What sort of research did you do?
I did a lot of research. First, I went location hunting with the team. Some locations were short-listed, and I had to okay them in terms of light, depth and feel. While doing that, I read books on Mughal history, about Akbar... I went through the available paintings of that era, getting into the mood and feel of what Ashutosh had in mind.
Ashutosh and I discussed the film, and I started visualising it. Then, I told him what the film should look, according to me. Luckily, he had the exact image on his mind.
I watched films like Lord Of The Rings, Gladiator, Troy, Mughal-E-Azam and Kagaaz Ke Phool to get a sense of the camera work for inspiration.
But how do watching Hollywood films help while making a Hindi period film?
They help in terms of look. Though the cultures are different, the landscape is not. For example, look at Gladiator and Rajasthan. The basic colour of the land is the same, cream-brown-beige.
In those days, only primary colours like red, blue and yellow were used. There was no burgundy, or pastel shades. And because Rajasthan lacks colour, people there like to wear colourful clothes.
When we are shooting in Agra, we used more green. That's the colour of Islamic culture.
(Set designer) Nitin Desai has done so many big films that he has a library of Mughal architecture, Rajasthani architecture, influence of Mughal on Rajasthan etc.
Also read: The inspiration behind Jodhaa Akbar