Monday, February 25, 2008
'jodhaa akbar'-picture perfect
the magnum opus has been made at a cost of about rs 50 crores.but from day one it has been mired in controversies.was jodhaabai really akbar's wife? the proud rajputs say no.they feel history has been distorted.according to them, akbar's son salim was married to the fiery jodhaa, daughter of king udai singh of marwar and not king bharmal of amer now known as jaipur.other rajputs believe that maharaja bharmal of amer was surrounded by the mughal army and under tremendous pressure and to prevent unnecessary bloodshed,he gave one of his daughters to akbar as part of a matrimonial alliance.but jodhaaabai was not the daughter of the queen. she was not the actual princess but the daughter of one of the king's concubines. the pride and self-respect of the rajputs,they say,has been hurt by distortion of history.
the screening of the movie has been banned in rajasthan,chattisgarh and in some other places as well.director ashutosh gowarikar is confused and hurt. after all he did painstaking research for many years before the story was finalised.he claims that he also checked with a royal family of rajasthan regarding akbar and jodhaabai. in addition to the marriage being a politically convenient one, love is supposed to have blossomed between the mughal emperor and the rajput princess. or is it allowing the imagination to fly fanciful heights? the truth is vague and therefore open to interpretations. in any case isn't it quite common in india that marriages take place first and then love blossoms? he doesn't swear that everything he has shown is recorded history.he has taken liberties with the plot but then wouldn't the movie become too staid without such deviations? we must take the movie at its face value and enjoy every bit of it. thanks to gowarikar's brilliance, the production is a masterpiece. ably supported by javed akhtar's lyrics, a.r.rahman's scintillating music,superb acting by hrithik roshan and aishwarya who enjoy a wonderful chemistry and outstanding cinematography by kiran deohan,nitin desai's beautiful sets. "jodhaa akbar" is nothing short of picture perfect.
compliments have been pouring in from everywhere and from some unexpected quarters too.hrithik said that he would treasure amitabh bachchan's reaction to his performance. in the quawali/sufi song 'khwaja mere khwaja',hrithik does a trance dance. ab remarked that not since stanley kubrick's legendary 'sci-fi 2001: a space odyssey' has there been such an apocalyptic moment on film.it was a moment of spiritual ecstacy in which hrithik got fully immersed.that was the moment when akbar connected with divinity.one hand pointing towards heaven and the other to the ground.he was transferring the gift from god to people down below.he acted as the medium of divine communication.what a marvellous performance!
an offshoot of ja has been the comeback of enamel jewellery what with aishwarya sporting these exquisite ornaments with a dash of colour.'tanishq',the official designer of the movie,has launched a 'pret' line called jodha akbar collection. it is a fusion of excellent craftsmanship of the mughals and rajputs with contemporary style.
jodhaa comes out as a very strong character. a feminist figure very zealously guarding her rights. when told about her father's decision she asks him whether the mughal king is capable of understanding the significance of 'sindoor'. she chides him; but she cannot let her father down. she relents; but with two conditions. which she conveys to akbar in privacy.one that she will follow her religion to which there shall be no interferencce and the other that she will not touch him unless he has won her over truly. akbar agrees and announces the conditions in public. also later when akbar suspects her integrity thanks to the machinations of maham anga his foster-mother, she goes back to her parents and refuses to return.when the truth is revealed,akbar is apologetic and begs her pardon.
the scene where jodhha serves akbar a rajasthani meal made for the mughal emperor sans all the meat dishes of the rajput royalty and savoured with dalbhatti churma,gatte-ke-saag,ker-sangri and many more mouthwatering items that she serves was delightful to watch. and to prepare all these items, jodhha takes charge of the bawarchikhana or bakawal as it is called.she meets the mir bakawal,the superchef,and gives him instructions. all the utensils get thoroughly washed and jodhaa and her retinue take over.when akbar's foster-mother maham anga insists that mir bakawal must taste the food first before it is offered to the emperor and that is the rule and practice and that it cannot be changed, jodhaa rettorts that it was a wife's priviledge to prepare food for her husband. then again maham anga instructs the court to say bismillah(in the name of god) and eat.this was the formula to be followed for muslims for eating food prepared by hindus.historians have recorded that akbar gradually converted himself into a vegetarian. we can surmise that jodhabai's exquisite cooking must have transformed his eating habits.
the three hours and twenty minutes duration of the movie, some would say was a tad too long.gowrikar could have done some tight editing.but the picturisation of the taming of the elephant by akbar,akbar's diligent practice of sword fighting,the sword fighting by jodhaa and akbar,the sufi song 'khwaja mer khwaja' sung in a modest masjid and the final confrontation scene on the battleground of akbar with his brother-in- law the deceitful and rebellious mirza sharifuddin hussain(nikitin dheer) who is vanquished but whose life is spared because of akbar's love for his sister is beautifully portrayed.
to sum up ja is an epic romance movie which has everything that is required. with captivating performances,soul-stirring music and brilliant cinematography what is wrong if the imagination is allowed to fly a bit. even if the love story has no historical basis,we have to appreciate the power of the cinema to make the past relevant to the present.ashutosh gowarikar deserves full kudos for adding some mirchi and masala and for creating a truly pleasurable experience for the audience.