Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A R Rahman: I try to be as true as possible

One of the world's biggest composing, production and musical names A R Rahman spoke exclusively to BBC Asian Network's Gagan Grewal this week sharing his views on war and his career.

Rahman, the man behind the musical score of countless Bollywood films as well as West End productions like Andrew Lloyd Webber's BOMBAY DREAMS and LORD OF THE RINGS spoke to Asian Network about his latest projects and war - something he's rarely spoken about in public.

A R Rahman scored his 1st Bollywood song ROJA in 1992 which went on to be listed as one of the top 100 songs of all time by TIME magazine, yet Rahman says it's hard to define a favourite song. In 2003 BBC World Service ran a global poll, asking its listeners for their 10 favourite tracks of the last millennium. A R Rahman had two tracks in the top ten, Vande Mataram - a rendition of the Indian National Song made it to number 2. We asked how that came about.

"I felt I should do something as a personal expression and I teamed up with my school mate Bharat Bala, a talented film maker, and he thought of this idea. I wanted to complete this album with the thought of belonging to the motherland. Though it was a controversial theme, I think the way it was put together I think it was acceptable to every community".

On one of A R's CDs he says the world spends 730 billion dollars on War. We asked A R Rahamn what his views on war are.

"The ultimate fight in humanity was actually for food. But now it's not about food anymore or healing anybody� It's about power, who's more powerful and who can control the world. Everybody's become a control freak, that's the reason why we are spending so much of money on war, and so that's the reason, why it was put on the sleeve of 'Pray for me brother' album. It's a simple thing, we don't think about that, but when we see the reality we feel disgusted about it".
We asked A R Rahman how he has found working over in the UK for the LORD OF THE RINGS musical.

"[It's] Completely different from what I do for movies because here [UK] is different kind of audience, the whole platform is reputed and credible. My first entry there has been great, �Bombay dreams'. �Lord of the Rings' being the 2nd musical, but completely western, completely non Bollywood, non Indian, good diversion for me, to go deeper into this kind of music.

"It [the Bombay Dreams collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber] started, the conversation by Shekhar Kapoor to Andrew introducing my music to him, and he calling me straight and it started all that time, and now Bombay Dreams has almost become a kind of landmark musical where people recognize Indian film from Bombay Dreams. It's a great bridge for that. And a bridge for me to go into western musicals like LORD OF THE RINGS and probably much more in the future".

A R Rahman has won recognition from a broad base including MTV, the Laurence Olivier awards as well as Bollywood. We asked how his father dying when he was nine years old affected him and his career.

"Everything changed when I started discovering myself, and the influence of Sufism in my life and my family. And the first film when it came, that changed the whole direction of my life in a way because that defined my music, principles and existence in a way actually... my inspiration I got from him [his father] was his hard work, the good name he earned in the industry, which I wanted to retain in a way."

Talking about what gives him strength Rahman replied, "I'm a spiritual person, the word religion has been so much in controversy, I think we need to go beyond and look at humanity with love rather than segmenting so much. I try to be as true as possible, but the main thing for me is how much it is turning me into a better human being and how much it makes me a good influence in the community. So that's very important and I keep that in my mind.�"My family is very personal. They are a great support for my all activities and moral support and everything...and I've got 2 daughters and a son, and we all live together..."

For a man that has achieved a lot at a very young age we asked A R Rahman what is next on the horizon.

"Right now I'm doing YUVRAJ, a Subhash Ghai's film, D6 by Rakesh Mehra, and GHAJINI with Aamir Khan, and the next music release will be a film JAANE TU JAANE NA, an Aamir Khan production".

MP High Court Gives Clearence To ‘Jodhaa Akbar’

Finally, Madhya Pradesh High Court has wiped out the ban on ‘Jodha Akbar’s’ exhibition across the state.

Siddharth Roy Kapur, UTV Motion Pictures director said, “The Madhya
Pradesh High Court has ruled in favour of UTV and we are commencing the
screening of Jodhaa Akbar immediately across the state. This is a huge
boost to all advocates of creative freedom in our country, and we are
very grateful to the court for recognising the validity of our stand
and allowing Jodhaa Akbar to resume screenings.”

Right from the outset, Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar has been bounded by
arguments, and turned an issue of abhorrence for the Rajputs.

The Rajputs said that Ashutosh Gowariker has hurt their feelings and
they felt that the movie maker has low them by picturing wrong concepts
and has exploited Indian history.

Despite being prohibited in Rajasthan, Ambala and parts of Gujrat and
Bihar, the movie also confronted temporary postponement in MP
accompanying protest against it by the Rajput community at cinema

This made UTV move the MP High Court to receive order revoked leading to their final win.

While talking about the HC decision issued, Ashutosh greeted the judgment with relief and respect for the High Court verdict.

He said, “The film portrays love between two cultures and religions
through a marriage of alliance between a Mughal emperor and a Rajput
princess. This is an alliance that took place 450 years ago; an
alliance that we need to respect, admire and learn from even today. He
also adds that a disclaimer had been inserted at the start of the film
saying that the film is a work of fiction and it draws from history but
at the same time it is not the exact representation of it and there can
be other viewpoints.”


Jodhaa Akbar on NDTV’s The Big Fight

Yes, I caught a little TV last night. A little less sleep as well! Was actually sitting down to watch my favourite shows on Star - Seinfeld & Friends, when I saw Ashutosh Gowarikar on the telly. I stopped, wondering how it had got this far. Very interesting actually. There was a panel that comprised film folk (Gowarikar, Farooque Shaikh, Sudhir Mishra, a fairly pansy Komal Nahata & another film critic), a lady historian, and the root cause of all the trouble in Rajasthan a certain Mr. karni (described as the patron(!) of the karni sena).

Some excerpts:

karni was ranting about his problem actually being with the depiction of Jodha Bai as Akbar’s wife when she was actually his daughter in law. He found that offensive & disparaging to the Rajputs. I wonder if that was actually the motivation behind it, but if it was I thought fair point. Until I heard Nahata speak. Nahata said that the movie had been in the making for 2 years, that the name had been in the offing for 5 months before the release of the movie. Why did the karni sena have to wait for the release to protest? Hmmm… Interesting.

Nahata also pointed out that none of the protests in Rajasthan were peaceful requests to cinema owners. He rattled off names & locations of various cinemas in Rajasthan & Madhya Pradhesh where the owners have said that they are scared as they’ve been told politely that their cinemas will be burned down if they screen the film. At this point Farooque Shaikh (ever the gentleman) asked whether this was a lawful form of protest. Why could they not go through the Indian Legal system, the courts instead of protesting in such barbaric ways?

The anchor (can’t seem to recall his name) pointed out that the legal system takes about 30 years to resolve a case & by that time the movie will have influenced crores of people. To which Farooque quietly said something to this effect, “If Rajput history hasn’t been hurt in 700 years, what difference could another few years possibly make?”! Hmmm… Very Interesting.

Mr. karni was making some noises in totally unintelligible English about the future possibility of Indira Gandhi being potrayed as Gandhiji’s daughter. The anchor then asked Ashutosh if he felt that he had an additional responsibility since he was making a movie on historical figures. Ashutosh (& the historian lady) agreed. Ashutosh said that he had spoken to the current Raja & Rani of the Kachchawa dynasty of Jaipur before he made the film & as part of his research, as Jodha belonged to their family. He stated that he had narrated his script to them & that they’d given him the go ahead with both the depiction of Rajputs in the film AND the name Jodha (as that was what they too believed her name to be, from among the plethora of names she is referred to by historians)! I’m assuming the right-wing brigade is now going to label this royal family of Jaipur, traitors & pseudo-hindus (HOW I ABHOR that term!)

At this point some of the film folk asked how many no-objection certificates should a film-maker obtain? In response to a later suggestion by an audience member, the historian lady also said that she “didn’t think it was practical”. A film-maker approaches the censor board for a certificate. Nowadays they apparently approach the animal welfare board for a certificate too. Ashutosh does his research very well, consulting Jodha’s descendants besides a variety of historians, yet he must strive for another few NOC’s! Farooque (by now the legal eagle) said that the right way of lodging a protest is to ask the censor board to step into court. Let them fight the case, why should the film-maker be constantly bothered?

A valid question came from the anchor again: What if someone makes a film deliberately tampering with history? Would the filmy panel still back his creative license?

Sudhir Mishra then gave the example of the despicable mee nathuram godse boltoay. He said that to him Gandhiji was the greatest son that India produced. He said that to him the very idea of the aforementioned (can’t bring myself to type out that name again!) play is anathema. He said he “abhors” it. Yet he will stand up for the playwright’s right to write & show it. This is the “bleddy” problem with moderates I think!

A few things that I’d like to say here:

What is the function of a sena? Debate? Obviously not. Then why are they being given an ear to?

I’ve said this here as well & I’m saying it again. One thing that these jokers don’t realise is that their protests are in vain. They’ve blown this thing out of proportion. Ashutosh is suddenly on prime-time television, talking about his movie. He’s not spending a rupee on promoting it on movie & music channels. Instead he’s part of a panel discussion to discuss his movie! WOW! The added curiosity will send more people to the cinemas. Despite the movie playing only 3 shows instead of 4, despite it not being shown in Rajasthan & now in MP (both despicable BJP states), the movie has made almost the same amount of money as the other box-office winner. Add two more states & it will easily overtake that crappy piece of film-making!

Instead, if they’d protested quietly, like the Opus Dei did to The Da Vinci Code, people wouldn’t have branded them as barbarians & would’ve heard their voice. The Opus Dei, after the movie had run it’s course, was quietly featured in the Indian Express & all doubts were dispelled about it’s beliefs. No harm done to them. But like I’ve said before, the Christian community in India is the model of good behaviour. Now I’ll be called everything from a “pseudo” (UTTERLY LAUGHABLE TERM, NEED A NEW NAME!) to a missionary to a church-agent! :-D

Anyway, over to the awam…


Rajini ala Matrix!

After the stupendous success of Sivaji, the Shankar–Rajini duo is back in action with their next project Robot. This Shankar’s brainchild was initially offered to Kamal Haasan and then to Shah Rukh Khan before it finally reached the superstar.

With the shooting of Robot all set to commence on May 10, 2008, the frenzy is bound to get bigger and bigger with every passing day. And

even this time, as like his previous films, director Shankar will adhere strictly to his working style, which is 15-days shooting and 15-days discussion a month.

Another interesting piece of news is that the stunt master of the famous Hollywood film, Matrix, Yuen Woo-Ping has been roped in to direct the fight sequences in Robot. And naturally he has bagged the offer for a huge sum. Reckon how much? It is nothing less than Rs. 8 crores. But then, grandiose, thy name is Shankar right?


Choose: Robot or Sarvam?

The cinematography for Billa by Nirav Shah so impressed Rajini that he wanted him to photograph Robot. Once again, Rajini was unerringly right: Nirav, who had virtually reinvented the way Tamil cinema could look in Billa, was the obvious choice. Nirav, of course, must have been thrilled and flattered. But there was a catch: he had already signed up to shoot Vishuvardhan’s next, Sarvam, starring Arya and Trisha.

The call sheets for Robot and Sarvam had coincided. Shah could have turned down Sarvam for Robot, of course, but he said he would not. Even though Robot is an epic project, involving none other than the Superstar, Shankar and A.R. Rahman, he would stay loyal to Vishnu. He and Vishnu go a long way back, he explained. They had been college friends, plus it was also Vishnu’s cinematic vision for Billa that had made their successful collaboration so talked about.

Robot’s new cinematographer is now ace cameraman Thiru. He once assisted P.C. Sriram, and now shoots for Hindi and Malayalam films. His previous work includes Hey Ram, Aalavandhan and Bhool Bhulaiyaa. His experience and expertise will surely make Robot special.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What ails Gowariker’s portrait of a lady?

Two years ago, Mughal-e-Azam, the K Asif classic, had a second innings. In style. It burst into colour, enjoyed nostalgic reviews and headed for the UK and the US. The 2008 film, Jodhaa-Akbar, is headed — nowhere. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar followed Rajasthan in banning it. For the first time, perhaps, historical validity has become the mainstay of a film controversy.

Jodha, who existed more in folk memory than between the covers of history books, first made her silver screen debut as Akbar’s wife in Mughal-e-Azam, which was released without a disclaimer. No one raised a stink — then. “It probably affronts the contemporary consciousness of Rajput society which is imbued with Hindu consciousness today, irrespective of what happened or did not happen in the past,” reasons Bhagawan Josh, a history professor in JNU. If story telling is an art, that art has its politics.

During the genre’s heyday, till the 1960s, historicals have ridden on artistic licence. Recent films like Subhash Chandra Bose and Gandhi My Father, raised the heckles from few corners. Mangal Pandey (2005), whose bravery has always been contentious, drew some flak. The film even saw unknown local groups like Mangal Pandey Suraksha Samiti spring up. Says Sharmistha Gooptu, editor of Revisiting 1857: Myth, Memory and History, “Though 1857 has been the subject of seven films, only Mangal Pandey created a furore.” Jodhaa though has been the queen of controversy. Why? One explanation is, as Josh says: “Women are the social skin of a community.”

It’s in the plot

Historicals, from the very first feature film, Raja Harischandra (1913), have always been an important genre of Indian cinema. They have mostly had Mughal and Rajput themes.

The problem lies not so much in the script as in the immediate socio-political context, feels Ira Bhaskar, professor of cinema studies in JNU. Mahboob Khan’s Humayun (1945) was about the emperor’s relation with his Rajput sister. “Historicals, though set in the past, always addressed contemporary issues. In 1945, when Partition seemed imminent, this film tried to put forward the message of Hindu-Muslim amity. The focus of the film was not Humayun’s love interest but his Rajput sister,” she explains. So the mootpoint is that the controversy is tailored to suit political needs.

Space for imagination

K Asif might have had it easy but directors today know that they have to do their homework more so to ward off hungry wannabe politicos. Director Santosh Sivan consulted historians for Asoka but the film was criticised for showing Kaurvaki as the reason for Asoka’s Buddhist turn. But then as Bhaskar points out, “The hallmark of historicals has always been the combining of the romantic with the political.”

Shyam Benegal, whose Subhash Chandra Bose faced criticism for showing that Bose married an Australian without ‘proof,’ says, “There is a lot of pressure to get the facts right, which is why filmmakers never flout well-known facts.” Commenting on Jodhaa, Sudhir Mishra, director of Khoya Khoya Chand says,“Gowariker said that he ‘imagined responsibly’. There should always be space for imagination in History.” Historians are not spewing venom. “There was no need for Gowariker to meet historians. Facts are not necessary to bring out historical truth. That Jodha didn’t exist is a fact but the historical truth is Mughals had matrimonial alliances with Rajputs. Mughal-e-Azam might be factually wrong but brings out the contradiction of the times between power and love,”says Josh.

If the filmmaker has done his homework and historians not very unhappy, then who is at the source of the entire hullabaloo? The average moviegoer?

Shah Nadeem, a lecturer at Delhi’s Zakir Hussain College, who went to see the film reacted thus: “I was pleasantly surprised to see the kind of historical detail that went into the film. In Akbarnama, Abul Fazal refers to the emperor’s spiritual experience under a tree after which he gave himself the title of Insaan-e-Kamil. This is depicted onscreen as Akbar dancing to the song Khwaja Mere Khwaja in a trance. That apart, the killing of Aadam Khan by throwing him off twice from the pulpit, Akbar’s fascination to tame mad elephants are all historical facts. Of course, it’s all in filmy style but that’s ok.”

Which brings us to the same question, if not the audience, who do the shrill voices of protest belong to? Observes psephologist Yoginder Yadav, “With politics taking a communitarian turn, and with the young and infantile visual media looking for issues that are easy to turn into a story, the trouble makers are making merry.” Filmmakers too agree. Says Mishra, “There are too many vested groups in India. Who were these people before they started protesting?” Says Benegal: “Such protestors would want us to keep making fairytales so that they can use them to launch their political careers.”

Guiding history

But what about the lady in question? Says Najaf Haider, a professor of medieval history at JNU: “The whole concept of Jodha probably came into being in the 19th century from the stories of the tourist guides. They have a tremendous burden of narrating a story about each monument they show and often make up stories to fill gaps.” According to him, all three references to Akbar’s Rajput wife — in Abul Fazal’s Akbarnama when the Rajput marriage proposal comes, when Akbar gives her the title of Marian Zamani, and in Jahangir’s autobiography, Tuzuk-I-Jahangiri referring to his mother’s death — mentions no name. “But the fact that the Jodhpur princely house came into existence in the 17th century rules out the name Jodha in 16th century, when Akbar ruled,” says Haider.

Maximum mileage

With Bollywood emerging as a major newsmaker, these protests have become the easy way to hog limelight. Is there a solution to this problem? “To call the bluff of the protestors one should deal with it like a law and order issue. One tends to blame the people but it’s the politicians who are trying to make some capital out of it. It’s the most publicly displayable stunt at little cost,” Dipankar Gupta, the author of Interrogating Identity. Yadav puts his finger on the political pulse.

“One phenomenon that has been documented is that community identities are invented and discovered in the arena of politics through symbolism. Such protests should be seen in that context, and in Rajasthan with elections around the corner it’s all too obvious.”


Hattrick for Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan with Jodha Akbar ?

Will Jodha Akbar / Jodhaa Akbar prove third time lucky in openings for Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai and the superman Hrithik Roshan. The magical duo has already proved their magic in Dhoom 2 .

Aishwarya Rai ’s great run started with Guru opposite now husband Abhishek Bachchan and continued with Dhoom 2 where she lip-locked opposite Bollywood hunk Hrithik. And again with Jodha Akbar, can Aishwarya prove her worth ! Her Hollywood movies Pink Panther 2 and Singularity are still in post production but we doubt if the beauty queen needs to go back to Hollywood any more.

Hrithik Roshan has been magical right from his first movie Kaho Na Pyar Hain in his home production (Papa Rakesh Roshan ’s). And could deliver box office magic only in home productions which included science fantasy Koi Mil Gaya and sequel Krrish. But Hrithik has now three back to back Bollywood hits and much like Akshay Kumar and Shahrukh Khan, he is among the most dependable stars today.

But due credit for Jodha Akbar goes to the Oscar nominated director Ashutosh Gowarikar for this epic movie. Not all historical movies work well in Bollywood as proved by Umrao Jaan ( Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan) and Mangal Pandey [corrected: thanks natalia] (Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee).

Jodhaa Akbar already earned Rs. 25 crores over the weekend all over India and is doing great abroad. The movie started slow but is already picking up in box office numbers. The controversies in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are still on. But as we have seen in the past, controversies help the movies to stay in the headlines and help box office statistics. Question remains if it can recover the huge investment and be declared a hit.


I'm happy with the response: Ashutosh Gowariker

Filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker said he was careful in preserving Rajput pride and dignity while making the period drama Jodhaa Akbar starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai.

Excerpts of an interview:

Having made a film that does history proud, how do you feel about these sporadic protests?
You hit the nail on the head. These are sporadic incidents that appear much larger than they really are. While making the film, I did my best to go by the book. I consulted the best historians and went through the most rigorous research.

And there are different names used for Akbar's wife, Jodha being one of them. In fact, there's a disclaimer about the Rajput queen's name in the beginning of the film and to see that, the protestors have to see the film.

Most protests in our country are premature and based on insubstantial evidence.
Well, I want to say to people in the country and abroad that I've done deep research. Even the secondary characters like Shariffuddin, Bairam Khan and Mahamanga, which some critics have found filmy, are founded in history. That climactic combat between Akbar and Shariffuddin that I've shown really took place.

the trouble, do you think filmmakers should stay away from historicals?
No. We must make what we've to make, fearless of repercussions. I think you've to follow your heart. Of course, we must go back into the past, but after thorough research. I don't think there's any substitute for research. Since we're a multi-cultural and religious nation there're bound to be questions about historical movies.

We must be ready and equipped to handle these. I just hope more and more people come and see Jodhaa Akbar. The reports so far are very encouraging. What I want now is for the film to release in Rajasthan. Jodhaa Akbar belongs to Rajasthan. Let them see the movie.

Where did your imagination come in?
My imagination came in while describing what happened between Jodha and Akbar in the privacy of their chambers. There I had to get creative since no one knew what actually happened. That artistic licence apart, I haven't been jingoistic or fanciful in depicting history. In fact, I've been very careful in preserving Rajput pride and dignity.

Do you think the protests are politically motivated?
I wouldn't know. But it's a part of the Rajput community that's protesting against my film. So I've reason to believe the Rajputs are offended. I want to tell them that history books have given several names to the queen. I used the most popular of those names. But why focus on this issue? My intention was to show how the Rajputs made a difference to Mughal history.

Did you anticipate such loud protests?
Honestly, I did! After the release of Ketan Mehta's Mangal Pandey, there were protests about how he was depicted. So I feared this would happen.

Unlike my protagonists in Lagaan and Swades, Jodhaa and Akbar were real people. I delved into Rajput and Mughal history and prepared as much as I could. I also approached Jaipur royalty to get the facts, customs and traditions right.

And not once have you made Aishwarya Rai behave out of character!
Yes, I made sure of that. Only after the Jaipur royalty gave me the green signal to call my female protagonist Jodha did I proceed with my film. In anticipation of protests and controversies that are very much part of all our historical films, I decided to be very careful about historical detail.

Film personalities like Shyam Benegal and Raza Murad have hit out at the protesters.
I respect their opinion.


Did Ashutosh Gowariker really hurt the Rajput Pride.

Well, the verdict is still not out on it. There were reports that the Hritik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai starrer Jodha Akbar has not portrayed history correctly. The movie has now been released in 26 countries.

And now after watching Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai sizzle in the Ashutosh Gowariker movie what do the people feel ? Some say it is an epic and some say it is entertaining. The movie has received a warm welcome on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It is doing good business abroad. Back home in India, the state of Rajasthan has banned it. There is a demand to ban the movie in MP. Gujrat has seen some violence.

Ashutosh Gowariker says that he has done his homework correctly. He used the best possible research to make the movie. One cannot go back in history. As long as it does not hurt sentiments it should be fine. Finally movies are for entertainment and the certification board should decide before the release if a movie has crossed the lines or not. All the post release controversies just adds to more news articles like this.


Jodha Akbar banned from Ambala, Haryana

Post the bomb blast in Maharashtra yesterday, the misfortune for Jodha Akbar continued up north in Haryana today. The film has now been removed from the Ambala district of Haryana effective Thursday.

Assorted groups had been protesting the film's release in Haryana, which is linked to a Hindu soldier turned leader Hemu. Hemu had won 22 battles in a row in mid-16th century, and for a brief period subdued the Mughal Empire out of power from Delhi. The locals believe he had been depicted incorrectly, and as an insulting caricature in Jodha Akbar.

The film had been screening in 2 prints in Ambala.

The loss adds to other centers where the screenings of the Hrithik Roshan - Aishwarya Rai Mughal saga has been evicted, led by from the state of Rajasthan.


Box Office: Jodha Akbar opening falls 11 crores short; 2nd week advance

UTV software has claimed a Rs 38.5 crore opening weeked gross (including overseas) claim for Jodha Akbar, 25 crores of which they claim are India grosses. These, notwithstanding disputes, are decent, not historic recordbreaking opening numbers that was being expected for the mega budget epic.

Below are the opening weekend distributor worldwide gross figures for some high profile films of last year whose distributors released their weekend figures:

Salaam-E-Ishq - Rs. 50 crore (Eros)
Partner - Rs. 42 crore (Eros)
Heyy Baby - Rs 41 crore (Eros)
Jodha Akbar - Rs. 39 crore (UTV)
Jab We Met - Rs. 12 crore (UTV)

These figures again are distributor claims, not independently verified. At times, ticket sales have been believed to be much less than advertised claims.

Meanwhile advance booking for 2nd week for Jodha Akbar has opened to an underwhelming response again Except for south which is better on limited screenings, bookings in Mumbai stand at 25% for its 2nd Friday despite a blank open week with no releases. That is below average for 2nd week. For reference, the film is trending worse than Hrithik Roshan's last non-hit at the box office, Lakshya.

Moreover unlike Lakshya, the film is still recording 0 collections from Rajasthan and looks to be heading for a washout from that territory, which means a loss of upto 6-7 crores, including in part the other centers where the screenings were stopped.

Pirate CDs have also come out in the market and videos are available on the internet.

At best, Jodha Akbar looks to be an above average/average film and having been forced out of the northwest, if the collections in other parts of India don't turn upside over the coming week, it can still be heading towards emerging the first big budget flop of 2008, a major loss of a film many were hoping would set new box office milestones across India for years to come.


Tata Elxsi`s visual effects for ‘Jodha Akbar`

Focused on providing world-class, quality animation (2D & 3D), special effects, and gaming services to customers world wide, VCL has combined creativity and technology for Jodha Akbar, producing realistic and breathtaking images and creating the much required glory of the splendid Mughal era

Visual Computing Labs (VCL), a division of Tata Elxsi Ltd announced that it has rendered the exclusive visual effects for the most awaited movie of the year ‘Jodha Akbar’. A whole year of post production and over one hundred artists from VCL helped make give this epic drama a large scale canvas that has till now not been seen in Indian cinema.

Focused on providing world-class, quality animation (2D & 3D), special effects, and gaming services to customers world wide, VCL has combined creativity and technology for Jodha Akbar, producing realistic and breathtaking images and creating the much required glory of the splendid Mughal era.

Pankaj Khandpur, Creative Director, Visual Computing Labs, Tata Elxsi said, “Ashutosh Gowarikar, the director and co-producer of Jodha Akbar, discussed the visual effects of the movie with Tata Elxsi way back in 2005. With world-class creative talent, a strong and experienced team of artists and advanced CG filmmaking technology and techniques, VCL has been able to create realistic battle sequences in the movie and restore the long lost splendour of the 16th century Mughal dynasty.”

“Our team spent many months prior to the shooting to just test the feasibility of doing the shots in CGI. A team of modellers and texture artists was put onto the job to digitally restore the forts and palaces to look like they did in the 16th century. Wherever the structures were badly ruined Tata Elxsi went in and completely rebuilt them in CGI, and then using high-resolution digital images texture mapped the structures to blend in seamlessly with the existing fort or palace,” he further added.

Over 200 shots were meticulously planned during pre production in computer-generated imagery (CGI) for the 3 battle sequences in the movie. Wherever the camera movement was complicated and the existing layers proved inadequate VCL built the soldiers in CGI using crowd duplication software.

Additionally, all the arrows were hand animated in CGI and put into the battle sequences. Large tracts of ground had to be cleared of all modern day traces, most apparent being tyre marks of vehicles. Dust was added digitally to enhance the feeling of scale to the battle sequences and then the ground was strewn with dead bodies and vultures in the sky all done in CGI to show the devastation after a heavy battle.


GHAJINI to enjoy a 4 days weekend

It's still too early but indications are quite clear that Aamir Khan has a sure shot blockbuster in the making. Not just GHAJINI is one of the most talked about film this season even as the release is quite far away, smart release strategy is further ensuring that the film would take a bumper start all over.

How exactly? Well, the film would be arriving on 2nd October which is a National Holiday. Since 2nd October is a Thursday, the film would practically reap the benefit of a solid 4 day weekend. Incidentally, apart from GHAJINI, the only film confirmed for an October release is YUVRAAJ which arrives on 24th October.

Coming back to GHAJINI, the film is expected to be huge as it would see Aamir Khan in a mainstream commercial after two years. Ever since FANAA which came in May 2006, Aamir has been seen only in TAARE ZAMEEN PAR which was experimental and has yet achieved a blockbuster status.

Now with Aamir changing gears to hold the center stage once again in a hardcore 'masala' setup, sky is the limit for the film to generate moolah!


Animated Rajinikanth to get new mannerisms in 'Sultan'

An animated version of Tamil superstar Rajinikanth is set to wow fans in a 3-D film that features him in the role of an armour-clad warrior -- with a whole new set of his trademark mannerisms.

In "Sultan - The Warrior", directed by daughter Soundarya, Rajinikanth dons the persona of a swordsman with an uncanny resemblance to the 58-year-old actor.

"Thousands of years from now when you look up Indian entertainment history and you say animation, Rajinikanth will be the first man to (have) ever been animated," Soundarya said in an interview.

The animation film, slated for release in 12 languages by the end of 2008, is being promoted as a completely commercial venture and includes four song-and-dance sequences.

"It is a period film…on the lines of 'Troy' and 'Gladiator'…it is more of a war movie," the director said. "(But) It has everything a Rajinikanth commercial film needs in it".

Rajinikanth's unique acting style is characterised by a trademark gesture: toss a cigarette in the air, catch it in his lips, then light it with a match struck on a shirt sleeve.

In "Sultan - The Warrior", fans will get to see some new additions to his repository of popular mannerisms.

"Not only what he is already famous for but some new ones which my dad and I have personally worked on," said Soundarya.

"I want to do something that will become a trendsetter after 'Sultan', so lot of new mannerisms."

Rajnikanth's last film, "Sivaji -- The Boss", was a blockbuster hit in 2007 and fans are looking forward to seeing the superstar in a new avatar.

"We love Rajinikanth and we will go to see any film that he is in because we are sure that the film will be good," said businessman Vijay Menon. "Seeing Rajinikanth in an animation film will be a great experience."
Although his popularity remains largely restricted to southern India and the Tamil diaspora, Rajinikanth has also gained a cult following in Japan after his film "Muthu" was released there in 1998.


Aishwarya Rejects one more!

Close on the heels of the confirmation from Aishwarya Rai that she will be acting opposite Rajinikanth in Robot is the news now that she will not be part of Jhansi Ki Rani: The Rebel, Ketan Mehta's ambitious historical sequel to Mangal Pandey: The Rising..

The media is abuzz with the question of why Ash has walked out of the project. Is this so that she can allocate enough time for Robot?

Speculations are rife. Readers might also remember Behindwoods carrying the news of the actress turning down a Karan Johar offer quite recently.

Talking to the media, Ash expressed her disappointment over her being linked to the project. "Please stop dragging my name into Jhansi Ki Rani. Ketan spoke to me nearly two years back when he was very keen on making this film with me. But thereafter, he has not been in touch with me and I don't think that as of now I am working in Jhansi Ki Rani. So I would appreciate it if the media stops writing stories about me playing Rani Laxmibai." The actress further added that what she was most keenly looking forward to now was her Hollywood stint in Pink Panther – an enormous and nice change from all these Bollywood blockbusters.

What is also more newsworthy is that Ash might write her own life story. Her glittering life is begging to be made into a best selling biography (and a movie) and though several publishers have been asking her permission to commission a book on her life, Ash has turned them all down. The reason was revealed only recently: she plans to write an autobiography.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sony BMG makes it official!

Sony BMG, the world's leading music company, has got the music rights of Kamal Hassan's magnum opus Dasavatharam and declared the same officially today. It may be recalled that a few weeks back published an item on this and confirmed the musical tie-ups of the company with the Tamil projects of Ayngaran International and Oscar Ravichandiran.

Now the company has just confirmed the same what we said earlier. Produced by Oscar Ravichandran and directed by KS Ravi Kumar, with music by Himmesh Reshamaiah, the songs of Dasavatharam will be released by Asia's Biggest star Jackie Chan in a grand manner on March 14th at the Nehru Indoor Stadium, Chennai.

Managing Director, Sony BMG India, Shridhar Subramaniam said, "It is a privilege for us to enter the Tamil music market with a project as grand and special as Dasavatharam. Being associated with Kamal Haasan and Oscar Ravichandiran in our very first Tamil project says a lot about the equity of Sony BMG, even in the markets, where our presence has not been significant till now. Dasavadharam is a very special beginning to the things to come and it shows our commitment to be a serious long-term player in this market. Sony BMG has always redefined the way music has been marketed, and we are looking forward to setting new standards here as well."

The press note released today further stated, "Dasavatharam is the most expected movie of the year 2008, features Kamal Haasan in ten different roles, countered by the heroine Asin's dual role in the movie. Mallika Sherawat dons an altogether different cap in this movie. She appears as a CIA agent while Jayapradha, the well-known character artist, plays another important role in the movie."

Sony has already acquired the musical rights of Superstar Rajinikanth's Robot, produced by Ayngaran International.


Mughal Descendent Ziauddin Tucy Says Jodha was Akbar´s wife

Criticising the controversy over the Bollywood movie 'Jodhaa Akbar, a descendent of Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, claimed that Akbar had indeed married Rajput Princess Jodha Bai and conferred the title of Malaika Maryem Zamanni Begum on her. In a statement in Hyderabad, Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar's great grandson Y Ziauddin Tucy said, "It is indeed a specimen of sheer gaucher that certain vested interests are unnecessarily creating trouble without judging the realities."

Emperor Akbar married Jodha Bai to strengthen his forces and to extend his empire's boundaries. The brave Rajputs not only proved their sincerity but they did everything to support the Mughal empire.

Not only Akbar, but Aurangzeb also married a Rajput princess, he claimed while releasing two copies of rare paintings of Emperor Akbar and Jodha Bai. The recently-released 'Jodhaa Akbar,' directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, has been mired in controversy after some Rajput organisations protested the depiction of Jodha as Akbar's wife. They claimed Jodha was married to Akbar's son Jehangir.


Box Office: Jodha Akbar flops in large parts of India

Expected to rewrite box office history, Jodha Akbar at this point is hoping to not itself become history too soon at the box offices around the country. Driven physically out of Rajasthan, the film's commercial prospects elsewhere where it's allowed to screen vary from good in metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore; to so so (Indore, Kolkata), to poor across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Gujrat where it has flopped outright.

The much hyped, mega budget magnum opus was expected to shatter opening records around the nation by its makers, but that is not happening. In fact in many small centers the Hrithik Roshan-Aishwarya Rai starrer opened to shockingly dismal 25% response and went downhill.

The film also witnessed mass attacks in places like Patna, Meerut, Gurgaon, Ahmedabad, leading to 0 collections; and as it is the box office was going well below expectations there.

Jodhaa Akbar however has been released on around 92 prints in Mumbai, which is very high. And that print saturation will help it post some big numbers in first week in Mumbai and few other places, as it is posting 40% collection during weekdays after a 80% weekend. But even there it is posting great collections in some multiplexes and dismal collections at others. The response is decidedly ambivalent even where it is generally positive and that will keep it from scaling heights it was hoping for.

Overseas, as reported first exclusively on IBOS over the weekend, the film has opened well.

However for across India, relative to cost and expectations, the mega budget Jodha Akbar looks to be leaning more towards also-rans of history not making box office history as week 1 nears its end.


Kamal on a new note!

Southie biggie Kamal Haasan is a happy man these days.

His failed second marriage, to Bollywood actress Sarika, is put behind him. And what he has to look forward to now is his 100 crore project Marmayogi, plus their pretty musician daughter Shruti’s debut in movies, which Kamal as a nervous father is anxiously looking forward to.
"Marmayogi will be shot in Hindi as well," Kamal says. "But I’m doing things at my own pace. I’m one of the few filmmakers in Chennai who takes every Sunday off." That’s all he will talk about his work. Shruti is a more interesting topic. Back from LA where she was studying music, Shruti is staying with Kamal currently. "She consulted me before taking the decision to join films. Naturally, I was nervous. But I’m happy now. Had she chosen to be a nuclear scientist, I would have been clueless whether she would succeed or not, but this profession I know and understand," he says.

Kamal has faith in Shruti. He has advice for her but prefers if she discovers the exciting world of films herself. What would really excite him is a project with Shruti. "Of course, it would be interesting to work with my daughter. But it has to be an apt script. A great father-daughter story would be a perfect casting for us," he says, hoping somebody will come up with such a script.

That apart, the great actor is now into God bashing and publicly denouncing the futility of faith. "I don’t follow any religion. A lot of differences have happened between God and me," admits the actor. Like his personal setbacks? "All your decisions come from respect and disrespect of certain things that have affected you. But notwithstanding my personal life, I have enough factors around me to support my decision. I am deeply hurt by what is happening around in the name of religion. I personally feel, whenever there is a crisis, God becomes a mere witness. I am happy with my decision," he explains. And when imbalances upset his life? "So far, I’ve been able to survive without that connection, and I will be lucky to cross the hurdles without any divine intervention," he smiles. "It’s like getting a fit body after you give up certain things."


GHAJINI, a perfectionist's play

The perfectionist Khan after completing yet another act of aptness in his directorial debut with ‘Taare Zameen Par’ again ready to offer complete entertainment with his next film Ghajini. Yes, Aamir Khan whose latest flick has leaped off.

As the shooting has resumed for the Hindi version of the Til film Ghajini the excitement is around Aamir’s fans awaiting the same result as the Tamil blockbuster.

Reportedly Aamir Khan will go bald for this movie as per the demand of some portion of the script.

Inspired by Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed Memento and directed by A. R. Murugadoss, the film stars Aamir Khan as Sanjay Ramaswamy, Tamil actress Asin Thottumkal as Kalpana, and Nishbd fame Jiah Khan as Chitra.

As per the latest report the movie is going to make another mark in the history of Indian cinema after Shahrukh Khan’s Om Shanti Om as the rights of Ghajini has been sold at a whooping margin of over 70 crores for film and music distribution in domestic market.

No doubt the dynamic and perfection specialist actor Aamir Khan has chosen the right script to offer something different and bringing diversification into his acting talent like his earlier attempt with Lagan and TZP.

The production team is certainly eying for the next ‘Eid’ in the month of October for the action packed Ghajini’s release. It is also believed that this films may brought back memories of Aamir’s old days when he played characters like ‘Sidhu’ in Ghulam and ‘Pakia’ in Rangeela. No doubt with AR Rahman’s score the film is going to create yet another mind blowing film in this year.

Aamir deserves all the accolades to cater the need of the different breed of movie lovers who has got a taste of movie that is once in life time experience.


Aamir Khan's GHAJINI to remain GHAJINI!

Aamir Khan's next release, after the blockbuster triumph of his directorial debut venture, TAARE ZAMEEN PAR, will be the Hindi remake of the Tamil blockbuster, GHAJINI. As is known, Aamir is returning to full fledged action after a long duration. And if our memory serves us right, it was for Vikram Bhatt's GHULAM, way back in 1998.

Ever since the time of it's announcement, there has been a lot of curiosity regarding the Hindi title of the GHAJINI remake, which is still without an official one. But as usual, here is the latest on the subject. GHAJINI is going to be called just that in Hindi also! This means that there will be no renaming of the project, as per the current information.

While on the title, the obvious question that comes to mind is what exactly GHAJINI means in Hindi? Well, there is no such word as GHAJINI in the Hindi dictionary. Actually there is no word as GHAJINI in Tamil too!

However, knowing Aamir Khan we will not be surprised if just before the release of the film, he will make public his / makers justification for the strange title, and believe us, the reason given will be concrete!


Subhash Ghai's YUVRAAJ has the best crew

YUVRAAJ is undoubtedly one of the most keenly awaited movies of the year. To make sure that he makes the film a no-compromise affair, Subhash Ghai has ensured that the film has the best crew in place to take care of overall production of the film.

Let's talk about music first. When A R Rahman and Gulzaar saab come together, one can't think of a better combination. It is this combination which sets the platform for YUVRAAJ, a musical featuring a formidable cast that includes Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Zayed Khan and Boman Irani. Shiamak Davar, the man who choreographed Ghai's TAAL as well, is expected to go all out in giving YUVRAAJ an opulent treatment.

Kabir Lal has lighted up the frames in a way only he can in films like PARDES, TAAL, KAHO NAA PYAAR HAI and THE HERO to name a few. The cinematographer is expected to deliver quality work with YUVRAAJ as well where the bare minimum requirement is to make everything look rich and glossy.

Last but not the least, with someone like Omang Kumar who has a classic like BLACK behind him to showcase his skills as an art director, YUVRAAJ looks all set to be on a right track.


GHAJINI rights for 71 crore, not 90!

A leading national daily and also a few portals have gone to town proclaiming that Aamir Khan's action bonanza, GHAJINI remake, has fetched Rs. 90 crores! That is far from the truth and we bring you the exact breakdown, as always.

The Indian Film Company, which also distributed WELCOME, has acquired the all-India rights of GHAJINI remake for Rs. 53 crore (including cost of print and publicity). The audio and home video rights have been sold to T-Series for Rs. 8.5 crore.

Similarly, the deal for Overseas had been struck with Adlabs for a reported price of Rs. 10 crore. That means, the all-world rights (excluding satellite rights) of GHAJINI remake have fetched Rs. 71.51 crore (and not Rs. 90 crore) for its producer, Alu Arvind.

The deal for satellite right has not been struck as yet, although at least five to six parties are in queue to acquire the same. If the satellite market remains as buoyant as it is presently, Rs. 15 crore to Rs. 20 crore is very much on the cards!


Allu strikes gold!

Allu Aravind’s unreleased Hindi film with Amir Khan in the lead sets a new record in the Bollywood business books. It was well known to the film buffs that Hindi version of Ghajini is being made with Amir in Hindi. This film reportedly earned an estimated sum of Rs. 93 crore by selling its distribution rights. Shah Rukh Khan’s Om Shanti Om was the top grosser in distribution rights until now which made Rs. 73 crore pre release.

Now Amir, Allu Aravind’s Hindi Ghajini surpassed it by a huge margin of Rs. 20 crore. The film is surrounded by high expectations and the craze is evident with this record.

Allu Aravind who has tasted bitter results for over a period of time with his Telugu films strikes gold with this film as he made almost Rs. 50 crore profits much before the release. His Telugu film Jalsa with Pawan Kalyan is also carrying positive reports and a hit for Allu Aravind in Tollywood is round the corner.

Aamir Khan´s ´Ghajini´ (Remake) May Release on October 3

The next release from actor perfectionist and now director par excellante, Aamir Khan, the action bonanza of the 'Ghajini' remake, is a keenly awaited project. Though different release dates are being forecasted, here is the exact situation, as of now. As per reliable trade sources, 'Ghajini' would be ready for release in the first week of October, later this year. Although Friday falls on 3rd October, the producers may go in for an advance release, as 'Eid' is likely to fall on October 1. Also, there is the additional Gandhi Jayanti holiday on October 2.

As always, release dates can change, even at the eleventh hour!


Aamir Khan’s Ghajini overtakes Om Shanti Om

Much before Aamir Khan’s Ghajini hits the theatres, it's creating waves. Perfectionist Aamir Khan does everything in style and always we find some sort of uniqueness in his storyline. His upcoming venture Ghajini overtakes Shahrukh’s already released film Om Shanti Om. While Om Shanti Om rights were sold at Rs 73 crore, the rights of Ghajini have been sold at whopping price more than 93 crore.

A source from the film fraternity remarked that “No other Bollywood film was sold with such a huge price in domestic theatres”. The film distribution rights of Rs 53 crore and music distribution of Rs 40 crore had sum up the circulation price to Rs 93 crore. Aamir always tries to make a critically acclaimed film with full perfection. Whether it is Lagaan or Taare Zameen Pe, his work is always considered to be a masterpiece.

Ghajini is a remake of a Tamil version. For many days, he has been looking for the right lady. Various names had been suggested but ultimately he settled down with Jiah Khan and Tamil actress Asin. It is the most awaited film of 2008 and its music is still not out of the cocoon. We can say that Ghajini will be another eye-catching and mind blowing offering from the intense and dynamic actor, Aamir Khan.


Hrithik Roshan's dervish dance wins hearts

The response to Jodhaa Akbar from critics may be mixed. But there is one extraordinary sequence in the film that has won the hearts of critics and audiences alike.

That sequence is when emperor Akbar ( Hrithik Roshan ) goes into a trance while listening to the qawwali “Khwaja Mere Khwaja”. Quietly, the emperor rises from his seat, walks into the whirling dervishes and begins to whirl with one hand pointed to the sky and the other pointed to the earth.

Now, we all know how good a dancer Hrithik is. But before shooting this sequence, even he was clueless. Though the whirling doesn’t require any complicated steps, Hrithik had to do it with genuine feeling so as not to make the dance look superficial.

And the conviction with which Hrithik conveyed the spiritual ecstasy of Akbar in that dance has won hearts.

None other than superstar Amitabh Bachchan had lavish praise for this particular sequence in the film.

In fact, Big B has reportedly stated that such an outstanding moment has not been captured in cinema since Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘A Space Odyssey’.

And almost every movie critic has complimented this very sequence.

For the song’s composer, A R Rahman , “Khwaja Mere Khwaja” is a very personal and spiritual number. Rahman originally composed the song three years ago only for himself. It was much later when Ashutosh Gowarikar approached him to compose for ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ did Rahman decide to use the song in the film.


The most spectacular aspect about JODHAA AKBAR!

As expected, it is the track 'Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah' which has turned out to be visually most spectacular part about JODHAA AKBAR.

Ever since this A.R. Rahman track was heard first as a part of the film's theatrical promo, the bet was on that it would make for a breathtaking experience once seen on the big screen. The scale and magnitude of the number was such that it had to be complimented by lavish picturisation, grand choreography and great visuals.

As expected, Ashutosh Gowariker has made it happen with his technical crew as the number in appreciation of Jalaluddin Akbar, 'Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah', has turned out to be a grand outing. Going completely in synch with the elaborate mood of the film and the high-on-drama sequence where Akbar gets the acceptance from the people of his country for perhaps the first time ever, 'Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah' would easily be counted as one of the most impressive things about this Hrithik-Ash film.


"Yes, I'm doing Raju Hirani's Idiots" - Aamir Khan

"Yes I am doing Raju Hirani's film being produced by Vinod Chopra tentatively titled Idiots," writes Aamir Khan in the latest entry on his blog thus confirming the speculation about the fate of Hirani's film. Aamir had acknowledged before the release of Taare Zameen Par that he is considering Hirani and Vinod Chopra's offer provided he likes the final script. His latest post confirms reclusive superstar's plans post Ghajini Remake this year.

Aamir begins his latest post by spilling the shooting plans, "Ghajini resumes, shooting today on the roads of Bombay." Reportedly, this action thriller has earned the unique distinction of being sold for a whopping Rs 90 crore. Confirming the same, Sandeep Bhargava, Head of The Indian Film Company said, "Ghajini has been the highest grossing Tamil hit. I believe that the remake of Ghajini will be one of the biggest films of this year. It stars Aamir Khan, so it's a special film. We have acquired it at a value that includes marketing and print expenses. We are working out a distribution strategy for the movie."

Talking about the famed resolutions to his fans, Aamir further writes, "I have managed to stick to no smoking, my workouts have begun again, diet is also getting back slowly though sometimes I break it, and sleeping is still not totally in place though that has seen an improvement too." Khan has been following a strict exercise regimen of three and a half hours and above for six days a week as he wants to get into super shape for the latter half of Ghajini as he shall be bare bodied for most parts. In fact he told his physical trainer Satyajit that he would make such a fantastic body that people will flock the theatres just to see his fine toned physique.

In an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama last week Satyajit said, "Whenever you'll see him in the film, you'll say, wow that's Aamir Khan. For last one year he is working really hard He weighed 84 kgs but now he has lost around 16 kgs. I can't say much but he is looking superb." The perfectionist Khan has built a gym combining two garages within his society and it has cost him an eye-popping Rs 55 lakhs. He did pose for a magazine last month while exercising but he was wearing a full sleeves shirt for he doesn't wish to give away his toned look yet. Hmmmm….talk about being secretive!

It seems he has left the grand success of TZP behind and is looking forward to the road ahead. Yet there's some work left on his directorial debut. "As for DVD release of TZP… work on that is progressing but a little slow. Be assured that I am working very hard to come out with the best quality and some really special extras," Aamir writes. Well, knowing the man who stands true to most of what he says TZP DVD will be something to look forward to. As of now, how about try-n-get-the-info on where Aamir is shooting for Ghajini and letting us know pronto!


Aamir's Ghajini is already Hit

The Hindi remake of the biggest Tamil grosser, Ghajini is again in the spot light, as T-Series has bagged the music rights to this film.

After the stupendous success of Taare Zameen Par, T-Series, the $90 million business company is back in business yet again.

The yet to be titled film will see Aamir Khan in the lead role along with Asin Thottumkal and Jiah Khan.

A complete action-packed thriller, this film will bring back the days of Ghulam for Aamir Khan. Quoted to be the biggest project of this year, the film will hit the screens this October.


Mani's next - story revealed!

Mani Ratnam’s newest film project returns to a territory he is master of: a simple, deep love story beautifully and impeccably told in the way only this maestro can. Think Alaipaiyuthey, except the couple is now negotiating married life amidst the frantic pace of modern life. Will the story also perhaps deal with how contemporary couples balance careers with marriage and family? There is something doubly interesting about this project – the stars that will play this couple are Abishek and Ash. The glittering echo between the fictional and the real couple is obvious, adding to the buzz.

It’s nice to have Mani Ratnam come back from larger than life stories like Guru to doing something more intimate, feel-good, lyrical and romantic. And where there’s Mani there’s always that other maestro, A.R.Rahman. Taking a cue from the story and theme of this yet untitled movie, the model for Rahman’s songs could well be Alaipaiyuthey. Richly lyrical romantic ballads, intoxicatingly choreographed and shot. Which brings us to the cinematographer – rumour has it that Mani is most likely going to bring his veteran cameraman in - P.C. Sriram. If you recall, P.C. and Mani together revolutionized the use of lighting and camera work in Tamil cinema once. Rumour also has it that the Big B will make a cameo. But let’s wait and see what develops – with this publicity shy director
nothing is confirmed until he confirms it.


A Jodha-Akbar museum!

A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Painstakingly crafted with a keen eye for detail, the sets of Jodha Akbar lent the much needed feeling of grandeur to the movie set around the prosperous Mughal and Rajputana empires. Now, that the movie has been released the sets that were built for the purpose can be dismantled. But the makers of Jodha Akbar seem to have something else in mind. After all it is not easy for anyone with a creative slant of mind to ruthlessly pull down a piece of art, that too one that has generated such a positive buzz wherever it has been shown on the big screen.

Yes, the magnificent sets of Jodha Akbar will not be pulled down, they will remain a testimony to the effort and time that went into their making. They will rightfully be opened up for the public get a first hand experience of how it looks. After all a 2 dimensional view on the big screen, however well shot cannot match the 3 dimensional experience of real life. The plans will be rolled out soon. Of course, the public will have to pay a nominal fee, but the perfection of the sets justifies that. The man behind the idea is the man who made the sets himself, Nithin Chandrakanth Desai of ND studios.

Hats off to him for turning the wheel of time to take us back to the times of Akbar and lets hope that this adds to the rich tourist attractions of our country.


"I am not in Robot"

Robot, the prestigious venture of director Shankar after Sivaji seems to be the cynosure of the media ever since its announcement. The coming together of stalwarts of the industry like super star, Shankar and A R Rahman has increased the excitement and frenzy multifold. There were many rumors associated with the presence of Aishwarya Rai in this project which was put to rest some time back.

Now, news started leaking that action king Arjun will be doing the role of a villain in Robot. Arjun is currently shooting in Mumbai and when he was questioned on this, he said, "I have not been approached by anyone till date for Robot. This is only a rumor and I am totally clueless about the origin of this news. I am now busy with Aruvadai and Durai and I am discussing a few more scripts."


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shruti Hassan in Sultan?

Sultan the warrior, the animated film being directed by Soundarya Rajnikanth and produced by Ochre studios in association with Adlabs is shaping up at a fast pace. The film has many firsts to its credit. Rajnikanth is the first Indian star to have been animated. Music is being scored by A R Rahman and two songs have been penned by Kavi

Perarasu Vairamuthu, out of which one will be the opening number and the other one is a duet. Recording of the songs have been done under tight wraps. It has also been alleged that these two tracks have been recorded very innovatively where creativity will be at its best and unique. Whispers floating in the industry also suggest that Shruti Hassan has sung a song in Sultan. Insiders reveal that the film is sure to be liked by kids as well as adults.


Shahrukh challenging Rajinikanth?

For some time now, Shahrukh Khan has been thinking of coming up with a grand scale special effects movie. Enter Shankar: who approaches him for Robot, his sci-fi epic. But after a few creative differences, the duo part.

Shankar moves on, making his big project even bigger by roping in Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai, with the largest budget Indian cinema has conceived of so far.

Now, Shahrukh responds by announcing that his Red Chillies banner plans to make the most expensive film in India with a budget of $25 million. Was SRK provoked/inspired by Shankar’s grand ambition?

While at the Berlin Film Festival, Shahrukh recently spoke to the legendary Hollywood trade magazine, Variety: "We are dedicating the next eight or nine months to taking the best technicians from around the world and asking them to help us make the best VFX film India has ever made. It will be madcap, over the top. I want it to be as beautiful as 'Spider-Man' in terms of effects,"

The film is yet to be titled but we roughly know the plot: what happens when a bunch of children have all their wishes come true. Are wishes that come true always a good thing, or actually a nightmare disguised as a dream? The director of movies like Cash and Dus – Anubhav Sinha – will helm this mega project. What will excite VFX buffs is that Charles Darby, the man responsible for some of the special effects in Minority Report and The Matrix has been roped in. Apparently he has set up a VFX studio in Mumbai.

It will indeed be interesting to see what Shankar’s response will be. An even more grandly scaled movie than what SRK has in mind? After all, isn’t Shankar one of India’s initial special effects movie wizards?

Such healthy professional rivalry will only help in the betterment of Indian cinema.


A.R.Murugadoss & Aamir Khan break Indian record

A.R.Murugadoss and Aamir Khan have managed to pull off a national level record for the highest distribution rights paid for a single movie yet! Yes, you heard it right: their Hindi Ghajini has garnered a whooping 90 crores in distribution price for its producers Madhu Verma and Allu Arivind.

The Indian Film Company (IFC) has paid 53 crores to the producers of the movie for the domestic distribution rights. IFC had earlier distributed Jab We Met and Welcome, both of which have been profitable ventures. Overseas, satellite, online and home video rights collected another 40 crores.

This is quite a remarkable achievement considering the fact that not a single official still has been released about the movie yet.

The movie is obviously heavy weight with Aamir fresh off his Taare Zameen Par success, A.R.Rahman as the music director (the inside story is that the director has composed some mind blowing music for the movie), Ravi K Chandran in charge of camera, and Murugadoss, one of the most commercially successful directors of the south at the helm. Asin plays the lead lady of Aamir, supported by Jiah Khan

Ghajini has managed to break the record set by Om Shanthi Om, which had collected 73 crores for its distribution rights.

Now for the really interesting side of all this: Aamir is not just looking to take away Shahrukh's record on the finance-side, but also on the physical side. He is gearing up to flaunt a six pack ala Shahrukh Khan. The actor is on a strict exercise regimen, building up muscles and pumping some iron.

Call it professional rivalry at its peak!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

'Each song in Jodhaa Akbar has its own potential'

The last song to appear in Jodhaa Akbar, Inn Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein, is one of the most haunting songs composed by A R Rahman.

But like many of his fabled compositions, this one will also take time to make a lasting impact. The song is used mostly in the background, as Jodhaa and Akbar make love for the first time.

The number is sung by Sonu Nigam, and Madhushree who, in recent years, has emerged as one of Rahman's favourites.

The composer says the song challenged him considerably.

"It comes in the climax of the film," he says. "It was very important to have the song right. If it is too slow, it will bring the whole energy down. If it is too fast, it won't do justice to the situation. The end of the film shows Jodhaa finally loving Akbar for the first time since their wedding."

He had to play 'a kind of dynamic composition where it starts on a soothing note, and then goes to the big chorus,' he says.

"It has a full journey in it," he adds. "I think it is very good."

Many cannot understand how a big historical film like Jodhaa Akbar has only five songs. Old classics like Mughal-E-Azam and Pakeezah have quite a few songs in them.

"Numbers don't count," Rahman answers bluntly. "Roja, Dil Se, Bombay and Guru each had five songs. The real songs in that film were five; others were used in the background.

"Each song in Jodhaa Akbar has its own potential," he continues. "So we kept them simple. We did not want to overload things."

The music of Jodhaa Akbar is not confined to songs alone, he asserts.

"Once the film is released, they (UTV, the film's producer) may release the soundtrack, with the theme of the film and other compositions," he says.

"I take composing the background music for a film to be a very serious business," he continues. "There are a lot of people, who do just five songs and leave it for someone else to compose the background. You need 20 times the energy (of composing songs) to produce the background score. You need three to four months."

The time he took to compose the background score for Jodhaa Akbar, he adds, he could have used to compose songs for five to six films.

"It (the background score) is a commitment to the movie," he continues. "It is all about artistic honesty. It also helps you grow musically. In this film, I loved doing the background music because of the depth of the subject and interesting situations."

But on many occasions, when a filmmaker tells him the film's story, he knows in his heart, that he should not take up the film.

"When I am doing a song," he says, "the director has to live with the song and when I am doing a film's background music, I have to watch the film and have to live with the film all my life."

That is why he rejects many films, he adds.

Working for the third time with Gowariker reinforced Rahman's admiration for the filmmaker.

"Very few people recognise the kind of warmth in music, the pulse, the soul of the music," Rahman says. "He is one of them. Mani Ratnam and Subhash Ghai also are like him. Ashutosh has the talent for spotting fine music. There are so many ideas that he has to consider while working on a film. But to pick the right things and give them to the people, to present them in a very dignified way, is very important to him.

"There is no use in us in composing beautiful stuff and then getting it thrown away, without any respect to the music," Rahman continues. "It is very important for a director to sit and like something, and challenge the composer from time to time. Ashutosh does it."


How Rahman made Jodhaa Akbar's grandest song

One of the highlights of Jodhaa Akbar is the song, Azeem Shaan Shahenshah, which has spirited choreography and grand visuals.

The number follows Akbar's success in consolidating his hold on the empire. It is sung by Mohammad Aslam, who has performed for many A R Rahman tracks in Tamil and Hindi. Joining him is Bony Chakravarti.

The song is unlike any other Rahman composition but the maestro admits that he has used a similar number and orchestration in a Tamil film.

"But the song in Jodhaa Akbar is far better," Rahman says. "And it is used very well in an important part of the film."

The song sounds like it has voiced by a dozen voices and a raft of musical instruments.

"There was a lot of percussion, drums and voices mainly and chorus here and there," Rahman explains. "There wasn't a lot of orchestration. It is a drum-and-voice song. Therefore, we did not want to use violins or other instruments in it."

One of the most popular songs from the film, Jashn-e-Bahaara, is heard in snatches as we see Akbar trying to woo his headstrong Rajput wife.

It is sung with enormous appeal by Javed Ali, a comparatively new singer. Rahman gives credit to Gowariker for spotting Ali's talent.

"He was one of the voices in a qawali type, elaborate song that we had recorded for the film, with Udit Naryan and Alka Yagnik doing most of the singing," Rahman adds. "It is a beautiful, haunting number but Ashutosh started wondering if he could do justice to it in the film. Finally, he decided not to use it in Jodhaa Akbar. He said he would use it in his next film.

"But he suggested we use Javed's voice for Jashn-e-Bahaara. I have used many upcoming singers. But this song sounds very special not only because of Javedsaheb's romantic lyrics but also the fine singing. I expect him to have an excellent career," Rahman says.


Ash, Abhishek in a Disney film?

After increasing its stake in the UTV-promoted television channel, Hungama, Walt Disney is all set to make an entry into the Hindi film industry. And their first project seems to be already underway.

Sources inform Gullu that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had a long meeting with Disney officials two weeks ago, and they have decided to make a film with her. It will be directed by Mani Ratnam, and may also star Abhishek Bachchan

Ever since Mani Ratnam's brother, G Srinivasan, died in an accident, his production house, Madras Talkies, has been lying low. Guru (with Aishwarya and Abhishek) was the last film to be produced by Madras Talkies.

Mani Ratnam has never ventured out of his family's production house after it was formed. But now, it seems, he is keen to work with Disney and UTV.

The untitled film for which the script is being worked out will begin at the end of this year, and will release next year.


Jodhaa Akbar could make even more money than OSO

Getting a royal welcome on both sides of the Atlantic, Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodhaa Akbar, grabbed an estimated $1.3 million in North America and $750,000 in the United Kingdom over the weekend.

Factoring in the Gulf countries, the Caribbean and Australia, the three day haul could reach an awesome $3 million.

The film may not have crossover appeal to the mainstream audiences but anyone who reads the opening of The New York Times review may be tempted to see it. 'They may not make'em like they used to in Hollywood,' critic Rachel Saltz wrote, 'but sometimes in India they still do. Jodhaa Akbar... is filmmaking on the grand scale of Cecil B De Mille (The Ten Commandments), with romance, stirring battles, and enough elephants and gold to sink the Titanic .'
The US box-office was especially impressive given the awful weather conditions in the Midwest.

"If the goodwill and enthusiasm for the film continues, and we at UTV feel it will, Jodhaa Akbar could make even more money than Om Shanti Om," said Lokesh Dhar for distributor UTV. "We are not looking at the success of this film in terms of another hit for UTV (which has distributed hits like Don). It could become the all-time highest grossing Bollywood film in North America."

Farah Khan's OSO starring Shah Rukh Khan , who also produced it, grossed about $3.8 million in North America and holds the record.

"Despite the fact that Jodhaa Akbar is three-and-a-half hours long," Dhar continued, "and theatres are having less number of shows, we are doing extraordinary business."

The film, which got decent reviews from many mainstream publications including The New York Times and a few pans like the one in the San Francisco Chronicle, had a record 135 prints released in North America. In the United Kingdom it has some 70 prints.

The full week's gross outside India could exceed $4.5 million. Even if the film's takings were to fall by 50 percent in subsequent weeks as it traditionally happens for Bollywood movies, it could still end up with some $8 million.

Unlike in India where the entertainment tax takes away nearly 50 percent of the box office collection, Bollywood producers get about 65 percent of the overseas take.

Bollywood insiders believe that even if Jodhaa Akbar does not do spectacular business in India, the overseas moolah will help it recuperate its reported $10 million budget.

Another reason why the film may not suffer a steep decline in the second week is that there are no big movies challenging Jodhaa Akbar for several weeks, till the action thriller Race, which is also distributed by UTV.

"We strongly feel that Jodhaa Akbar is not going to be a one week phenomenon," Dhar said. "Many people are telling us that they are seeing the film two or three times, taking friends and family members who may not usually see films in theatres. The word has gone out that this is one film you ought to see on the big screen first."

Indian Americans are also spreading the word that Jodhaa Akbar is not like the typical Bollywood production, and some of them are quoting reviews like the one in The New York Times.

'These royals are played by Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan,' Saltz continued, 'two rather astonishing specimens of human beauty. Neither is a great actor, but both know what's required of a star and seem to the palace born.'

She did not forget the music and Kiiran Deohans for his cinematography. 'The film bounces along to a memorable score by A R Rahman. (I am still humming the songs),' Saltz wrote.

Giving the film four stars out of five, the BBC's Tajpal Rathore wrote: 'One is perhaps starting to expect too much from director Ashutosh Gowarikar after such masterpieces like Lagaan and Swades . But he seems to raise the bar with his historic magnum opus, Jodhaa Akbar.'

'Extensive though it is, Jodhaa Akbar cannot be discussed using small talk,' Rathore wrote. 'Everything in the film is big and grand: the palaces, the armies and most importantly, the love story. It hits at the heartstrings and somehow has enough energy to sustain itself through the bloated script that perhaps should've been chopped. Ravishing Rai is convincing enough but it's Roshan's majestic performance as the love-struck warrior that packs the punch; it's his film from start to finish.'

Gowariker knows how to tell a story, declared Sandip Ray in the San Francisco Chronicle, referring specially to Lagaan. But in the new film, the review said, he seems overwhelmed by the sheer weight of history.

'The never-ending opening sequence, a CliffsNotes version of Indian history in superstar Amitabh Bachchan's sonorous baritone, doesn't help either,' Roy added.' Or perhaps the film just topples over under the sheer weight of all that gold jewelry.'

The problem with Jodha and Akbar is that they are both too noble, the reviewer continued.

'Epic stories need epic tragedies or at least forbidden love,' he added.' In the 1960 classic Mughal-E-Azam, the rebellious prince (actually the son of Akbar) falls in love with the beautiful courtesan, and her defiant songs became the anthem of star-crossed lovers. (You still hear South Asians singing it at gay pride parades.)'

But there are moments when the film manages to break free of its limitations, the review said. 'Jodha and Akbar duel in an empty palace courtyard, their swordplay turning into foreplay,' it explained. 'A crowd of Sufis whirl, their white outfits glowing against the brick red earth, and the emperor leaves his seat to dance ecstatically with them. These are the real human moments in the film. One just wishes there were a few more.'

Many viewers in New York and New Jersey cinemas said they were not deterred by the film's length. "We have watched on DVD some films which are just about two hours long and we have found them boring," said a 50-year-old man who had driven 40 miles from Connecticut to see the film in a New York theatre with his wife and grown children "But if a film is well made, who worries about the time? And this kind of a film one must first see in a theatre, never mind what good home entertainment system we have at home."


Jodhaa Akbar: A royal love story

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Sonu Sood, Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Direction: Ashutosh Gowarikar

Music: A R Rahman

Production: UTV Motion Pictures
A love story, sweet and romantic. An interpretation of the rich history of a great Mughal emperor. A visual treat. Choose any one of these or all three, for Jodhaa Akbar is all in one: this is carefully crafted, meticulously executed high-class cinema. Ashuthosh Gowariker has proved his mastery over his craft beyond doubt. Handling the nitty-gritty details of history can be a bit irksome, and there are quite a few creative liberties taken in Jodhaa Akbar - not everything is straight out of the textbook. (This is told to us right at the start with an unconventional disclaimer). But then, that is the only way to keep a movie from turning into a documentary.

Jodhaa Akbar begins at a period when Humayun has just passed away and a 13-year-old Mohammad Jalaluddin is forced to ascend the throne and recapture Delhi from a barbaric looking king. Amitabh Bacchan’s baritone voice takes us through the early years of the young king till he emerges a man, with a dream of unifying all of India under the Delhi sultanate. He sets forth trying to realize the dream that generations before him have nursed. And learns that just battalions cannot win over the people of a country and that’s when one of the Rajput kings, driven to desperation by dynastic politics, offers his daughter’s hand to Jalaluddin in return for protection and amnesty. That’s where the beautiful and very different love story begins. Beautiful, because it is not love that begins in courtship and goes through romance, it is born instead out of compulsion and blooms out of companionship, respect and mutual admiration. In short, it is an arranged relationship turning romantic; the way wine matures in barrels over years.

Jodhaa Akbar shows how even an emperor is still a humble learner when it comes to love, how he evolves as a man after discovering love, how he begins to despise battle, embrace peace and become a better king. All this is captured amidst the grand and sometimes opulent settings of Mughal India, the splendor of court life, the high life of the royalty, the thrill of battle and the complex alliances and conspiracies that run rife in the politics of the empire. The first hour is all about setting the pace and building the characters. If you feel like yawning in the first hour or so, don’t feel disheartened: things pick up and never slow down from then on. That is around the time when Jodhaa and Jalaluddin start discovering their admiration for each other. From then on, right till the end the script moves at a brisk pace, not giving any room for boredom.

Moving on to the other aspects: the set design has to be definitely admired for successfully transporting us back to the 16th century. You don’t have to be a historian or have a thorough knowledge of different styles of architecture to appreciate it, it looks good and you are certain to admire it.

The settings of the Rajput palaces in Rajasthan look better and more colorful than the palatial rooms of the Mughals. Costumes are another high point of the film: Jalaluddin looks resplendent and majestic, and a lot of attention to detail has been showered on every character appearing in the film, all of whom look genuinely period. The cinematographer too has done a fine job, especially in the opening battle sequence, the scale of which really sets the tone for the film. Rahman’s score is another highlight of this movie. You don’t really notice the songs; you feel them as they waft in and out of the movie with ease, Jashn-e-bahaara stands out while Shaan-O-Shahenshah thunders with its drumbeats as Akbar’s reign grows in power and popularity.
Jodhaa Akbar
Jodhaa Akbar

Certain scenes in the movie will remain with you long after you leave the theatre. The battle scenes, the climatic one-on-one fight, both the sword fights involving Aishwarya (she must have worked really hard at them), the ‘elephant taming’ scene and some sweet moments of veiled, subtle romance between the lead pair, whose chemistry is really excellent. Also memorable is the scene where Aishwarya herself cooks for the king. The point where Jalaluddin is adorned with the title Akbar (The Great) is a key moment.

Moving on to the cast- Hrithik has lived the role, he looks majestic and is always in command, except when in front of Aishwarya who has given one of her best performances (right up there with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Guru), not to mention how good she looks. All other members of the cast add to the impact, with Sonu Sood and Ila Arun in particular doing well.

On the flip side (not really negatives), the first hour as mentioned earlier might put you off, there are certain scenes, right at the beginning and at the fag end that remind one of Troy (the Brad Pitt, Eric Bana starrer). If you are a stickler for historical accuracy, then you might find the movie a bit trying. Also, don’t expect an Akbar Nama or anything of that sort. You won’t find any of Akbar’s famous contemporaries like Birbal or Tansen in this movie, it is set in a slightly earlier period of his life; Todarmal is the only familiar name in the list of characters. You might need some patience to hear a thoroughly detailed narrative that lasts three and a half hours; people with edgy feet might get restless.

Jodhaa Akbar

Where Jodhaa Akbar scores is that it remains true to its theme. It is a love story first and the life of an emperor next. The soul of the movie lies in the relationship, and Ashuthosh Gowariker had dealt with it superbly. It’s the kind of movie whose fate is a bit difficult to predict, but whatever the result, Ashuthosh Gowariker deserves a great round of applause for his guts and vision, which only a handful of directors in India possess. A sequel showing the rest of Akbar’s reign might not be a bad idea.

Verdict: A visual feast, an intoxicating love story


Monday, February 18, 2008

The journey so far

Music virtuoso A R Rahman in conversation with Rajiv Vijayakar about his newly-launched Music Conservatory and projects in the pipeline.

In every composer’s life comes a stage when he wants to pay back the art and medium that has given him so much. A R Rahman began in 1992 with Roja’s original Tamil version, little realising that he would win the National award for his debut — a first in film music history before Ismail Darbar repeated the feat in Hindi films with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

The payback in Hindi films was even better — Roja changed trends in music the way only Barsaat (1949), Dosti (1964), Aradhana (1969) and Aashiqui (1990) had done before. Today, Rahman, who also went on a techno trip and dominated digital domain and earned the ire of purists, is shifting gears. The Fuhrer of modern fusion, who has composed music in seven languages, has launched a unique Music Conservatory as his return gift to the seven notes.

Excerpts from an interview:

The K M Music Conservatory was a long-standing dream, right?
Yes, but since I kept hearing of similar projects I was not going ahead. Finally, since nothing was happening, I began work on it. Initially, we are operating from near my studio in Chennai. But soon, we will shift to a proper campus just outside the city.

What exactly is a Music Conservatory?
It is a concept quite prevalent in the West and takes care of music as well as musicians. For example, there are certain instruments that do not yield lucrative returns or even decent livelihoods for their players.

Such people can therefore earn in other ways, such as web designing or learning music production even as they continue with their passion. This ensures that such players are available and the instrument does not get lost.
In music today, being abreast with technology and music production opens up many doors and today's musicians should know these. When I have worked abroad, I have found it easy to prepare and record music in a few days flat — and yet it sounds good. This is as much because of the orderliness and harmonic structure of their music as it is due to availability of all kinds of instruments.

But in India, one has to often find musicians from abroad for an orchestra. And unlike two or three decades ago it is very difficult to find players of oboes or French horns, to mention just two instruments.

The same fate has come on various Indian instruments as musicians are discouraged from learning them because they cannot earn enough. In the end it is music that is compromised.

But in the conservatory, a young musician can learn even a rare instrument and earn well too. Since I have extended this concept even to Indian classical and folk music, musicians can come here to learn different styles of music too, like kirtanas or thumri. A world-class orchestra is another goal.

What will the faculty and curricula be like?
The K M Music Conservatory and Audio Media Education will be India's first Apple-authorised training centre. We will have a faculty of professors and musicians from both India and abroad and plan to start the first batch in 2008, when we will audition vocalists as well as different instrumentalists.

We will have courses in Western and Indian Vocals, Instrumental Performance, Classical, Theory, Music Appreciation, Ear Training, Piano, Audio Engineering, an Apple- certified course in Logic Pro, and a Digidesign-certified course in Pro Tools. We will give away A R Rahman Foundation Scholarships for deserving students.

Will you be choosier now about film assignments now to give more time to this activity?
(Smiles) A bit, yes. But then I was never into doing ten films at a time.

In Guru, your Barso re and Tere bina proved more popular than the ‘item’ song Mayya mayya. Does that indicate a shift in trends?
By itself, it is a very good sign. It is a fact that electronic music does not satisfy in the long run and I have always loved acoustics.

You have always taken amateur singers even if they are not in immaculate sur. Others use pitch-correction software for such voices, but you do not. Why is that?
I do not think that it is necessary to have perfection every time. Too much polish can be boring! (Laughs) It’s like this new jacket I am wearing which has rough and faded edges. That can sometimes look more attractive!

But some songs demand trained voices. Why did you want Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to sing the raag-oriented Man Mohana in Jodhaa Akbar?
Well, Ashutosh Gowariker was very keen on it, but Aishwarya had no time to rehearse. And there are hidden talents in people!

In Mumbai, two filmmakers have always had foolproof collaborations with you — Subhash Ghai and Ashutosh Gowariker.

That is why I am choosy and do not want to repeat some films that were mistakes. These filmmakers push you and yet give you time because they want perfection. As a composer, I have really enjoyed working on all their films.

You are the first choice in Mumbai for period films since Lagaan. But you have been accused of being indifferent to the eras and regions in terms of orchestration and sound.

Period films, whether Jodhaa Akbar or Bose— The Forgotten Hero make you think differently. You cannot use a catchy groove and a certain authenticity is needed. But at the same time, there should be a contemporary appeal and quality, so I have to see how friendly my music can be while retaining the correct vibe. I try to avoid something that has too modern, but it’s not always possible or even necessary. The impact of the orchestration and background music is more important, like Naushad-saab’s background score in Mughal-E-Azam.

Which are your forthcoming films?
I am doing Subhash Ghai’s Yuvraaj, Aamir Khan’s Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and his remake of Ghajini and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Dilli 6.

In Tamil films I am doing Shankar’s Robot and also Sultan— The Warrior. Then there is a Telugu film starring Pawan Kalyan.