Tuesday, February 26, 2008

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.

Courtesy: hindustantimes.com

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