Review: Jodhaa Akbar
I went to watch Jodhaa Akbar on Friday night with my parents – completely impromptu. It was the first time in months I actually watched an Indian movie for more than 10 seconds, and probably the first time in a year that I watched it in a theatre, my last one being Water. [Of course, Water is in a completely different class from this, being an independent film by Deepa Mehta, the director of Fire, the famous Indian lesbian film.] Usually I can’t stand most Indian movies – a subject which I’ll expound on another day.
Jodhaa Akbar is a historical drama, about the rule of Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, generally hailed as the greatest emperor of the Mughal dynasty [the Muslim Mughals invaded and ruled a substantial part of North India centuries ago]. Akbar is played by the handsome hunky oh-so-hot Hrithik Roshan, and Jodhaa by drop-dead gorgeous world-reknowned-beauty Aishwarya Rai – my very bisexual admission is that I wouldn’t know who to sleep with, if given a choice. Of course you know the star factor is the major selling point of this otherwise-pedestrian film.
Akbar, in his rise to power, married a Hindu Rajput princess as part of a political alliance. Of course, this doesn’t go well with either side, especially not the devoutly Hindu bride, who insists on keeping her traditions and religion, and not being forced to convert. Majority of the movie is taken up by the subsequently blooming romance between them [ironically, AFTER they are married], and the political intrigue by the people plotting his downfall. When they finally consummated the relationship, it was in typical Bollywood fashion with longing looks, chaste kisses and generally-unrealistic-but-have-to-cater-to-a-family-audience kinda way. I had much rather it fade to black than watch chaste sex scenes.
The movie is so incredibly draggy I felt like I was in a time-warp of some sorts. They would spend 10 seconds on each expression, and take 5 minutes to say what could be said in 20 seconds. In true Bollywood style, the sets are opulent and elaborate, and I am pretty sure the cost of each outfit that Aishwarya wears could feed a family of four for a month. Me and my sister couldn’t stop cracking up at even the most serious of moments, because the film took itself waaaaay too seriously, and I couldn’t help making my snide comments. I seriously wish I could do a commentary through screencaps of the movie, because there was so much to make fun of. [Like, holy crap, was she wearing a mirror for a ring?]
Okay, I like the way they handled the inter-religious issue in the movie. It was inspiring, to say the least, because the message was about tolerance and acceptance, and for people in inter-religious relationships [which is tough, I know] that you need to respect the other person’s beliefs. And yes, the movie is fairly accurate in saying that Akbar was one of the most tolerant emperors, and allowed his subjects to worship whoever they wanted, and did things like abolishing the Pilgrim tax for non-Muslims.
That said, I would have more respect for the historical accuracy of the film if they admitted Jodhaa was only Akbar’s second wife, and he possibly had many more, and tried not to construct this contrived romance between them. Emperors don’t have time to fall in love with one of their wives, they are more busy conquering and ruling.
If anyone is interested, it is showing in Shaw Towers now. Don’t worry, there are subtitles – even I needed them, because the Hindi used in the film is very formal, very archaic and damn near impossible to understand.
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