‘My intention is only to entertain people and not hurt anyone’s sentiments’ – Producer – Director Ashutosh Gowariker

Producer – Director Ashutosh Gowariker has had a tough time shooting his movie and had an equally tough time around its release. The movie skipped its Friday release across various screen in India due the conflict with multiplexes over revenue sharing terms. Even as that got sorted on Friday night and the movie screening commenced, the Rajput community is still not allowing the movie to be released in Rajasthan.


Jodhaa Akbar is Ashutosh Gowarikar’s second movie with UTV, after Swades. So far his association has been fruitful and will continue to be, as Gowariker says his next movie too will be with UTV,


Excerpts from an exclusive tête-à-tête:


Jodhaa Akbar hasn’t been able to release in Rajasthan. As the film’s director how does this make you feel?

Jodhaa Akbar is getting good responses from all over. It is sad that the film has not released in Rajasthan, because the film is rooted there. Jodha Bai was from that land and I want people there to see the movie. There are questions being raised on my research. All I want to say is that I have read a lot of books on Mughals and have researched on this film for three years.


If use of the name Jodhaa has hurt anybody’s sentiments, it is not intentional. In fact in the film I have kept Jodhaa’s Rajputi integrity intact after her marriage with Akbar. She follows her religion after marriage, gets a temple erected in a Mughal palace and eats vegetarian food. I want to follow rules; it does not give me thrills to break rules. In any of my films I will never hurt anyone; my only intention is to entertain people. Such controversies deflate the hard work we put in for research. I don’t think it helps a movie.


To add to this, the movie did not release across various multiplexes on Friday…

This multiplex phenomenon is a new one. The multiplexes’ logistics and mechanisms are new to us also. Interpersonal rules will have to be set soon to sort this issue. It should not come up with every film.


During the two years pre- production period, you may have gathered a mixed bag of opinions for the movie, what were they like?

When I created Bhuvan as the protagonist for Lagaan, it was a character that came from my mind, people did not know him. Same was the case with Mohan Bhargava. But when it came to Akbar people knew who he was and everybody only encouraged me to go ahead with it.


Which was the last historical movie that you saw as an audience?

Akbar Khan’s Taj Mahal and you know what, that man deserves kudos for making that film. I still have a star – Hrithik Roshan – in my film but he was launching Zulfi Sayed and Sonia Jahan.


As a child did you enjoy reading history books or watching historical movies?

Oh no. Continued… < Page Break >


Until before you embarked on the film, what was your impression of Akbar?

Akbar Birbal (smiles). And then Mughal-E-Azam and now Hrithik Roshan.


Do you think that Hollywood is a bigger and better market for historical films? Didn’t you ever contemplate making this movie in English language or at least dubbing it in English?

No, I don’t think Hollywood is a bigger market for historical films. Many of their historical films have flopped. Unlike the west historical movies, as a genre, haven’t been looked into much in India for the simple reason that it requires a lot of detailing and huge budgets.


The English language bit did cross my mind, but for that I would firstly have to rewrite the entire script without songs and the sensibilities would be different if this were to be made in the English language.


As far as dubbing the movie in English or any other language is considered, I would rather that the movie be shown with subtitles because it is far more intriguing that way. Imagine seeing a Polish film dubbed in Hindi, wouldn’t you prefer to watch it in Polish with English or Hindi subtitles?


Do you fear that a movie like Jodhaa Akbar has released before its time, simply because the Indian audiences are not much exposed to such kind of historical films?

Yes, I agree. But Jodhaa Akbar is a 450 year old story, so is it really before its time? According to me no story is old or new. If you give the audience a good story they will appreciate it.


Do you feel your previous movie Swades released before its time? Would the movie have faired better if it was released sometime now?

No I wouldn’t say that. Quiet simply because the theme of the film is such, that it is applicable for several years now. So, if you tell me it came late, I might agree with that (laughs).


Box office wise, maybe it could have done better now. But by way of theme, I would like to hear that the film has become stale and if ten years down the line it can’t be made applicable any more in India, it would be mind blowing.