New Delhi: Literature is best left alone in the
spirit of celebrated French-Swiss filmmaker Jean Luc-Godard's
philosophy that good literature makes bad cinema, says filmmaker
and writer Saeed Akhtar Mirza.
"I feel as a form literature exists in the written word - let it
be here as the raison d'etre why somebody writes. Whenever I read
a good book, it never crosses my mind to make a film," Mirza told
IANS in an interview here.
"I feel literature has its own space. I would rather write an
original screenplay for my films. I have a compartmentalised mind.
I can separate the two - literature and screenplay. I personally
would not like to adapt," Mirza said.
The filmmaker-writer, who was in the capital recently to promote
his new book "The Monk, The Moor & Moses Ben Jalloun", is known
for his original screenplays for movies "Arvind Desai ki Ajeeb
Dastaan", "Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho", "Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata
Hain", "Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro", "Naseem" and popular teleserial "Nukkad".
The 68-year-old writer is inspired by "all kinds of things" for
"When you take on a subject of law, one must remember that it is
the last recourse to an ordinary citizen. That was the idea behind
'Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho'. In 'Salim Langde...', I have tried to look
at the lumpenisation of Muslims in the city. A young man tries to
break free and he is on a dead-end street," Mirza said, recalling
the inspirations for his screenplays.
The story of 'Nukkad' - the popular 1986 teleserial - was
conceived on the streets.
"I have spent a lot of time on the streets in schools and college
as a student of St. Xavier's (in Mumbai). It was an incredible
learning experience at restaurant and cafes. I spoke to the
boot-polish fellows. I learnt so much about people. Street corners
are the places where you are yourself - it somehow elevates the
human spirit. Once the ideas are in place, it does not take very
long," Mirza said walking down the "Nukkad" memory lane.
Filmmaking does not excite Mirza any more. "I need to get excited
about something," he said.
"By the very nature of cinema, it does not give you enough space
to meander which literature does. Literature offers a far more
holistic view of the world - cinema is a spotlight, it is
concentrated," Mirza said.
Mirza became a writer with his debut novel, "Ammi - Letter to a
Democratic Mother", in 2008.
"I needed a canvas or vehicle to convey all that was going on in
my mind," he said.
But Mirza does not deny the influence of cinema on the psyche of
the nation. "Cinema is a national pastime. It is a part of the
nation's dreams. A lot of India's psyche and behavioral pattern
have been shaped by cinema... But I am very comfortable with
writing," Mirza said.
(Madhushree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)