By Rohini Mohan
Jodha Bai, Queen of Hindustan and wife of the greatest of Mughal emperors, Akbar, may not have ever existed, claim some historians. Others claim that she was his daughter in law and not his wife. Ashutosh Gowarikar’s latest blockbuster Jodha-Akbar starts off with this disclaimer – but goes on to convince us that we have indeed been remiss to ignore this great love story which may well have shaped Mughal history.
Elaborate sets, magnificent costumes, rich colors and gorgeous faces. As far as eye candy goes, what you expect is what you get. Everything is on a large scale. The battles are picturized in all their gory glory. Sword fights, cannons and elephants abound. Intrigue and chicanery, power play and grand emotion rule every scene.
Hrithik Roshan does a pretty good job as Akbar. His voice falls a little short. They could have used AB as his voice-over – that would have made it perfect! (Though AB does feature in the movie as the narrator). Ms Rai is her usual flawlessly turned out self. And that’s all that can be said about that. What is lacking in her deadpan face is amply made up by the on-screen chemistry between her and Hrithik. Some of the love scenes are quite beautiful. In fact several moments have been portrayed touchingly and subtly. And the subtlety is all Hrithik. The commanding strength is also all Hrithik. And of course, even as Akbar he finds an excuse to take his shirt off.
What I found particularly interesting is the way the cultural differences between the Hindu Rajputs and the Mughals are brought out. There is humor and witty dialog. The essentially virtuous character traits of Akbar as we know him are also given the correct amount of emphasis.
I do feel though, that what you cannot say in 2 hours, need not be said at all. At 3 hours and 45 minutes, the movie was stretched till it could be stretched no more. Way too many songs, more battles than necessary and a very long dragging love scene will probably be its nemesis. It is certainly not something you would want to watch twice, given its tendency to be slow and tedious in parts.
However, Ashutosh Gowarikar’s talent is in making a point with subtlety. Swades, which was set in a simple ambience was subtle, but so is this movie in spite of all the overwhelming magnificence of the sets and the plot.
This is the story of a Rajput princess who has the gumption to lay down conditions for marriage to the ruler of the country and a king who is both good and sensitive at a time when cruelty was the norm and human rights were not yet in vogue. With all the speculation surrounding it, this may not exactly be a quick lesson in Mughal history for your fifth grader, but it certainly gives one a flavor of the era. From that point of view alone it is worth watching with family in tow.
Kid Advisory: Okay for preteens. Younger kids may be scared by realistic battle scenes with body parts flying and people getting smashed by elephants. Be prepared to be whispering explanations to the young 'uns throughout the movie.. the plot is quite complicated and the names confusing.
Reader review –
Padma Sharma writes: Jodha Akbar is about love after the marriage arranged between Jodha and Akbar by Jodha’s father, the ruler of Amer. This was done as a last resort to save his realm from unnecessary bloodshed. The respect Akbar has for Jodha’s faith and freedom to worship Krishna in Hindu religious style – so opposite to Islamic beliefs – brings out Akbar’ s intrinsic character – this aspect has been well portrayed by Ashutosh Gowarikar; the beginning of communal harmony in those times is worth appreciating.
Aishwarya looks good as always and fits in the role of a" stately" wife . Hrithik carries himself well. He is a pleasant surprise as the King though he could have been better in the assertive parts. Ila Arun is impressive as the king's vizier cum foster mother. The picturisation of the battle scenes and the royal traditions is good, and the battle scenes are not too gory. Couple of songs could well have been avoided. In short, Jodha Akbar is a well made movie.