Monday, February 18, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar

Ashutosh Gowariker
, when he decided to make a magnum opus on one of Indian history's significant and finest characters, would have had a tough time to take up the challenging task of bringing out the appropriate fusion of fact and fiction. History is a daunting subject, the moment you decide to merge it with the present, there are people - those who know history and those who have no idea about what happened five hundred years ago, are literally baying for your blood for an unknown reason. There is little wonder that Ashutosh researched on his pet project for more than four years before getting down to the basic aspect of film making. It would have been easy for him to give up and proceed with the same old cliched subject of hero romancing heroine set in contemporary times. But, he stuck on to what he had set out for, getting the right people to do what he wanted, and in the end, he has come out with an outstanding movie of monumental grandeur transcending all possible imagination, with a beautiful blend of past and the present, leaving you with an awestruck feeling - Oh, Ashutosh has pulled it off in style!

I had as much doubt as appreciation for one of India's finest directors, Ashutosh Gowariker, when it came to his epic film. The topic he was dealing with had all the ingredients of a potential disaster. The problem is, he was dealing with authenticity. When you deal with reality, you are answerable to everyone, and it is impossible to please every section of the society. At the start of the movie, Ashutosh makes it absolutely clear that princess Jodhaa is known by different names over the years, but he has interpreted his version of the history which refers to Akbar's wife as Jodhaa, as this name strikes a familiar chord with the widespread audience. According to me, the intentions are very clear. He wants to portray the love that transpired between Akbar and his wife. Period. It is disturbing to see widespread criticism in many states in India from different sections of the society, questioning the existence of Jodhaa, and even going to the extent of getting the movie banned. One has to see the movie to understand that Ashutosh has interpreted the popular version of history.

Coming to the movie itself, Ashutosh has pulled off an absolute winner. After seeing the movie, you have little doubt as to why there is the houseful tag displayed in the theater for as many as five shows in a day in Boston for the fourth consecutive day. There have been many movies in the past, where the directors have flaunted the set with little significance (Saawariya immediately springs to mind. It is a different matter that even the sets of that movie was absolutely terrible), but Jodhaa Akbar had a fast paced storyline to match the brilliant grandeur on screen. Hrithik Roshan, as Jalaluddin Akbar, has grown brilliantly as an actor, and Aishwarya Rai, as princess Jodhaa, has made that transition from a glamor doll to a convincing actor in recent times. If Guru had her in a strong role, here, she can walk with her head held high with a perfect blend of beauty and acting prowess. The chemistry between Akbar and Jodhaa is showed in exhilarating style, and Ashutosh has come up with beautiful sequences that leave an everlasting impression in you. This movie is definitely not a preachy history lesson. The scenes change so rapidly that you are literally waiting in anticipation to know what's going to happen next. That doesn't happen often in a period movie. It is easy to get lost in the vast resource of information, and the director in his eagerness to include each and every minute detail, can lose the plot to nothingness. But, it is very clear that Ashutosh is clear about what he wants. Yes, the movie is about 200 minutes long, and there are a couple of scenes that can be easily reduced in length, but when you watch the movie, you definitely won't be complaining.

Hrithik Roshan has not had a film release in a long time. But, it definitely was worth the wait. His acting prowess has never been so powerfully captured before. No one has any idea of how Akbar looks like, but after seeing Hrithik portray Akbar, you just get that feeling Akbar must certainly have been like this. Akbar is shown to be idealistic and just, but ignoring the cinematic moments, you just cannot help but like the character. As for Aishwarya, she has proved a point, that her acting skill is as strong as her beauty. Her costume design is brilliant. She has never looked so stunning before. Anybody would fall in love with Jodhaa. It is a long time since we have seen an author backed female role in Hindi cinema. After seeing Aishwarya in this role, it is difficult to imagine if anybody else could have pulled it off with as much conviction. She just catches your attention!

If I say the music is enchanting, my friends would say I am biased to AR Rahman. But, I would not be far from the truth to say that. The song Khwaja Mere Khwaja is the song of the album according to me. ARR in his Rediff interview says:
"Ashutosh told me he would use the song in a sequence showing Akbar triumphant," Rahman continued. "He is married to a Rajput princess and he had made an important political alliance. But he also sees a spiritual light as he watches the singers and dancers. It is accompanied with a Rumistic, Sufi kind of dance."
ARR has this amazing way of getting the music to grow on you as you listen to the songs over and over. This album is no different either, as the light hearted romance between Akbar and Jodhaa is matched by a super special background score, leaving you with a nice feeling. The Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah track has a lavish set, with about 1200 people thronging the scene to highlight the frenzy of the festive aura surrounding Akbar.

As the support cast revolving around the main protagonists play an equal part in catching your attention, you are left with an overwhelming feeling of having watched a beautifully crafted movie. Ashutosh Gowariker has gone leaps and bounds from Lagaan to Swades and now with Jodhaa Akbar, he has treaded the dangerous territory of history, without losing sight of what exactly the audience wish to see. He has made sure that the images of Akbar and Jodhaa linger in your minds long after having watched the movie.

(All images have been taken from the official website for information purpose only)


  1. hmmm...the reason i haven't caught this yet is because am dreading the length..(i passed over jodhaa akbar to catch the latest rambo movie btw...:)

  2. Hmmm... I thought the movie was a real drag. Not only the length, but it was totally 'Bollywoodized'. Just because they put a disclaimer at the beginning of the film saying that there are no proper evidences does not mean that they can show Akbar dancing and singing and acting like a cartoon; and just to show off Hrithik's biceps, they wanted that scene with the sword practice, huh.

    And personally, I thought the music was downright bad! No offense GK, but I didn't like it :-)
    But good acting performances though.

  3. Pratap,
    Not sure why you did not like it, but anyways you are left to your opinion :-)

    I never thought that the length was a problem, since the movie was moving at a good pace. As with regard to singing and dancing, it is just a case of Ashutosh using his imagination. Compared to some of the nonsense Hindi movies being released, I thought this was a refreshing change.

    As for the music, initially I thought it was just OK, but then it just grows on you. I am sure, after some time, you'll tell me that the music is phenomenal :-)

  4. hi,
    i came acrosss your review while googleing and it was a pleasant surprise. it was very nice to finally see someone who liked the movie for what it was- a beautiful love story agaainst a historical background

  5. praveen,

    I loved the movie too...and even I have written a post in my blog...:) co-incidence...:)

    Lots of people are cribbing about the length of the movie. Had it been a lengthy hollywood movie, people would have accepted that saying it's a period movie and needs to be like that...I am sure, our Indians are the ones cribbing more than the foreigners who seem to have loved the movie more than the people here...

    We need to be proud of such movies being made in India. Hats off to the movie crew. I simply loved the movie.

  6. Ramya,
    I did read your review, but will post a comment later :-)

    Good to know that you liked it too, but I find it funny, when good cinema is not appreciated sometime. I have never enjoyed a period movie better!!!

  7. i love what was said about Ash..even though i havent seen this movie as yet and i'm dying too, i always knew Ash is the best actress, the way she emotes emotions and delivers with such grace and precision is amazing! she's so much more than her perfect outter beauty...her immense talent is incredible!
    she truly is the Queen and forever will be!