Akbar Khan is all set to travel to Sri Lanka with his mughal epic, Taj Mahal—An Eternal Love Story, next month. The film has been re-edited, is now 30 minutes shorter, closer to two hours with fewer songs.
“The film was supposed to release in Sri Lanka last year but at the nth hour, had to be pushed ahead because of the civil war there. Then, we thought of clubbing it with the IFFA awards that recently concluded in Colombo. But eventually the National Film Corporation in Lanka had second thoughts about pitting two galas against each other. So, now, the movie will be opening there next month with a gala premiere,” informs Khan.
Point out that the South Indian industry is up in arms against Bollywood stars who attended IIFA and are even threatening to ban their films in their bastion for hurting the sentiments of Tamilians, and Khan argues that even though a brother kills his brother in the film, and a father his son, Taj Mahal propagates the message of peace over war. “My film symbolises love. And though it is difficult for me at this moment to gauge political sensitivity, I’m sure my intentions will not be misinterpreted,” he asserts.
Khan is also planning to take the newly cut version to other countries, including Germany and France. He also wants to re-release his film in the US and UK, in the shorter, international version.
“Taj Mahal was also the first Indian film to officially release in Pakistan after almost 40 years. I went there with a delegation headed by Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, and representatives of our Hindi film industry. We were treated like heads of state. Rs 70 lakh from its considerable box-office earnings went to a charitable organisation and Taj Mahal opened the doors to Bollywood cinema across the border,” he reminds, adding that he is now planning to dub it in Arabic and release it in the Gulf.
He grouses over the fact that his dream project did not have a proper release, either in India or the overseas and reiterates that it was “sabotaged” in India by the industry mafia that controls the cinema chains and show timings.
Reason: Apart from Manisha Koirala and Kabir Bedi, it did not have any stars and yet managed to impress. He plans to re-release it back home, at the right time. “That is why I haven’t sold the DVD and satellite rights yet,” Khan reasons.
Actor Khan returns with Faraar
I veered away from acting some time ago to concentrate on direction. But I welcomed the offer to face the camera again and be told what to do, as opposed to ordering actors around myself. I accepted Faraar because I've been wanting to get back to acting and it presented me with a central role.
I play a colourful character who uses brains over brawn to build the suspense and keep you guessing till the end. It was also my way of showing support for a colleague who had worked as an assistant director with me. I'm looking forward to more offers that suit my personality and sensitivity.