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Good heavens, Birbal!

“Very true, Aalampanah! But they say moviemakers in Bollywood don’t take up any project without thorough research,” said Birbal hesitatingly, writes Satish K Sharma.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2008 21:09 IST

‘What am I hearing, Birbal? The Rajputs are again up in arms in Hindustan?’ Akbar asked his trusted Navaratna when they met at the evening musical soiree even as maestro Tansen was tuning his instruments. The emperor had continued the tradition even in the heaven. “I have also heard it, Jahanpanah. But I have no details. Your honour knows what a golden cage this place is. The administration here does not permit newspapers, television or mobile phones. Though these are freely available along with pirated DVDs to the denizens of dojakh (hell),” said Birbal with disappointment.

“But you have your sources there. What’s their report?” asked Akbar.

“It’s about a movie, Jahanpanah,” Birbal replied.

“Can you get a movie critic or an ex-censor board member to brief me about it?”

“I’m afraid not, your exalted highness. They’ll go straight to the hell”.

“At least tell me what the subject matter is?”

“It’s about your relationship with one Jodhabai, a Rajput lady, Jahanpanah.”

“Hmm. But I don’t recall any such lady.”

“Very true, Aalampanah! But they say moviemakers in Bollywood don’t take up any project without thorough research,” said Birbal hesitatingly.

“You mean to say I had a queen whom even I don’t remember?” said the Badshah.

“Not at all, your highness! What I mean is that keeping track of your numerous consorts was never your job.”

Akbar nodded appreciatively. “So, what can we do now to assuage the feelings of Rajputs? You know how much I valued them. Should we issue a denial?”

“I’m afraid that would only add the fat to the fire. In any case, to whom would we send the denial?”

“Aren’t there any reporters here?”

“No, Aalampanah. Heaven is a reporter’s hell.”

“Then summon my propaganda minister.”

“I am afraid that’s not possible, your highness.”

“Why?” asked the Badshah.

"Because he is also in the hell, Aalampanah.”

“Lucky fellow!” And that’s all the Badshah said before he fell silent. Meanwhile, the magic of Tansen’s alaap had begun to work upon him and he forgot about the whole blooming affair.