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Jodhaa Akbar: A review
Mughal-E-Azam is the most illustrious film on Mughals. Would Jodhaa-Akbar be able to displace its memory? Not quite, the movie has a basic fault – the absence of a strong antagonist.
MUGHAL-E-AZAM is the most illustrious film on the Mughals. Would Jodhaa-Akbar displace the memories of M-e-A? Not quite, because of one basic fault, absence of a strong antagonist. For M-e-A’s antagonist, Akbar, is the protagonist here.
Before writing further, it is very important to know the history of Islam in India, misconstrued as having been introduced by the Mughals. India or rather Hindostaan, at one time, stretched from present day Afghanistan to a little beyond present day Bangladesh.
The first Islamic invasion happened in 664 AD, when Al Muhallab ibn Abi Suffrah attacked the borders of Afghanistan and penetrated till Multan. However, it was not until 710 AD, when Muhammad bin Qasim captured Gandhar and Sindh that Islam spread in India through conversions. Various Hindu rulers ruled Delhi till Mohammed Ghori defeated Prithviraj Chauhan in 1191AD, thus laying the formation of Delhi sultanate. In 1526 AD, Babur (ousted from Samarkand, his capital – in present day Uzbekistan) laid the foundation of Mughal Dynasty.
The film starts with 13-year-old Akbars’ forces defeating Hemu’s (last Hindu King of Agra and Delhi) forces in the battle of Panipat in 1556. Thereby Akbar’s only ambition is to get Hindostaan under one unified rule. However, his greatest opponents are not only the Rajputs, but also his own relatives (brother-in-law Shariffuddin and bosom-brother Adham Khan)
As luck would have it, he sees the opportunity to win the allegiance of the Rajputs, when King Bharmal of Aamer offers him the hand of his daughter, Princess Jodhaa Bai for marriage. However, post-marriage, Akbar finds that he will have to win the love of Jodhaa Bai to consummate marriage.
How, he goes about winning her love forms the narrative. The entire focus of the film is so far untold story of Jodhaa Bai and Akbar. Like any historical, Jodhaa Akbar too has its share of controversy. Firstly, the identity of Jodhaa Bai herself, who many historians say, never married Akbar.
Secondly, whether the marriage proposal was offered by the King of Aamer or Akbar himself (the film shows King of Aamer proposing it). However, other widely believed historical attributes are maintained:
  • The almost-annihilation of Akbar’s army by mighty Hemu, only the destiny willed otherwise; Hemu gets hit in the eye and his army deserts him. Thus paving way for Mughal rule
  • Akbar stopping his trusted aide, Bairam Khan, from beheading Hindu kings.
  • Akbar’s religious tolerance
However, there is no mention of the ban on marriage for Mughal princesses, which Akbar introduced, probably owing to the betrayal by his brother-in-law, Shariffuddin, in order to reduce the contenders to the Mughal throne for future generations. The mention was justified since Shariffuddin is the antagonist in the movie.
The film is visually opulent. The jewellery design deserves special mention. It sent the female audiences discussing the fine work. The camera-work by Kiran Deohans is good. The war scenes are well executed.
It is very difficult to erase the memory of Prithviraj Kapoor as Akbar and Durga Khote as Jodhaa Bai. However, Hrithik and Aishwarya have both successfully managed to paint a fresh picture of Akbar and Jodhaa.
The cast is apt and Nikiten Dheer makes an impressive debut as Shariffuddin. Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam has the charm and the looks to pass off as Hameeda Banu, Akbar’s mother. Ila Arun as Maham Anga is good. Radio jockey Yuri who plays Bairam Khan impresses with his act.
One song deserves mention for its choreography and picturisation, “Azeem-o-shaan Shahenshah.” The film will appeal to the classes and the connoisseur of cinema. However those brought up on the recent flux of comedies are bound to be disappointed.
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