Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
Name: Jodhaa Akbar
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Did I watch this recently? Yes
Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar is the untold love story of the greatest Mughal emperor who ruled Hindustan (now India), Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, and a fiery young Rajput princess, Jodhaa.
Set in the sixteenth century, this epic romance begins as a marriage of alliance between two cultures and religions, for political gain, with the Hindu King Bharmal of Amer giving his daughter’s hand to a Muslim Emperor, Akbar. When Akbar accepts the marriage proposal, little does he know that in his efforts to strengthen his relations with the Rajput, he would in turn be embarking on a new journey, the journey of true love?
From the battlefield where the young Jalaluddin was crowned, through the conquests that won him the title of Akbar the Great (‘Akbar’ in Arabic means great), to winning the love of the beautiful Jodhaa, Jodhaa Akbar traces the impressive graph of the emperor and his romance with a defiant princess.
Jodhaa Akbar – its finally arrived! Prepare yourself for a very long 3.5 hour grand cinematic experience. It has action, espionage, deception, romance, sensuality, grand sets and costumes to die for. But please keep your historically accurate mind at home. This is a movie which on the outside has historical real life events that happened to Akbar but most of the inner workings of the court and the Jodhaa Akbar relationship has been based largely on the imagination of Ashutosh Gowariker. Although i must admit, i like where his imagination takes him!
I remember first hearing about the Hrithik Roshan & Aishwarya Rai movie all the way back in July 2006 and was at first unsure about how successful the pairing was (Dhoom 2 would cure that) and whether the Bollywood audience would find a historical long and boring.
So after greatly peaking my interest it was a very long wait till October 12 2007 when the film was to be released. As we all know now the trailer, music release, promotions and eventually the movie was delayed by another 3 months to January and then later February. So by all the delays my mind has resolved itself to thinking the film musn’t be very good and its doomed at the box office. So going into the film I must say that my expectations were quite lowered.
But I was very, very wrong!
At 3.5 hours a director has to be very sure that the film can sustain the audience’s interest for that long otherwise they will come out hating it. But luckily for me Ashutosh largely fulfills this requirement. The fight scenes, the romance, the espionage was all very interesting to me. There are enough plot lines and characters for it to endure for 3.5 hours without repeating itself. Although I can’t guarantee everyone will find the movie of interest, if you don’t mind sitting down for 3.5 hours the story should keep you there long and interest enough for you not to regret watching it. Or even better the story should have you enthralled for the 3.5 hours and keep you highly engaged for the large portion of it.
So what kept me interested and what do I think he should have cut?
- You forget the actors and believe the characters – you forget that its Hrithik Roshan playing Akbar and Aishwarya Rai playing Jodhaa. Their performances are so convincing you easy forget its them and can easily believe they are in fact Akbar & Jodhaa. This especially applies to Hrithik as Akbar who gives a commanding and balanced performance for Akbar.
- The development of the romance – I love how Ashutosh has set up and developed the romance of Jodhaa and Akbar from marriage to love. The definite strength of the film for me was the romance. It was endearing and the chemistry was definetely there.
- The amazing chemistry of Aishwarya & Hrithik
- Cinematography/Visuals – whether it was the grand sets or the grand battle scenes, i guess there is no other word to describe the cinematography other then grand and breathtaking. I encourage if you can to see this movie in the cinema for at least the visuals.
- Sets – they look like they were real, straight from the Mughal ages. Colourful, fine delicate detailing, extremely large – exactly why everyone loves Mughal architecture and unbelievable to think someone created them recently.
- Costumes – Everyone knows that a historical nearly always has to have costumes as a strength of the film, luckily Gowariker does not disappoint! I almost wished i was a Mughal Princess just so i could wear Jodhaa’s costumes and jewellery.
- Some favourite scnees – Hrithik doing a sword skills workout with Aishwarya watching near by, the fight scene at the beginning, the sword fight between Hrithik & Aishwarya, Azeem-O-Shahenshah song scene & In Lamhon Ke Daman Mein song scene. Plus some others but they are far too spoilery to give them away.
- Clear characterisation of who Akbar is, what he stands for and how he thinks. Same thing goes for Jodhaa. Only issue is whether he has over simplified the characters and of course the question over the accuracy of his characterisation.
- Editing & Lack of clear direction with the intended theme– the inner workings of the court and all the characters trying to take down Akbar becomes confusing and long. I think the lack of a clear theme meant that Gowariker attempted many different themes in the movie and as a result didn’t know what was relevant to what he was trying to say and what could be cut. He should have stuck to the court intrigues and betrayals that related back to Akbar’s alliance with the hindu rajputs or religious differences. It was confusing because is it an analysis of his rule? His relationship with his wife? A cross-religious look? But if it was just Hindu Vs Mughal Muslim alliance then quite a few of those intrigue and deception scenes could have easily gotten the chop. By looking at Gowariker’s last films (Lagaan & Swades) it is evident that editing is his continuing weakness. Lagaan, although long, at least had a tight script to support the length – Jodhaa Akbar does not.
- Historical inaccuracy – the most prevalant being there is no mention of any other wife. Plus any scenes involving Jodhaa and Akbar talking has all been made up, there is no way any historical book has recorded what a husband and wife did and said 500 years ago.
- At times there are cringeworthy over the top dramatic sound effects. They are just a bit too loud and bad soapie type sounding for my liking.
- Scripting is weak in sections of the film – this of course luckily is not seen that much on first viewing. However with later reflection and more watches the weakness of the script becomes more clear.
- Somewhat flat ending
There is also a controversy going on in India at the moment about who Jodhaa Bai was and what her real name was. So to all those people I say who cares! Its a movie. Ashutosh when making the film took the name and story of the Princess that the common man knows about. No one said a thing about Mughal-E-Azam and Jodhaa’s status and name in that. He is not writing an encyclopedia, he is making a movie. So to all the controversy over the name and status i say there are more important things to campaign and protest about in India then that. They should divert their energies elsewhere!
Overall Score: 4/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall its strength lies in its actors, chemistry of Hrithik & Aishwarya, visuals and fight scenes. However Ashutosh’s vision suffers from poor editing which i attribute to his lack of focused themes and troubled scripting. Go see it because its a good film, but after a while the movie can leave you feeling on later reflection somewhat unhappy with the editing, script and maybe some other issues. But when that happens, just flick back to the scenes with Hrithik and Aishwarya that you loved and you will soon hopefully forget its problems! Plus a Bollywood historical doesn’t come around all that often, so make this one special while its still in the cinema.