A Wild Lover Of God

Bureau Report, “‘Rumi’s a bridge between east & west'” – The Times Of India – India
The maker of the all-time classic Umrao Jaan is all set to end his over-a-decade-long hiatus from filmmaking.

Muzaffar Ali, the filmmaker-turned-fashion designer has turned a movie maker again, and is planning an epic on the life of the 13th century mystic poet Rumi – often regarded as the epitome of Sufi tradition.

Being widely read, the Persian poet is the Oriental world’s apt ambassador in the West, believes Muzaffar, who is yet to decide on the lead actors.

“Rumi is a bridge between East and the West, and is the right person to dispel the incorrect notions that West harbours for the other side of the world,” says he, adding, “he is also the most widely read poet in America.”

Describing his concept of the protagonist in Rumi – The Fire of Love, Muzaffar says the poet was a scholar who went on to become a “wild lover of God”.

“My film traces the journey from his initial life to the making of a poet who wrote about the oneness of God,” says Muzaffar. “It will also explore the mystic friendship he shared with the dervish Shams-e-Tabrizi,” he added.

Ali, says he arrived at the final script for the historical after setting aside 25 initial drafts, and that he has done intensive research on the subject, sifting through the history of 13th century Persia, what now comprises Turkey.

The filmmaker also studied in detail the rise of the Seljuk dynasty, which ruled the region from the later part of the eleventh century till the onset of the fourteenth century. The Seljuk period, which brought Muslim rule at the doorstep of Europe by defeating the Byzantine empire thereby spawning a new era, was central to the period in which Rumi lived, the director said.

“I read about the Seljuk period intensively – its art and culture, the architecture and textiles. I also read a lot of literature belonging to that period,” he said. “Come to my house to see the quantum of research I have carried out on the subject,” he added.

The film, which will be produced in collaboration with the Qatar Foundation run by the wife of the Gulf state’s Emir, will take another year to go on the floor, revealed Ali, who has been assisted on the script by American Sufi expert Kabir Helminsky and noted scriptwriter, Shama Zaidi.

“The moment the financial issues are settled we will put in place casting directors,” the director said, when asked whether the actors who will play the lead roles have been decided upon.

The director, whose critical acclaim rests on films like Umrao Jaan and Gaman also confessed to be a lover of period dramas. “I love making period films because they enable me to create magic on screen. It is the idea of being possessed by a particular period through its imagination,” he said.

The director, however, believes Indian film makers have not done justice to historically important events of the country, including independence and the first war of independence. “Despite 1857 and 1947 being water-shed years in the history of our country, films based on the periods are so few, they can counted on fingertips,” Ali said.

“There should have been hundreds films on the subjects, the medium of cinema should have been better used to make people aware of the history of our independence and the massive tragedy it brought in its wake,” he added.