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Controversies hound Ashutosh Gowariker's 'Jodha-Akbar'

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
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Ashutosh GowarikerAshutosh Gowariker's "Jodha-Akbar" is surrounded with controversies for apparently wrongly portraying queen Jodhabai in his film and mistreating animals on the sets.

Gowariker was sent a notice following a petition by the Rajput community urging him to desist from wrongly portraying Jodhabai in his historical love story. On Dec 6 he had to go to a court in Rajasthan to defend himself against the charge of distorting historical facts.

"The next hearing is on Dec 20. The matter is sub-judice. But I'll say this much. I've no intentions of distorting history. I've researched for four years, been in touch with some of the most eminent historians and the Maharaja and Maharani of Jaipur. I will never depict any community of the country, in this case the Rajputs, in an adverse light," Gowariker told IANS.

"As for the controversies about Jodhabhai's identity, I can't comment on the various opinions about what I'm doing."

Gowariker couldn't attend shooting Dec 6 but his action director Ravi Dewan continued shooting a battle scene. But the director of films like "Lagaan" and "Swades" sounds cheerful in spite of his first ever visit to the courts.

"I'm learning the hard way that when you're making a film about people who existed, there are bound to be voices of dissent. The Chief Minister (Vasundhara Raje Scindia) did drop by the other day. That was a big morale booster."

Meanwhile, another group, the People For Animal (PFA) has filed a police complaint alleging that animals were being treated badly in the film and urging the Rajasthan chief minister to probe the matter.

"My take on this matter remains unchanged: 69 elephants, 50 camels and 100 horses will be used to shoot battle sequences. That's specified in my letter. I'm taking all the precautions. There are two ve, ts on the sets. Every four hours the animals get rest. Their holding areas are sufficiently large and roomy. There's no cruelty to the animals involved."

Gowariker says that he is aware that today awareness about animal rights is much higher than in the days when "Haathi Mere Saathi" was made.

"Dharmendra fought lions with bare hands. Thank god animals aren't treated that way any more. I'm going completely by the law."


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