Confusion key to protests by Rajputs : Gowarikar

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Confusion key to protests by Rajputs over Jodhaa Akbar : Gowarikar



Source: DNA India 

Date: February 09, 2008



MUMBAI: Brushing aside protests from a section of the Rajput community over confusion in names, filmmaker Ashutosh Gowarikar on Saturday said his soon to be released magnum opus 'Jodhaa Akbar' is not intended to hurt the pride and dignity of the Rajputs. Standing by the storyline of the film, Ashutosh said, 'Some organisations and historians may have been protesting due to the confusion over the relationship of princess Jodhaa with Emperor Akbar '. He said according to 'History of Jaipur' author Jadunath Sarkar, King Motaraja of Jodhpur married his daugther to prince Jahangir. She has been called Mirabai, Manibai and Jodhbai. 'There is a difference between Jodhbai and Jodhabai,'' he added. The filmmaker said he had made independent research of Mughal and Rajput history for writing his script and even shared it with Maharaja Bhawani singh and Maharani Padmini devi of Jaipur royalty and Brajraj Singh of Kishengadh who belong to the Kachawahas dynasty where Jodhabai hailed from. Rajput historians have different names for Akbar's wife, Harkabai, Hira Kunwar, Manmati, Shahibai, Jiarani and Jodhabai. At least three historians call her Jodhabai. Even the Jaipur royalty confirmed it. Jodhaa Akbar was three years in the making and the very concept of a marriage of political alliance of two cultures and traditions which later evolved into true love was very exciting, he added stating that the idea to make a film on the subject struck him when story writer Haider Ali brought up the issue with him. Ashutosh said, ''I am making a film whose primary concern is to entertain. I have taken care to see that nobody's pride and dignity is hurt. That is never my intention.'' Responding to questions, the filmmaker said with 'Jodhaa Akbar' he was treading into an unknown territory. ''I like to do different things and I enjoy the process. I have not made a war or horror movie'' he added. Hrithik Roshan as the lead pair would be boon or bane for his film as the charismatic duo's earlier film 'Dhoom 2' was of a totally different genre, Ashutosh said success of 'Dhoom 2' was going to help this film. ''Audience naturally follow their favourite star and when they enter the cinema halls, they are aware of the particular story they are going to watch. They will come to see Hrithik in the role of Akbar and how he has performed. If they didn't want to, they will not come to the theatre in the first place,'' he felt. Ashutosh also did not feel that the duration of three hour and 20 minutes of JodhaA Akbar would hamper the film. 'If it is an engaging story, audience does not mind the duration. I have seen people walking out of the theatres while seeing a two hour movie,'' he pointed out. On his future plans he said ''Though I have not decided on my next project, I am keeping my eyes and ears open''. When asked about his fledging production company, Ashutosh Gowarikar Productions, he said he was in the process of formulating plans for it. ''I will work out the details after Jodhaa Akbar's release. To a question about plans to return to acting, Ashutosh who has acted in a couple of Marathi and Hindi films said he has not given a thought to it. ''Renuka Shahane wanted me to give her dates for her film. I could not adjust because I was busy with Jodhaa Akbar,'' he added. When asked why he felt that his previous film 'Swades' did not get its due credit, Ashutosh said even when the film is shown on TV, it is appreciated. ''I think it was bad timing and poor promotion,'' he said.





Historians are making fun of my movie



Source: TNN 

Date: February 10, 2008 



Clearly, Ashutosh Gowarikar's interpretation of history has piqued the interest of intellectuals and the comman man alike, judging by the sheer number of controversies associated with his latest offering. As this much hyped film on one of Mughal era’s most popular emperor gets ready for release, Lucknow Times puts the man himself in the dock. Read on for his take on the issues... 



How has the journey been so far? 


I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. From acting in Holi, to directing my forthcoming film – all this has been a lesson for me. I have learnt a lot from every actor and director that I worked with. And I am still learning. The period from 1984 to 2001 involved some struggle, but after Lagaan’s success the entire scenario changed and now everyone knows who I am.” 



Why a historical love story now? 


I always wanted to make love stories but in the absence of a proper story line and script I was unable to make it. But when I was working on the movie Swades, Haider bhai (writer of my latest film) told me the love story of a Rajput princess and Akbar. After listening to the story, I immediately started working on the script. One more thing came to my mind – why didn’t anybody think of making a movie on Akbar and Jodha’s love story. The love between them – the way Haider bhai narrated it to me – was fascinating and I was attracted towards the story. 



Historians are questioning the very existence of Jodha Bai... 


I am directing the movie. I have done my homework in the last three-and-a-half years. I have taken help from Aligarh Muslim University, from Rajput rajgharanas and referred historical literature. And I came to know that Jodha Bai was Princess of Amber and elder daughter of Raja Bharmal. Historians are making fun of my movie because they don’t know who is Jodha Bai. Every other historian is issuing different statement. Historians are calling Jodha Bai by various names like Harka Bai, Hira Bai, Manwati Bai, Jiya Rani and others. Udai Singh’s daughter, Jodh Bai was married to Jehangir. Historians are confused between Jodha Bai and Jodh Bai. I cannot personally go and tell this to everyone. It’s clearly written in the historical literature that Jodha Bai was married to Akbar. 



How much of your film is realistic? Thirty per cent of the film is realistic, and 70 per cent is my imagination. The main aim of this movie is to show the personal element of the relationship between Jodha Bai and Akbar, as I perceived. 



Why did you choose Hrithik and Aishwarya to play the lead roles? 


They both have the image of a king and a queen, and they even look royal. And I think Hrithik and Aishwarya resemble Akbar and Jodha Bai. 



Do you think your film will attract audience? 


It depends on what type of audience comes to watch my movie. I have done everything to attract audience. And if they don’t turn up, then I really have to think about what mistake I have made in the film. I have really worked hard for the film and I am keeping my fingers crossed. 



Will you change the title of your film in keeping with the demands of the Rajput community? 


Not at all. I will not change the title of my film. Why should I change it? If I do this then I have to change the entire film. I have done deep research for this film. 



Did you always want to be an actor or a director? 


(Smiles) Neither. As a child I always dreamt of becoming an architect. But the turning point came when I failed my architecture exams after completing BSc. 



But you didn’t do well as an actor either... 


I don’t know what went wrong. I tried each and everything, but it didn’t work. 



Even the films that you directed (except Lagaan and Swades) didn’t do well at the BO... 


Actually all these films that you are referring to, were released between 1992 to 1995 and I really don’t know what went wrong. It could have been the star cast. But after Lagaan and Swades, I know how to attract the audience and this time I am going to prove it.






Hopeful Gowarikar has a lot riding on Mughal-era epic



Source: THe Times 

Date: February 10, 2008 



In this digital age, few challenges are as daunting as making an authentic historical romance that will work its magic at the box office. The last person to try it, Akbar Khan, learnt that to his detriment two years ago with Taj Mahal. The following year JP Dutta’s version of Umrao Jaan bit the dust, and in recent times the only title to gain acceptance was the remastered version of K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam, a 1960 original that was re-released in 2004 and took many by surprise. It’s worth remembering that Asif needed 10 years to make that career-defining film. So, has Ashutosh Gowarikar, who took just over a year to complete his magnum opus, been over-ambitious or will Friday’s release, Jodhaa Akbar, buck the trend? If early indications are anything to go by, the director of Lagaan and Swades has positioned himself to do what no one else has done with any measure of authority for well over three decades — since HS Rawail’s 1974 release Laila Majnu — and that is to resuscitate the genre. The lead pair, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, are as good as they get. Gowarikar says he had joked with them that they would only have to pitch up on set, as they were “the reincarnation of Akbar and Jodhaa”. The fact that they clicked in Dhoom 2 played no part in his decision to cast them. His mind was made up five years ago when scriptwriter Haider Ali broached the subject. Convincing them was a breeze: all he said to Aish was, “You’ll be my Jodhaa,” and she leapt at the chance; as for Hrithik, Gowarikar told him, “16th century, the Mughals and Akbar,” and that was that. 


Besides the dashing lead pair, Gowarikar had other factors in his favour, including AR Rahman’s music score. Four choreographers, Raju Khan, Ash Kumar, Chinni Prakash and Rekha Prakash, were enlisted for the dance sequences. The latter pair took 15 days to complete one song, the stunning Azeem O’Shaan Shahenshah, in which 1000 dancers in traditional costumes and wielding swords and shields took part. Add Kiran Deohan’s cinematography and Nitin Desai’s sets, and the opulence so essential to a period piece is certainly in place. Attention was paid to the tiniest details. Top designer Neeta Lulla said the challenge of designing the costumes was “too good to refuse”, and specialist jeweller Tanish was appointed to craft specific pieces. The movie focuses on a relationship that supposedly altered the course of history. It delves into the political conspiracies of the period and tells of the alliance between the Mughal emperor Jallaludin Mohammed Akbar and Rajput princess Jodhaa. Gowarikar des- cribes it as “a perfect arranged marriage”. Akbar’s proposal was based not so much on his affection for her but on a desire to expand his empire eastward from Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal, and south from the Himalayas to the Godhavari River. Love developed later. His strategy to achieve this expansion was to win over the Rajputs, and this marriage with a motive helped him to remove the bitterness and distrust the native Hindus felt towards the invading Mughals, and that, in turn, softened the Mughals’ attitude towards them. This led to Akbar establishing deen-e-elahi, or the divine faith, to reconcile the sectarian differences that divided his subjects by suggesting that no single reli- gion had a monopoly on the truth. Jodhaa was not merely a pretty wallflower. A fiery Rajput who was skilled in the art of sword-fighting, she wasn’t an easy conquest and she refused to be a political pawn in Akbar’s designs to capture her land. Gowarikar enlisted scholars and historians from New Delhi, Aligarh, Lucknow, Agra and Jaipur to scrutinise the script, and while he has acknowledged exercising a measure of creative licence, that did not prevent his detractors from voicing their objections. The Rajput Sabha demanded the right to approve his script, fearing gross distortions. The Sabha contends that Gowarikar is wrong in stating that Jodhaa Bai was the daughter of the ruler of Amer, Bharmal, since historical records show only one Jodhaa Bai, who was the daughter of the ruler of Marwar, Udai Singh, and who was married to Akbar’s son, Jahangir. 


The director hopes he’ll get away with it by suggesting that his story is about a chapter that “may” have been a part of history but was not officially recorded. He maintains there is enough evidence to show that Akbar the Great had a very special attachment to Jodhaa Bai and that the period referred to was when they were between the ages of 18 and 26, and was therefore not documented. There have been other problems for Gowarikar. An animal anti-cruelty organisation has questioned whether he had the necessary permits to shoot scenes with elephants, camels and horses. Shooting at some of India’s famous monuments proved another hurdle. India’s Archaeological Society, which maintains these landmarks, imposed so many conditions that Gowarikar had to get his art director, Nitin Desai, to re-create attractions like the palace of Fatehpur Sikri and the Red Fort in Karjat on the outskirts of Mumbai.