When he claimed that Prithviraj Chauhan hadn’t received the proper attention in history textbooks, while entire pages were devoted to “foreign invaders,” actor Akshay Kumar stoked the flames of outrage. Before the release of Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s historical epic Samrat Prithviraj, he made these remarks. In a recent interview with Film Companion, the director addressed the remarks made by his star and stated that he was extremely careful to avoid portraying the Mughals as the antagonists in his movie. Dwivedi also gave the impression that he was denying what the actor had said.

It’s a sad thing that we don’t know about our own rulers, Kumar remarked in a Hindi interview with the news organisation ANI. About our kings, there are only a few lines. However, there are several chapters on invaders.

Dwivedi told FC, “When Akshay sir had asked his son about Prithviraj Chauhan he said that he had no clue about who that was. That was the turning point for Akshay, who then began to wonder why we never taught what we may call “Hindu history.” This is what he currently believes; it is neither my view nor that of my producers. People began to believe Samrat Prithviraj was a historical drama after he aired this viewpoint on television. However, he never stated that this was a historical drama. People misunderstood his message.

The ‘number one misunderstanding,’ according to the director, is that his movie is historical; nevertheless, it is actually based on the poem Prithviraj Raso, whose historical veracity has long been contested. The director claimed he finds it difficult to comprehend the notion of people disliking the movie because of the actor’s prior behaviour or because they didn’t connect with him in the part.

He said, “See, it’s not like you don’t have the right to reject an actor, but you know his talents since he’s been working for 30 years. To the best of his ability, Akshay Kumar has performed the character. He is not the first actor whose performance the audience has disliked, but it makes no sense to boycott him for his role as Prithviraj. It also makes no sense to boycott his film because of things he has said or done in the past, like endorsing paan masala or claiming that one shouldn’t give Lord Shiva milk, because these things have absolutely nothing to do with the movie.

The filmmaker maintained in the interview that he was aware of the cultural undercurrent of pointing fingers at foreign invaders, at a time when Mughals are being ‘vilified’. The film finishes with the caveat that “videshi humlawaron’s” rule followed Prithviraj’s. “Yes, I did worry about it when filming the picture. It was unexpected that there was widespread resistance to the movie. Many people questioned why I didn’t portray Ghori’s horrors, why I didn’t show Sanyogita being raped, why I didn’t show cows and brahmins being killed, etc. Where did they read this in Raso is all I have to ask this group of viewers. The poem makes no mention of any of these incidents. There’s a lot of false stuff online,” he declared.

One of the greatest box office duds of the year, Samrat Prithviraj is about to complete its theatrical run with less than Rs 80 crore domestically, despite a reported budget that some have claimed reached up to Rs 300 crore. After Bachchhan Paandey, this was his second misfire of the year. With Raksha Bandhan in August, he will try to get better.