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Dreaming on... together



TWO'S COMPANY: Meera and Muzaffar Ali share a candid moment at their South Delhi residence. Photo: S. Arneja.

STOP DREAMING and you are dead. Paulo Coelho in his best-selling novel "Alchemist" inspires one to dream and desire and believe that dreams do convert into reality if only one does not give up. Ask Muzzaffar Ali, a handsome filmmaker, thinker, music wizard, dress designer, a devout husband and a doting father of three; sons Murad and Shaad and a daughter Sama.

Describing himself as a "family person" Ali confesses he had always been a dreamer, a dreamer of classic arts who devoted his entire self in realising his dreams. You have seen his dreams in Umrao Jaan, his dress designs and his passion for Sufi music, never compromising on quality.

For Ali, dress designing or say the business of fabric is never slender. It always reaps profit. But warns, "innovations and changes are must. People have grown choosy about designs now." And to bring innovations Ali makes sketches. Around 500 artisans work for him at Kotwara, Lucknow. A proof of which you can see at the ongoing Lakme India Fashion Week. "In LIFW I am introducing khaki lines with chikan work in patches from Lucknow especially Kotwara. We are calling it chikan with khaki especially meant for travelling. Also we are going to set intellectual trends by blending simple embroidery with few blocks plus a range of designs on kurta and saris," reveals Ali while asserting that he is "mainly focusing on the craft from the region rather than mass-produce items". You will not witness any emeralds or precious/semi precious stones in his work. Right now, they are a strict no-no for him.

Ali's personal life too, is driven by many of his dreams, shared by his second wife Meera, an architect by passion and profession, whom he met 13 years ago during the making of a film. "She had an aura, a personality of her own, a grace and poise. Moreover, she shared my passion for art and I reciprocated hers. Not for the sake of it but because of our temperament," Ali recalls while his eyes droop in shyness, a trademark of a typical Lucknow-bred man. "I wanted someone in my life who could give preference to family life first and whom I could trust before entrusting upon family and professional responsibilities. Meera was one who not only had an eye for art but was also was a low-profile kind-of-a-person. Hence, we married," Ali's coy smile transforms into a pearly grin - he, however, avoids an eye contact when he speaks of his love life!

Meera is designing Ali's haveli of around 10 acres, having countless rooms, his schools that his village Kotwara have, and also does embroidery on clothes. "Due to our association and franchises in India and abroad, I can see big dreams and turn them into reality," he states. But he does not forget the pain of his first, broken marriage, "For Subhashini, (his first wife) concerns of nation were of more importance than her husband and family. Our interests clashed, so we got separated," Ali hides the bitterness with grace.

Talk of his children and the pain seems to vanish. "Murad is a mast, Shaad is serious. Both have grown up among the film people so films for a choice of was natural to them". Murad has worked in Dil To Pagal Hai, Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin, Haasil and many more films, while Shaad is the maker of Saathiya.

"They were very naughty in their Lawrence School at Kasauli. I used to leave them at school and then fetch them from there. Once when I reached there, I saw Shaad cleaning the floor of the school with a broom! It was a punishment for him for some naughty prank. Murad's teacher, tired of his pranks, would pour soap water in his tiffin to punish him," Ali breaks into laughter.

He is, however, a worried father when it comes to his 11-year-old daughter Sama. "Last year I have put her in Mayo Girls Boarding School in Ajmer. It still retains values unlike Delhi schools."

Where on one hand the inordinate delay in the making of Zooni worries him, on the other, "a very big film on international canvas scripted by an American writer", his next dream project, makes him smile.

And we know. We will watch that turn into reality!

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