By Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Troubled and tired of all the controversies surrounding the release of Jodhaa Akbar, Ashutosh Gowariker finally speaks from his bed where he's recovering from a back problem.
Is it true that a company dumped the music of Jodhaa-Akbar?
It's true that we were looking at an association with Big Music. But we didn't agree on certain rights issue for the music, so we parted. UTV Music, a label that Ronnie Screwvala wanted to start later during the year, is being launched in a hurry to release our Jodhaa Akbar music. We're having the music release function on the Jan 9 and on Jan 15, the music will be in stores. The Maharani of Jaipur, Rani Padmini, who's a direct descendent of Jodhaabai, and her husband are flying down to release the music.
Is it true you're cutting two of the songs?
No. There are only five songs recorded for Jodhaa Akbar and we've retained all of them. I treasure every song that I record and wouldn't dream of cutting them for length. Even if we had nine songs only two would wind their way into the charts. We have five songs and I've worked on making each hummable.
How do you think the younger generation would react to the music?
The response to the first two songs has been surprisingly positive. People were expecting archaic songs, but they seem to have liked the modern adaptation of the 16 th century sounds.
Were the songs never made to blare at the pubs or targeted at the youngsters?
Why do you say that? When 'Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya' was created, it was youngsters who were throwing coins on the screen. When Dev Saab sang 'Khoya Khoya Chand', it was the young who swooned and when Shammi Kapoor said 'Yahooo' it was the young who responded. I'd say the film comes first. Whatever emerges from it should be suitably marketed. The music of Jodhaa Akbar can't be Bhangra and Hip-hop. Just because the film has Aishwarya please don't expect an introductory song and dance. It's not a star vehicle. It's about the characters that I'm showcasing -Jodhaa and Akbar.
How will you be there?
I have to be there. It's a big function and I have to manage in spite of a slipped-disc situation. I'm just grateful it didn't happen during the shooting. Imagine me being out of circulation on location in Rajasthan.
Have you strained or injured yourself?
No, I strained my back while lifting a heavy bag.
Did the bag contain Hrithik?
(laughs) Well Hrithik, Aishwarya and I have certainly been carrying an awesome burden on our shoulders. I'd like to compare my struggle to release Jodhaa Akbar to a video game where you play the first level very easily. As you go to other levels the game gets complicated.
What's the truth about Hrithik and Aishwarya not doing the publicity for Jodhaa Akbar?
Not true at all. We now have a publicity plan for them. It had to be aligned to the music and film release.
And what about these stories of how the two couldn't get along?
Absolutely untrue! I don't know how and why this is being said. Aishwarya and Hrithik get along really well. Even at the wrap-party they were fine with each other. There was no rivalry between them. Aishwarya is the most professional actress I've worked with. She never bought any guests on sets, or her cell-phone for that matter. There were stories about how she was asking a spot-boy for chai while Hrithik was rehearsing. Yeh sab bachkani baatein hai.
Did Abhishek ever drop in?
Ya but only when he was shooting in Karjat next door for that song in Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag. Even then he'd drop in before the shooting started, have chai and leave. I just want to say both Hrithik and Aishwarya are extremely dedicated professionals. They knew exactly what they had to do. It wasn't as if they were shocked by getting into a period piece.
Especially after Dhoom 2 it must have been tough for them to get into the Moghul era.
Yes, but even for Dhoom 2 they had to assume an alien body language and personality. In Jodhaa Akbar too they've worked to create a new persona. That couldn't have happened if they weren't focused.
Did you miss Aamir Khan in Jodhaa Akbar?
They were showing our old film Baazi the other day. I'm dying to see Taare Zameen Par but I can't sit up for long hours. He came to visit me twice during my confinement.
When is Jodhaa Akbar releasing?
We were very keen on Jan 25 but because of my back problem I was told to be in bed for 21 days. I couldn't go to Chennai for the background score. A R Rahman had to travel down to Mumbai. That delayed things quite a bit. So, my cabin in office was being used to prepare the background score. That was most inconvenient. Now we're coming on Feb 15 .At the moment that's the date.
Valentine's Week for co-stars who aren't the least attached to one another?
(laughs) That sounds like a good idea for an intensely romantic film. So far we've been looking at festival weeks to release Jodhaa Akbar…First Eid, then Republic Day…Now any Friday when Jodhaa Akbar releases is celebration week.
It's been a tough film for you.
I wouldn't say so. The process of filming Jodhaa Akbar has been really enjoyable. I've no issues now except the back problem. It's not going to be postponed any more. That's my Hanuman Chalisa these days.