Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar - A watchable movie

I will state this right at the beginning, Jodhaa Akbar is a watchable movie. Keep in mind however that the movie started at 5:25 PM and I walked out of the hall at 9:10 PM, so this is a long movie. On the plus side, whenever I start getting bored in a movie, I keep on looking at my watch or fidgeting, and I did not do much of that, so the time did get spent (I can recall some movies that seemed to go on and on). Quite frankly, when I walked into the hall, I was not expecting anything great (maybe even bad), but the movie turned out better that I thought.
Leave aside the story of whether Jodha was married to Akbar or not (more for historians), and forget about learning much of a history lesson from this movie. For all the talk about having been made after much discussion with historians, I did not come away from the movie having learned something new. I did feel that Aishwarya Rai was okay in this movie (she always looks beautiful, but the debate has always been about her acting abilities, and she seemed to have done nicely in this department in the movie). Hrithik seemed a bit young for the role (maybe too much of watching Mughal-e-Azaam where you have developed an image of a wise and old Akbar), and to a lot of people, the concept of Hrithik playing Akbar seems a bit incredulous. I however was easily able to rationalize this, after all Akbar was young once, and must have been impulsive, emotional, and so on, and Hrithik managed to convey these emotions well.
Ashutosh Gowariker had done well in making this movie, and since the movie has been tagged as being about the love story between the young Akbar and the defiant Jodhaa, the love angle has been covered (at 3.5 hours, one feels that it is a bit too long). The movie has some great music, by A R Rehman (and the music feels so different from the type of music that we hear nowadays - the Sufi song Khwaja Mere Khwaja is incredible, and even the ode to the emperor, Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah sounds nice (must have been a lot of hard work to choreograph such a massive song)). Lyrics are by Javed Akhtar, and the movie has plenty of people other than Hrithik and Aishwarya, Sonu Sood, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Suhasini Mulay, Raza Murad, Ila Arun & Punam Sinha. Sonu Sood seems a bit wasted, since they spend some time on him in the beginning, and then he vanishes for most of the movie except for 2 scenes, one in the middle, and one at the end. Raza Murad has a great voice, and used for full effect for the short role that he has. Ila Arun somehow does not impress, given that she does not seem menacing enough.
The movie is a love story through and through, combined with the evolution of an emperor from a young child to a strong-willed yet compassionated ruler. Jalaluddin Mohammed is the child king, protected by Bairam Khan. However, after one a battle, Jalauddin shows his compassionate nature by protecting a defeated king, and also exercises his kingly nature by asserting his independence from Bairam Khan and sending him on the Haj. As part of political intrigue, he is offered the hand of young Jodhaa, a Rajput princess, and he accepts it as a political gambit. She is not in the least bit amused, and sets conditions on the marriage. In addition, she refuses to consumate the relationship till she is in love with him.
And so the romance begins; Jalaludin falls in love with her early on, her beauty, her defiant nature and pride, she takes a bit more time (easily seen when she spies on him when he is bare-chested doing sword practise and almost swoons); they have their misunderstanding at the end of which the proud Shahenshah of Hindustan pleads with her to come back, and she keeps on refusing. However, they keep on falling further in love, and she teaches him a great deal about being compassionate and a great ruler.
As a sideshow, you have court intrigue, some battle scenes (with excellent photography - imagine following a canon ball as it emerges from the canon; but it also seems like the scenes were shot to impress, and do not convey the general direction in which the battle is progressing), and some excellent camera work (I particularly like the scene in which Akbar is shown at the dargah in Ajmer, with a tree behind him). Overall, a movie that you can see, but Mughal-e-Azaam it is not.

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