After delivering three commercial successes, one bigger than the other, Ali Abbas Zafar has firmly established himself as one of the most successful directors to have set foot in the Hindi film industry in the recent times. After delivering two hits (‘Mere Brother Ki Dulhan’ and ‘Gunday’) and a blockbuster success (‘Sultan’), Zafar is all set to unleash his biggest and most ambitious film till date this Christmas. In this interview, he talks about his new film ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, that is, arguably, the biggest Hindi feature film to release this year.
‘Ek Tha Tiger’ was a thriller, had a political backdrop to it but it had a love story at the core of it. The political and thriller element seems to be more prominent in ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’. Would you agree to that?
The film does not have a political angle as such but there is definitely a lot of thrill that the audience can look forward to. ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ traced the love story of a RAW and ISI agent. In this film, they are on a mission and hence, it would be appropriate to categorize it as a thriller. This film will explore Tiger (Salman Khan) and Zoya (Katrina Kaif) more as agents than just as lovers.
Neelesh Misra had co-written ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ with Kabir Khan. He has been credited as the co-writer on ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ as well. What has been his contribution to this film?
Neelesh and I worked on the story together. Then, I wrote the screenplay and dialogue myself. He has been a journalist and has worked on documentaries as well. He had done a lot research on the incident this film is inspired from. His inputs helped a lot in setting the film in a realistic space.
Last year, a prominent filmmaker had to change the nationalities of a few important characters in his film due to the escalating tension between India and Pakistan. Did you anticipate any controversy as one of the principal characters in ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ is a Pakistani and that too an ISI agent?
Those were different times. My film is not just about song and dance. It talks about a larger issue that goes beyond the nationality of a character. When people watch the film, they will, hopefully, realise that the film talks about the importance of peace and brotherhood. It does not take any political side. When you watched ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ and saw the protagonist going all the way across the border to help a little girl from Pakistan reach home, did you feel offended?
‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ had released at a time when the relations between the two countries were not as bad as they are now.
I am not talking about the political climate here. The average audience would have appreciated ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ even it would have released today.