End of 'Jodhaa Akbar' ban is moral victory

Published On: 2016-10-12

Author: various

Media Link:

End of ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ ban is moral victory: Ronnie Screwvala


> By: Subhash K. Jha 

By: March 1st, 2008 


Mumbai, March 1 (IANS) Lifting of the ban on “Jodhaa Akbar” in Madhya Pradesh is a moral victory, says Ronnie Screwvala, CEO of United Television (UTV), the company which produced the period film. “The victory in Madhya Pradesh is an ideological one,” Ronnie told IANS in an interview. He is now hoping to see the film being released in Rajasthan too. “We’re urging the proponents there to see the film. Unfortunately, those who are protesting haven’t seen it. If they had seen it, they’d have nothing to protest about,” he said. 


Contrary to claims by trade pundits that the movie did not live up to revenue expectations, Ronnie said: “We’re thrilled that the film has done exceptionally well at the box office. In 10 days, we accrued around Rs.750 million worldwide. I don’t know why we’ve been targeted for protests.” The actor-turned-producer refused to accept the fact that youngsters do not care for history any more. “I daresay that our marketing of the film was too low key. But we wanted people’s expectations to be lower than what the movie was actually worth. We wanted to surprise them,” Ronnie said. Excerpts from an interview 


Q: “Jodhaa-Akbar” has been walloped from all ends for no reason? 

A: Yes, and we’ve been telling everyone to calm down. Unfortunately, we’ve been walloped really hard. But we’re thrilled that the film has done exceptionally well at the box office. In 10 days, we accrued around Rs.750 million worldwide. I don’t know why we’ve been targeted for protests. It was very important for “Jodhaa Akbar” to work. We haven’t had a historical for a long time. The more the genres work, the more variety we’ll have in our movies. 


Q: Maybe the cost factor for a historical is prohibitive? 

A: That’s not true. “Jodhaa Akbar” cost nearly Rs.420 million. That’s a lot less than what some of the recent non-historical films have cost. 


Q: So do you think the younger audiences don’t care about history any more? 

A: Not true, because they’re the ones who went to see “Jodhaa Akbar” over the opening weekend. It just depends on the story and packaging. I daresay our marketing of the film was too low-key. But we wanted people’s expectations to be lower than what the film was actually worth. We wanted to surprise them. “Jodhaa Akbar” had to run equally well for four weeks and not just the opening week. 


Q: Did you anticipate the protests? 

A: Even when our director Ashutosh Gowariker was shooting in Rajasthan the protests had started. So we pretty much pre-empted the protests. But we were releasing 1,500 prints. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were about 60-70 prints. That didn’t seem much. But we had to fight it out on principle. When we had taken all precautions, gone through all the relevant procedures and channels, why the protests? 


Q: Once it started in Rajasthan, the protests were bound to spread. 

A: That is why we tackled the situation in Madhya Pradesh to the best of our abilities. We’re hoping that the protests will now be reversed. However, protests cannot be controlled. As far as legislation goes, we’ll take the legal route to stop the protests. In Madhya Pradesh, we moved the high court. The honourable judge heard us out, asked questions and reserved his ruling till the evening and then referred the case to a divisional bench that lifted the ban. 


Q: Do you think the lifting of the ban in Madhya Pradesh will give the film a new lease of life? 

A: To be honest, the victory in Madhya Pradesh is an ideological one. It has been as strong in the second week worldwide as in the first. We got a phenomenal response overseas. Yes, it will be a profit-making venture for us. And the credit goes to Ashutosh’s wife Sunita, who managed the cost effectively. 


Q: There has been a history of biographical films being targeted. 

A: Everyone who has seen the film has come forward in support. I think you need to push ahead and do what you want to, persevere and get on with it. We fought this legal battle in Madhya Pradesh not for today but for our tomorrows. Our company UTV believes cinema needs to go forward. 


Q: Would you like to dabble in another historical? 

A: Yes, why not? It’s the script that worked in “Jodhaa Akbar” and the director’s vision. I think the love story of Jodhaa and Akbar worked above historical facts. We’re now hoping to see the film being released in Rajasthan. We’re urging the proponents there to see the film. Unfortunately, those who are protesting haven’t seen it. If they had seen it, they’d have nothing to protest about.



‘My film is about the first Jodhaa’


By: Sayandeb Chowdhury 


He started as yet another small time actor in Bollywood. But since then Ashutosh Gowariker has come a long way. He stunned Indian cinema fraternity with Lagaan, that went to be nominated for a best foreign feature Academy Award. His next film, Swades was a critical if not a commercial success. His latest venture, Jodhaa Akbar, a lengthy costume drama, has evoked mixed reactions and generated a few controversies. Gowariker speaks to Sayandeb Chowdhury about the film, about historical authenticity and why he wants to see the end of the current controversy. 


Your film Jodhaa Akbar has become a subject of controversy with Rajputs in various parts of the country protesting and these protests have increased every week. Do you think the protestors have any legitimate argument? 

I think they are doing what all such busybodies and troublemakers do. They have protested as a knee-jerk reaction without actually seeing the film. I urge them, as I have before, to first see the film and then react to it, even if they then want to protest. 


Their main objection seems to be that historical Jodha was not Akbar’s wife but daughter-in-law… 

And what conclusion do we draw from that? I’ve made a film about a love story between an emperor and his daughter-in-law? Am I out of my mind? I agree that there is some confusion about the name. Jodha was one of the names of Akbar’s first wife. I’ve put in a disclaimer in much detail at the beginning of the film. Jodha is also one of the names of one of Jehangir’s wives, who was the mother of Shahjahan, but was also known as Jagat Gossain. My film is about the first Jodha. A love story between Akbar and his first wife who was a Hindu. Period. 


How confident are you about the research that you have done? Are you sure you are have not gone wrong somewhere? 

I am confident of my research. I have done the necessary reading, have talked to historians and taken great care to make sure that I get the period right. One must understand the architecture of the film. All the characters in the film are historical. All the major incidents — from Hemu’s beheading, to the marriage of alliance, to Akbar’s turning vegetarian for one day of the week, his opting for hand-to-hand combat to minimise the cost of war, the abolition of pilgrim tax — are facts. I have used the major milestones of the first half of Akbar’s life. The fiction is in his personal life. Hardly anything is known about his life with his wives. That part is my imagination which has been woven into the larger aspects of his life. 


You are confident about the authenticity of the historical context of your film? 

Absolutely. Let someone point out a faux pas in my film. Many have asked me that if Todarmal was there in the film, why weren’t Birbal and Mann Singh. I must point out that Mann Singh is in the film, but as a 13-year-old boy. He joins Akbar’s court much later. So does Birbal. In the period that I have shown they have not yet reached the emperor’s court. Yes, I’m willing to concede the point if someone tells me that the film is very long. I agree. Or someone says that Akbar did not look like Hrithik, I agree. But then, did Ben Kingsley look like Gandhi? Or Achilles like Brad Pitt? That kind of licence is natural in commercial cinema. 


Since, you’ve mentioned it, don’t you think the length of the film— three hours and 20 minutes — is a major disadvantage? 

Let me put it this way. I could not have done a film of this magnitude in a shorter timeframe. I felt that the period, the detailing and the protocol had to intricately depicted. On the other hand I am aware that this means that I have fewer shows in both single and multi-screen formats. which means it will affect the revenue initially. 


How did the idea germinate? 

Haider Aliji first narrated the story to me. His contention was that here is the story of a Hindu-Muslim union, some 450 years ago, in those very orthodox times and we hardly seem to know about it. The idea caught on and I started work on the film. 


Do you think you have made a good film in Jodhaa Akbar? Are you happy with the outcome? 

Yes, I think I have. I have worked very hard on the film and people are saying that is showing. But I will be much happier when the film releases in Rajasthan. Unless people watch it in Rajasthan and give me their feedback, I will not be able to rest. It’s about Rajasthan, its history, its lore. How can they not see the film because of some baseless issue? 


After three big-ticket movies in eight years, do you feel exhausted? 

No. Strange but I don’t. I like what I’m doing. And I want to go on.




Hrithik Roshan: “I did not look at Akbar from a historical point of view”




The sensational actor of Bollywood takes on his career and his latest offering Jodha Akbar 


Does a costume drama limit you in any way? 

On the contrary it adds. You are only trying to be as true to the moment as possible. If we talk about discomfort, fortunately or unfortunately I’ve done Krishh and Dhoom 2 where discomfort sort of reaches a level [laughs] with masks and flying around and I just get turned on by roles that are physically demanding. I’m fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best directors in Krishh and Dhoom and Jodha Akbar. It does not restrict Hrithik at all, costume jewellery anything that adds to the role and makes me more convinced about the space and the character that we are talking about, anything that adds to bring the role alive, at times if the heavy costume and heavy jewellery did add burden to the shoulders, you still enjoy the moment because you know that it is working for the character. 


Akbar already has an image in our mind-what was your first reaction to playing the role? 

I did not look at Akbar from a historical point of view. I am a believer in films and films are meant to entertain people. I reacted purely to the drama and the emotions of the story. I heard the story that Ashutosh narrated to me, it could’ve been period, it could’ve been futuristic or it could’ve been contemporary. I reacted to the basic emotions and the equations between the characters and the situations that they had to go through. That’s what motivated me. And if the same situations and equations applied to somebody else and not to Akbar it would’ve still motivated me, it wouldn’t have made a difference to me per se. 


Have you succeeded in doing that? 

I’m going to find out once the audiences see it. 


Whether we like it or not Mughal e Azam is a reference point for this film. Does it hold promise of becoming a classic like that film? 

I just aspire to make a good film and not hold empty, futile aspirations and dream for awards or aspire to make a classic 


You worked with Ash in Dhoom 2 and now this-both totally different films; your chemistry was obvious in the earlier film - comment. 

It was comfortable working together again straight after Dhoom 2. The whole crew and all the actors were so united trying to give Ashutosh our best-it was fantastic. 


The length of Jodha Akbar is being seen as a negative? 

More than length I think it is the psychological length, if while seeing the film you find it longer then it’s long. Sometimes a three and a half hour film like Lagaan is entertaining, so you don’t notice the length. But that’s not for you or me to judge, it’s the director’s prerogative. I’ve committed to the film and have done my job and it’s purely up to the director.



Hrithik or SRK? Thriller or Comedy?


Source: Buzz18 

By: Abhishek Mande 


Ashutosh Gowariker talks about his actors and plans for his next project Welcome to! We have with us today Ashutosh Gowariker, the man who has given us some of the most memorable films in the recent past. Lagaan, Swades and now Jodhaa Akbar, Ashutosh has always managed to fascinate us with his tales of cricket, patriotism and royalty. It's been over three years since first news stories of Jodhaa Akbar started trickling in. 


Now that the film is finally out, what do you say to yourself when you wake up in the morning? 

I think I just say 'It's done!' We've finished a film. This has been quite easily my toughest film so far – not only with respect to the scale and grandeur but also with respect to the thought and the theme. But I really don't feel that three years have passed because time really has flown. But I feel content now that the film is out and being appreciated. 


You have said that films must entertain but also leave something behind with the audience. What has Jodhaa Akbar left with the audience?

The theme of love and tolerance for each other's culture, religion, and co-existence are some things that are at the base of the film. Because they are seeing an alliance between the Rajput and the Mughals. But when you look at the contemporary resonance, it is the theme of co-existing in peace (that is left with the audience). 


Why are most of your films so long? Does it have anything with just the subjects you choose? 

It's the genre actually. A period film, a social drama or an epic romance, lends itself to be unfolding in a slightly different kind of pace than what a comedy or thriller genre would have. And since all three films have just been drama, they are that long. 


Do you see yourself making a light-hearted film, which is perhaps slightly shorter? 

Very soon! For my next film, I would like to see if I can get a script that can have the genre of the thriller or the comedy, which lends itself to a two-hour film. 


What is it that makes you laugh, or smile? 

I like romantic comedies a lot. Roman Holiday is my all-time favourite film. And I enjoy slapstick also if it is done in a particular way. I enjoy Chaplin. 


Do you think as Indians, we take our history and mythology a little too seriously? 

We must take it seriously. History and mythology are ingrained in us. We have grown up on them. So the moment they take a slightly different angle, your hair is ruffled. When the fact is that there are as many versions as there are history books… (sic) or as many versions as there is mythology. 


After all that has happened, would you make another film involving historical characters? 

Absolutely! And again I will be prepared to take any kind of reservations that people might have vis-à-vis that particular film. 


You tend not to repeat your lead actors. Yet the supporting actors in all your films are familiar faces. Why? 

It is not a conscious attempt to not repeat. I would love to work with Aamir, Shah Rukh and even Hrithik. But I believe if your script hasn't got a part that suits the actor the whole exercise becomes futile. 


Given a chance to repeat Aamir, Hrithik or Shah Rukh, who would you cast again? And you are allowed to be politically correct here. 

I have the desire to work with all three. But since my last film has been with Hrithik, my obvious comfort zone is Hrithik straightaway for the next film. But I don't have a script. But since you are forcing an answer from me, I am saying Hrithik. But I will definitely give priority to the character that comes out of my script. 


Who is the one actor among the new breed you are keen on working with? 

There are several. I cannot name one particular actor. I want to work with Mr Bachchan; I want to work with Abhishek. I am very keen to work with Salman. My list is endless. 


Which is the film you would want to be remembered by? Have you made that film yet? 

I would want to be remembered by all three films – Lagaan, Sawdes and Jodhaa Akbar. I can't choose one because all they are so different from each other that I'd like it if people remember me for all the three films. 


Who is the one person whose opinion matters the most to you? 

I can't say one person, but my whole family. I take their opinion on my script. 


What did they have to say about Jodhaa Akbar? 

They loved it! But they did give me a lot of inputs by way of minor corrections here and there. 


Dilip Kumar – your reaction to his reaction. 

My god! Magnificent. It almost felt as if a prince, a shehzada, was talking about his father, Akbar. Both Sairaji and he were extremely lavish in their praise. And to quote him, 'Behtereen film hai!" What else do you want? I am extremely happy! 


How high do you think are the chances of Jodhaa Akbar being nominated for the Oscars? Or are we just wishing too hard

There are too many films yet to come. The deadline is September 30. There are Bengali, Tamil, Telugu films that are yet to be released. So it is not fair to start promoting a film so much in advance. I think my main focus right now is to take this film to Rajasthan first! I want the film to release there first. So all my energies are focussed on that right now. 


Most of your films are male-oriented with women being catalysts in the plot. Do you see yourself making a female-oriented film… like Jhansi ki Rani perhaps? 

Let me correct you first. The existence of Gauri's character in Lagaan – though it is not a women-oriented film – I thought she had a very strong character and how she contributes to Bhuvan is very interesting. Even in Swades, Geeta was a very strong character. I like the strength of character for my women protagonist anyway. Even in Jodhaa Akbar, Jodhaa is the epitome of the strength and dignity of that character. But coming to your question. If I have a script that can dwell more into this aspect, I would! 


Who is the director you admire the most

Raj (Kumar) Santoshi, for the range of work he has done. He has always attempted different kind of stuff. Box office success or failure is a different thing. But the attempt to do different genres is very interesting. 


Is it too early to ask you about your next project? 

(Smiles) It is too early to ask me about my next project. I haven't even gone in that direction. I have not yet thought about anything. I am waiting for a story to come out of the blue and interest me inspire me. So let's see! 


Can we have a quick rapid fire round? 




Each and every cast and crew member of Jodhaa Akbar 



I welcome it. In fact I grow on criticism 



I'll just say, Rahman 



No more a gentleman's game 



Dignity, honour, pride 






I am sorry but I have to say Swades! 






City of dreams 



Oh... simply my world!