‘I couldn’t complete the film due to militancy’
Celebrated film director Muzaffar Ali Saturday bemoaned that his much ambitious project ‘Zooni’ was a tragedy for him as he could not complete the film due to insurgency in Kashmir.
Participating in a penal discussion ‘Depiction of Urdu Culture in Muslim Social Films’ at the 4th edition of Urdu festival Jashn-e-Rekhta here, Ali said that his aim was to showcase Kashmir to the international audience, but it had been aborted half way.
“I can tell the parts shot for the film are the best ones,” he said. “Sadly, we could not complete the movie for varied reasons, the main being the militancy that broke out in Kashmir.”
He said Kashmir assumed great significance for us and that was why he had chosen it for the international audience.
Zooni was a movie conceived by Ali in 1987 and was to bring in focus Habba Khatoon, famous Kashmiri poetess and queen, who married Yusuf Shah Chak, the last ruler of independent Kashmir.
Chak was dethroned by Mughal emperor, Akbar and subsequently banished.
He died in Bihar where he is buried in Biswak.
Zooni was first such attempt to project Kashmir and its history, politics and culture.
However, a dismayed Ali said, “It is a tragedy for me.”
Without mentioning whether he was contemplating to revive its production, he said, “We tried a lot but could not move forward.”
Ali said, “Besides militancy, Vinod Khanna also could not give his time that delayed it.”
Khanna along with Dimple Kapadia had the lead role in the movie.
Lauding Kashmir’s rich culture and music he said it had enriched it lot.
“They have preserved their culture in all its forms and it is very rich, and Mohan Lal Aima, the music composer was very helpful to me,” he said.
Recalling that Jahan-e-Khusru had also an imprint from Kashmir, he said, “During my three-year long stay there I was inspired a lot by Kashmir’s syncretic Sufi culture.”
Ali said the movie had to be shot in four different seasons of Kashmir which are competing in their beauty.
Two seasons were shot and third one was a bit incomplete after the work on film started in 1988.
Then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had helped Ali to move on with his project.
Stating that it was his dream project, Ali said it could have done very well in the international market.
Zooni had the potential of introducing Kashmir in a different fashion.
It was to have two versions – English for the international audience and Urdu for the national one.
Japan’s Oscar-winner composer, Riyuchi Sakamoto was supposed to give music to the international version with songs in Kashmiri by Mohan Lal Aima.
According to Ali, Urdu songs were written by Shahryar and music by Khayyam.
A New York-based writer James Killough wrote the script with Urdu dialogues by Asghar Wajahat.
The world-renowned fashion designer, Mary McFadden of New York designed the costumes of the film.
Besides Ali, Bollywood actors Waheeda Rehman and Shabana Azmi were in conversation with Ira Bhaskar talking about various facets of Muslim Social Films.
Thousands of people attended the session with great interest.