I know I haven't told you, but I have had rather intimate ties with theatre. While co-directing a play two years ago for the theatre group Dramanon (which incidentally has its reach in Manipal, Bangalore and Hyderabad if you are interested) I had written a heartfelt Director's note. I suddenly found it and am reproducing it here to gain your acceptance a tad bit more. I am kidding.

Here in it's original and undiluted form:

It all began that bright, sunny afternoon when Dramanon converged at our revered rendezvous point; the script was decided upon, some dates finalized, designations nominated…and we were rolling again! And thus, ensued a recycled reaction of regular entertainment, daily jokes, frequent bouts of stress and screaming sessions, intermittent paranoia and the eleventh-hour chaos…

The script impressed me from the start. It was simple, warm and celebrated a wonderful intimacy between characters so real and so exaggerated. The humour catered to every genre-slapstick, cinematic, situational and even the pun patronizing types! The moral was not preaching, yet explained so much. And we had the pleasure of working with some very intelligent actors, who could interpret their characters beautifully and slide into their skins with the utmost ease. Even when we made them repeat their dialogues again and AGAIN, they flitted through with a smile on their faces. And when we would get down and dirty with the tiresome psyche of the characters they would listen patiently and improve tremendously. A truly talented bunch…my heartfelt gratitude.

The production team leaves EVERYTHING for the last minute, and in those last hours ticking away mercilessly, works day and night sacrificing sleep, food and mental sanity to leave no stone unturned. They are the real heroes behind the scenes…my heartfelt gratitude with whipped cream.

And finally my co-director. Dramanon had a bipolar-director-disorder going with Dhruv and me arguing over few things, and agreeing over fewer! But this guy is something! Immensely capable and definitely cooperative…my heartfelt gratitude with whipped cream and cherry on top.

And now presenting to you my swan song…

Sigh. Good ol' days.


We expected fantastic stuff from a 40 crore budget and Ashutosh Gowariker. Because we all liked Lagaan and Swadesh, albeit their rather patience-testing durations. The former was a fictitious event based in pre-independence India and hence, Mr. Gowariker had his creative imprimatur to tweak a character here, to tune an emotion there, to finally produce Lagaan as it was. And Swadesh again was heartwarming. Modern when it had to be, rural when it had to be and entirely inspirational. And yes, we did overlook the obvious lack of chemistry between Shah Rukh Khan and Gayatri Joshi. And we lived.

But Mr. Gowaiker why-ever did you get so confused with Jodhaa Akbar? Were you thinking 'I want to direct an epic love story, a union of hearts, a union of minds, a union of skills and a union of religion?' or were you thinking 'I want to direct a period movie, resplendent in all its glory, intrigue and historical accuracy.' Because what you finally did deliver was a perfect pastiche of incongruous ideas.

If twas' a love story you were looking to depict, then I can digest that the infamously lascivious Mughals' descendant became a one-woman man for his wife from an evidently political alliance (Of course, his grandson Shah Jehan did reject his ancestors' wanton ways for Mumtaz Mahal. Of course, Mumtaz Mahal also went ahead to die in childbirth, incidentally while giving birth to her 14th child. Our very virile Shah Jahan impregnated her more than once due to the lack of a most effective contraceptive - polygamy). So Mr. Gowariker, you wanted to create the perfect love story that our monogamous minds could accept and cherish. Love that arose from the darkened depths of political interests and religious discontent. That left behind deceit and conspiracy in its virgin wake. Love in the time of mughal-era. Marquez would be proud.
But then why would we have to sit through three and a half hours of historical events, all well-researched I presume? Because it was a love story right?

Oh but you wanted to direct a period film! Aaaaaaah. But then why no mention, however fleeting, of Ruqaiyya Begum or Salima Sultan, Akbar's 2 wives from before his marriae to Jodhaa Bai, and very much a part of his principal queens? Yes we know you included a rather prosaic disclaimer warning us that there are various names for Jodha Bai, but did you have to pander so much to the Indian sensibilities that you just dropped essential facts?

A Mughal epic was attempted at, but the Mughal era can never be created without a consistent portrayal of their stories on the battlefield, and their stories in the bedroom. The Mughal era that saw tolerance under Akbar, but if one version is to be believed, intolerance when it came to Jehnagir entering into wedlock with Anarkali. They saw the golden age under Shah Jehan, yet intense deceitry and conspiracy amongst his progeny. The Mughals just shouldn't be reduced to eye-gazing, coy-smiling lovestruck stars.

Ok, ok but yes we concede that Hrithik Roshan was better than decent. Aishwarya Rai looked pretty, dainty and all those wonderful adjectives. And hell Sonu Sood (do you remember him from Aashiq Banaya Aapne? No? I thought so) was pretty darn good. Give him some good films please, he has some latent talent that boy.