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'Hrithik was attracted to the character of Akbar'

February 15, the day his Jodhaa Akbar releases, is the day director Ashutosh Gowariker turns 40. By a quirky coincidence, the man who conceived the film, writer-actor Haider Ali, will turn 60 the next day.

In an conversation with rediff.com's Nikhil Lakshman, Gowariker highlights why he thinks Jodhaa Akbar will strike a chord with today's audiences.

How much of the film is real and how much of it is fiction?

I can say 70 percent is imagination and 30 percent is history.

So the challenge was to make a romance.

Yes.

Then you could have made a contemporary romance.

Yeah, but the contemporary romantic stories that I came across did not interest me. They would seem cliched, uninteresting. I never found them challenging enough to make it. This (story) had a lot of potential.

Are you a history buff?

No, not at all. Not at all.

I was not interested in history. I was not interested in dates. Now I have developed a lot of interest in history. Maybe it is, you know, compensating for all those years.

Since you made Lagaan, which also has a historical core, I would have thought you are interested in history.

I do have an interest now, but not in my formative years.

'Working with Hrithik and Aishwarya was terrific'

Do you intentionally set your story with all the tugs and pulls of a movie story in a particular period so that it works better? Lagaan would probably not have worked if it was set in a contemporary timeframe.

Yeah, yeah. But you know you can't isolate history in the case of Jodhaa Akbar. The 16th century is intrinsic to what happened between the two. It is intrinsic to the political alliance. Being forced to be married to each other, Akbar having his own reasons and Jodhaa having her own reasons.

They were compelled to marry?

Yeah, compelled. He was compelled by political necessity and she was compelled because she had to do it for her father and for her kingdom.

And after that how they learnt to admire each other, discover each other, and finally love each other is intrinsic to that time and intrinsic to the love story. If I was asked to make this in contemporary times it would have just been an arranged marriage. Because you know we have arranged marriages in which couples meet and say yes to each other without any formal love but they actually develop love much after marriage. So it would be a contemporary story.

Also read: 'Hrithik was brilliant'

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