By ANJALI NAURIYAL
Amongst India’s best known directors, Ali Abbas Zafar has shifted into his new abode in Rajpur. Designed like a European Manor House, the house is a gift to his parents.
They say ‘your house is your destiny’. When one shifts into a new house, one connects with the energies of the place and its people. The new residence implies a definite roadmap, made out of informed choice that carves one’s destiny.
It is not without reason that ace director, screenwriter and producer Ali Abbas Zafar designed his new abode like a Manor in Doon Township. This Manor House indeed encapsulates his achievement. This is the place his imagination lords over. This is the environment that nourishes his mind. This is where he ensconced himself for months on end and wrote the scripts of his hit films such as ‘Mere Brother Ki Dulhan’, ‘Gunday’, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, ‘Sultan’ and ‘Bharat’. This is the place where he was born. And it was in the natural progression of things that his Janmabhoomi became his Karma Bhoomi.
Ali’s new home became an expression of divine decree. He has now decided to make his Manor House a springboard of his subsequent endeavours – the land that connects his past to his future.
“I was scouting for a piece of land in Mussoorie but couldn’t find any. Also, as my parents lived in Doon it didn’t seem fair to uproot them from their neighborhood. And when I came across this plot in Rajpur, near the Sai Baba Temple, I instantly liked it. It had a feel and an aura that was instantly appealing,” shares the Director of ‘Sultan’.
“I have always written my scripts in Mussoorie as I felt a special connection with the place. And now the Manor House has my office where I worked during the 3 months of the pandemic,” he shares. In other words, the energies of the place have always bonded with his creativity.
Ali’s personal touch is visible in every nook and corner of the house. “To begin with, I already had the plan of the house in my mind. I discussed my ideas with Gaurav Singh, a local architect, and he executed the entire design for me. I wanted something similar to those old colonial houses that are found all over Europe. There was clarity in what we wanted and in four weeks our final design was locked. We ended up using a lot of wood, stone, iron and the like.”
The idea was to keep the house very real and rustic,” Ali recalls. “And most importantly, the address is enroute to Mussoorie and with a hillock behind, one gets the feel one is in a hill station. The air is fresh. We are surrounded by greenery and everything is close by, from malls to shops and hospital,” he elaborates.
“It took all of two and a half years for the construction to be completed. There was a lot of water logging happening in the monsoons that needed to be tackled. But, ultimately, the end result was what we wanted,” he informs. “For the last few months we have been polishing and giving finishing touches wherever required.”
Just like in European Mansions, the vast scale of the interiors is evident from the vibrant blue of the entrance. There is good use and play of limestone on the walls with iron-clad windows that ensure light aplenty.
Vaults, arched hallways, multiple terraces give the house a look that can be termed classically English, yet Indian in impact. “From the very beginning, there was a warm lived in feel to the house that didn’t overpower family members,” he underlines. “Woods, orchards, gardens and ponds are being worked on gradually. The artifacts, exhibits and furniture have been collected from the best of outlets and my visits abroad. A team of 40 experts designed the interiors. And I am happy my parents get a lot of exercise moving about the house. My mom’s diabetes has been brought under control.”
To maintain a house of this magnificence, trained staff has been brought in. They are skilled in cleaning the correct way, using the right liquid and material.
The basement of the house is the most special place in Ali’s house. It is the predominant place for worship. Here the replica of Imam Hussain Shrine from Karbala Iraq has been installed.
It has capacity to accommodate large numbers of Shia Muslims for congregational prayers. His father hopes to add facilities for education, religious counseling and dispute settlement in due course.
A state of art Private Theatre (from Finland) and Editing Station occupy their pride of place in Ali’s new domain. Ali would be doing most of his pre and post production work here.
(Dr Anjali Nauriyal is a veteran journalist, author, social worker and actor. Her book ‘Retelling of the Folk Ballads of Garhwal’ has become a regional best seller. As an actor she was last seen in a cameo in the film ‘PM Narendra Modi’ and will next be seen in ‘Peshawar’ on ULLU App.)