Ever since her wedding, she has been in the eye of a storm. But she's unfazed by what she terms ‘idle chatter'. She handles queries on Jodhaa Akbar, Robot, her Hollywood moves and impending motherhood with remarkable composure. Here's Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in conversation with Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hasn't Jodhaa Akbar taken way too long to wrap up?
A film like this is all-consuming in terms of time, patience and commitment. Large-scale is too small a word to describe it. We were fortunate to have a team that stuck together and a director who is a nice guy in the true sense of the word. Ashutosh (Gowariker) was rock steady, always pleasant.
It would have been so easy for him to pass the buck, blaming the delay on my marriage and Hrithik (Roshan) taking off on a family vacation. But he has assumed complete responsibility .
Durga Khote’s pet peeve during Mughal-e-Azam was the ghagras which weighed a ton. Was that your grouse too?
More than the costumes, it was the jewellery. But I’m not complaining. In a film like this, the costumes and the accessories are as important as the performances. Besides, I’ve done costume dramas before. ( Laughs ) Hrithik would wonder how I could go through it all. I love action. I could grasp its choreography easily. I’ve done the action scenes in Jodhaa Akbar myself.. I wish there were more
<b1>How difficult were the action scenes? We’ve heard that youwere so scared, they had to resort to morphing.
So many stories have been floating around. Me not getting my cues right... Hrithik injured on the sets.. Our days were so long and exhausting with all the commuting to and from Karjat, that we didn’t have time to quell the rumours.
Sometimes it wasn’t even necessary because had anyone bothered to clarify, they could have checked with someone in the unit or Hrithik’s staff. I missed this story though.
So what’s your reaction to it?
If my individual track record isn’t enough of a validation, given that I’ve worked with filmmakers who are really passionate about their craft, then you could ask the 100-odd members present on the sets who were witness to what was happening. I love action.
If the fight director of The Last Legion is to be believed, I have a knack for it. They had organised an extensive training programme which I joined at the last minute because of my hectic schedule. But because of my background in dance, I could grasp the choreography of action easily. I’ve done the action scenes in Jodhaa.. myself. I wish there were more.
The Maharni of Jaipur, Padmini Devi, who was at the film’s music launch, marvelled at how much you’ve changed post marriage. Even the giggles are gone.
So many people giggle. So why attribute it only to me? I have a serious side to me that has been there all along. Padmini aunty is a close friend of Ma (Jaya Bachchan). So, obviously her interaction with me post marriage has been a lot more familiar.(Smiles ) The sweetest compliment she paid me was to comment on how ‘natural’ I looked as a Rajput princess. She almost felt there was some connection with Jodhaa.
<b2>But will a period epic, that should definitely stretch beyond the usual two hours, be able to engage the interest of the common viewer?
Yes, Ashutosh has shot a lot. Even on paper, the film was many hours long. But since he’s the director and co-producer, I’m sure he knew exactly what he was doing. I’m certain that the final cut will not be dictated by any trends or speculations. He’s a man with a story to tell.. he’ll tell it his way. That’s why it was so easy to say “yes” to the film. I’ve wanted to work with Ashutosh since I saw Lagaan and Swades but I’ve never approached anyone for a film.
Then, he came to me with Jodhaa Akbar. I liked the sensitivity with which he explained to me that both characters were on equal footing with the lady’s name coming first. The comment appealed to me not because it was feminist but because it was humanist.
Sarkar Raajin which you supposedly play a gray character, will follow
Jodhaa Akbar. How has the experience been?
After going through the gamut of assessment and judgement, you have to acknowledge the talent and variety that Ram Gopal Varma brings to his work. I loved
, I’m looking forward to
You must be excited about
It’s said that your father-in-law, Amitabh Bachchan, recommended you to Rajnikant for the project. Rajni sir has been approaching me with offers since
, right up to
. But my schedule didn’t permit me to accept these offers. Shankar too has been coming to me with every film he’s made after
I was offered
last year. I was busy with
2. After Rajni sir was confirmed, Shankar reverted back to me. This time I had the dates. My accepting
was news to my father-in-law.
Your Hollywood career hasn’t really been headline-blazing, has it?
When I did Iruvar , no one said I’d moved to Tamil cinema. When I did Chokher Bali, there was no talk of a Tollywood career. So why is so much being made about my few Hollywood films? I’ve been getting a lot of offers. If things work out to my terms and comfort level, why shouldn’t I explore new avenues? But The Last Legion didn’t do well.
Pink Panther 2 is supposed to have been turned down by Celina Jaitly.
Pink Panther 2 is a big brand. I liked the script and it fit into my schedule. Period. As for The Last Legion, I don’t want to assess its run. I enjoyed working on it. It’s a movie I’d like my Indian fans to see. I have the rights to release it here.. I’m waiting for the right time. I wouldn’t want it to clash with Jodhaa Akbar.
<b3>It’s said that you engineered a truce between Aditya Chopra and John Abraham.. this after you had dropped out of Karan Johar’s John-Abhishek-Bobby starrer.
You guys are incredible scriptwriters. But sorry, I’m not a part of this story. Adi and John? God! Where did that come from? As far as Karan’s film goes, I’d signed it before my marriage. And even after my shaadi for three-four months, I was ‘in’. It was the idea of working with Abhishek and Karan that had me all excited.
But as time went by, Abhishek and I began to think that this story may not work with us given our current relationship. One of us had to opt out, I did.
Apparently, you were scared by the rather bold storyline?
Then why would I have accepted it in the first place? It’s a brave film with a lot of black humour.
Life’s been a long honeymoon since the wedding, right?
Life is beautiful. I’d recommend marriage to everyone even though it’s a lot of hard work. I’ve ridden the wave, and will continue to do so. Today, it’s no longer about me.. it’s us.
Abhishek’s gone on record to say that you’ll have beautiful children.
( Laughs ) Every parent thinks his or her child is beautiful. Babies are an obvious eventuality after marriage. They’ll happen when they’re meant to. (Smiling) All this speculation isn’t going to hurry things up.