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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

'Jodhaa-Akbar' as relevant as arranged marriage: Gowariker

Mumbai, (IANS) Young and dynamic director Ashutosh Gowariker, who is ready with "Jodhaa-Akbar", says he was fascinated by the relationship that the two historical figures must have shared after marriage.
"I feel if today we make a story about the past, it must be correlated to the present. And 'Jodhaa-Akbar' is as relevant to the present as arranged marriages. Jodha and Akbar shared a perfect arranged marriage. I was fascinated by how their relationship must have grown after marriage," Gowariker told IANS. Keeping the young generation in mind, the director has avoided a heavy dose of Urdu."As for youngsters, I had one rule of connectivity in my range of vision. Any word or dialogue that I didn't understand in Urdu I kept out. I've no interest in impressing audiences with my knowledge of Urdu, Hindi or even literature." Starring Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan in the lead roles, the film is set to hit the marquee Feb 15. The director is dubbing it in Telugu and Tamil as well.Excerpts:Q: After "Lagaan", you return to a period film in "Jodhaa-Akbar"? A: You might say that. But I call "Lagaan" a period film. "Jodhaa-Akbar" is to me a historical. Anything after 1857 is a period film for me. Anything before that is a historical. "Jodhaa-Akbar" is certainly not a costume drama. It isn't set in a never-never land. I'd call "Mughal-e-Azam" a historical though its focus was different from mine. I feel if today we make a story about the past, it must be correlated to the present. And "Jodhaa-Akbar" is as relevant to present times as arranged marriages. Jodha and Akbar shared a perfect arranged marriage. I was fascinated by how their relationship must have grown after marriage. There was no reference in any books about what happened between them. I've taken extreme care to make sure viewers believe in the relationship. Q: How much have you stressed the religious difference between Jodha and Akbar?A: It's important but not stressed in my film. Let's not forget, Akbar's marriage to Jodhabai was no common occurrence. It had a nationwide reverberation 450 years ago when society was far more conservative. How did their marriage affect those times? That's a question relevant even today. But I'm not jingoistic in my treatment. Q: Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan have very contemporary personalities?A: That won't be a problem. The audience will come in and forget everything about Hrithik and Aishwarya. Hrithik-Aishwarya's pairing is incredible. They're extremely charismatic and good-looking. They were a huge success in the contemporary "Dhoom 2". That can only help my film, not harm it. What audiences will see in my film are Jodha and Akbar. At least that's what I've tried to ensure through their looks, body language and behaviour. I wanted to make my historical as believable as I'd like to see it being. Every element big or small, from the texture of the clothes to the sets, décor, dialogues and the protocol, even the incidental sounds of birds and animals, they all had to be just right for me. I'm tired of filmmakers wondering where those good old days have gone. I wanted to reclaim those days. It took me two years of pre-production before I got into my first shot. Q: Film analysts feel history has no relevance for today's average youngster?A: I agree. Even as a child myself historical films never interested me. But when I saw "Mughal-e-Azam" on TV, I connected to it because it was a story of lovers separated by parental opposition. That the parents were historical figures was incidental. I feel the story has to be connectable to the audience. Hyder Ali, who wrote "Jodhaa-Abkar", told me, "In 'Mughal-e-Azam" the focus was so much on Salim and Anarkali, nobody asked a fundamental question. How did Akbar come to marry Jodhabai in spite of their religious and cultural divide? I immediately reacted to their alliance. I saw an interesting story there that needed to be told. As for the youngsters, I had one rule of connectivity in my range of vision. Any word or dialogue that I didn't understand in Urdu I kept out. I've no interest in impressing audiences with my knowledge of Urdu, Hindi or even literature. I feel literature is for the books, and that's where it should stay. I needed to reach out to the masses. Q: So is "Jodhaa-Akbar" kitsch?A: No. I've referred to literature and academia. But the Akbarnama was in Pharsi. It doesn't mean I'd use Pharsi in my film. I want Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Bengal to understand the film. I'm dubbing the film into Telugu and Tamil. Each language has its own regality and I'm going by the individual regality of the province. I had one vision before me when I started making this film. It was the world of the Amar Chitra Katha. I've grown up on that world. Q: Are you happy with the end product?A: Oh! it has been tremendously enriching. So far the Mughal period was part of textbooks. I always wondered about the battles and the durbar intrigue. The Mughal period was known for its lavishness, so much so that studio bosses in Hollywood from the golden period were not called movie czars or movie nawabs. They were called movie moguls

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"We need a new face with Hrithik" - Anurag Basu

Wanted: a brand new leading lady for Hrithik Roshan in his father's production which will be directed mid-2008 by the immensely talented Anurag Basu. "I really need to get back behind the camera; it’s been quite a while since Life…In Metro released. I'm glad it worked. But I now need to move on."Anurag's next film will be produced by Rakesh Roshan's company Filmkraft and will feature Hrithik Roshan in a never-before avatar. The interesting part of this action-romance would be the casting of the leading lady. Hrithik will pair with a completely new girl, his first female debutant since his debut in Kaho Na…Pyar Hai five years. "The theme is such that we need a fresh girl. We're searching for her. If we don't find the perfect debutante only then we may consider an established face," says Anurag who earlier for his career-making film, Gangster, discovered the stunning Kangana Ranaut. "Yes," laughs Anurag. "But every day isn't a Sunday. And we may not get that lucky this time. However, I'm extremely happy to be working with Hrithik who apparently saw Metro and liked it. Hrithik and his father are very professional non-interfering people. An added bonus for doing this yet-untitled film is that Hrithik's uncle Rajesh Roshan is doing the music. I've always been his big fan." While he waits to start his film with Hrithik, Anurag is scripting a film that he's committed to do for UTV. For now plans of making a sequel to Metro have been put on the back burner. "I'll do the sequel only when the script is better than the first part. Otherwise there's no point in doing a sequel for any film," says the filmmaker who has survived a terminal illness and is now doing the best work of his life.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sonam-Abhishek in Mumbai after Bereavement

It's been a trying time for the lead pair of Dilli 6. First Abhishek Bachchan lost his grandmother and had to rush back from Jaipur to Mumbai. Then Sonam Kapoor, with whom director Rakeysh Mehra was doing solo shots in Abhishek's absence, lost her grandfather (her mother's father) and had to return to Mumbai too.However, professionalism being a part of the duo's heritage, Abhishek and Sonam have both flown back on Friday to Jaipur to resume shooting. Not that Rakeysh was sitting idle. He has a huge cast assembled in Jaipur. And that includes Rishi Kapoor, Tanvi Azmi, Divya Dutt and the amazing Waheeda Rehman whom Rakeysh coaxed out of retirement.

Welcome and TZP benefit due to Jodha Akbar's delay

Welcome being a super-success and Taare Zameen Par showing steady escalation isn't news any more. What is news though is an extended great run at the box office for both the films, which is pretty much on the cards now due to Jodha Akbar being postponed to February. Though the official date being cited is February 15, there are still doubts if this would stick on to be the final date.With coming weeks boasting of mostly small/medium budget productions with a limited market and only a handful of films which could be taken seriously, it greatly helps the prospects of Welcome and Taare Zameen Par to enjoy a longish stay at the screens. Coming Friday sees Return of Hanuman and Showbiz. While Anurag Kashyap has been quoted as saying that "Return of Hanuman could be as big a blockbuster as Om Shanti Om,” Mukesh Bhatt has maintained that "Showbiz would work with word of mouth going in it's favor". The fact still remains that none of the two films are expected to embark on an earth-shattering opening, hence allowing Akshay and Aamir to stay strong even in the second week. A film like Manthan Ek Kashmakash that may release on January 4 (deadly first weekend of a year), spells Z grade from miles away and the only thing it guarantees is an inauspicious beginning to 2008. A week later things turn better but still not in a way which could announce Halla Bol at the box office. Bombay To Bangkok is a small film by Iqbal team of Subhash Ghai, Nagesh Kukunoor and Shreyas Talpade and would see a limited release. Raj Kumar Santoshi, who would be desperate for a box office, has announced, "Halla Bol is a wake-up call for our collective conscience" while also clarifying that this Ajay Devgan (who plays a superstar) starrer is not set in the film industry. The film again belongs to ‘wait and watch’ category, as is the case with the third release of the January 11-My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves, which marks the debut of Nikhil Dwivedi. Earlier this month, producer Surendra Bhatia had postponed his Rajpal Yadav, Ashish Chaudhary, Neha Dhupia starrer Rama Rama Kya Hai Dramaaa stating, "There are number of biggies slated for a release in December, and we would be forced to vacate theatres/multiplexes once these films release." The situation definitely has improved as January 18 currently stands as an open weekend for this comedy. Still, it is more or less a negligible competition for Welcome and Taare Zameen Par. The first major competition, which comes, the way of Akshay and Aamir is Sunday which hits the screens on January 25, 2008. "The film unabashedly promises to be a mix of action, comedy, romance, and thrills. Director Rohit Shetty appears to have a winner in hands," says a trade insider. A solo release, it is followed by small/medium budget films like Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Superstar, promotion for which is still to begin. What this means for both Welcome and Taare Zameen Par is that both the films would now have more or less an uninterrupted run for an almost 8 weeks! Astonishing, since in the times when there is competition arriving every Friday, Akshay and Aamir would have as many as two open months for their films.

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Welcome' beats Akshay's record in Overseas

With a historic opening, the Indian Films-Studio 18 mega release WELCOME has emerged a winner at the box-office. The numbers in Overseas have also surpassed those of all erstwhile solo Akshay Kumar titles, creating a new record for the actor.In U.K., the preview and opening weekend gross was a smashing £ 370,000 (approx) from 40 locations. In UAE, just the 5-day business of WELCOME was nearly as much as the lifetime gross of Akshay’s earlier hits. The business to date is AED 1.8 million from 29 locations. In the US, the first two days grossed $ 100,000 only from the mainstream theatres (independents excluded), extremely impressive considering the biggest grosses will start from December 26. In almost every mainstream location, WELCOME out-grossed even the major Hollywood openers like CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, P.S. I LOVE YOU and WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY.