What prompted you to make a film on Umrao Jaan?
When I had released Border, the whole nation was looking at a certain community with doubt because of Blue Star. With one stroke I wiped out that bad reputation through my film.
Similarly now the Urdu community is being look down at and I think it is time for them to hold their head high. I hope to create awareness in the audience through my film Umrao Jaan.
Now that Farhan’s Don has released and been compared to the earlier Don, did you get a fair idea of the audience’s reaction towards a remake?
Umrao Jaan is a film based on a book by Mirza Mohd. Hadi Ruswa and an adaptation of a book to a film is not a remake. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was made 10- 15 times, but nobody questions why this film is being made again and again.
The conception, visualization, vision of Ruswa’s book is entirely mine. So comparisons are absolutely null and void.
However, despite this fact comparisons are bound to be made.
Comparisons are not mine problem. I would call it lack of understanding of the medium of cinema and adaptation of book.
Do you think that the audience will be able to relate to the story and understand the language of Umrao Jaan in today’s times?
For the last 30 years I can only remember Pakeezah as a mainstream Urdu film. Other than that I don’t remember a single Muslim social where the audience would get to see the richness of the art and music that this Urdu community contributed towards our country.
The audience should know that Hindi is an offspring of the Urdu language. Likewise Hindi cinema is also an offspring of the Urdu theatre of Lucknow.
What made you think that Aishwarya would be the best choice to portray this character?
Aishwarya is a very emotional person. Even if you talk about God she starts crying. So a person who is so vulnerable, emotional and God fearing was the right choice for my film.
Can you elaborate on the auction of Umrao’s costumes?
I am doing an auction for a social organization called Gudiya. It works for the upliftment of children whose mothers are in the flesh trade.
The dresses are already on auction on a website and will also be displayed at the Atria Mall.