Q.: At the beginning we would like to know how is your back-pain?
A.: It's under control now. I can now sit for twenty minutes at a stretch. I endured worse of the pain during the editing of the film. I have done the most of the editing of this film lying in the bed. But I am really happy as I didn't have to endure the pain during the shooting. (Smiling) otherwise I would have to postpone the releasing date of the film once again and you would have come to ask me the reason.
Q.: What's the reason behind choosing Jodhaa Akbar as the subject of your film?
A.: Hyeder Ali, the writer of the film, who is my friend also, told me the story. There are many reasons choosing this story for making a film one of which maybe the marriage between a Mughal emperor and a Hindu princess. The marriage took place almost four and half a century back. It's really an amazing story. Though the reason behind the wedding was the expansion of his empire and for the betterment of the relationship with Raajputs, there were some good social impacts also. Besides all these the most important matter about the story was the reason for which a Rajput father had to hand his daughter to a Mughal emperor. At the same time I wanted to weave the essence of love story in the film, too. In that film I got exactly the same love story that I wanted to make.
Q.: Why did you choose Aishwarya and Hrithik for the film? Was there any influence of Dhoom 2 in characterisation?
A.: It's absolutely wrong to think that I want to cash the famous Dhoom 2 pair on the screen once again. The reality is that I started my film much earlier than Krish and Dhoom 2. While I heard the story I thought only about Hrithik and Aishwarya as they really have that princely touch in their appearance. I spent my childhood with the books like Amar Chitrakatha and Chanda Mama. Actually those stories inspired me to think about my own stories. I saw exactly the same image in Aishwarya and Hrithik that I used to see in those characters.
Q.: Don't you think your Akbar is little skinny?
A.: Before replying to your question I would like to ask you something. Where did you see Akbar? The actuality is that you have seen Prithwiraj Kapoor as Akbar in Mughal E Azam. In that film you have witnessed the Akbar who is in his sixties and is a father of a young man. But in my film you will get the young look of Akbar. According to the story I have chosen the middle period of twenty eighth year of his age. Hrithik is fit for the character not only because of his age but also because of his physical structure, mental ability and maturity. Actually I needed a passionate actor who would equally be dedicated to this movie. I am happy that Hrithik proved his best for the character.
Q.: There are lots of conflicts regarding the release of the film. What's the reason?
A.: Let me make very clear that there will be no problem releasing the movie on the given date. People are so excited about the film that their interest just grows on and on for the film to get released. It's really justified taking time to make historical movies. It's quite easy to think and make films on paper but filming it requires pure technical knowledge. My film required lot of people to work on. Even filming a small scene I required all the artists. There were many times when few of them were not present in the set and then I used to call them to get their shots. Everything including location, jewellery, look, make-up, junior artists as well as animals are most important for the movie. Despite all those things I faced many problems filming the movie.
Q.: How did you think about the references for the movie?
A.: In accordance with the story of the film I referred to the Mughal and Rajput history as well as books like "Akbar Nama" and "Ain – E- Akbari". Apart from them I went through books of Badauni who wrote many things about Akbar's life. The most important part of that period's writing was that people used to write against each other. And in that way I faced many problems deciding the truth. At the end I accepted which I thought might be the truth. Besides, I chose many things from the royal family of Jaipur and information from the Kachchhaya family. And Bhavani Singh, the king of Jaipur, as well as the queen Padmini also informed me about many things regarding Akbar.
Q.: Despite having so much information the film is not beyond debate especially in Jaipur. Why?
A.: You must have noticed that big films always come with debates. Historians expressed their individual thoughts regarding the name Jodhaa. When one says her actual name was Harkha Bai the others claim names like Heera Bai or Shahi Bai. Height of imagination is seen where someone names Jodhaa as Jiya Bai. It's not true only with Jodhaa Bai as it's the same fate with names of Jodhaa Bai's daughter. She had three main names as Meera Bai, Mani Bai and Jodhaa Bai. It maybe because of the name that people are confused thinking the film is not about Akbar's wife Jodhaa but his daughter Jodh. Besides other people I got the most emphasis on the name Jodhaa as the name of Akbar's wife. And thus I kept the name of the film as "Jodha Akbar". Otherwise you can place Akbar's name with any other name given above and then you also can decide which sounds better.
Q.: Were you ready for such controversy?
A.: Yeah, absolutely. Even during the pre-production I knew there will be some controversy regarding the movie. When there are so many controversies in the history itself then there has to be some difference in thought about the movie. I would only say that I have taken the truth only. Through the media I would like to inform people that I have made the film for general entertainment and there's little historical theory in it comparing with the creative thoughts. My prime focus is to show the proximity between two different societies of people that came together hundreds of years ago because of a marriage. I have depicted the traditional collaboration between two completely different strata of people. I appeal to all the people to take "Jodhaa Akbar" just as a film.
Q.: How are you prepared to face controversies once the film gets released?
A.: First thing first that controversy is absolutely baseless. As far as the release of the film is concerned, I think, once the film is released people will love it so much that they will forget to think even about the old controversies.
Q.: How would you like to categorise yourself as the director in future?
A.: I don't believe in getting confined in any image. If I am offered the chance of making a murder mystery I will surely do that as for that I won't need to go to research for the film.
Q.: Don't you think there's no market for historical films these days?
A.: You may think so. But the truth is that there are very few historical films made in India. From the very beginning the graph of historical films has been below the expectation. Here eight out of ten films are commercial films. Amongst all the historical films made till date there are only two – Taj Mahal and Mughle Azam – which are commercially successful. Whether it's historical or commercial, getting success in filmmaking mostly depends on the story of the film. The story of my film is good and I believe it will work better.
Q.: Did you have any photograph of Jodha Bai that helped you finalise Aishwarya for the character?
A.: That's an interesting question. And for that, too, I would like to say that I have researched very well. I went through many paintings of Rajput queens to finalise the look of Jodha Bai. Keeping in mind the paintings I decided Jodhaa Bai's look before and after her marriage. At the same time I studied hard on make-up. In that I came to know about the make-up of Rajput ladies of that time and accordingly I instructed to apply makeup to Aishwarya. I took special care of her cosmetics and costume. At the same time I had to work hard on Akbar's look, too. At the beginning we applied false moustache to him but it didn't look good on him. He then got his real moustache that made him look much better. Apart from Jodhaa and Akbar we worked hard on the look of even soldiers, too. We always kept in mind that no one in the film look comic. To be sure of their looks we spent six months working on each of their looks. We applied make-up on all of them to confirm their looks.
Q.: We have heard that there were some misunderstanding between Aishwarya and Hrithik during the shooting. Is that true?
A.: (smiling) It's just a gossip, nothing else. Even I don't know from where that gossip originated. Both Aishwarya and Hrithik supported each other during the shooting. I am really happy because of their on-screen chemistry.
Q.: Which one is your favourite pair?
A.: As far as films are concerned I like pairs as Hema-Dharmendra, Rekha-Amitabh, Amir-Juhi, and Shahrukh-Kajol. And as far as reality is concerned the pair most close to my heart is that of Laila-Majnoo.
Q.: What do you think is the meaning of love?
A.: I think love is best where people in love try and understand each other's negativities and incorporating in each other's problems they go on in life.
Q.: How do you see your journey from Pehla Nasha to Jodhaa Akbar?
A.: I have been very lucky. I never thought of coming to that pinnacle of life. Whether actor or director I started working in both the fields by accident. In both the cases I got chance and I grabbed them. Now you can see me here all because of my readiness to accept things that life offers me.