Nadaan parindey ghar aa jaa'. I asked Irshad (Kamil, lyricist) and (A R) Rahman sahab whether this could be the central thought of the song."
Ali says while he understands that he is making films to entertain, he also considers it a huge responsibility as cinema is one of the most important and influential art forms today.
"Stage was not considered literature earlier, cinema is not considered literature now, but it is. Cinema influences perhaps more people than books. This is my seventh film and there is a certain sense of responsibility that what I am doing is going to be etched forever. I am aware that what we do is also a creation of literature."
Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma play the lead roles in 'Jab Harry Met Sejal'. Ali says Shah Rukh was the first person that he narrated the story to and the superstar ended up being a part of it.
"When I told Shah Rukh, I did not know whether I was pitching the movie to him or just discussing it. It started off as a conversation with my mother and then it gained momentum. The first person I spoke to seriously about this was incidentally Shah Rukh."
Ali says Anushka, with whom he is collaborating for the first time, was the most suited to play the Gujarati girl Sejal.
"I don't know what would have happened had she not done this role. She is very suited for this part but she is not like Sejal. There are certain physical aspects, that match but Sejal is instinctive to the extent of being insensitive because she is yet to have that journey."