Ashutosh Gowrikar begins at the begining, to explain to us WHY Jalauddin marries Jodha. Jalal wants to blend in, not forever spend his life as an outsider bent upon conquering and pillaging India. Then, to bring out the romance between Jodha and Akbar, Ashutosh wanted to delay the consummation of wedding, which means he has to come up with valid reasons for the same. So in come the issues Jodha has with the cross-cultural marriage. I have started thus, because a lot of people have accused JA of being rather long and pointless at times.
Maybe in reality the proceedings between Akbar and Jodha were tad less romantic. Akbar was short and stocky and had an unsightly mole on his face. Jodha’s clothes were possibly not this well co-ordinated. I dont know how fastidious the couple was about physical hygiene. I even read somewhere that Jodha converted to Islam, her children were certainly brought up as Muslims.
But then the whole idea of romance is to throw a beautiful veil over reality so that we are left clutching our breast and sighing as a beautiful royal couple inch closer to each other throughout the movie. There was a happy couple seated next to me in the cinema hall and the girl had her head on the shoulder of guy during the consummation scene (Sigh Sigh).
The movie moves at a slow pace, savouring the twists in the plot, lingering over made up history. In the meantime, there is plenty to admire in the movie, the grand landscapes, the elobrate forts, grand rooms, the wonderful clothes, the breathtaking jewellery. My eyes widened at Aishwarya’s beauty showcased in those gorgeous clothes and jewellery. She quite looks the part of a regal princess, and for a change, does not botch up the acting. Thank god, she had no ’Sunehri’ lines here. Hritik makes a handsome king, he carries off the arrogance, the urdu diction , and the topi quite well. The expressions flit across his face. Here is an actor totally comfortable with what he does. He is completely believable as Jalaluddin Mohammed.
I quite liked the supporting cast, Sonu Sood as the unhappy Surajmal. Ila Arun as Mahamanga, Punam Sinha as the Begam, the hunky villian Nikitin Dheer as Sharifuddin (he rocked in the final hand to hand combat).
Now for my take on the story. A very Hindu Jodha finds herself married to Jalaluddin Mohammed and is sure she is going to be miserable. But she finds at the outset, that her mother-in-law is a warm and a loving person. She makes Jodha feel at home. The nasty king is actually a handsome well mannered creature who (surprise surprise) RESPECTS her. But our skittish girl leads the king to a merry dance before he can get into her royal bed. In fact, his riyaya ( sorry urdu hangover - meaning his janta) accepts him before Jodha does. Thanks to his summary dismissal of the hindu pilgrimage tax, they bestow upon him the title of AKBAR which means GREAT. But he has to vanquish some more enemies before he can live happily ever after. For this we get a wow hand to hand combat scene which could have been right out of WWF. After which Akbar shows the meddling clerics who is the boss, and gets to plug for Hindu-muslim ekta. As history shows Akbar really did care for all religions, I will not say Ashutosh was trying to put in a pop message for highlighting this.
Haider Ali (the writer) tries not to use too many esoteric urdu or hindi words, and confound the modern viewer. I liked the music, it was very apt. As the marriage immediately benefits the pilgrims to Ajmer Sharif, it is appropriate that the wedding was serenaded by Khwaja Mere Khwaja. It seems that the people who were put off by the song have not heard of the spinning dervesh and the sufi qwaali during which the devout would often get up and dance. Azeemoshan Shehenshah was a magnificent presentation. Kehne ko jash baharan and Inn Lamhon ke daaman are also well presented and very romantic.
The length of the movie did not bother me, I was totally engrossed. I loved the historical references
(faulty at times), I loved the grand spread and I loved the romance. Maybe the younger generation was a bit put off by these factors, but not me.
Only thing that mystified me was the thanks offered up to Shatrughan Sinha in the credits. Why? For letting his beautiful wife act in the movie?