'Jodhaa Akbar' is a youthful romance

Published On: 2016-07-13

Author: Ruma Singh

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'Jodhaa Akbar' is a youthful romance



Source: TNN 

Date: 27 Jan 2008 

By: Ruma Singh 



Jodhaa Akbar’s canvas is huge... 


I was looking for a story with love as the central theme, but no contemporary story interested me. Then Haidar Ali gave me this story of a marriage of alliance between Jodhaa and Akbar and I was attracted to it. It’s a story we all know about, but take for granted. Very little has been written about what went on between them personally. It was a good chance to narrate that, yet be as true to the times as possible. That was the challenge — not the budget of the movie! There’s criticism for showcasing a historical subject... I’ve tried to take a more generic approach to the story — I cannot take a stand based on historical interpretations. In Akbarnama, Abul Fazal doesn’t mention Jodhaa at all! But we all know that the harem existed, that Jehangir was born out of the alliance. Everything in history is open to interpretation. Some may not agree with the film, but I have tried to be as truthful as possible.



 The inevitable comparison is with Mughal-E-Azam ... 


I’m not worrying about this. I just want the audience to accept the film. It cannot be compared with Mughal-E-Azam ; that’s a classic I love, with incredible performances. My focus is different from Mughal-E-Azam , which was about Salim and Anarkali. Here, I have a young Akbar. Mine is a youthful romance, very different. 



Hrithik was my first choice for Akbar... 


Hrithik has the desire to challenge himself. I think he’s a tremendous actor; even in his debut film he did the double role so well. His Rohit in Koi... Mil Gaya amazed me. I needed a warrior-like actor who looked like he might have come from a Turkish background, with a naturally regal gait. (BT: Audiences may be disappointed not to see his body on display... Ashutosh laughs uproariously) What makes you think he doesn’t? Don’t be so sure! 



Aishwarya was also a natural choice... 


She’s worked very well in different set-ups, from Chokher Bali to Shabd. She has the desire to attempt different roles. And for a film like this, you need a dedicated cast and crew. In this film, she has a great simplicity. We worked to get her look right — she was very pleased at how it turned out. 



Working with Aamir, Shah Rukh and now Hrithik... 


With Aamir and Shah Rukh, the equation was different — we began our careers together. I got along very well with Hrithik from the word go. On a broader level, if your script has every detail in place and worked out, it defines how your cast members respect you. Jodhaa Akbar has taken me three years... Yes, it’s a long time. I’d love to come up with a film each year. But fortunately or unfortunately, each time the subject has needed that time. Even a smaller film like Swades needed research — I travelled extensively and it took me two years. Next I’ll be making a more contemporary film. I’ve got three to four concepts to choose from. 



The film is not four hours long! 


That’s just a rumour. It’s much less — but it’s as long as the story requires. When you make an epic period drama, it can’t be told in two hours. And I believe duration isn’t as important as content — sometimes a two-hour film can seem four hours long! 



Yes, historicals are difficult to attempt... 


We’ve tried to stick to the period details but the attitude is modern. We’ve stayed on track with the festivals they had then, the court presentation ceremonies. The melodies too have a feel of that era, yet they appeal even today. I just want my film to be liked, for the genre to be successful — only then will more historicals get made, more challenging scripts taken up. We can only do different cinema if everyone tries to be different. 



Jodhaa Akbar as an Oscar possibility... 


Frankly, I don’t make films for festivals or awards — I make it for the audience. If you start looking at awards, they never get made. And if I send Jodhaa Akbar out as a festival entry, it will have to be at the length I make it. If we want to cater to American awards, it makes sense to make a film in English and 90-minutes long. It’s very difficult to break into their market with our kind of format. Even our horror films and thrillers have songs, something unimaginable to them. No, I wouldn’t want to cut or change Jodhaa Akbar to fit their format — if I had to do that, I’d rewrite the whole script and create a different ambience. That would require an attitude change. So no, I wouldn’t do it.