Thursday, February 14, 2008

JodhaAkbar :A complete review

This Friday the wheel of time will be turned as we revisit, through Ashuthosh Gowariker’s Jodha Akbar, one of the most eventful and fascinating pre-independence eras of our country: the splendor of Rajasthan and the opulence and grandeur of the Mughals. The film will also celebrate a very unique marriage that was at first just a political truce and later, an epic romance. With this epic film, Ashuthosh Gowariker gets ready to unveil his yet most ambitious project to date. It is not often that filmmakers find history to be a very favorable premise to construct a story that is commercially viable, especially characters that are very well known, popular, respected and even revered. Any interpretation, however sincere or genuine, will be questioned at some stage. So, first let us applaud the tenacious Mr. Gowariker and UTV for going ahead with a subject that was not without its risks. Let’s also save some applause for Friday, because going by the director’s track record and the amount of time and work that have gone into this project, it will be worth it.

The makers have said that Jodha Akbar is an epic romance, the tale of a young Mughal king’s unexpected journey towards the discovery of true love. If the movie is indeed a love story then it surely takes the credit for having the largest ever canvas on which a romance has been painted. And along with this, the rise of a young Akbar becoming the greatest Mughal emperor to have ruled our land has also been charted. All of us know a thing or two about Akbar, such as his great conquests that earned him the title Shahenshah (king of kings), his multifaceted persona, taste for art and Din-e-Ilahi, and his idea of secularism that still finds admirers. He remains one of the few, maybe the only Mughal king to be remembered both as a fierce conqueror and a just emperor.

So what is Jodha Akbar going to tell us about this great emperor and his life? Surely, everything that happened in his life will be too much even for Ashuthosh’s three hour plus style of film making. So, we have until Friday to go about guessing. History tells us that Akbar, when a young conqueror, chose to befriend rather than oppose the Rajputs, known for their valiance. And it was out of this alliance that the marriage of Jodha and Akbar materialized. This is where some historians are up in arms against the authenticity of the facts being presented. History is less fact and more speculation, and it is more the rule than the exception that every story of the past has a conflicting version. Here, we are told that Akbar and Jodha never married; but in actual fact, Akbar was Jodha’s father-in-law. History also says that Akbar had three sons, though we tend to forget two of them. The one we remember is Jahangir or Salim (as he was named by his parents). We are not too sure about what historians have to say about this, but that great Hindi classic, Mughal-e-Azam (which you have surely heard of) revolves around the love story of Salim and Anarkali, a court dancer. Of course, it is widely believed that Anarkali is a case of creative liberty skewering historical perspectives.

Who was Jodha? There are people who say that she was the wife of Jehangir and there are people who believe that she was the wife of Akbar and there are also people who believe that such a person never existed. The consensus here seems to be something like this: Akbar did not want to fight the reputed and valiant Rajputs, seeing that a political truce -fortified by matrimonial alliance- is the most peaceful way to unify two empires, he proposed marriage with a Rajput princess and won her hand. Jahangir who also married a Rajput princess kept this tradition alive. It was this princess who gave birth to Shah Jahan. The only real issue here is the name Jodha which some people think is more likely to have been associated with Jahangir than Akbar. But what’s in a name? When one of the finest and most daring directors in India comes up with a movie after painstaking research, we have but one thing to do: sit back and enjoy. There’s also Rahman’s music and the star power of Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya (for the first time as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) to look forward to. And what better day for an epic romance to open than Valentine’s weekend? The one thing that is hard to guess here is just how many of Akbar’s famous contemporaries will Ashuthosh actually show on screen. Will we have Birbal, Tansen and the other Navaratnas? We’ll know all this and more on Feb. 15th.

No comments: