Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Based on the love story of Mughal emperor Akbar and his Hindu wife Jodhaa, the movie has won appreciation from the royal families of Jaipur and Kishangarh for the extensive research done by the director, Ashutosh Gowarikar.
Sadly, we may not see the perfectionist Khan acting in ‘Delhi Belly’, purportedly an action comedy set in Delhi. The movie is a very ambitious venture of Aamir Khan Productions. Its shooting crew, including cinematographer, will be from abroad. The film, in English language, will reportedly be directed by Swedish director Robert Nylund.
It is learnt that Aamir was keen to play a character named Nitin in the film, but he dropped the idea because he wants to keep himself free for a holiday with his kids Junaid and Aira.
‘Delhi Belly’ will go on the floors in March. And Aamir’s two kids will be free from their yearly exams by the end of March. That is when Aamir plans to wrap up the shooting of the Ghajini remake and head to a holiday with his kids.
The actor has not been able to spend much time with Junaid and Aira because he has been busy with publicity and release of Taare Zameen Par , which is showing no signs of slowing down at the box-office.
The movie has already surpassed the earnings of Rang De Basanti and may well turn out to be the biggest hit of 2007-2008.
The coming months would also see Aamir preparing for another home production that will go on the floors later this year.
Taking a day off from the shooting of the film, Aamir Khan was in the Pink City on Republic day. Why one may ask? Well, Aamir was there to meet his favourite writer, Gore Vidal (the writer of classics like BEN-HUR), who was expected at the week long Literature Festival in the Rajasthan capital, Jaipur.
Aamir fans, along with parents from families with disabilities thronged Diggi Palace (the venue of the festival), to have a look at their favourite star. But Aamir himself was rather disappointed, as the reason for which he had come to Jaipur remained unfulfilled because Gore Vidal did not turn up.
However, Aamir being a sport said rather jokingly that the honorable organizers kept him in the dark about Gore Vidal's absence all the while!
The song with such an incredible idea is for ‘Sakkarakatti’ that features Bhagyaraj’s son Shanthanu in the lead. Vedhika is acting as his pair. The film has the music by none other than A.R. Rahman.
Shanthanu and Vedhika were dancing around with a lot of French girls for the song. The song, which would cost two crore rupees, will be shot for 10 days, informs the director.
The movie, which has been in the making for quite some time, is growing fast. It is expected to be released by March-April. The young hero Shanthanu is expecting the movie for a break in his career.
The Rajput community has alleged distortion of facts in the movie.
The film has Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Bachchan in the lead roles. It is scheduled to be released on 15 February.
President of Rajput Karni Sena, Lokendra Kalvi, has said that the Sena had apprehended distortion of Rajasthan's historical facts in Jodha Akbar which is based on Jodhpur raj gharana.
The Karni Sena would watch the movie when released, and if required it would not allow its screening in the state, Kalvi said.
Earlier, the Rajput Mahasabha had also alleged misinterpretation of historical facts.
They maintained that Jodha was Jehangir's wife and not Akbar's as shown in K Asif's Mughal-E-Azam earlier and now in Jodha Akbar.
Meanwhile, the royal families have stood in defence of the movie saying that they had been involved in the making of the movie. The Jaipur Royal family has come forward in support of Gowarikar.
The heirs of Kishengarh dynasty have also come forward to support the director. Former Royal Brajraj Singh said that they had already made changes in the script where required and there was no point of opposition now.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Aishwarya Rai opened up to the media first time on her upcoming Tamil project – 'Robot' to be directed by the renowned craftsman Shankar. She would star against Superstar Rajinikanth. Readers might remember that most of the heroine roles in Rajini's last few projects starting from Nilambari in 'Padayappa' were offered to Aishwarya Rai, only to be turned down owing to the date issues of the actress.
Talking on Shankar and Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai expressed, "They are super entertainers, independently and together; it can be a problem saying no to them. I did get an enquiry last year when I was away on Pink Panther. This time I am happy that we could work out our schedule."
On heroines getting sidelined in a Rajini movie, Aishwarya was quick to refute the claim, "I don't think it's a fair statement. You can't but be fascinated by this phenomenon called Rajini sir. He is so super fascinating and intriguing to his audience. I don't think it's a deliberate attempt by any director to sideline any actor / character working along with him."
She went on to add, "Rajini Sir is such a wonderful human being. He has been so close to the family too. I am glad and honored to be working with him"
With Shankar finally managing to rope in Aishwarya Rai into his dream project, the expectations on 'Robot' would now touch sky high. The project to be produced by Ayngaran and Eros International has A.R.Rahman for music and will be the second film for Aishwarya Rai under Shankar's direction after 'Jeans'.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Rahman, who shot to fame with his compositions for "Roja" in 1992, is known for his musical versatility. He has innovated with different instruments and sounds to create some of India's best known musical hits for more than a decade.
But the composer knows success comes at a price.
"It does scare me sometimes (but) not about staying on top - first place or second place," Rahman told Reuters.
"It is about what I'm delivering, how good the music is always, how precise I have to be while composing as I might be putting my reputation of 15 years at stake."
Rahman has several big budget projects lined up for release in 2008, including Ashutosh Gowariker's "Jodhaa Akbar", Subhash Ghai's "Yuvraaj", Rakeysh Mehra's "Dilli 6" and the Aamir Khan-starrer "Ghajini".
But he’s eagerly awaiting Tamil filmmaker Shankar’s science fiction venture “Robot”.
"Robot' is very futuristic and I am looking forward to composing for it," Rahman said. "I have never tried the genre before and it is an exciting venture."
Selecting the right project might be tough for some but for Rahman, instinct plays a key role.
"I often take quick decisions as sometimes I work with people whom I have worked with before and sometimes it's just out of pure instinct when I come across an exciting project."
AR Rahman walks the thin line. His compositions in ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ have a mere glimpse of what would have been the musical culture in Mughal times. And it also attempts to cater to the present popular tastes. This way, the music album of ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ ends up neither here nor there. The compositions are good, but they are not great.
Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah is a powerful song hailing the Mughal emperor Akbar. The number, sung by Mohammed Aslam and Bonnie Chakraborty, is heavy on beats and has a pleasing orchestra in the background. Rahman shows his musical wizardry with sounds that create images of rattling swords and chains. Also unmistakable in the song is the theme melody of ‘Lagaan’ that plays a number of times.
Jashn-e-Bahara could have been a much better song had Rahman chosen a better singer than Javed Ali, who surely sings the right notes with skill, but doesn’t have much emotive appeal in his bland vocals. Still, the song, set on an Arabic tempo, carries Rahman’s subtle magic. The tender notes of rubaab, mandolin and santoor form the backdrop of this soft romantic track, set to poetic lyrics by Javed Akhtar.
However, the Jashn-e-Bahara instrumental version on flute is a delight to the ears.
AR Rahman is back to what he does best in Khwaja Mere Khwaja, a sufi qawwali with a dash of techno touch. The song, an ode to Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer, has Rahman himself wielding the microphone and jarring the senses of a listener with his emotive and evocative vocals. Though the song relies liberally on tabla and harmonium, the techno flavour ruins the purity of this devotional track.
The instrumental version of this song takes you by surprise. How Rahman keeps the same melody but changes its timing and structure just slightly to suit the Oboe and accompanying orchestra shows his command as a composer.
In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein is a lilting track about the gradual passing of intimate moments. Sonu Nigam and Madhushree’s impressive singing adds to this slow-paced song a mellowness that is broken by raucous chorus. Javed Akhtar’s words paint the imagery of two lovers sharing their most special moments together. It is a song that makes an impression only after repeated hearing.
Mann Mohanna is a devotional track addressed to lord Krishna. Supported by tabla and heavy orchestration, this song, sung by Bela Shinde, is a plea to the lord from a despondent woman.
All in all, the songs of Jodhaa Akbar are below the usual standard of a genius like AR Rahman.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
“Marmayogi,” a historical story set in the seventh century, is to be directed by the versatile actor himself with music by maestro A.R. Rahman. The rest of the cast and crew have yet to be finalized. However, yesteryear-Bollywood actress Hemamalini is playing an important role in this film. Sources say that Asin, who is currently paired with Kamal in his movie Dashaavtaram, will also play the leading lady in this film as well.
To kick start the project, Kamal Haasan plans to go to the U.S. in a few days to discuss production details. He is planning to shoot a major part of the film in the exotic locations of Thailand. The film is to be announced by February and will start shooting very soon.
Reportedly, the film is a remake of the 1951 MGR-Anjali Devi flick of the same name. It is based on the novel “Vendetta: The Story of One Forgotten,” written by Marie Corelli in 1886.
The film is said to be budgeted at 120 crores, making it the most expensive Indian film ever made. However, it might face stiff competition since the title from the recently announced Rajinikanth movie “Robot” is also said to cost 120 crores.
It should be noted that both Rajni and Kamal respectively started their movies “Sivaji” and “Dasavatharam” almost at the same time with the same claim. While “Sivaji,” which was released last June, went on to become a record-breaking blockbuster, “Dashaavtaram” is still under production and is expected to hit the screens in time for Tamil New Year.
Ash, who plays 'Jodha' in her soon-to-be released period flick Jodha Akbar, said that Robot's director Shankar narrated her the script and she made it a point to "work out" the entire proposal.
The Bachchan bahu will play the lead role in Robot opposite superstar Rajnikanth, whose last film Sivaji is a running hit. Ash gestured with a salute and said "hats off" to the skill and creativity of Rajnikanth.
"They (Rajnikanth and Shankar) are super entertainers, independently and together", she said as she recounted her association with Shankar, who directed her in the 1998 Tamil film Jeans. Expressing surprise about the news of her being the highest paid actor in a Rajnikanth flick, Aishwarya said, "It's not that as much as speculated."
Talking about her family's announcement of an Aishwarya Rai Girls’ School in Barabanki of Uttar Pradesh, she said she felt "very humbled and privileged" on the commitment that her family has made.
The film, which casts Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead roles, is scheduled to be released on February 15.
President of Rajput Karni Sena, Lokendra Kalvi today said that the Sena apprehended distortion of Rajasthan's historical facts in 'Jodha Akbar' which is based on Jodhpur Raj Gharana.
The Karni Sena would watch the movie when released, and if required it would not allow its screening in the state, Kalvi said.
Earlier, the Rajput Mahasabha had also alleged misinterpretation of historical facts. They maintained that Jodha was Jehangir's wife and not Akbar's as shown in K Asif's 'Mughal-e-Azam' earlier and now in 'Jodha Akbar'.
The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a body registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India, had also issued a letter to Gowarikar asking him if had the required permission for using animals in his film.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Right after Lagaan, I already had a script of an NRI coming and discovering India, but while I was working on Swades, my friend and the writer of Jodhaa Akbar, Haidar Ali, gave me this story about a Rajput princess and a Mughal emperor and my immediate reaction was wondering how come no one ever thought of making it into a film. We always take Jodhaa’s and Akbar's marriage for granted and say that Jahangir was born to them and then came Shah Jahan and so on. We always discuss the dynasty, the lineage, but never as to how they got married. I found that very fascinating.
For quite some time, I wanted to make a film in the love story genre and was looking for contemporary love stories that were around me at that point of time but wasn't finding the right kind of hook that interested me. But when the story of Jodhaa Akbar came about, I thought why not try and attempt it? While choosing a character from history, its relevance and the story you are telling around him becomes the key. My sole attraction in this story was how these two cultures and religions came together 450 years ago, and what must have happened. I based all my beliefs only on this and made the film.
The added attraction for me was that it was about Akbar. There are only two emperors in India who we call 'great' - Ashoka and Akbar. No one's born great, Babur started the Mughal dynasty, but we don't call him or even Shah Jahan, who made the Taj Mahal, great. Why is only Akbar termed great? What did he do? These questions attracted me to the topic, but I told Haidar that it was too vast and huge a subject to even put on paper and we need time. So while making Swades, we simultaneously worked on its screenplay and that's how the film came about.
Historical biopics cannot do without an element of fiction that's necessary for making for compelling celluloid telling. What have been your factual sources and what are the fictional liberties you have allowed yourself in telling this story? What is the fact-fiction ratio in Jodhaa Akbar?
I have based the entire story, its happenings and situations on the screenplay. Its pillars are facts like king Bharmal's daughter Jodhaa was married to the Mughal emperor Akbar, and then Jahangir was born. However, what happened in their chamber or between the two of them in their privacy, their evenings and their days is not written about anywhere. There' a gap there, though at the same time we have accounts of what kind of lifestyles the Rajputs and the Mughals had, which is generic. So I have used information which is generic and pieced together my story which we can say is 70 per cent imagination and 30 per cent history.
For facts I referred to Abul Fazl's Ain-i-Akbari and Akbarnama, Badayuni's Muntakhab al-Tawarikh and a whole lot of Rajput history and historians like Jadunath Sarkar's A History Of Jaipur and The Kachhawas Under Akbar apart from meeting professors like Irfan Habib sahab and Shireen Moosvi of the Aligarh Muslim University, who are topnotch historians on Akbar. I also met the Jaipur royalty and discussed the script with them before starting the film because Jodhaa was from that family. I attended their rituals and took inputs to grasp the nuances around the protocol and behaviour of the royalty, which is most important while tackling such a subject.
Unlike Hollywood, the historical biopic as a genre hasn't been quite popular in India in recent times. What are the impediments against tackling one?
It's not that we have not been making historicals. One of the main reasons why films set in a different time zone don't get made is that they are expensive. Also for the director and writers there is too much of work to be done before you can take a single shot. Your time input has to be at least two years. Either you don't have the time to do that or don't have the goss or the money. Yet, I think we have a historical coming in every three-four years, and lot of period films are getting made like Mangal Pandey, the films on Bhagat Singh, Bose and Savarkar and Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal.
Jodhaa Akbar looks contemporary in its treatment, but there are certain givens that come with a historical. How different is your take from the cult, classic historical on Akbar, Mughal-e-Azam? Did the question of comparisons ever bother you?
I find it difficult to evaluate or describe, because how contemporary a film can be is something that is born out of its maker's personality. I can't pinpoint how contemporary my Jodhaa Akbar will be, but even Lagaan in spite of being a period film, had a certain modernity to it, which is bound to happen because it's us. Mughal-e-Azam was made at in the 1960s, when literature in cinema was given a very high platform, when theatre was still evolving and very uplifting and if you were not from theatre, you would not get a break in movies. The gap between theatre and films then was much lesser. So the styles of acting and writing were just shifting from the stage to films which is why the film had a more literary, theatrical and grandiose kind of treatment. But the people making Jodhaa Akbar are of a different set and generation. We don't want to ape anybody and have approached our script with all its honesty; so when you see the Agra fort or go to Jodhaa's chamber, there's a particular size to it that is true to the original. We have not created anything larger than required, just because you want to be bigger for the sake of bigness. That's not the focus in this film, so we have tried to stay true to how much we could within the scope of our film.
As regards comparisons, our story looks at Akbar from the age of 13 to 28. So it's a youthful romance and its focus is far removed from Anarkali, Taj Mahal or any of these historicals. I didn't think much about any kind of comparison as it's neither a remake of any era nor do many know about this relationship. It stands on its own anyway.
What made you cast Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead? Were they your first choices?
Two names that immediately came to my mind on hearing the story were that of Hrithik and Aishwarya. At that point of time, it was just a wish-list, but I was fortunate that I landed up getting my wish-list to say yes to the film. I think I am fortunate to have two big stars, who have a face value that could make the project much more attractive, and hence got me little more money to spend, though the bottomline is the story you are telling.
Moreover, you can't make films of this nature, unless they are backed by actors, stars and technicians of a certain merit. It's not just about the money, but also about getting the right team - Nitin Desai (sets), Kiran Deohans (photography), Neeta Lulla (costumes) and each and every member of the crew. When they back you up, then everything starts falling into place. The costumes start looking beautiful, the sets looks grand, the photography is breathtaking.
They were also my first choices because they are superb actors and their physical attributes lend themselves very well to the looks of a comic book emperor and a princess. My images of Akbar and Jodhaa are from the Amar Chitra Katha and like those portrayals - Hrithik is physically very strong and has princely looks, while Aishwarya is the quintessential princess.
As regards historical resemblance, my belief is that, it doesn't matter. Ben Kingsley is far removed from the Gandhi you see in all his photographs, nor does Brad Pitt match the mythical depictions of Achilles. The latest example are the three films on Bhagat Singh that released with Ajay Devgan, Bobby Deol and Sonu Sood, each playing the young martyr though the real Bhagat Singh neither looked nor was in the age group of the three actors. At certain times you need a face to a historical character that will do justice to the character and take it a little ahead by making it more palatable and believable.
Punam S Sinha seems to be one of the most unlikeliest debutants in your cast. How did you think of her and convince her to come on-screen after three decades? Which are the other significant characters to watch out for?
She has an extremely charming and regal personality and has a body language, which is very elegant. While casting, I was always telling that I need someone looking like Punam Sinha for the role of Akbar's mother, but I wasn't getting anyone. So I decided to ask her instead, and she was pleasantly surprised. But she said that I first take Shatruji's permission and thankfully both liked the role and said yes. As Hamida Banu, an empress from Turkey, she very easily makes an impact with very few words. Sonu Sood, who plays Jodhaa's cousin brother, Sujamal, has an interesting brother-sister track going between the two. He dotes on his sister and is supportive of her when there is objection to the marriage. Ila Arunji who's playing Maham Anga, Akbar's extremely possessive and protective wet nurse, is another significant character.
The film has an eclectic period track which has you team up for the third time with AR Rahman (music) and Javed Akhtar (lyrics). What was your brief for the film's music and any favourite song?
It's the first time that Rahman and Javed sahab have done a film set in the Mughal era, so we did have our discussions as to how to approach it. We essentially wanted to create sounds and melodies that would have a researched backdrop of that period, but would be contemporary in their treatment and overall appeal as we wanted the songs to depict that past and carry the scene forward, and yet appeal to today's generation by not getting archaic. Also the language we wanted to use was to just give a hint of Urdu and be very simple. Even in the script and dialogues, any word that I don't understand is not in the film and my Urdu is very limited. It doesn't interest me to impress anyone with how much Urdu I know because then it becomes a personal film. I want it to stay as lucid and simple to the layman as possible. All the songs are close to my heart, but the song that's most representative of the film is Kehno ke jashne-bahara because it has romance and is the leading song of the film.
The actor-director gave us one of the most loved films of 2007, Taare Zameen Par, which had everyone raving about his directorial skills. However, not one to rest on his past laurels, Aamir is currently busy shooting for the much anticipated remake of the Tamil hit, Ghajini.
The film directed by A.Murugadoss, which is around 50% complete, has Aamir alongside south sensation Asin and Jiah Khan. Aamir is known to go all out when it comes to preparing for his roles and for this film he is going one step further to completely get into the skin of the character. Apparently, the script of the film requires Aamir to go bald, especially, in the second half and while some of the other B-town actors may have opted for the easy way out and preferred to put a wig, the perfectionist Khan has decided that he would indeed shave his head to suit the character.
Well, now if and when that does happen, it surely will be one of the most talked about make-overs of the year.
|A couple of days back, we had mentioned that Shankar was in Mumbai to hold talks with Aishwarya Rai to cast her in his prestigious project Robot. Now it is confirmed that he has been successful with regard to roping in former Miss World in his mega budgeted film Robot. Ms Rai has signed on the dotted line for a jaw dropping sum of Rs 1.5 crore to play the lady lead for Super Star in the|
film. Insiders reveal that this could be the highest paid salary for any heroine in the South Indian film industry. This Science fiction film will be produced by Karunamoorthy for Ayngaran International and is expected to be made simultaneously in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
The reason for Rahman's absence was more technical as he wanted to break the hegemony of some audio giants. However, the current year is likely to more than compensate for his absence last year. While his magnificent JODHAA AKBAR audio is out and is delighting the music lovers all over the world, four more probable gems are lined up. Yes, Rahman's YUVRAAJ (for Ghai), GHAJINI remake and JAANE TU YA JAANE NA (both for close friend Aamir Khan) and also DILLI 6 for Rakeysh Mehra, are all likely to hit the stores in 2008.
Well, Glamsham definitely deserves a treat from Rahman fans for breaking the good news. Happy listening!
“I have introduced so many actresses in my films. This time around I am launching an actor. Anubhav Sinha, a talented youngster who won a TV reality show which was a hunt for budding actors, will be seen in my film. I have cast him with Anil Kapoor. Black and White is a low budget film but directed by me with absolute passion and honesty”, said the director.
“As far as the music is concerned, to bring out the colourful music in the framework of ‘ Black and White ’ has been a big test for me this time. But the in-depth melodies composed by Sukhwinder and lyrics by Ibrahim Ashq shall meet the expectations of music lovers and my fans I am sure. You need to listen carefully to the music of Black and White to feel it. It’s like ecstasy! It grows on you”, added the filmmaker about the music.
Knowing his keen sense of music and the chartbusters that his films have given, we are waiting with baited breath to listen to the music of Black and White .
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
When this was taken care of, there was a fresh confusion if Jodha was the wife of Akbar or Jehangir. All is well that ends well and Jodha is finally ready for release.
It’s been quite some time now, since the Anil Ambani owned Reliance group has been trying its hand in the entertainment sector as well and now reports claim that this Reliance group is keen to buy Jodha Akbar from UTV for a whopping 90 crores.. Though sources opine that the film has been overpriced, it does not seem to bother Reliance especially when big names like Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai and Ashutosh are involved in a project. Music by A.R. Rehman has struck the chords yet again for Gowarikar after Swades.
"My God! The past few months have been quite a ride. And the last month the most exciting, nerve racking, exhausting, rejuvenating, draining, enriching. Am I ever going to recover?" Aamir noted in his blog at www.aamirkhan.com this week.
"I feel like I've been stuffed into a washing machine, which doesn't have an off button. After this I really need to be put out to dry in the sun and left alone. But no such luck. I start shooting for Ghajini on January 22," he penned.
Hence, the multifaceted actor would take "baby steps" towards recovery.
"First things first... I have just smoked my last cigarette before sending this post. Yes, I have finally kicked the bad habit! I know I know I can already hear all of you all scream and shout. I was supposed to give up on December 31. But I didn't (which is one of the reasons I was avoiding posting). I tried my best... but I am sorry I couldn't then... but I have now... so please don't give me grief... instead support me now. Second step: get back to sleeping early. Third: work out religiously.Fourth: get back on my healthy diet. Fifth: just stick to the above four for a while before taking the fifth step," he explained.
And while the actor shoots for Ghajini his to-do list includes: Work on the DVD of Taare..., work on the release plan of Jaane Tu..., Aamir Khan Production's next release, supervise preparations on Delhi Belly, which starts shoot in March.
"Start preparation work on the other one that Aamir Khan Production is producing later this year yet untitled. Make innovations and progress on this site. Clean my study and my cupboard. So much junk has piled up in my rooms. Everyday I look at the mess and promise myself I'll get down to it at some point," he writes.
Overwhelmed by the Indian cricket team's historic win in Australia last week, Aamir, a sports buff, said the victory tastes sweeter after beating an "arrogant" team. "In the meantime let us celebrate India's win over Australia. What a glorious win! Sweet and well deserved. We would have won the earlier test as well had it not been for remarkably bad luck with the umpiring. The victory is the more satisfying because we beat a team, which is unfortunately very arrogant and decidedly badly behaved on the cricket field. My sincere apologies to any fans of Australian cricket but I fail to understand why arguably the best team in the world has to behave so badly on the field. Or why this team feels the need to use excessively aggressive heckling to try and win a match. Can't they just play better?"
Incidentally, Aamir, a more-than-decent tennis player and admirer of Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, said that cricketers must take a lesson from tennis players.
"I don't see Federer or (Andy) Roddick misbehaving with each other or anyone. I wish the Indian team didn't get influenced by the childish display and respond in kind. We should just quietly play better and win... or lose, as the case may be. But play with dignity," he wrote.
Tanishq, the leading jewellery brand, unveiled the jewellery worn by Aishwarya Rai, who plays the Rajput princess Jodhabai and Hrithik Roshan, who features as Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar, in the movie.
The exquisite pieces include sarpech (feather pin), archer's ring, arsi (mirror ring), bhor (head jewel like in Indian tika) and hansali (choker).
'The wedding set, which Aishwarya wears in the film, is very heavy. It weighs around three-and-a-half kg. It was difficult for her to wear them. In fact, in the interviews she said the hardest part was to wear the jewellery.
'But that was how women lived those days and it is authentic,' Alpana Parida, head marketing & merchandising at Tanishq, told IANS at the unveiling of 'Jodhaa Akbar' jewellery in the capital.
A blend of Mughal and Rajasthani designs, the handcrafted jewels on display are breathtakingly beautiful and give an insight to India's glorious past.
'I think if everything is put together then the total weight will be about 300 kg and it's a huge investment on the part of the company. We have made 13 ensembles for Aishwarya and eight for Hrithik. We have used gold and gems like emeralds, pearls, ruby, tourmaline, jade,' added Parida.
However, she refused divulge the budget.
This is Tanishq's second film venture. Earlier, they collaborated with Shah Rukh Khan for his home production 'Paheli'.
'We had done jewellery for 'Paheli', which was at a much smaller scale because it was Rajasthani jewellery and there wasn't any other definition.'
''Jodhaa Akbar' became a design and research challenge because it had to be the specific Rajput and Mughal traditions of the 16th century and there was very little available from that time. It was a research from the combination of miniature paintings, 'Akbarnama' and old royal families. We also did a lot of research in museums and archives, private collection of various royalties and at the Chitrakala Parishad,' Parida said.
Ask her about the basic difference between Mughal and Rajput jewellery, Parida said: 'The basic difference was that Mughal jewellery was much finer in craftsmanship and Rajput jewellery was more rustic. At that time - Mughals used a lot more pearls than the Rajputs did.'
'Akbar's favourite gem was the emerald. In 'Akbarnama' there are actually blue prints of emerald mines, which Akbar had started and wherever you see him, he wears emeralds, which is the symbol of power.'
Ornaments were created keeping in mind its relevance to the two rich Indian traditions. It was a tedious job for the team working on the jewellery to find details about Jodhabai's jewels.
'For Akbar, we had a lot more literal references, but for Jodha there were very few. We got references from Rajput designs of that time, used motifs that were prevalent at that time, architecture, miniature paintings and through existing pieces from that time.'
In the 16th century, Rajput women use to wear 12 pieces of jewellery. 'Starting with the 'borla' (hair pins) to anklets and we have made sure that we follow the same definition of an ensemble.'
In India, there is a tradition of passing the skills from one generation to other.
'We have unearthed craftsmen. In one particular case, we hired three generations of craftsmen to work on the jewellery. The older generation was not even making jewellery anymore, but we found him in Rajasthan and got him to work for us.'
The designs are mostly 'kundan and meenakari'- inlay work common to Rajasthan. 'The interesting thing about most 'kundan' and 'meenakari' is as many as five craftsman worked on one single piece. One made the mould, another set the stone, one inlaid the pearls and others made the colourful 'meenakari' work. So, each jewel takes a long time to craft. It's not factory-made. The jewellery was handcrafted.
'Women used to wear large thumb rings with mirrors so that they could see their faces in the mirror. Now, setting a mirror in that mould is a special skill and it doesn't exist today. So we had to find craftsman who could recreate it,' Parida said.
Tanishq has no plan to sell these jewels.
'This is a labour of love. Second, it's not wearable because the jewellery is heavy. We have launched the pret collection which is inspired from the 'Jodhaa Akbar' line but as of now, we don't intend to sell it.'
Currently, Tanshiq has 102 stores across the country.
'We will open 30 to 35 stores this year. We are also opening two stores in the US in the next six to eight months.'
Talking about future plans, Parida said: 'We are looking to do films, but only those where jewellery is integral to the film. We don't want to be the part of the props. We want to be the design leaders. Our experience while working on 'Jodhaa Akbar' was fantastic.'
The leaders of Rajput community in Jaipur are threatening to stall the release of 'Jodhaa Akbar' in Rajasthan alleging distortion of facts.
President of Rajput Karni Sena, Lokendra Kalvi said on Tuesday that the Sena apprehended distortion of Rajasthan's historical facts in 'Jodhaa Akbar’, which is based on Jodhpur raj gharana.
The Karni Sena would watch the movie when released, and if required it would not allow it’s screening in the state, Kalvi said.
Earlier, the Rajput Mahasabha had also alleged misinterpretation of historical facts.
They maintained that Jodha was Jehangir's wife and not Akbar's as shown in K Asif's 'Mughal-E-Azam' earlier and now in 'Jodhaa Akbar'.
The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a body registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India, had also issued a letter to Gowarikar asking him if had the required permission for using animals in his film.
Over 80 elephants, 100 horses and 55 camels were used in the movie, which has been made at a whopping budget of Rs.400 million.
Touted as one of the biggest releases of this year, 'Jodhaa Akbar' spins a yarn around a glorious chapter of the Mughal era.
Expectations are high since the epic romance is the third big film to come from the Gowarikar stable after the much-acclaimed Lagaan and Swades .
With Hrithik and Ash coming together again after Dhoom 2 , 'Jodhaa Akbar' has managed to grab headlines much before its release that is scheduled on February 15, 2008.
Besides, the movie has had controversies like the one that the actor declined to offer co-star Aishwarya Rai a ride in his chopper! However, the actor didn't show any sign of fatigue or frustration. However, he seems to have turned leaner after carrying all that weight his attire, jewelry and armory placed on him. That's why he was kept under strict medication and had to go without his regular rigorous workouts, which he usually went through on a regular basis. Anyway everything goes well if it ends well.
The film, which Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead roles, is scheduled to be released on February 15.
President of Rajput Karni Sena, Lokendra Kalvi said on Tuesday that the Sena apprehended distortion of Rajasthan's historical facts in 'Jodha Akbar' which is based on Jodhpur raj gharana.
The Karni Sena would watched the movie when released, and if required it would not allow its screening in the state, Kalvi said.
Earlier, the Rajput Mahasabha had also alleged misinterpretation of historical facts. They maintained that Jodha was Jehangir's wife and not Akbar's as shown in K Asif's 'Mughal-E-Azam' earlier and now in 'Jodha Akbar'.
The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a body registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India, had also issued a letter to Gowarikar asking him if had the required permission for using animals in his film.
Akbar's cinema crew are going around passing around posters and CDs of Jodha Akbar to viewers showing just two people, ie a 'king and the queen' of hindustan pedigree. All we see are Hrithik Roshan and a mustache and a head queen, played by one Aishwarya Rai. On top of that you have rent-my-voice Amitabh Bachchan narrating this thing in sincerity as if he's getting ready to recite Hindustan's freedom movement. How wonderful and generous of them...and weird.
|'Hum Hindustan Ko Galat Haathon me nahi jaane denge', Akbar is heard saying in Jodha Akbar|| |
The question is...whose 'galat' haath are they talking about? Rana Pratap's?
...Or Chatrapati Shivaji's?
Because ladies and gentlemen, there is a central question of whether there even was any real Jodhabai truly, who was considered head queen of Akbar that Aishwarya Rai is fantacizing herself to be in this movie (as compared to being another harem queen) in 16th century Muslim ruled India.
And regardless of any Jodha Bai and her real stature, is the basic premise of what an 'epic romance' is and should be.
For much of the people, an 'epic romance' is a relationship implied between two people committed to each other and each other only. Made for each other, till death do them part...so go all the epic tales. Look it up. Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranjha, Romeo-Juliet, or if you want an intercommunal equivalent cinematic reference even: Tara Singh-Sakina from Gadar. Imagine if in Gadar, Tara had 50 other Sakinas on the side, alongside the one main one he really claimed to love. What would the reaction have been?
A big question and problem Gowarikar and his people are going to have then is that Akbar did not have just one Jodha Bai in his chamber. He had a number of 'Jodha Bais' by the hundreds. In fact according to the biography by Vincent Smith, Akbar enjoyed 'a harem consisting of 5000 women, mostly Hindus'. Given this many concubines and 'Bais' in his harem; countless 'harem-zades' must have been born out of his 'love stories' and 'romances' with those all females on various occasions. In fact there were. Did that not seem like a point worth considering in trying to sell this off as some noble love story? What's coming next, the epic romance of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinksy?
How exactly does Gowarikar plan to get around this fundamental polygamist reality in his so called 'epic romance' which he's implying to the public was a primarily bigamous affair? Is he going to advocate polygamy, or deny basic reality?
Gowarikar's premise, a muslim prince and a hindu princess in this fictional 1 to 1 romance of Jodha-Akbar therefore, is fundamentally misleading.
More importantly, so is the general implication of Akbar's secularism. It is easy to get worked over a Narendra Modi in today's times at the same while hailing dead men like Akbar as Akbar the Great. But history is proof that on February 24, 1568, Akbar (the great) called for a pogrom and brutal massacre of 30,000 defenseless Hindus of Chittorgarh, Rajasthan who had refused to convert to Islam. Unlike what Jodha-Akbar would be implying, in reality countless Rajput women committed 'Jauhar' instead of being taken by muslim kings. Some Hindus gave in to the Mughals and they are in the midst as muslims in the country today, but most Hindus didn't. Despite the difficulties, they considered any idea of Man Singhs and Jodha Bais as treason and kept resisting and defying the muslim onslaughts. And it is because of that defiance and determination that Hindu culture and civilization has outlasted the mughal rule and is able to mount back with a massive army and nuclear arsenal capable of obliterating the entire Middle-east today. Fact of the matter is if Akbar and Mughals had their way, Hrithik Roshan would be named Hakim in real life, Ms. Aishwarya Rai would be Hamida in a veil somewhere, and this article be asked to be written in some Urdu-Turko script.
So what will not be missed is that this film's maker is not just playing with his own personal hallucinations. He is seeking universal approval for a questionable historical and political agenda using the cover of Hindu voices and faces on the Indian screen.
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Bollywood has long been doing this unquestioned of course. The implication that Salim aka Jahangir (Mughals' selected heir to Akbar) was born out of this romance is another myth or unverifiable allegation propogated in modern fantasy primarily, such as the earlier costume drama Mughaleazam. Real Akbar loved this 'Jodha Bai' so much that far from building any Taj Mahal, any school, any building whatsoever for her, he did not even so much as mention the woman any where. Nor does Mr. Salim in his autobiography hint anywhere that his female parentage was not Muslim. Because most likely that was not the case. Most likely, Jodha Bai's offsprings were just wandering around the harems also like her. In any case, given that a number of Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs (Sikh Guru Arjan Dev was slaughtered by him for not accepting Islam) were murdered by Mr. Salim during his stay in power also, it is hard to imagine what good it did anyway for greater benefit of humanity as a whole. What lasting positive influence this supposed Akbar-Jodha cross-religion drama had on India, except for strengthening Akbar and Muslim hold over India till they were themselves overrun by the British. So far as secularism in contemporary India is concerned, regardless of its merits, it is largely a creation of the Hindu (and sustained *by* the Hindu, due to multiple pathway principle intrinsic in Hindu polytheist culture it should be added), not driven by anything to do with Akbar or Baabur or that Nehruvian visionary Aurangzeb. There is a reason why Pakistan which flies the Mughal flag and sees itself as the modern state of the Mughal empire, has pretty much eliminated its Hindu population, and is the kind of society it is compared to India's.
Given the extremely leftist tilt of Bollywood and much of media today, it is not surprising to see the advocacy around Jodha Akbar. They trump it as the ultimate film for all times as hope for peace and harmony and this and that. What they don't realize is that it's a dangerous mirage. The way to advance real peace in the subcontinent is by having a strong Hindustan, capable of avenging and defending its people and its borders, whereby the consequences of trying to destabalize the Hindus (and perhaps those muslims who have chosen to bear allegiance to Hindustan's ancient history) are not worth the incentives that may come with it. That will not however happen by Bollywood imagining up false realities to dupe themselves and the public into 'feeling better' about this era of the history, and by trying to bury significant events, differences and issues under the surface using the rose colored glasses and safety net of Indian cinema.
It is conceivable that the filmmaker and crew have tapdanced their way around some of these hard issues cleverly and if they haven't, they will be in trouble. The underlying themes behind Jodha Akbar in the end are far bigger than a 3 hour movie in some theater. And they're going to have to deal with the various aspects and consequences that are bound to be held against Ronnie Screwvala and the Jodha Akbar promoters, regardless of how big a hit or flop this film on celluloid turns to be.
No, she hasn't acted in any films. Rather, it is a film she is making with her Dad that is generating a lot of interest.
The film is a 3D animation titled Sultan The Warrior which is produced by Soundarya's company's (Ocher Studios) along with Adlabs, and directed by her.
Shobha Warrier caught up with the pretty director to know more. Excerpts:
How did the film with your father happen?
It started very small. My company (Ocher films) was already into visual effects and post production work. So, the next stage was to get into animation.
While I was travelling abroad I saw a couple of animation films. And it got me thinking. Here (India) we don't have those kinds of films. Animation abroad is considered as important as live action. For example, Shrek and Mission Impossible were appreciated and welcomed there. But this is not the case in India. I told myself, why don't I make one? Someone has to take the initiative and do it.
And this made you think of making a film with your father?
Yes, it did, because he is a superstar. I am such a fan of my father that I felt he deserved to be animated first. Appa is God to me. He is known for his style, mannerisms and gimmicks. If he could do so much in live action, imagine what he could do with animation? The sky is the limit. In Sultan too he does a lot of gimmicks.
So, it is my father's style that came to my mind the moment I thought of an animation film. You need someone stylish to get animated. I would say this film is a daughter's dedication to her father.
That's a very emotional statement...
Yes, it is. The film is very emotional for me because in the history of Indian entertainment, no Asian actor has been animated before. And, to me, this is my dedication to my father. The film is like making history, and it is making history.
Did he become emotional hearing that statement from you?
He did. The project is very personal to both of us. There is a lot of emotion involved in it because I am dedicating it to my father. It is good when there is sentiment attached to the project. You can't make a film without getting attached to it.
How did he react when you told your father that you were going to make an animation film on him?
He was very curious and also very excited. Again, animation is not known in India. It is new and it is a road that no one has travelled before.
So, his initial reaction was, animation? How is it going to be? And me as the hero?
I told him, Yes, Appa, you are going to be animated. Then I walked him through it and explained everything. He was very supportive, encouraging and very proud!
From the time I could remember, my parents have been extremely supportive of anything I want to do in life. My Dad is very involved in the project as it is his story.
Which part of his life are you going to animate?
It is not his life story; it is a story written by him.
Did he write the story for you?
No, he wrote the story to make it into a movie. But he never ended up doing it because Sultan's story is very, very grand. So, to make a live action movie, you require not only a gigantic budget but also a lot of effort by way of costumes, sets, etc. It is a huge undertaking because this is on the lines of Troy, Gladiator, etc. It is a film on a Warrior!
So, when I had this idea to make an animation film, Dad and I were discussing various ideas. Then, he gave me this story and said, 'develop this,' and I worked on it and went back to him with the screenplay. My father generally first approves the story of every film of his. Mr Rajnikanth approved the script and here we are doing the film!
Other than the story, what are the other areas he is involved with in the film?
He is giving his voice in the movie.
Only in Tamil?
Yes, as of now. We will think of the other languages later. He is also doing motion capture for the movie. Motion capture is a technology that is required for a 3D film. And I am shooting him live for reference.
How was the experience of directing your father?
I am yet to do it.
Are you dreading the day?
No, I am looking forward to it.
How will you treat him -- just as an actor?
Yes. When we were discussing things, it had always been between a director and an actor. But once home, we are father and daughter.
When we are on the floor, we are very professional. And, he is hundred percent a professional. Sultan is his film, and it will be his next release.
Was he your hero when you were young?
He has always been my hero. I am a die-hard fan of my Dad!
When did you realise that your father was the superstar of Tamil Nadu?
As long as I could remember. My father was a superstar when he got married. So, we grew up in that atmosphere. We have grown up watching his films and adored his every move. So, I can't really say when I realised he was the superstar because he has always been one for me!
What is it about his movies that you like?
He is symbolic of the meaning of the word style! You look up the dictionary for the word style, and it means Rajnikanth! He is the most stylish man -- on and off screen too.
Can you be objective while directing him?
I am a director and he is an actor in my film. So, he is an actor in my film, not my father.
But when I come back home, he is my Dad, and that will never change.
This type of objectivity would not have been possible when I was younger. When I was a kid, there were times when I saw him cry on screen. I would start crying too. I thought it was my father who was crying. I was too young to realise that it was the character he was playing that was crying. I also hated it when he was hit by villains. I would say, stop hitting my Dad!
How did he react when you told him that you were his greatest fan?
He knows that. It is not that we sat down and I told him that. My sister and I go mad when his films are released. We would be yelling in the theatre like his other fans.
How was it growing up as the superstar's daughter? How were you treated in school?
We didn't have a lot of privacy. A lot of people talk to you because you are his daughter. I am glad that I made lots of good friends.
Did you have a normal childhood?
We had a very, very normal and simple upbringing. My Mom balances it out.
Everybody talks about how simple your father is in real life. The way he conducts himself in public is as a very simple person...
I admire that aspect of him. The more successful he is, the simpler he becomes. That is how it is for him. The more he achieves, the more humble he becomes. When people respect and admire him more, the more simple he becomes. He is such an amazing human being. He is like God for me. I can't say more.
Is it very difficult to emulate the kind of lifestyle he leads?
No, no it's not like that. All of us are very, very simple people.
You went to Australia to study multimedia. Did it just happen, or have you always wanted to do something on these lines?
I have always been interested in graphics and visual effects. I studied multimedia which is more technical. I never went to a film school. I came to know all about films from growing up with a superstar.
I came back from Australia and started Ocher and here is where we are today. I always knew I would be behind the camera.
You must have got a lot of offers to be in front of the camera too...
I have, but I never got excited about it because I always knew I was the creative person who wanted to be behind the camera. I wanted to do something different.
Weren't you tempted at all to act in films?
Acting? No, it never crossed my mind. Never.
Was it because you were more passionate about being behind the camera?
Yes, I am more passionate about being behind the camera. I wanted to do something that was not done before. I wanted to create a benchmark. What I am doing is a first of its kind, and I am very passionate about this.
Is Sultan the Warrior a period film?
Yes, it is a period film but I am not specifying the period. It is a story that happened a long time ago.
Are you excited or nervous about Sultan?
I am excited and nervous too because it is a Rajnikanth film and people expect a lot. Being nervous makes me want to do more and take up more challenges.
Would you also be making feature films in future?
Yes, definitely. And, I want to take Ocher to another level. I want to establish my company and also be a filmmaker. I want to balance both.
How difficult is it to be both a businesswoman as well as a filmmaker?
The advantage is that both are interlinked. I am making my film completely out of my company. So, I know the kind of quality my company can give and the kind of quality I can get from my company. It works for me, by God's grace!
What kind of support do you get from your mother?
She is the chairperson of my company. I studied in her school (Ashram School). She is very involved in the project and the company as well. All of us at Ocher go to her for advice.
So, do you think you inherited the entrepreneurial spirit from your mother and the creative spirit from your father?
Believe me, my dad is a very good businessman. When he chooses his script and movies, he knows what he is doing. He is not only an actor, but a great businessman as well.
Does Ocher Studios do a lot of special effects for films?
Yes, we do. Apart from making our own content, we do that too. By God's grace, we do have a good market share down south. I am expanding my facilities more and getting into Hindi film graphics this year.
We started with 12 people and now have 80 working for us. We will definitely come to Mumbai. We may also go overseas. As we are doing Sultan, we are scaling up the company too.
Do you feel that you have all those projects in the south because you are Rajnikanth's daughter?
No, life has not been easy when I started out. Ours is a very young company -- we are only two years old. It's not that everybody would give you a job just because you are Rajnikanth's daughter. It's not like that.
On the contrary, it is more difficult because a lot of people are scared to give you work because they feel if something goes wrong, they can't question us. But we say, of course, you can question us. We are a company.
I went through all the problems that a start up company goes through, and I am still going through them. We are breaking into a market where there are already established companies.
Which was the first film you got to do special effects for?
Chandramukhi and I must say the response has been good. Chandramukhi ran for 800 days. When your first film is a hit, you are sentimentally happy about it. I have worked only in Tamil so far. Now I am venturing in to Telugu and Hindi.
As a filmmaker, what kind of feature films do you like to make?
I like to make fantasies. They are my favourite genre. I read a lot of Amar Chitra Katha. I was very interested in Indian mythological stories. I know Mahabharata and Ramayana thoroughly. I never read novels, however.
What kind of films do you watch?
I watch all kinds of movies except horror.
Do you feel films have to have a message?
Of course. But you can't say every movie has to have a message.
All your father's films have messages?
Yes, they have. Sultan also has a message. When someone is in a place from where he can tell people to do good, he has to do it. The lyrics of every song of my Dad's have strong messages and people do follow them.
Like your father, are you also a spiritual person?
Yes, I am a spiritual person. I have taken up his school of spirituality but I have never had the chance to go to the Himalayas. Hopefully, I will go there some day.
Do you believe in God?
Of course, I do.
What's God to you? You said earlier that your father is like God to you...
You can interpret what I said in many ways. When you say call someone God, it is like saying that you love and believe in that person completely. My father is irreplaceable. That is why I said he is like God to me.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Though the young man has won several hearts by his youthful and imaginative tunes, he is yet to receive any appreciation from his uncle.
Rahman, however, has the habit of uttering a few words of appreciation on his nephew, while talking to his sister.
Prakash has recently asked Rahman to sing a song in his composing and Rahman is said to have accepted the request. It is believed that the uncle would sing in his nephew’s music soon.
Ashutosh Gowariker changes genre yet again after exploring triumph of spirit in Lagaan and an NRI-mind's nationalism in Swades with his lavish costume drama about historical figures Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar and Jodhaa Bai.
The super hot pair of Dhoom 2 -- Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai slip into royal shoes to delve into a new side of their chemistry in Gowariker's eagerly anticipated film, Jodhaa Akbar. As in the case of Lagaan and Swades, for his latest too, the filmmaker repeats the successful music director-lyricist team of A R Rahman and Javed Akhtar.
Also read: Ash and Hrithik's post Valentine tryst!
To find out how the final product turns out, read on:
The palpable energy and marching dynamism in the Rahman-helmed regal grandeur and Javed Akhtar's salutations of the heroic Mughal Emperor is both bewitching and befitting in Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah. And while the clarion sound that features intermittently through the track, is a fond reminder of the Lagaan instrumental -- Once Upon A Time In India, the charged chorus and melodic alaap ensure a triumphant opening into the soundtrack.
The knife-on-butter quality to Javed Ali's ultra smooth and sharp vocals lends Jashn-E-Bahaara an exquisite edge. As always, Rahman waves his musical wand to infuse enticing proportions of magic and beats, enhancing Javed Akhtar's poetry, which eloquently waxes on the charming uncertainty and growing anxiety of a blooming romance. Its instant appeal is likely to evoke a spontaneous singer in many of us. Consider the flute-based instrumental of Jashn-E-Bahaara a karaoke-friendly answer to your prayers.
A Rahman soundtrack wouldn't be dubbed complete without the man wielding the microphone as well. And so the maestro puts up a spectacular show in the Sufi symphony, Khwaja Mere Khwaja. The high-pitched reverence and pulsating devotion in Rahman's plea (penned by Kashif) perfectly syncs with the blazing graph of this feverish creation. An Oboe-themed instrumental of the same has a riveting impact on both -- soul and senses.
Sonu Nigam and Madhushree's ethereal rendition of In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein shifts its tone from a gentle love song to a dramatic chorus whilst celebrating the intimate union of its titular protagonists.
Even as the leisured pace is most beguiling, the additional roaring of vocals breaks the momentum and mood of this otherwise winsome duet.
Following the tradition of fervent prayer offerings as seen in the last two Gowarikar films -- O Palaanhare (Lagaan) and Pal Pal Hai Bhari (Swades). Here too, despondency and anxiety looms large in the essence and Bela Shende-voiced implorations of Mann Mohanaa. As opposed to the aforementioned pieces, this one, with its linear outline and noticeable monotony, falls pale in comparison.
Having said that, Jodhaa Akbar deserves a round of applause for its faithful adherence to melody, vibrant lyrics and musical detailing. At the same time, Rahman and his visionary sensibilities make their presence felt by and large in every note and rhythm. And that's what makes the soundtrack of this history-inspired romance a musical conquest.
He returns after Guru to compose the soundtrack of Jodhaa Akbar that has already been showered with praises.Packed with two instrumental numbers and five tracks, Jodhaa Akbar has the makings of a hit.
Elaborate arrangements include the trumpets and the drums in Azeem O Shaan Shehenshah. It is a wonderful composition and Mohammad Aslam and Bonnie Chakraborty, who have sung it, have done justice to the song.
Lyrics by Javed Akhtar are up to the mark.Sonu Nigam and Madhushree render a romantic piece titled In lamhon ke daaman mein that initially seems like any other track until it picks up pace.Javed Akhtar pens noteworthy lyrics while Rahman's music keeps the standard you expect from the maestro himself.
Jashn-e-bahaaran, sung by Javed Ali, comes next. The soft, serene and romantic piece displays an ideal fusion of Ali's vocals with string music. There's also a Jashn-e–bahaaran (instrumental), which gives the flute a key position in the track. Rahman finally makes his presence felt in areas other than compositions by singing Khwaja mere Khwaja.
His rendition coupled with the harmonium, tabla (percussion) and claps make for marvellous music. One begins to wonder how a qawwali could impress to this extent that it ensures immediate gratification to everyone.
Khwaja mere Khwaja (instrumental) is as good as the previous instrumental number belted out. Mann Mohana comes in the end as an average number.This track, rendered by Bela Shende, is not too bad but after listening to the other numbers in the album, one would prefer placing it at the bottom of the six.
Rahman has once again proved that what he composes is of a completely different genre, standard and calibre. He stands in a place where there can be no competitors; his is a level that cannot be matched.
Khan, who has been busy with the release of his movie, for the last few months, will resume shooting for Ghajini on 22 January.
Apart from this, the actor's production house is also buzzing with work. As many as three films are being worked upon this year at Aamir Khan Productions. The shooting for the next film under his banner - Jaane Tu… is now complete. The film, which is being directed by Abbas Tyrewala, will see the debut of Khan's nephew Imran Khan. Telugu actress Genelia has been cast opposite Imran.
Khan is also in the process of supervising the preparations on his other home production called Delhi Belly, which will be an action comedy. The shooting for the same starts in March.
What’s more, Khan has also zeroed in on yet another film that he will be producing later this year. The film is as yet untitled.
As for the Ghajini remake, the title for the Hindi version has not yet been decided upon. The film also stars Asin, Mohit Alawat and Jiah Khan and is directed by A.R. Murugadoss, who incidentally also directed the Tamil version.
The movie is being produced by Allu Arvind and Madhu Varma. The film’s music is by AR Rahman and lyrics are by Prasoon Joshi. Cinematography is by Ravi Chandran and choreography by Ahmed Khan.
Apart from all these activities, Khan is also readying for the home video release of Taare Zameen Par. In an earlier interview with Businessofcinema.com, Khan had said that post completing the shoot for Ghajini; he would take a six months’ break from work. Now with all the activities lined up at his production house, it remains to be seen whether the actor is able to get away!
a) Ashutosh Gowarikar's labour of love finally getting ready to be unveiled after going through gruelling shooting schedules.b) Hrithik and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan coming together again after Dhoom 2, albeit in a different avatar.c) A R Rahman and Javed Akhtar saab collaborating with Ashutosh for the third straight time after Lagaan and Swadesd) A true historical being brought to celluloid after ages.
No wonder, everything about this film is expected to be flawless and studied to the minutest details. This is why one looks at the music with great expectations. However, it all turns out to be anticipation in vain as Jodhaa Akbar turns out to be the first major disappointment of 2008.
In the praise of Shahenshah Akbar comes the opening track Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah. High on orchestra, the track has ‘grand’ written all over it and deserves an opulent treatment to it. Crooned by Mohammed Aslam, Bonnie Chakraborty and Chorus, the track hails Akbar for creating an empire where there is peace, harmony, and great life all around. The song doesn't belong to the kind which could be sung around or played loud at home but would do well when seen on the big screen, provided the picturisation is as lavish as Rahman's efforts.
Javed Ali, who has been trying to make his mark over last 3-4 years, gets a big break in the form of Jashn-E-Bahaaraa. Sounding quite close to Sonu Nigam, Javed does well in his rendition of this slow track that is in complete contrast to Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah in its treatment. Javed Akhtar saab's poetry is in full flow for this love song which comes close to the style of 60’s in it's tune and flow.
However, one misses the kind of punch as expected from the first romantic song of the album and the final outcome turns out to be little lackluster with not much in the song pulling a listener for a repeat hearing. Towards the album's end, a 'Flute Instrumental' version of the song is heard as well, which works better as a core background piece which could be enjoyed with lights switched off.
Kashif written Khwaja Mere Khwaja is a devotional track, which is strictly for Rahman fans. Rendered by Rahman himself, it has the kind of arrangements as heard in Kehna Hi Kya [Bombay]. With minimal instruments in play, Khwaja Mere Khwaja has its strength lying in it's lyrics but that too has minimal target audience due to the track's genre and setting. Overall, a situational piece that seems like an unlikely candidate to make much headway into current crop of audience. An 'Oboe Instrumental' piece for the same track comes at the album's end and yet again has the kind of treatment, which hardly promises a popular reach out.
In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein that comes later turns out to be most laidback of all and just doesn't ignite the kind of spark that one had been hunting for in this soundtrack so far. It's one thing to be slow and another to be just plain and simple drag (if boring is too harsh a word here)! By this time, one seriously starts wondering if Rahman was asked to work on the album really-really hard or did he actually finish the job in a jiffy? In spite of presence of Sonu Nigam and Madhushree, the song just doesn't click at all and in the end what one gets to hear is a number which fails to impress and ends without making any impression.
On the lines of O Paalan Haari (genre wise) comes Mann Mohanaa, which is yet, another devotional track after Khwaja Mere Khwaja. This time around, it is Bela Shinde's turn to sing a number for Lord Krishna as the character of Jodha played by Aishwarya Rai turns over to God. Just like the rest of the album, this one too doesn't go any further than being ordinary and ends without creating any place in the heart (or the music collection) of the listener.
Special attraction of the music album of Jodhaa Akbar is a bonus DVD that includes a 4-minute long theatrical trailer of the film along with a few posters, story and cast and crew details of the film.
The album kicks off well with a high adrenalin title song but beyond that there isn't much to look forward to. Jodhaa Akbar would work with a miniscule segment of audience and that too only in certain big cities. It is expected to take a good start at the stands due to high credentials involved but a sustained stay at the charts may only be possible only if the film is a success.
Jodhaa Akbar disappoints, and how! Though the music of Lagaan was good (catching on more after the film's success), Swades was always a few steps behind. However, Jodhaa Akbar does not have much to cheer about and fails to go an extra distance.
Monday, January 21, 2008
The film, directed by A R Murugadoss, stars Tamil actress Asin and Nishabd's Jiah Khan. Aamir had taken a break from the Ghajini shooting to complete Taare Zameen Par.
On his blog, the actor said the past few months have been very busy for him.
'It was exciting, nerve racking, exhausting, rejuvenating, draining and enriching. I feel I was stuffed into a washing machine which didn't have an off button,' Aamir writes.
He added that he has finally given up smoking, admitting that he was delayed in kicking the habit, as he was supposed to quit on December 31.
Ghajini is not the only thing to keep Aamir busy these days. He lists his many activities on his blog, like bringing out the Taare Zameen Par DVD, and working on the release of the next Aamir Khan production, Jaane Tu, starring his nephew Imran Khan.
The magnum opus, Mughal-e-Azam, based on the tragic romance between Salim and Anarkali, was a sheer spectacle in terms of grandeur, colour, drama and music. It remains a hit till date.
So now the question is, will Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodhaa-Akbar - starring Indian superhero Hrithik Roshan and beauty queen Aishwarya Rai - weave the same magic?
"People will come to the theatres out of curiosity but the magic of Mughal-e-Azam will always linger. Jodhaa-Akbar is not a love story in the true sense, it was more of a marriage of convenience; hence a bigger challenge for Gowariker to make it in to a convincing love story," Debdatta Mukherjee, a leading model said.
Mughal-e-Azam, say old-timers in Bollywood, was based on a "documented" love story, whereas there "are very few details available about Jodhabai and Akbar. Jodha still remains a mystery. Many historians believe that she was a Rajput princess from Rajasthan and according to some, Raja Mansingh's sister.
"There is no drama associated with their courtship," said an industry veteran.
Gowariker risked making Lagaan in 2001, a period film set in colonial India, and hit the jackpot. And now he is gambling once again by daring to narrate the not-so-familiar love story of Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar and Rajput princess Jodhabai in Jodhaa-Akbar releasing Valentine's Day week.
Releasing February 15, it's a rather unusual Valentine romance - between a Mughal emperor and a Hindu woman who was the emperor's arranged match. Love grew after marriage and also saw the birth of the heir to the Mughal throne, Jahangir.
While Asif's Mughal-e-Azam was a doomed love story starring Dilip Kumar and "beauty queen of the era" Madhubala, Gowariker's 16th century tale is about prince Salims's parents who were brought together by a marriage of alliance.
"Jodha and Akbar shared a perfect arranged marriage. I was fascinated by how their relationship must have grown after marriage," Gowariker was quoted as saying.
Earlier, Hrithik and Aishwarya had scorched the screen in the slick flick Dhoom 2, but the director says that their previous image is not going to harm his film.
Ashutosh said, "Their contemporary image won't be a problem. They were a huge success in Dhoom 2. That can only help my film, not harm it. The audience will come in and forget everything about Hrithik and Aishwarya. What audiences will see in my film are Jodha and Akbar. At least, that's what I've tried to ensure through their looks, body language and behaviour."
Produced at a cost of Rs.15 million, Mughal-e-Azam was the costliest film of the era. It took Asif 14 years to realise his dream because of casting, financial and technical obstacles. Once completed, the epic love story was premiered simultaneously in 1960 in 150 theatres across the country and turned out to be a gold spinner.
Gowariker finished the film in a year's time. He used over 80 elephants, 100 horses and 55 camels in the movie. Initially, the film's budget was of Rs.400 million, apparently it overshot the whip.
Another high point of Mughal-e-Azam was Naushad's superb musical score, especially the song Jab pyar kiya to darna kya, which has a timeless appeal.
In a song titled Ae mohabbat zindabad, a chorus of 100 singers were used and in a song titled Azeem O Shan, Shahenshah in Jodhaa-Akbar, the director roped in 1,000 dancers in traditional costumes, wielding swords and shields.
A.R. Rahman's music for Jodhaa-Akbar too has been appreciated. The songs have an epic feel to it.
|With Dasavatharam all set to hit the marquee in the month of April 2008, announcement on Kamal’s next project has snuck its way to the media. Going by the details of it, looks like Kamal is all set for another mammoth venture right after his ten-role act in Dasavatharam.|
It’s a clash which has been going on for decades, but now it seems like the battle of grandeur and production scale between two superstars of Tamil film industry – Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, is getting to its peak. When Rajinikanth signed up a 60 crore project Sivaji, Kamal finalized the even bigger Dasavatharam. Now with the former again coming up with the announcement of Robot, touted to be financially the biggest project to be conceived in Indian film industry, jointly produced by Eros International and Ayangaran, the latter takes his dream to the next level. Perhaps the celluloid greats are really thinking bigger and higher.
Coming back to Marmayogi, the movie will be produced in four Indian languages - Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, and Telugu - simultaneously. Although the rest of the cast are being finalized, credible sources strongly suggest that Asin stands a bright chance to bag the role of Kamal’s lead lady. Hemamalini, who was last seen in Kamal’s Hey Ram, is also rumored to be a part of the venture.
Earlier, Kamal tantalized his fans with only a teaser trailer of his dream venture Marudanayagam, an epic tale of one of the lesser known freedom fighters. Kamal even screened the trailer to the Queen of England during her Indian visit. However, for reasons ranging from budget to time consuming research, Marudanayagam could not take off and was eventually shelved. Now, Marmayogi, as the names suggests, is expected to have a historical backdrop and has hence raised the bar among his fans.
Dasavatharam is in its final stage of production and Kamal will participate in the initial discussions of Marmayogi after Dasavatharam is wrapped up completely.
So will Marmayogi serve enough Marudanayagam-fodder to eager Kamal fans? Watch this space for more updates.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Based on the critically acclaimed Lagaan and Swades, no one can doubt that he (Ashutosh) has been inspirational in pushing the bar as far as Indian cinema is concerned. No stone was left unturned in these projects. So when it comes to producing the music, it’s no surprise that he turns to his favourite composer, the undeniable genius that is AR Rahman (ARR). Globally recognised as an inspirational musician, his work (including that of Lagaan and Swades) has often stirred widespread debate and criticism but to his credit, it’s mainly been subject to widespread praise and popularity.
To his fans of which there are many including this writer, ARR is the epitome of the absolute finest that Hindi music has to offer and has been for almost two decades now. Apart from ‘how does he do it’, the biggest question on everyone’s lips is ‘can he produce another blockbuster soundtrack befitting the undoubted quality and grandeur expected of the movie?’ Well listeners, I am delighted to say that with JA the answer is a resounding YES and the partnership of Gowariker / Rahman has delivered another inspirational score to resonate in your ears for years to come. Here is why…
As if to make up for lost time for his fans and music lovers alike (let’s face it his last soundtrack Guru was disappointing), ARR makes an immediate and quite mind-blowing impact with the opening track Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah. Bellowing horns and thundering drums commence proceedings for the introduction of our emperor Akbar and what follows is a remarkable background piece that portrays his stature, aura and power in 16th Century India. Whilst the horns and drums remain intact for the majority of the track, they fade intermittently with the introduction of several unique but incredibly crisp arrangements composing of instruments used in battles e.g. sword thrusts etc which, when combined into one harmonious tune, have the potential impact of taking your breath away! And then you suddenly realise the stirring vocals by Mohammad Aslam, Bony Chakravarty and Chorus but such is the impact of the music you barely notice their presence. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are very suiting of the occasion. Suffice to say this is ARR at his very best and proves yet again why he is the master of periodic / thematic compositions, quite simply awe-inspiring work here!
As if one gem wasn’t enough the maestro then offers another in the form of the absolutely dazzling Jashn-e-Bahaaraa. This extremely addictive and heart-warming romantic number blooms with the sound of a sublime string based instrument (guitar variant). If the soft harmonic resonance created by this instrument was not bewitching enough ARR goes one step further and brings in multiple string instruments to add further colour and texture to the orchestration…at one point they all collide together creating a most joyous effect on the ear! The slow but richly soothing melody is underpinned by a delightful percussion which flows through your soul as if to relieve your inertia, leaving you to hit the repeat button time after time.
As for the singing, well it sounds very much like Sonu Nigam but if you listen closely you will surely hear what turns out to be Javed Ali’s finest performance to date (one that Sonu would have been proud of himself), his soft and subdued vocals a testament to his underrated talents. And how can one forget Javed Akhtar’s poetry? It will make you cringe in sheer amazement! This track is another winner all the way and a love song that is befitting of life, love and emotions of any century, any time, any place. That’s the true quality of this composition. It’s a timeless classic.
As is the case for many of his soundtracks, ARR always enjoys a bit of singing and has proved to be extremely effective behind the mic (Yeh Jo Des Hai from Swades, and Roobaroo from Rang De Basanti being two examples).
For JA, he sings with verve and energy for the next track, the fabulous qawaali based Khwaja Mere Khwaja. This lengthy track starts with the sound of a harmonium and a short verse recited by ARR heralding the presence of the emperor Akbar...suddenly the delicious and uplifting sound of an organ interwoven with strings sweeps you off your feet and ushers your thoughts onto a different planet altogether- can a qawaali based song really sound this good (and more importantly perhaps sound this good to a non-qawaali listener?). Well just remember if ARR has blessed the composition anything is possible!
The underlying arrangements are typical of any qawaali based song, strong tabla and harmonium but what makes it distinct and enjoyable is the fusion of melodious ‘alaps’ and hand clapping provided by the chorus that attracts your attention until the very end. The lyricist (Javed saab) provides for simple but attractive poetry. All in all, this is an extremely satisfying qawaali track (arguably the best since Allah-O-Ali from Thathatsu) and unquestionably another highlight of the soundtrack, ARR is clearly in top form here!
The opening of the penultimate track, Inn Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein, still sounds like the blooming Jashn-e-Bahaaraa from a few tracks ago! The soothing strings and percussion return for a second offering however do not be dismayed because if you give it time and effort, you will hear how it eventually blossoms into something potentially even better! Whilst Jashn-e-Bahaaraa was slow paced throughout, this love duet provides much more variety, energy and emotion, in particular listen out for the sudden upsurge in orchestration and the contrasting whisper quiet lulls. Sonu Nigam renders another emotional piece, proving why he is a favourite playback singer of ARR. Madhushree provides supporting vocals later and sounds talented. The lyrics by Javed saab are top rate as usual! Reviewing this track is like dissecting multiple songs that have been intertwined with a golden thread i.e. it sounds fabulous but you don’t know how the maestro has managed to keep its structure and melody intact. Nevertheless it sits proudly as one of the best offerings of JA.
The final track by the name of Mann Mohanaa is a situational song and definitely the weakest effort of the entire album. That’s not to say it’s bad, on the contrary; however it’s a notch or two below the benchmark set by the rest. Another slow and soothing number, this one relies on the catchy combination of the percussion and the tabla to give it melody and to lay the foundations for other instruments such as the flute to make an appearance. Bela Shende (last heard in Paheli) sounds like an accomplished singer but on this rare occasion the lyrics by Javed Akhtar are not up to par with his other contributions here. Overall this track is average by ARR standards.
The immense soundtrack ends with two ingenious pieces, Jashn-e-Bahaaraa (Instrumental), which concentrates on the flute and Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Instrumental) which highlights the oboe. These two tracks come with the highest recommendation possible and should not be disregarded. ARR’s approach to focus on specific instruments confirms his inspirational mind and attention to detail that is rarely matched by fellow composers. Each instrumental provides a unique alternative to the original. A must listen!
With only five full tracks, there was a risk that Jodhaa Akbar’s music would fall short of expectations and alongside all the delays; music fans were rightly getting frustrated. However the cliché ‘the best things come to those who wait’ is very fitting as the Gowarikar / Rahman dream partnership has pulled off another blockbuster score (after Lagaan and Swades). Let’s hope the movie can now pull it off as well!
In conclusion however it must be said that ARR triumphs where other composers have failed since his last major releases (Meenaxi and Swades); his JA compositions are magical, spectacular, invigorating and above all a wholesome experience you rarely get in soundtracks these days. When you cannot pick a favorite you know the benchmark has been set consistently high. Indian music has just added another soundtrack to its eternal treasure. I am sure you will join me in congratulating AR Rahman on his latest Magnus Opus which turns out to be an early but strong contender for best soundtrack of 2008 - more awards clearly await this phenomenal talent who simply never ceases to amaze!