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Zoya Akhtar Quotes

    But disco is the remedy for ghosts.

    So at 19, I faced my first blank page as a professional writer.

    To make a good film is an art. Gender is irrelevant when it comes to craft of filmmaking.

    At 19, while studying at St Xavier’s College and majoring in literature and sociology, I got my first job as a copywriter. It was at a company called the Script Shop.

    I definitely want a partner and would like to spend the rest of my life with somebody, but I don’t care if am married or not.

    Films like ‘Scarface’, ‘The Godfather’, ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino’ are something I can watch again and again and from anywhere. I love them so I have to make one.

    I think actors get paid a lot and technicians don’t get paid enough and I think that it should change because a good film, which is like a complete package, needs every single member of that team. I think we need to pay them more.

    Writing is my main interest; it is where my heart is. I always want to continue writing. Apart from that, I enjoy casting and hopefully want to direct too.

    I don’t really know a normal family. In fact, I don’t know a perfect person. So, how can a family be perfect and frankly if there are any, they will be very boring like I won’t want them over for dinner.

    I love music, but can’t hold a note in a bucket. I can’t sing, can’t play an instrument.

    What a good actor brings to a script is something, sometimes, even directors can’t imagine. The director should always have the last say though.

    I like hip-hop personally. It is a genre I am very attached to and have been listening to all my life. But I have always engaged with foreign artistes, never with mainstream Indian hip-hop rap space.

    As cinema is a reflection of the world around us, with more women coming into the mainstream business, more women narratives will grab the limelight.

    I like movies too much. I watch all kinds of films. In a way, all filmmakers are basically audience.

    As film makers or any artiste that put work out there, what you are doing on your level is that you are putting consciousness out into the world.

    Even though ‘Luck By Chance’ is set in the film industry, the lead characters are people you know and see, but they are not your friends.

    Every time you make a film you want to put something out there and that’s important to me.

    My biggest challenge was when I had my first panic attack at 27. It’s not something you can ignore, you can’t sit around and get sucked into a rabbit hole.

    We were allowed to make mistakes. I mean that is a real privilege, to be able to go your own way, find your voice, just have a support system that allows you to do all that.

    I’m obsessed with people, I’m obsessed with human behavior. I just watch people.

    Pieces of my life, no matter how scattered, are being stitched together and reflect in my work.

    I feel blessed and lucky with my family, not because of the privilege, of course, I’m grateful for that as well that we never wanted anything.

    Most good actors you work with, they actually bring something to the creative process and to the script. They help shape the character with you. Whereas, some actors are so worried about their image and not about the character, it doesn’t help the story.

    I feel like all my films have my politics. As a film-maker, whatever story you’re telling, your value system comes out.

    Well, everyone in my family is a writer. There is a big contribution on the script level by everyone.

    I had an experience which I could not explain to myself and to others while I was on my way back from a south Mumbai party. It was near Haji Ali. All six of us who were travelling went through this. And this experience which I went through became the vital ingredient of the story of ‘Talaash’.

    I think there is nothing more important in forming a human being than your family. It is how you have been brought up and been taken care of that eventually is how you will deal with and treat the world.

    I was an executive producer. I’ve done a lot of jobs and I think each one helps you get closer to what you want as a director. It also helps you – when you work with different filmmakers – to absorb, to adapt, to know what to watch out for, to know pitfalls.

    I’m a writer, so I like nuances.

    I write my films with Reema Kagti, and I think all the characters that I have written, somewhere or the other, reflect my thoughts, ideology and morality.

    As a filmmaker when you show your film to anybody, you want it to be liked. You want the reviews to be positive. After watching your film, you want people to feel good.

    I come from a space where I wouldn’t say all, but most of the films have really shortchanged women. I don’t mean just the actresses, even just depicting us in that culture.

    The class system in India is very hard, and it is very unfair.

    I am thrilled and very grateful that ‘Gully Boy’ has been picked as India’s official entry for the Oscars.

    The biggest piece is my family… From watching films like The Godfather on our dining room wall, to having a great relationship with my sibling. Or going on weekend trips with our cousins to the beach and eating all day… it’s been a crazy childhood; a ‘bohemian one’.

    Who will you replace Dibakar Banerjee with? There isn’t another one.

    When you colonise someone’s dream, that’s the worst thing you can do.

    I mean tomorrow if I want to make a film about a queen that lived in the 15th century, I can’t be like I can’t make it. I should be able to make it.

    Freedom is a sentiment associated with the youth. It is rebellion. It is what you feel at that age, and it is very important.

    I want to do all kind of films. I don’t want to be bracketed into one kind of cinema and if somebody does that, then it is on them.

    We are absolutely open to working with outside directors. But the criteria for working with outside directors would be the script they have, the kind of vision they have.

    But if you can empathise with a character and if you can emotionally resonate with that character and understand their emotional journey, I think you are home.

    Some of my characters are drawn from people I know whereas others are an amalgamation of people or one specific person. Sometimes a character is simply fictional. It is always a mix.

    I’ve grown up in the film industry and I’ve been watching them, analyzing them, laughing at them, totally understanding them and getting their point of view, and, at times, taking up for them. So I’m part of it and it’s part of me.

    It is nice to be out there, amongst contemporaries on a global scale. You meet different people, see different things, meet different producers, eventually grow to collaborate in different ways. The world is getting smaller. It’s nice not to be insular.

    I want to make a period film, I want to make a film set in another country. I want to make a foreign film. I want to make everything eventually. I am a storyteller. I have many stories to tell.

    I draw cinematic and photography and art references from everywhere. That’s part of my job. So yes, you watch films, you see artists for palettes, photographers for mood.

    When you’re scoring music for a film, it has to be interwoven with the narrative, it has to reflect the mood, the ethos.

    My evenings are usually spent eating cake with tea, which I should stop. Then I either hang with friends or watch something. I like my evenings free because that is when I get to spend time with myself, my dogs or with friends.

    We need to develop artists who are not just scoring films. I’m hoping ‘Gully Boy’ can help with that.

    You realize you have to become aware of your inner monologue. The things you say to yourself. This raised my consciousness so it was vital to my growth, I would say.

    The whole class system has oppressed so many people and given them such lack of opportunity. They are fed such strong narratives that this is where you belong and this is where you are.

    This is kind of a dual existence where you are harsh but at the same time emotional. You are there because you have experienced trauma.

    See I think we are nervous about every movie before it’s release, irrespective of who has directed the movie.

    It is a part of us, film-makers and audiences; what we can’t say with dialogues, we say with a song. We tell stories through songs, look at our folk cultures.

    Because you don’t have opportunity to study, you don’t have opportunity to further yourself. And you kind of tend to believe your lot that this is what you have been given. I think on some level we have colonised people, our own people.

    In ‘Gully Boy’, of course, Ranveer Singh’s performance has largely decided what the songs will look and feel like.

    At the end of my life, I want to have a body of work that has everything.

    I have to have a story I really want to tell, and then it makes sense to put things out there. So if you see, 2018 was again crazy for me. I did ‘Lust Stories’, ‘Made in Heaven’ and ‘Gully Boy’.

    So, I have those spurts where I get completely mad because I have those stories to tell but if I don’t have, I’m happy to kick back also.

    I have friends and experience from everywhere; I’ve worked in all kinds of locations and situations and in all kinds of job profiles, so there’s a varied experience that comes handy. And there’s something nice when you do something you’ve to push yourself to do it.

    Films were always a passion for me but it was when I saw ‘Salaam Bombay’ that I decided that it was film direction that I was interested in. That is when I decided I wanted to direct films.

    There was no pressure at home regarding grades. We were expected to study and pass but luckily our parents gave us a broader education.

    As a director the first level of management is people. You have to deal with about 100 creative egos and make sure they subscribe to your vision and give you their best.

    Don’t try to be anyone else because that’s been done before. Find yourself and what makes you tick.

    I had the best shooting experience in Dharavi. People are so cooperative and busy with their work that they don’t have time to be star struck.

    As far as the theatrical experience is concerned, I will be highly disappointed if that goes away. I have grown up watching films in theatres so that community experience should never go.

    I have learnt not to ignore instincts. While making a film, when your gut feels that you are going wrong, please take that seriously.

    I have a phobia. I have a serious phobia of rodents. I don’t even like white mice, hamsters.

    I had a press conference and I fell down on stage! Because I was in a skirt, dude. And there was this genius on stage and someone told me please sit and I went to sit and he pulled the chair off from under me! I did my whole thing, after that, I was really upset.

    I only drink wine, beer, and champagne. I’ve never had hard liquor, I’ve never had a whiskey drink in my life. I just don’t like it.

    Every time we have a woman on-screen, we can empower her in a different way rather than just giving a speech on the importance of equality and empowerment. I think sometimes we have to show her as powerful.

    When it comes to writing characters, whether men or women, I think a good writer writes good characters. I know many men who, for years, have written strong, progressive women characters.

    I am always pleasantly surprised by the criticism because I learn from it and sometimes shocked by it.

    I don’t know what will come my way but I will continue to tell stories that excite me. I feel human beings are same everywhere, they work from a gamut of emotions the rest is just backdrop.

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