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The inspiration behind Jodhaa Akbar

Text: Syed Firdaus Ashraf

Haidar Ali's motto -- Never Give Up! -- has served him well.

For 50 years, the actor, best known for playing Raja in the 1980s television series Nukkad, has struggled to find a foothold in showbusiness. At 60, he appears to be on the cusp of success with the much-awaited Jodhaa Akbar, starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai.

Sitting in his home in Mumbai's Shivaji Park area, Haidar Ali appears relaxed as he speaks about the film of which has written the story and collaborated on the screenplay with director Ashutosh Gowarikar.

"Jodhaa Akbar began after the success of Lagaan," he says. "Ashutosh was looking for a story on the scale of Lagaan. One day we were talking and I told him that the only film he could make after Lagaan would be Mughal-E-Azam."

For a moment Gowariker wondered if his friend was talking about remaking Mughal-E-Azam or directing a sequel to K Asif's epic. But Haidar Ali floated the idea of doing a prequel to Mughal-E-Azam.

"Ashutosh is the only director who could do justice to a film of such a level. In Lagaan, he touched on the issue of casteism, the oppressed class, Hindu-Muslim unity, communal harmony, team spirit, management and nationalism," says Haidar Ali. "He weaved all this beautifully to make a hit film without preaching or lecturing. In the same way, I told him he could make a beautiful film by touching on such issues without preaching."

A scene from Jodhaa Akbar. Inset: Haidar Ali

Also read: Jodhaa Akbar, a preview

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