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For you, ‘Ammi’

Saeed Mirza is back. This time with his debut book Ammi

photo: sandeep saxena

All’s said Saeed Mirza: ‘How casually people generalise words like civilised, uncivilised, democratic’

It’s about the memories of his dear mother who passed away in 1990 — whom he couldn’t see despite being in the same city — her love, her ‘free’ opinion, and her strength. It’s about his angst with the West th at “refuses to be indebted to the East for all they have borrowed from it.”

It is about countless lives and tales he heard on a long journey within and outside India for the past many years. And it’s about a film that challenged the West but could never be made because “the producer got scared” and decided to fund Bandit Queen instead.

It’s Ammi — Letter to a Democratic Mother, Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s debut novel.

Mirza, known for his ‘off-beat’ films like Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai, Salim Lagde Pe Mat Ro, Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho and serials like Nukkad and Intezar took three-and-a-half years to complete the book.

“There was so much to say. All that wouldn’t have been contained in a single film. I don’t know how people would react to it. I have broken several rules of writing in it. I didn’t stick to the so-called ‘form’ of a book. Such books can’t be penned within rules,” says Mirza.

What got Mirza to pen this book was annoyance. “How casually people generalise words like civilised, uncivilised, democratic… and those who use it too often are incredibly powerful and unscrupulous. I have tried to find an alternative to these words. I tried to have a vision.”

Not that the book reads as unpalatably as the thought may appear to many.

It is woven into stories, he says, of how his mother would get him ready for school with hugs and kisses, how she tailored a girlish ‘frilled shirt’ for him when he was five, how a love life begins within restricted family norms and much more.

Meanwhile, the film-maker is ready with the story for his next film “Savdhaan, Meri Jaan” produced by Rajat Kapoor. “By September the film would be ready,” he smiles. And for those looking for big stars, here is news: “There is no big actor. Only some familiar names like Sourabh Shukla, Rajat Kapoor and Vijay Raaz.”

You guessed it right; it’s about many people in a big city!

RANA SIDDIQUI

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