Jodha Akbar Review
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Sonu Sood, Punam S. Sinha, Raza Murad, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Suhasini Mulay, Ila Arun, Rajesh Vivek, Pramod Moutho, Surendra Pal, Visswa Badola, Pramatesh Mehta, Shaji Choudhary, Manava Naik, Disha Vakani, Abeer Abrar, Indrajit Sarkar, Aman Dhaliwal, Nikitin Dheer; Director: Ashutosh Gowariker; Music: A. R. Rahman; Rating: ***
Over the last few weeks, television channels have been flooded with debates over the relationship between Jodhaa and Akbar. Was she his wife or his daughter-in-law? The question has seen many answers, arguments and counter arguments. So it isn’t surprising to see a disclaimer even before Ashutosh Gowariker’s epic saga starts.
We are told that while the name of Akbar’s wife remains a topic of debate, historians have agreed that the Emperor did marry a Hindu princess. Further, it acknowledges the existence of other versions of the story, and suggests that this is just one of them. What it does not tell you though that it is about 3 hours and 40 minutes long.
Having said that however it must be mentioned that if you can actually sit through this phenomenally long film, you may actually walk out feeling quite pleased with the effort.
As the title of the film suggests, Ashuthosh’s dream project tells the story of two people who meet circumstantially and end up falling in love. It is just incidental that these two people happen to be the Emperor and the Empress of India. Needless to say that this puts them (and the filmmaker) in a rather curious situation. Because there’s so much happening around them that it becomes difficult for their love to reach fruition. And sure enough it becomes a bit of a problem for Ashu to film their story too.
So just what does one concentrate upon: the dynastical politics in Rajputana or the kitchen politics within Akbar’s household? If Ashu is to be blamed he should be for not being able to strike a balance between these two.
Yes, the narrative flags at various points. Yes, you keep looking at your watch. Yes, you want to tell Ashu to get on with it. Yet you sit through it all. Why? Because Jodhaa Akbar, whether we like to admit it or not, is a story that dreams are made of.
Beyond all the glamour and politics, the marriage between Jodhaa and Akbar was union not so much of two souls but of two cultures. And somehow stories like these have always fascinated us.
Think about it, how many times have we sat up and heard out the tales of colleagues and friends who married outside their religion? It’s the very same thing with Jodhaa Akbar – the story and the film.
The magnitude of the canvas is indeed very breathtaking. However it is this very thing that tends to get overwhelming. There are chances that the dialogues and language of the characters may put you off. But we’d say give it a break. If you can stand the archaic English in Elizabeth or Shakespeare in Love, we don’t see any reason why archaic Urdu and Hindi should be such a problem.
If Jodhaa Akbar belongs to someone it belongs to Hrithik Roshan. Aishwarya Rai looks pretty as a doll, but it’s Hrithik who delivers all the goods. Watch out for that scene where Hrithik gets an epiphany and joins the Sufi dancers in trance.
As for the war sequences, they could have well been done without. Ashu doesn’t get too creative here. But he does a superb job when it comes to bringing out the chemistry between Hrithik and Aishwarya.
The palpable but tentative romance between Jodhaa and Akbar is beautifully complemented by AR Rahman’s music. Khwaja mere Khwaja, remains our favourite song, though the rest are lovely too.
It is the choreography, however that leaves a lot to be desired. Marhaba (Chinni and Rekha Prakash) is a filled with clichéd dance moves and outdated camera angles.
In another song, there is a part where Akbar sings to his beloved and that little voice inside you says, “Hey, they didn’t tell us that in our history books!” But Jodhaa Akbar has never claimed to be entirely truthful to history (in fact no one can probably ever be).
However, it reminds us what critics for the longest time have demanded – the need to free art from the shackles of history.
So even though it tends to be long and sometimes boring like a history lesson, Jodhaa Akbar in its essence is a boy-meets-girl story. And to write off the story entirely just because the guy takes a little too long to woo his sweetheart, would be a little unfair.