Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan made a perfect couple and their on-screen chemistry sizzled in both Dhoom 2 and Jodhaa Akbar. The actress attributes the chemistry to their rapport off screen.
Excerpts from the interview:
Your life changed completely -- from Ms to Mrs - during the making of Jodhaa Akbar.
Yes, that's true (laughs). I get married while the movie was being made and that makes it very special. Five years ago, I'd have never imagined I'd have got married during the making of a movie. I'd have thought I'd finish a movie, take time off for my wedding, like any other girl getting married. Never did I imagine I'd be working through my marriage.
When I look back I smile at how it all happened. The making of every shot and every frame in Jodhaa Abkar has been unique for the team. We worked through changing weather and different circumstances and those don't show up on celluloid. That's quite an accomplishment. We were in Rajasthan for a while and then in Karjat. The whole team worked really hard.
Jodhaa Akbar isn't your first costume drama. Do you feel comfortable in the genre?
I've done other costume dramas. Yes, I played courtesan in Umrao Jaan and I went into Roman history in The Last Legion, but never before a Mughal historical. So Jodhaa Akbar is a first. And the main challenge for me was to overcome the perception that I've done this before, because I haven't. I wanted to create a completely new character. Of course, it's the same face and personality. But I had to assume Jodha's persona beyond exterior props like clothes and hair.
I'm very glad people, who've seen it so far, have responded to my character as something I haven't done before. That for my director and me is a joy, as it always has been, be it my character in Guru or earlier in Devdas and Raincoat.
Was it tough getting into all those Rajasthani costumes?
Patience has always been a virtue. I've had experience of elaborate costuming and makeup before. Though I have never done this amount of accessories and embellishment before. Another first! But there was pre-certainty about my familiarity with the dressing-up.
The director knew I'd be able to get every stitch in place before arriving on the sets. But for Hrithik, the costume-drama was a first. He'd look at me and acknowledge my familiarity with the genre. But familiarity didn't make it any easier for me.
Abhishek feels you and Hrithik make a very special pair?
Hrithik has been a special co-star. We've shared a fantastic rapport that gets translated into wonderful chemistry on screen. We're both genuinely committed to our craft. That apart, we share a special friendship from the time we did a commercial together many years ago.
Even before that I had been approached for Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Mission Kashmir. That's the first time we met. He was very new then. I was also offered Krrish but had no dates. We never came around to working together in a movie until Dhoom 2. It was a very new genre for me. Doing Dhoom 2 was a pleasure because of that friendship.
I think part of our comfort level comes from the fact that Abhishek and Hrithik are childhood friends. So, vicariously, I was already a part of the brat pack. I'm so amused when I hear them sharing childhood memories of the parties that the two attended together. All three of us had a ball during Dhoom 2.
What about all these rumours that Hrithik was trying to distract you during the shooting of Jodhaa Akbar or was it the other way around?
Just goes to show how unfounded these rumours are. You're confused about who was distracting whom. Hrithik and I find it beneath our dignity to even respond to these rumours. How does one explain something so baseless? We know how well we worked together and how comfortable we were doing our two back-to-back films, both so diverse in mood and era.
Hats off to Gowariker for actually envisioning you and Hrithik in the Mughal era after Dhoom 2?
Actually, he signed us before the release of Dhoom 2. Nothing changed in Jodhaa Akbar after Dhoom 2. We were all like-minded people creating something we believed without looking over our shoulder.
Did you miss out on time with your husband because you were working?
God bless them for being so supportive. Abhishek and I got engaged in January 2007. That's when the shooting of Jodhaa Akbar gathered momentum. Earlier, there was sporadic shooting in Rajasthan. But Ashutosh and Hrithik were very accommodating. My personal life was never allowed to bear the brunt.
Between January and March 2007, I worked really hard to finish maximum work before marriage. Ma and Pa (Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan) were concerned about my stretched working hours. I'd be rushing from my old home in Bandra to my new home in Juhu and to my shooting in Karjat. I'd be all over the place.
How did you manage it?
I've no idea how I did it. I travelled back every day from Karjat, though the unit had made provisions for me to stay overnight in Karjat. But I had to return to be with my new family. I was fully committed to Jodhaa Akbar during the day. But after packing up, I was committed to my family. There was no way I wouldn't participate in this new and exciting phase in my life.
Did you feel torn between work and marriage?
No question of that. I was very clear about my priorities. Even between shots, I wasn't connecting with Abhishek and my new family. I was preparing for my next scene. So the time spent with the unit between shots was sadly limited. Otherwise, the time spent caught in traffic snarls within Mumbai was so taxing that travelling to Karjat was just too much of an effort.