The director, who has redefined romance in Bollywood by giving lovable, relatable characters to audiences, says he is intrigued by the story and by the fact that it has refused to leave him all these years. "I intended this to be my first film. I thought of it first while I was directing TV serials. Over the years, I wrote the script, forgot about it and continued to visit it time and again but I would always end up doing other movies," Ali told in an interview.
Ali has completed 70 per cent of the film Highway. Starring Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt, Highway is co-produced by Ali and Sajid Nadiadwala under a new banner, White Window. It is slated to release on December 13 this year. The director believes it is his most honest work till date.
"I have thought of making this story in so many ways that finally what has come is the very essence. All the hard substances are gone from it. Also, I wanted to do it in a very pure manner and not contaminate it because sometimes your own incapacity as a storyteller comes in the way and you think of shortcuts." "I am also trying to discover what it is that this story has always been in my mind. What is so intensely fascinating about it that I have not let it go," says Ali.
As the name suggests, Highway is set in six different states and captures the journey of two completely opposite people who are thrown together by fate. Ali is confident that Randeep and Alia fit the bill perfectly. "I was looking for a very city girl for the character of Veera Tripathi. She is very high society, rich girl who is thrown into the wild and Alia comes from there. Randeep is fit as Mahabir Bhati, who comes from the wild. He is gujjar from the semi-criminal dark zone," says Ali.
He is teaming with AR Rahman again for the film post their successful collaboration on Rockstar. Ali says he was initially hesitant to approach Rahman as the music director was very busy at that time. "We started this film in a big hurry. So, I did not want to trouble him but we stay in touch and I mentioned the story to him one day. We talked about it for a while and he was onboard."
Ali is aware that the music may draw comparison with Rockstar, but says that the nature of two movies is completely different. "The nature of this movie is very different. This story is played out on a large and very picturesque terrain. In this kind of journey you feel certain things that can't be expressed except through music. Most of the songs play in the backgroung in Highway." Ali has another movie in the pipeline that will star Ranbir Kapoor. He will start working on it once Highway is released.