Timeout - Jodhaa Akbar - A symbolic romance
Story : Haidar Ali Screenplay : Ashotosh Gowarikar and Haidar Ali
Music : A R Rahman Lyrics : Javed Akhtar
Cast : Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Bachchan
Sonu Sood, Punam S. Sinha, Raza Murad, Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Suhasini Mulay, Ila Arun, Rajesh Vivek, Pramod Moutho, Surendra Pal
The strength of any film, particularly one based on history, is in the characterization of the key protagonists. In this, Jodhaa Akbar certainly does not disappoint.
The first shot in which we see Jodhaa is a sword fight; a classic scene this remains etched in memory for the superb direction, grace and of course, the beauty of the princess. A beauty that is stark yet striking, powerful yet graceful, clear yet mysterious.
Akbar is introduced much earlier in the film as a young boy, forced to take charge of a vast empire even before he attains manhood. His struggle to adhere to his values while being true to his role as the ruler unfolds then, and continues right through the saga, with the director weaving in many key episodes, his character unveiling, layer by layer, stage by stage.
The same is done with Jodhaa and of course, with their love.
For instance, “Khwaja mere khwaja,” a soulful melody; in which the Emperor watches the dervishes intently for a while before slowly leaving the throne and joining them as they whirl, and gradually entering a trance, is an understated yet powerful statement of the distinct spiritual side of his persona. Similarly, the scene of the Emperor with the mad elephant, the one of Jodhaa of her putting forth the conditions of marriage, of her carving Akbar’s name in Urdu, of her personally cooking and serving a Rajput meal for him, are all well executed and well timed.
“I realized that I have to win over hearts, not battles to truly be a ruler of Hindustan,” Akbar says, accepting this realization as a key milestone in his journey. The story of Jodhaa and Akbar is metaphorical of Akbar’s struggle to become a true leader of the people. Jodhaa is given to him in marriage, but this is not love, only a strategic alliance. Though he is her husband, their relationship is not complete. It is only when he wins her love that this union is truly fulfilled. Similarly, it is only when he begins to empathise with all his subjects that he really emerges as a ‘Shehenshah’.
The casting of the main protagonists in the film is a masterstroke. Aishwarya Bachchan as Jodhaa comes across as a beautiful and fiery woman, Hrithik Roshan as Akbar is graceful, dignified and yes, truly royal. The settings, camera, lyrics and music effectively capture the essence of the era.
The film is a bit long but that can be accepted as the subject it seeks to cover is a vast canvas. The real failing of the film is in not etching out the other characters in the film, barring a few, as finely as the main characters, because of which the entire tale does not hold together as well as it should have.
Is Jodhaa Akbar a historical epic, romance or a magnum opus ? It doesn’t matter. It is the rendering of a unique love story set in a period of time that is worth recalling, for its relevance and powerful insights.
Watch it for seeing an important part of India’s past; Watch it to see how a man is truly powerful only when he can wear his power lightly. Watch it to see how the beauty of a woman lies in the strength of her conviction. Most of all, watch it to see how their love blossoms with acceptance, empathy, and the willingness to go that extra mile for the other.
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