How difficult does it get when the film is larger in scale, especially in terms of VFX.
Whatever you do and however much time you keep for the post, and in a film like this post is not just about editing, background music etc, it is also visual effects. So work is going on till the last moment to fine tune whatever is possible. The effort is to make it more believable. The image should be perfect. The sound and visual should match perfectly. That kind of gives you sleepless nights.
You faced flak from the critics after the trailer launch. Does it dishearten?
No, it does not because the film is done. And we have done all the detailing as we can on the detailing of the world. We have taken steps to get information from archaeologists. Seminars have been held. All the information that you are going to see in the movie is accurate to that interpretation. Now even with archaeologists, there are two different schools of thought. The audience does not necessarily need to follow the chain of thoughts that I am following. Ultimately I am making the movie and I need to be convinced about what I am showing in the film. So there can be a reservation. That’s the case with all historical films, worldwide. There is always going to a contest on what was shown. The person who will claim the movie is wrong is not wrong either as he would be holding another interpretation. Only thing is that you have to come and watch the film for what I am made.
And at a promotional event, you also cracked the joke about this film only two and half hours long. How important is it to keep the film this ‘short’.
It is important as it is a different genre. It is a drama, a love story and a peek into the civilisation that we know nothing about. But having said that it needs to be a shorter film and hence its two hours and thirty minutes. If I had made a thriller, it would have to be two hours. If I made an animation film it would have to be 90 minutes. There are certain requirements of every genre. Of course, there are exceptions. My previous films needed the length. In Lagaan the cricket match itself was over an hour long, in Jodhaa Akbar I needed that much length to depict the royal lifestyle and era. This one does not need that much time.
So do you think Jodhaa Akbar would still be as long if you make it now?
Yes, it would be. The film needs that. If a courtier comes into deewane-e-aam he would have to do three salaams. I can’t cut that out. In a contemporary film, you can get done with a hi, which will also shorten the length.
You have introduced heroines earlier in Lagaan and Swades. And now you have introduced Pooja Hegde. Do you ever feel responsible for a girl’s career and how it shapes after you launch them?
To take her career forward is a completely different expertise. To project her correctly in the film and to put her out into the media and the audience is the part one of the responsibility. It is not only for the movie but also for the person. The part B – of what happens to the person’s career a later on – that only kicks in after the result of the first film. I think Pooja is exceptional in the movie and hoping that audience would like her. More filmmakers would probably want to cast her.
You had two back to back flops. How difficult does it get for a director vis-à-vis an actor when failures happen? You took six years to come back after Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey!
It does get difficult. But for me, I was actually prepping for Buddha after Khelein. One and half years actually went into that film and when the film did not happen, for whatever reasons, suddenly there was a void. Then I moved to Mohenjo Daro. I also did Everest, which took my two years. The two years that I worked on Buddha, I will use some day. Also, for a film like Mohenjo Daro, you need a big star. It was important to have Hrithik and I was glad that he said yes.
So Buddha should happen some day?
I will use it. If I get an opportunity I will make the film. My research and everything is done.
There were reports that Hrithik was taking too much time and hence you had considered Sushant Singh Rajput for the role.
Hrithik did take time but that’s because he was trying to finish Krrish and then he was going to Shuddhi which did not happen. But no Sushant Singh Rajput was not approached.
There are stories that you might also act now.
If a filmmaker wants to cast me, I would say, I love acting. It was my first love, my pehla nasha. Direction is my doosra nasha.