Akbar-Jodha: Gowariker's next film
Novelty is the director's forte. For all those, wondering if the lukewarm response to Swades has dampened his spirits, Ashutosh Gowariker's next film is going to be huge historical epic about the romance between Mughal king Akbar and his Rajput wife Jodhabai. So far no Bollywood director made any effort to make a film on the romance between Mughal emperor Akbar and Jodhabai. This is going to be first of its kind.
Smiles the Lagaan director: "You could say I've taken a historical decision to make a film called Jodha-Akbar. It'll be a romantic musical."
Is the decision to film the love story of Akbar and Jodhabhai prompted by the surprise success of K Asif's Mughal-e-Azam last year?
"Not at all," avers Gowariker. "Jodha-Akbar is one of the two-three scripts that I had in mind for quite a while. I finally zeroed in on this. It won't go into the older days of the pair. It would show them in the prime of their togetherness and probably end where Mughal-e-Azam begins."
The film would appear somewhat volatile for its Hindu-Muslim cross-religious relationship, but Gowariker hasn't really thought of that.
"I just want to dwell on a little-known facet of Indian history that hasn't been exposed in history books, let alone on screen. I intend to appoint a research team of historians and scholars from Delhi, Lucknow, Agra and Jaipur to guide me."
The director is going into a period film for the second time after Lagaan.
"Jodha-Akbar would be a full-on period film without props. It would be expensive. But I'm not getting into highlighting the budget and making that a USP of my project. For me the product will justify the expenses."
Gowariker intends to produce Jodha-Akbar. He starts shooting in December 2005 and plans to complete it at a stretch by April 2006. The cast will be finalised in the next two weeks. "I've already locked in on my leading man. He just needs to sign the deal."
AR Rahman and Javed Akhtar, the team who did Gowariker's Lagaan and Swades, have been finalised for the lyrics and music.
Referring to Swades, Gowariker is at peace with its performance. "My financiers, exhibitors and distributors have got their money back. Beyond that, I can't fight the film's reputation of a flop. It has been exempted of entertainment tax in Delhi and Maharashtra. I've applied for a tax-free in other states as well."
"I agree it didn't take the bumper opening that a Shahrukh Khan film should've taken. We fell short in the promotions. I wrongly thought I was promoting the film aggressively. I projected the film rightly. I'm not unhappy about the film."
What about rumours of differences with Shahrukh Khan?
"No such thing happened. There was never any problem between us. Shahrukh and I have met after the release of Swades."