Ashutosh doing painstaking research for 'Akbar Jodha'
New Delhi, Mar 17: The Oscar nomination for his film 'Lagaan' in the Best Foreign Film category almost overnight catapulted this filmmaker into 'Lagaan' may not have eventually won the Oscar, losing it narrowly to Bosnia's 'No Man's Land', but it has nevertheless established Ashutosh Gowarikar in India as well as the West as among the new breed of Indian filmmakers propounding sensible cinema.
With universal acclaim comes a "load of expectations" both from within as well as outside the country.
And, with his subsequent film 'Swades', and now for his under production 'Akbar Jodha', Ashutosh is seen taking pains to ensure that he measures up to "tall expectations" from the audience as well as critics.
True to his reputation of a filmmaker giving painstaking attention to detail in his films, of which 'Lagaan' and his subsequent 'Swades' were perfect examples, Ashutosh is now busy researching for his period film 'Jodha-Akbar', a "romantic musical" which will focus on the romance between Mughal emperor Akbar and his queen Jodhabai.
Ashutosh, who has already finalised the script of the film starring Hrithik Roshan as Emperor Akbar and Aishwarya Rai as Jodhabhai, is now consulting eminent historians to ensure that his film is historically accurate.
Trade sources say, 'Jodha-Akbar' will be prequel to the 60s blockbuster 'Mughal-e-Azam', in that it deals with the period before Akbar reached the age of 27.
Beginning with Akbar-e-Azam (Akbar) ascending the throne in India at the young age of 13, following the death of his father, Mughal emperor Humayun, the film will show how he goes on to become a great ruler of a big empire. As is evident from the film's title, a major part of it deals with Emperor Akbar's romance and subsequent marriage with Rajput princess Jodhabhai, the sources said.
Ashutosh will also touch upon how Jodhabhai became the head queen (among many wives of Akbar) after their marriage. At the same time, the film will also dwell upon Akbar's secular outlook and his sense of diplomacy. Despite not being able to read and write due to spending several initial years of his life in Afghanistan due to his father Humayun being driven into exile, Akbar maintained an extensive library and had books read out to him. All this knowledge helped him acquire wisdom and develop a secular outlook.
Trade sources said in an effort to converse himself with every possible detail and ensure historical accuracy for his period film, Ashutosh is conducting extensive research for the period venture.
The task is by no means easy, trade sources said, considering that the romance between Akbar and Jodhabai is a subject that history books have left largely untouched.
Although much is written about Akbar the Great, very less has been written about Jodhabhai in official text books, giving way to controversies.
According to the official history text books, Akbar's marriage to Jodhabai was part of the Mughal emperor's strategy to forge alliances with Rajput princes through diplomacy rather than military conflicts.
During the course of his research for the film, Ashutosh has read Akbarnama, a biographical account of Akbar written by Abul Fazl - one of the Navaratans of Akbar's royal court and Ain-e-Akbari, a translation of Abul Fazal's Persian text. He has also consulted historians such as Irfan Habib of Aligarh Muslim University.