(2008) Mumbai Mirror Interview

Jodhaa Akbar will be your first release after you got married. How important is the film for you?

Jodhaa Akbar had been in the making, before my wedding, during my wedding and even after my wedding. So in a way it has covered it all. I cannot claim whether it has made any specific difference but it has definitely made a very special place in my heart. It has been a wonderful experience working with director Ashutosh Gowarikar and Hrithik Roshan again after Dhoom 2.

How much did you research for the role?

It is not important how much research as you do what your director wants. I have portrayed my character exactly the way Ashu wanted me to. It’s his perspective all the way. He had already researched deeply and worked on my character before I started shooting. So, I was given a readymade character sketch about Jodhaa’s personality, mannerisms and body language. The role of Jodhaa is very dear to me and I have stayed true to the script.

What were the challenges that you faced while doing the film?

My role in Jodhaa Akbar involved a lot of costume changes. So you can imagine how much pressure one undergoes because of that. But, I had to sit patiently in front of the camera and not let my stress show while I was on the sets. It is said that women from the royal families in that era dressed up elaborately every morning and stayed behind curtains throughout the day. I feel glad that I am born at a time where I can enjoy more liberties as a woman. But it has been one of the most tiring experiences playing the role of the queen as we are so used to living liberally today.

Reportedly, a few of your scenes had to be morphed because you couldn’t give the right expressions during the battle sequences?

There have been so many stories about the film floating around, but I had been so busy that I didn’t have time to see and clarify each one of them. Before I agreed to do this film, Ashu had asked me if I knew horse riding or sword fighting. I told him I had done a little of all that while shooting for The Last Legion but had not been trained professionally for it. For Jodhaa Akbar, I didn’t get enough time to train as I was busy traveling or shooting one film after another.

But yes, I took to sword fighting like fish to water and thoroughly enjoyed it. I really enjoy doing action. For the horse riding sequence, I went an hour before the shoot to get familiar with the horse. I wasn’t scared of the horse but it’s always good to be a bit careful. Now I feel I should get trained formally in all this. As far as morphing is concerned, Ashu will be the best person to answer it as he is the film’s director.

Did you undergo any special physical training to fit the bill?

Jodhaa’s character doesn’t require a body that needs rigorous gym training. It was not a Dhoom 2. Also, no special efforts were made in terms of my looks. But yes, I enjoyed playing the character because it was different. As I had already played a lot of Indian characters, I started working out on how different I could look in Jodhaa Akbar, which is already so rich visually. That’s when we decided to go a little easy on Jodhaa’s costumes and accessories. The interesting part was that I had to look rich but simple at the same time. Also, my look had to do justice to the character.

The chemistry between you and Hrithik in Dhoom 2 almost resulted in a controversy. And it only gets better with Jodhaa Akbar.

The chemistry you see between Hrithik and me in Jodhaa Akbar will be exactly what Ashu wanted out of the two characters we are portraying. Nothing more should be made out of it.

– Mumbai Mirror

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