(2008) Jodhaa Akbar Reviews
Bollywood Hungama Review
Let’s get one thing straight: You haven’t watched anything so opulent, so magnificent like this in a long, long time on the Hindi screen. It’s not just body beautiful, but there’s soul as well.
It requires courage, prowess, patience, aptitude, knowledge, passion and of course, loads of currency to attempt a movie like JODHA AKBAR. But more than anything else, it requires your firm belief in the subject, the belief to attempt a historical when historicals are considered an absolute no-no in the industry, the belief to spend almost Rs. 40 crores in a film that could go either ways.
Write your own movie review of Jodhaa Akbar
Only when you’re convinced yourself can you convince millions of moviegoers. And convinced you are after watching JODHA AKBAR, a film of epic proportions.
Now let’s clear a few misconceptions pertaining to the film…
It’s blasphemous to compare MUGHAL-E-AZAM and JODHAA AKBAR. While MUGHAL-E-AZAM was primarily about the legendary romance between Salim and Anarkali, a subject that has been attempted quite a few times on the Hindi screen before, JODHA AKBAR is about the relationship that the young Akbar shared with Jodhaa.
A lot has been said and written about its length [3.20 hours]. Does the viewer of today have the patience to watch a really lengthy film in today’s times? But once into JODHA AKBAR, the sequence of events, the drama, the romance, the war… every aspect keeps you mesmerized. Oh yes, the length does pinch you at one crucial point [second hour, which is relatively shorter], when a song breaks out. Otherwise, the 3 + hours are very well spent.
When you watch historicals like MUGHAL-E-AZAM and RAZIA SULTAN, the usage of chaste Urdu is difficult to comprehend at times. Not here! The language is simplified – Akbar speaks in Urdu, Jodhaa in Hindi – and it’s easy to decipher.
As a cinematic experience, it would be wrong to compare JODHA AKBAR to any of Ashutosh Gowariker’s previous endeavors. Why, it would be erroneous to compare the film with any film ever made before in this genre. This one stands out and stands out the tallest.
To sum up, JODHA AKBAR leaves you spellbound, enthralled, entranced and awestruck. Ashutosh Gowariker makes the legendary characters come alive on screen. Take a bow, Ashu!
Set in the sixteenth century, JODHAA AKBAR is a love story about a marriage of alliance that gave birth to true love between a great Mughal emperor, Akbar, and a Rajput princess, Jodhaa. Little did Akbar [Hrithik Roshan] know that when he married Jodhaa [Aishwarya Rai Bachchan], he would be embarking upon a new journey — the journey of true love.
The daughter of King Bharmal of Amer [Kulbhushan Kharbanda], Jodhaa resented being reduced to a mere political pawn in this marriage of alliance, and Akbar’s biggest challenge now did not merely lie in winning battles, but in winning the love of this defiant princess.
One of the prime reasons why JODHA AKBAR works is because the present-day viewer is unaware of the romance between Akbar and Jodhaa. Sure, we all know of Akbar as a great emperor, but the love story makes for a refreshing subject. And the execution of a number of sequences makes JODHA AKBAR extremely special.
* The war sequence at the very outset. You realize the scale and magnitude of the film at the very beginning.
* Hrithik taming an out-of-control elephant. It’s hair-raising.
* The two pre-conditions set by Jodhaa, before her marriage to Akbar. Very interesting.
* The confrontation between Ila Arun and Ash at the kitchen, when Ash decides to make the meal herself.
* The immediate sequence, when Ash is asked to taste the food herself by Ila before she’s about to serve the food to the Emperor and his associates. Once done, Hrithik demanding that he be served the meal from the same platter that Jodhaa had used.
* The intermission point, which sows the seeds of a misunderstanding between Hrithik and Ash.
* Post-interval, Hrithik returning to Amer to get Ash back to Agra and the welcome ceremony by his mother-in-law [Suhasini Mulay].
* The sword fight the very next morning, between Hrithik and Ash.
* The ‘Azeem-o-Shaan Shahenshah’ track, when the entire kingdom hails Hrithik.
* The fight in the climax [reminds you of the fight between Brad Pitt and Eric Bana in TROY].
Amazing moments indeed…
Ashutosh Gowariker knows that historicals have to be simplified while narrating on celluloid so that the moviegoer is able to grasp and comprehend the plotline and the sequence of events. Thankfully, JODHA AKBAR is not in the least difficult to decipher. Gowariker’s handling of the subject deserves the highest praise, for it’s not everyday that you come across a film like JODHA AKBAR.
A.R. Rahman’s music is not the type that you take to instantly, but yes, it gels beautifully with the mood of the film. ‘Azeem-o-Shaan Shahenshah’ and ‘Jashn-e-Bahara’ are the best tracks in terms of tune. In terms of choreography, ‘Azeem-o-Shaan Shahenshah’ is awe-inspiring, while the execution of ‘Khwaja Mere Khwaja’ is outstanding. Rahman’s background score is simply extra-ordinary.
There’s no room for dullness in Haider Ali and Gowariker’s screenplay. The writing is tight, the drama keeps you hooked and the romantic track is wonderful. The film also talks of secularism, an issue so vital in today’s times. K.P. Saxena’s dialogues are amazing. At places, soaked in acid. The writer comes up with several gems, yet again. Kiran Deohans’ cinematography matches international standards. The movement of camera at various places, especially in the battlefield, is breath-taking. Also, the D.O.P. captures the grandeur to the fullest. The production design [Nitin Chandrakant Desai] is, again, awesome. Recreating the bygone era requires not just money, but also the vision and Desai proves his supremacy yet again.
Be it the war sequences or the sword fights or general action, Ravi Dewan’s contribution to the film is incredible. Especially noteworthy is the fight between Hrithik and Nikitin Dheer in the climax. It’s simply outstanding! Editing [Ballu Saluja] is perfect, although the romantic song between Hrithik and Ash can be shortened in the second hour. The costumes [Neeta Lulla] as also the jewelry also deserve special mention.
JODHAA AKBAR also works because of the right casting. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else in the role of Emperor Akbar. Hrithik seems born to play this role and he enacts it with such precision, such flourish, such confidence that it leaves you asking for more. A mind-boggling performance without doubt!
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is superb. Oh yes, she looks ethereal — a compliment she has heard a trillion times before. What’s new in that? But watch her emote in this film. You realize the amazing talent that has hitherto not been tapped by any movie maker. A flawless performance indeed!
JODHAA AKBAR has a host of characters, but the ones whom you carry home, besides Hrithik and Ash, are Sonu Sood [excellent], Nikitin Dheer [fantastic], Ila Arun [electrifying; her finest work so far], Punam S. Sinha [graceful], Kulbhushan Kharbanda [perfect], Raza Murad [effective] and Rajesh Vivek [good]. Amitabh Bachchan’s rich barritone voice adds lustre to the magnum opus.
On the whole, JODHAA AKBAR is, without a shred of doubt, a brilliant film in all respects. This historical has all it takes to prove the first blockbuster of 2008. Very strongly recommended!
Passion for Cinema Review
It’s been a long time since I have walked out of the cinema hall with a feeling of equanimity and the asseveration of having just witnessed a film that will go down in history as a classic. The last time I was overcome by such a feeling was with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s poetic Saawariya, a film that many people rejected for its folklore style.
Jodhaa Akbar rekindled my faith in why Hindi cinema is the greatest entertainer in the glimmering world of movie lights, for it could only be the Hindi film industry that could conceive such a monopolizing oeuvre.
Set in the 16th century, Jodha Akbar is a sumptuous saga of romance which blossoms under the schismatic setting of political astriction during the Mughal era.
Rajput King Bharmal of Amer (Khulbhushan Khabarnda) arranges a marriage of alliance between his daughter Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai) and the Mughal Emperor Jalaudin Akbar (Hrithik Roshan) thus sewing the seed of tranquility between both communities.
However, Akbar is unaware that Jodha resents the consanguinity in which she has been used as seal against the polemics of politics, presenting him with a battle far greater than those he has enacted on the warfield…to conquer the love of his queen.
Armed with his heart as his weapon, Akbar’s language of love is as confident as each swing of his sword and by the time he has managed to encapsulate Jodhaa, the soil of the Mughal dynasty is marred yet again with the threat of annexation in which Akbar’s love for his kingdom becomes parallel to the love of his Jodhaa.
Asutosh Gowariker has to be congratulated for making a film with such conviction and executing his story on such a grand platform. Whilst the general consensus of many is that historical films dabble more in the complexities of the past through stolid like factual presentation, Gowariker is able to use his finesse of mixing drama with authenticity – the result being an exhilarating lesson in history which also carries a strong heart. The nail biting battle scenes have all been captured with sharp camera movements, transporting the viewer to the battlefield, the tense palaver between Ila Arun and Aishwarya demanded pin drop silence from everyone in the cinema hall…exemplary of the maestro director’s ability to capture the audience and throw them into a bygone era.
Hrithik Roshan as the Great Emperor Akbar is awe-inspiring. His performance is of dizzying heights, meticulously delivered without any room for criticism. Roshan epitomizes perfection, both physically and creatively resulting in the finest screen presence to be witnessed since Amitabh Bachchan. His Akbar is powerful and unflinching yet in a split second can transform to a smirking lover of loyalty towards his queen presenting a humane depiction of a figure who was obviously more than just a temerarious ruler. Roshan proves yet again just why he is the finest male lead to grace the screen since the millennium.
Aishwarya Rai is always at her best when she is regal and in Jodhaa Akbar she is dignity personified. The character of Jodhaa demanded a fiery yet graceful streak of personality and Rai achieves this balance with uttermost ease. The scene where she exchanges heated words with Akbar upon his accusation of her deceit is tremendous as she conveys vulnerability with angst, using her eyes to emote a thousand words. A character that does not demand huge amounts of dialogues but more so relies on the ability for Rai to emote with her expressions resulting in a play of wholehearted curtailment. Jodhaa Akbar is sure to go down as one of Rai’s finest examples of talent.
A R Rahman’s music may not be of chartbusting quality but it moulds itself into the story in such a way that without becoming officious to the narrative, it still acts as a conclusive transition, especially the Sufi style “Khwaja Mere Khwaja” which oozes a spiritualistic aroma of melody. “Azeem O Shah Shahensha” is robust in its presentation and only electrifies the magnitude of the character that Akbar was.
One can not speak about Jodhaa Akbar without mentioning the cinematography and costumes. There is a danger that when films are seeped in such grandeur, they shimmer more for their ability to satisfy the visual palette rather than offer satiating content but Jodhaa Akbar does not suffer from this ailment. The need for the ostentatious presentation is fully justified and equally rewarding to the eye, be it the intricate halls of the palace or the deliciously crafted jewels, all have their place and thankfully due to a taut screenplay, do not serve as mere ornaments by which viewers can pass their time admiring their beauty. Rather, one spends the duration of the film engulfed in the proceedings of the story which are only taken to a higher level with the alluring ambience of the Mughal era.
Period dramas carry with them the promise of acting as tools for society, where in today’s times many people are recalcitrant to pick up a book and read history; cinema offers them the opportunity of visually engaging with the quondam and interpreting facts in a more appealing manner. Jodhaa Akbar allows its audience all of this in a manner which is simplistic in relaying chronologic events yet also embarks on a simultaneous journey of love and acceptance, mixing the two to create an evocative experience.
History with a heart, Jodhaa Akbar ravages the screen with its royal fest of nobility and catalytic performances , crowning it’s viewers with cinematic glory.
After several reshuffling of dates and over 2 years in the making , UTV and Ashutosh Gowarikar bring to you Jodhaa-Akbar a complete epic in itself. Any comparisons with Mughal-E-Azam or Ashutosh’s previous piece of work should be strictly avoided.
Besides a good star cast and soulful music, Jodhaa-Akbar has much more to offer. Set in the sixteenth century, JODHAA AKBAR is a love story about a marriage of alliance that gave birth to true love between a great Mughal emperor, Akbar, and a Rajput princess, Jodhaa. Little did Akbar [Hrithik Roshan] know that when he married Jodhaa [Aishwarya Rai Bachchan], he would be embarking upon a new journey — the journey of true love.
The daughter of King Bharmal of Amer [Kulbhushan Kharbanda], Jodhaa resented being reduced to a mere political pawn in this marriage of alliance, and Akbar’s biggest challenge now did not merely lie in winning battles, but in winning the love of this defiant princess.
Firstly Jodhaa –Akbar isn’t too complex a film to understand, the script and screenplay is simple and above all the language is simple with a mix of Hindi and Urdu.
The characters in the film are so real and leave a heavy impact on you. Only a visionary such as Ashutosh Gowarikar can dare to do such a film. When Ashutosh kept justifying the shuffling of the release date, one thought it was all humbug. But on viewing the film, you are more than convinced that a film of such magnitude indeed requires a lot of courage and patience to firstly shoot it and then edit and compile the various scenes.
It is so obvious on screen the amount of effort put in and the care taken to craft a film such as this. Just observe the casting of the film, besides the prime faces we know of, Ashu brings to you such tremendous talent that fit the bill even with their slightest of roles in the film. For example, take a look at the Villain in the film-Niketan Dheer, he is much taller and built than Hrithik which makes it so believable in the fight sequences that Hrithik is bound to fall when he collides against him. Also take a look at the various kings, the common men depicted in the film, the warriors etc. It’s just apt.
On the performance graph, no one could have possibly played Akbar with such elegance as Hrithik. Hrithik is simply fabulous. It’s not just his body and looks that impress but it is the way Hrithik carries himself throughout the film. He impresses in almost every sequence. Watch out for Hrithik’s duel with the elephant, his sword fight with Aishwariya , his dialogue delivery and expressiveness when he is betrayed by his step-brother. Also the climax fight sequence has some great dialogue delivery from Hrithik.
Aishwariya stands perfect as Jodhaa. Many would state that after Hum Dil Chuke Sanam , Ash is simply at her best in Jodhaa-Akbar. The sequence where she sets her demands before Akbar are impressive. She emotes well in sequences where she is humiliated by Akbar’s step mother played by Ila Arun. She also does well in bringing out that romance and is smooth with the sword sequences.
Sonu Sood is yet another character to watch out for as he portrays Sujamal, Jodhaa’s step-brother with ease. He impresses with both his dialogue delivery and sword handling. Poonam Sinha returns with a terrific guest appearance. Ila Arun freaks you out and watch out for her dialogue delivery with Ash as she expresses how possessive she is of her son Akbar. Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Raza Murad and Rajesh Vivek are all so apt and add to this epic.
Defintely the credit for this magnum opus goes to Ashutosh whose dares to dream big. But, without a skillfull team of technicians this would still be just a dream. Firstly, A.R.Rehman’s music is simply soulful and the right mix for a film such as this. The songs just grow on you and the background score is simply terrific. On leaving the theatre you are sure to hum either the ‘Jashne Bahar’ or ‘Azeem-o-Shaan Shehanshah’ track. The choregraphy and picturisation of ‘Azeem-o-Shaan Shehanshah’ is splendid.The song that was shot in 12 days is rich in colour , choreography, camera movments- you name it, it carries all. It’s been a while since the Indian Audiences have ever seen something like this.
Kiiran Deohans brings in topnotch cinematography. You are simply floored by the way the camera tracks out from low below the horse’s legs and various other sequences show you simply how brilliant the D.O.P is. Take a look at even simple sequences where Ash’s brings in a curtain to separate Hrithik from her and the conversation between the two is shot with great style.
Haider Ali teams up with Ashu to bring a screenplay that is highly researched, interesting and very impressive. The length of the film is indeed 3hrs 20 mins but , Haider and Ashu can’t be fully blamed for it.Haider does a cameo in the film , he is seen in the ‘Khwaja Mere Khwaja’ track. K.P.Saxena’s dialogues are terrific. They are simple and carry the aura that an epic such as this requires. Take a look at the dialogue when Akbar takes on Jodhaa in a swordfight .The costumes by Neeta Lulla are so rich , apt and terrific. The costumes just make the characters stand out.
To sum it up Ashutosh has taken great care and pain in bringing us an epic. Even the animals in the film have been dealt with great care and surprisingly you don’t have a single scene where horses are made to fall , elephants rolling etc unlike those done in epics before. Ashu simply proves that he is a master of crowd sequences right from Lagaan to Jodhaa-Akbar, just take a look at the number of people that fill the screen.
The only drawback of the film is it’s heavy length which can’t really be dealt with as Ashu attempts to compress years of history and bring it to the masses in just 3hrs 20 Mins. Kudos Ashu!
One is perhaps starting to expect too much from director Ashutosh Gowariker after such masterpieces like Lagaan and Swades. But he seems to raise the bar with his historic magnum-opus, Jodhaa Akbar. The ever-selective Hrithik Roshan stars as the benevolent Akbar, the Mughal emperor, who falls in love with gracious Jodhaa, the Hindu Rajput princess, played effortlessly by Aishwarya Rai. Although the 16th-century love story upon which it’s based might be long forgotten, this endearing treatment sears into the memory through sheer size and scale alone.
Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar is a righteous and tolerant emperor, ruler of the Mughal Empire. So tolerant in fact that he accepts a Hindu Rajput princess as his wife under an alliance that gradually blossoms into true love. The obvious implications of the Hindu/Muslim reconciliation abound, but the sting in all this comes in the form of Maham Anga (Ila Arun), a shrewd and manipulative woman and aunt to Akbar, who plans to eradicate competition from anyone else he holds dear. She concocts a devious plan that challenges Jodhaa’s integrity and results in her being cast out. At the same time, a political storm is brewing elsewhere, as other armies challenge Akbar’s honourable rule. But can he conquer hearts as well as minds like the outspoken Jodhaa had once questioned?
“EVERYTHING IS BIG AND GRAND”
Extensive though it is, Jodhaa Akbar cannot be discussed using small talk. Everything in the film is big and grand: the palaces, the armies and most importantly, the love story. It hits at the heartstrings and somehow has enough energy to sustain itself through the bloated script that perhaps should’ve been chopped. Ravishing Rai is convincing enough but its Roshan’s majestic performance as the love-struck warrior that packs the punch; it’s his film from start to finish. Don’t let the running time put you off watching this unashamedly epic tale.
IBN Live Review
I’ve never felt this way about any other film, but sitting there in my seat watching Jodhaa Akbar, I felt privileged as a moviegoer. Privileged that such a film had been made, and privileged that it had been made in our times so we can form our own opinions of the film rather than adopt the opinions of previous generations, which we invariably must when looking at older classics.
A drama of epic proportions, Jodhaa Akbar is at its core an intimate love story that’s set against the spectacular sweep of the Mughal era. It’s about the romance that gradually blossoms between Emperor Akbar and his wife Jodhaa, the Rajput princess with whom he enters into a marriage of alliance. It’s also the coming of age story of the greatest Mughal ruler, who goes from a reluctant warrior to a brave and honorable leader and wins over his people with his empathy and his secular outlook.
Magnificently directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, Jodhaa Akbar draws you into its drama just moments into the film, transporting you to the battlefield, to the emperor’s court, to Jodhaa’s private chamber, and most importantly, into the mind and heart of Mohammed Jalaluddin Akbar himself, where he grapples with betrayals and insecurities.
It’s the kind of film that doesn’t quite let go of your attention well after the end credits have rolled some three hours and 20 minutes later.
Much will be said about the film’s daunting length, and truth is, it could have been shorter. I can think of at least two subplots that could have been judiciously trimmed. But having said that, I honestly believe the length of Jodhaa Akbar doesn’t hurt. You are swept into the roller-coaster ride of Akbar’s political and personal growing-up journey, and it’s not often that the screenplay loses its pace.
The film’s best moments are the ones between the protagonist couple. Take that scene in which he catches her sight transfixed on his bare torso, or that sword fight between the couple that’s bubbling with sexual energy. Even that delicate scene in which he reveals to his wife an awkward truth about his education. Or then that moving scene in which he vindicates her honour by demanding to be served his lunch in the same plates she ate out of just moments ago in a tense situation.
Truth is, Jodhaa Akbar works like a dream when it focuses its energies on the relationship between the couple – their little spats, their mischievous moments, his heeding her advice, and the like.
As a big, period epic, Jodhaa Akbar has enough drama to keep you engaged – palace intrigue, violent confrontations and impressive battle sequences.
The scenes that stand out for their sheer visceral impact can be ticked off a checklist – first that breathtaking scene in which the emperor tames a wild elephant, also the one in which he gives in to his rage and orders a cruel death to a traitor, and finally that one-on-one combat scene in the climax, inspired no doubt from Troy. These are moments all that stay with you long after you’ve left your seat.
There is ample evidence of the fact that Gowariker once again assembles the perfect team to realise his vision. Kiran Deohans’ cinematography is one of Jodhaa Akbar’s key strengths, and nowhere is that more apparent than the battle scenes which Deohans’ camera captures gloriously, making you feel like you’re right out there where the action is.
His visual treatment for the film’s songs is another masterstroke, in particular the eye-watering manner with which he films the Khwaja mere khwaja number, and also the lavish indulgence of the Azeem-o-shaan-shahenshah song.
Then there’s Neeta Lulla’s costumes and Nitin Desai’s sets, both suitably ostentatious, but never once drawing attention away from the drama like they have previously in films like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas. Of course, Jodhaa Akbar benefits enormously from AR Rahman’s genius score, a collection of the finest, most haunting tunes you can remember recently, my favourites being the unforgettable Jashne Baharaa number and the one-of-a-kind Khwaja mere Khwaja track.
The soul of Jodhaa Akbar however, lies in the superlative acting. Supporting player Nikitin Dheer makes a lasting impression as Akbar’s rebellious brother-in-law, but the film of course belongs to the two leads.
As Jodhaa, the sometimes-feisty-sometimes-graceful leading lady, Aishwarya Rai is wonderfully restrained and uses her eyes expertly to communicate so much, making this one of her finest outings on screen.
Hrithik Roshan, as Akbar, oozes confidence and delivers a career-best performance as the unflinching emperor. Not only does he transform physically to become the part, he gets under the emotional skin of the character and makes it his own. I cannot think of any other actor who could play this better.
Fact or fiction, Jodhaa Akbar is an engaging, involving movie-going experience, and puts Gowariker right up there on the very short list of India ‘s finest filmmakers. No prizes for guessing, I’m going with four out of five and two thumbs up for Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar, it’s a modern masterpiece that will be celebrated for years to come.
The timing of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Magnum Opus could not have been better. A love story set in the 16th century between the Mughal Emperor who ruled Hindustan (now India), Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, and a fiery young Rajput princess, Jodhaa. With love as the backdrop, and highlighting the Hindu-Muslim marriage of alliance culminating in love and respect for one another, a day after Valentine’s Day was an apt moment for its release. Moreover, with hate politics being on the agenda, the timing of its release could not have been better. JODHAA AKBAR surely comes as a soothing balm to every Indian. If watched closely, it sends a message loud and clear that country is above everything else, even self! For our warring politicians, for this message alone, this movie is worth many trips to the multiplex.
Viewed as a love story, it portrays beautifully, the defiance of Jodhaa, the Rajput girl who is asked to marry Akbar, a Muslim Emperor. Not one to bow down or suppress her voice, Jodhaa expresses two strong wishes to the Emperor. Only if he agrees will she marry him. The first being he will not force her to change her religion and the second; he will give her a place in his palace to have a temple of her own. Both wishes are granted!
Then comes the tough task of the Emperor trying to get close to Jodhaa. Slowly, she teaches him that winning battles is not everything… he learns to win her heart as well. For lovers, this is a beautiful rendition of a perfect love story.
Ashustosh Gowariker has outdone himself. This movie is a masterpiece, a complete interpretation of what the director has visualized. From costumes, to body language, to background score, to the songs, sets, manpower and lighting… Gowariker has everything spot-on. Cinematographer Kiran Deohans captures through his wide lens the glory of the Moghul Era recreated by Nitin Desai. A R Rahman uses the beat of huge drums to transport you to another era. Pure, acoustic delight. Ravi Dewan recreates the fights that have you on the edge of your seats, while Raju Khan, Rekha Chinni Prakash and Ash Kumar combine to give you some breathtaking dances to do justice to the costumes of Neeta Lulla. The choreography of the tracks Khwaja Mere Khwaja and Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah leave you awestruck.
Now, for the performances. The perfectionist that he is, Gowariker has taken pains to pick his entire cast and each one blends with the other to transport you back to an era gone by. Even the extras have been carefully picked.
Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachahan in the lead role, contrary to beliefs, have come out looking super cool. Both actors complement each other, and both have been given the space to build their characters. I would rate this as Aishwarya’s best performance to date. This is credit to a good director who knows how to extract a performance from his actor. As for Hrithik, he soaks in the moment and one can see him completely surrender himself to Gowariker. He has worked hard on his body language and dialogue delivery. He portrays well the qualities of Akbar. He may not be the perfect Akbar, but he does enough to relive the role of the Emperor; that of a gentle and tolerant ruler with a love for his subjects who even put his life on the line to save his country. His dialogue towards the end where he subjects himself to the might of Sharifuddin Hussain for a sword fight, “Hum Hindustan ko galat haaton mein jaate nahin dekh sakta”, draws a huge applause.
Considering the intricacies of the subject, I guess the three-hour plus length of the movie could not have been avoided.
TO GO OR NOT: Oh yes, politicians and lovers and all those interested in good cinema, a must watch. JODHAA AKBAR is sure to bag a host of awards at next year’s ceremonies.
Anupama Chopra Review
The first word that came to my mind as I watched Jodhaa Akbar was epic.
Everything about this film is big – the scale on which it has been mounted, the passion which director and co-producer Ashutosh Gowariker has poured into every frame, the startling beauty of its leads Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and its daunting length of three hours and 20 minutes.
Ashutosh isn’t a timid director. He finds no satisfaction in creating the generic, instantly disposable Bollywood film.
Ashutosh dreams big and goes where other filmmakers fear to tread. Who else but Ashutosh could create a sublime, superbly erotic love story about an already married couple, who live in the 16th century. Jodhaa and Akbar marry to keep the peace between Rajputs and Mughals.
The night before the wedding, her mother gives her a vial of poison, a way out in case she cannot bear the humiliation.
It turns out that she doesn’t need it. Akbar, an uneducated but enlightened monarch, refuses to force himself on his wary wife. He promises that he will come to her bed only when her heart gives her permission to be one with him.
What follows is a hesitant, yearning romance in which husband and wife overcome their religious and cultural differences and some serious harem intrigues and learn to love each other. Is any of this true? Nobody knows and frankly I don’t think you’ll care because Ashutosh and his writer Haider Ali create this romance so convincingly.
Hrithik and Aishwarya have enough electricity to light up a few of the vast palaces art director Nitin Desai has so painstakingly created in the film. In an interview, Ashutosh said that Hrithik and Aishwarya were his dream cast. I think they were his only cast. It’s impossible to imagine any other actors playing these roles.
Hrithik embodies the great emperor without ever becoming theatrical. He is regal, imposing, sometimes haughty but always human.
Aishwarya carries the lighter load, nicely. She looks more beautiful than she has in any of her recent films. Her eyes flash fire, especially in a sword fighting sequence, in which she nearly decapitates her husband.
This is, as far as I know, the only sword fighting as sexual foreplay sequence in Hindi cinema. What weighs the film down are the peripherals surrounding this romance. The political intrigues and anti-Akbar plots are predictable and limp. So are the actors enacting them. Many of the supporting characters are pure cardboard and scenes just seem to go dead when Akbar and Jodhaa exit the frame.
This would have been less problematic if the film was shorter but at three hours plus, it becomes frustratingly dull.
The first half of the film is exhilarating but in the second you are likely to get impatient and restless. The last 15 minutes feel like the end of a marathon.
Despite this, I strongly recommend Jodhaa Akbar. Ashutosh, Hrithik and Aishwarya want half a day of your life.
It’s a big demand but this is a worthy film. Jodhaa Akbar is a grand and gorgeous labour of love.
One of the greatest motion pictures of our time, Jodhaa Akbar is a sixteenth century epic romance with heavy doses of electrifying drama and wide canvas battle sequences. Possibly the most ambitious and gutsy film to come out of Indian cinema in recent years, possibly decades, Jodhaa Akbar is unchartered cinema territory, breaking new ground in its filming and its mise-en-scene.
Ashutosh Gowariker takes on the mammoth task of making a prequel to Mughal-E-Azam, writing the possible love story between Emperor Akbar and Jodhabai, which starts as a marriage of alliance when King Bharmal of Amer gives his daughter’s hand in marriage to Emperor Akbar. From the Battle of Panipat where the thirteen-year-old Jalaluddin was crowned to his conquests and his benevolent and just role that won him the title of ‘Akbar,’ meaning ‘The Great,’ the film traces the graph of the mighty emperor and his love for the defiant Rajput princess. While Mughal-E-Azam was Salim’s love story, Jodhaa Akbar is Akbar’s love story. No other comparisons can be made between these two films, and both are masterpieces in their own right, rich and wide in their stagings. But Jodhaa Akbar is a film for today, contemporary in its outlook, with the central love story flavoured with political conspiracies and palace intrigue, and a very important film that besides its dramatic entertainment also makes us realise the many shades of secularism and its importance.
Hrithik Roshan as Akbar is magnificent, giving a fantastic performance that has to be seen to be believed; his vocal intonations and commanding expressions, working every facial muscle in delivering his lines, makes you almost believe he is a Mughal. When he proclaims ‘Yeh hamaara Mulk hai’ or when he says ‘Hamle ke liye tayyaar’ or when he admonishes his religious adviser Saadir Adasi in his court for interfering in matters of governance, you realize what a fine actor Hrithik is. Gowariker may have taken his time to make this film, but the effort is all there on the screen. You see a mature Hrithik who not only delivers fine dialogue with great command, but Gowariker puts him through an elephant taming sequence, a sword duel with Jodhaa, battles, and a climactic combat with the main villain; making good use of the build and prowess of the star, the director makes this magnum opus as young and contemporary as possible and at the same time vividly detailed in time.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Jodhaa is so real and convincing as a Rajput princess that you feel she has never before looked so good in a role. Aided by the grand jewellery and costume finery, she shines as the princess who makes the greatest sacrifice for her people, consenting to a marriage of alliance with the Mughals. The grace of her swordplay coupled with some fine horse-riding makes you wonder what kind of preparation went behind this film. Kudos to Gowariker for making his stars every inch the character they are enacting, and more.
Besides the eponymous pair, every actor puts in a splendid performance, but worthy of mention above all supporting players is Ila Arun as Maham Anga, Akbar’s mother-like figure and guide, who has been instrumental in bringing up the young Jalal and now guides him in his governance. Sonu Sood as Jodhaa’s brother is also commendable, and Nikitin Dheer as Sharifuddin, Akbar’s treacherous brother-in-law, is menacing and a worthy adversary to Hrithik’s Akbar.
The cinematography by Kiiran Deohans is regal and sweeping, be it capturing the romance between the players or the action in the battle sequences; from the harsh sun-draped landscapes of Rajasthan to the torch and candlelit interiors of Agra fort, the lighting is impeccable, with all visuals aided by the rich production design of Nitin Desai. The costumes by Neeta Lulla and the jewellery by Tanishq add to the wondrous staging, creating imagery that speaks volumes. Momentum to the romance and the action on-screen is given by crisp editing by Ballu Saluja coupled with Rahman’s magnificent background score, and the songs also work well with the screenplay. Khwaja mere Khwaja is divinely shot, and Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah is a song that is so grand in its picturisation that it makes you wonder how Gowariker and his choreographers Rekha and Chinni Prakash actually managed it! Hundreds and possibly thousand plus dancers create choreographed geometry that challenges all that has been done to-date in Indian cinema.
A great film that is undoubtedly Gowariker’s labour of love, with every department standing by his vision and helping it come alive on celluloid. The spectacular scale coupled with the veteran director’s sensitive and emotionally evolved direction, a rare combination in Indian cinema, makes this film unique. Jodhaa Akbar will rule cinemas!
Jodhaa – Akbar is exceptionally marvelously made movie and can be counted to be a movie made to be remembered for long. The performance of Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan are memorable. Just don’t go for history and watch a love story in a historical background that has everything royal to depict. After the premier of the movie on Thursday many top stars of Bollywood accepted that it is a treat to watch the movie like Jodhaa-Akbar.
Though the length of the movie is more but it’s no issue for the fans of Hrithik. The Dhoom Star Hrithik is just made for the role of Akbar. The music couldn’t get into the hearts for the first time but as you watch the movie you can’t expect a better music for the movie.
Many times a movie on history is unable to catch the audience as they find it difficult to get into the story but the movie is made easy for the audience to understand and get hooked. The movie shouldn’t be watched thinking about the history of Rajasthan in fact just watch it for its beauty and the love story.
The movie is successful in depicting the grand Mughal Empire and the visuals look real. Ashutosh Gowarikar has made a lot of efforts to make things easy for the audience to understand and keep up with the historical facts.
The looks of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is again stunning and Hrithik is better than what he was in his earlier movies. Hrithik is a perfectionist and that can be made out of the movie. The movie deserves a watch in theatre.
The movie is about a love story between royal people in the history of India. The story is about a royal deal in which Jodha, daughter of King Bharmal of Amer, has to marry great Mughal emperor Akbar to fulfill a political alliance and young Jodha and Akbar are immature to understand love during the marriage. Jodha feels she has been cheated by being used in a political deal. The story of the movie is about how the two royal people start understating each other and later the relationship develops into love.
The story looks lovely as the hard hearted Akbar has to display the love he has for the princess Jodhaa. The great Emperor has won many battles but the battle of love looks toughest for him. All the emotions related to these have been displayed by the star Hrithik very well and so the movie just works.
Some of the fight sequences in the movie are greatly shot and the actions and emotions of the movie are appraisable. Rahman’s music matches the movie tune and the story is grasping though the script needed a second look. The Hindu and Muslim communal feelings fade as the two royal people fall in love in the movie and that is the message of the movie .Screenplay is lovely and the camerawork during the action scenes is good .The costumes will be in demand for some time in markets, just lovely costumes by Neeta Lulla.
The performance by the top Bollywood actors Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik are perfect and all the supporting casts are equally good. The movie is lovely to be watched with your family in theatres. The length of the movie has been an issue in some sections of the movie and the role of Jodhaa could have had a better show.
The movie will get good collections at the box-office for the love story of Akbar and Jodha though the historical facts should have been rechecked by the director.
Astonishment- that is what one feels after watching the epic, Jodhaa Akbar. There has truly never been a film like this in recent memory. It is grand, rich, beautiful, and gargantuan. The film is an epic in every sense of the word. Ashutosh Gowariker has some big onions to attempt a film like this, but when you’re a man with such high confidence and intelligence, you can make any film and turn it to gold. Ashutosh believed in his project from day one and never wavered from it and it shows on the screen. The entire film is his vision and we are witnessing it through his eyes. Pulling off a film like this is incredibly difficult, but Ashutosh has pulled of the remarkable feat and makes it look so easy. Historicals may be a dicey bet in Bollywood, but this is one historical that you can put all your chips in and be sure that you will come out a huge winner. Why? Because Jodhaa Akbar is clearly one of the biggest winners we have seen come out from Bollywood in recent times.
It is already known that the film is about the marriage and romance of the Rajput princess Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai) and the Mughal emperor Akbar (Hrithik Roshan). The film starts off with a phenomenal battle sequence, which is a rarity in Bollywood. We get a brief backdrop of the history of the Mughal Empire and a backdrop of our main protagonists. The film then turns to the political alliance of a marriage between the two title characters. Akbar marries Jodhaa for benefits, but eventually finds himself falling in love with her. Jodhaa refuses to be used for a political alliance, but eventually caves in for the betterment of her nation. Eventually, she starts to warm up to Akbar and a love is eventually formed. The movie basically revolves around the politics of the empire and the threats to their relationship. The story is not complicated to follow and it is does not feel like a history lesson like many feel it may be. The screenplay is very tight and the script writers have done an excellent job with it. The one and only deterrent of the film is obviously the duration. The film runs at about three and a half hours, but honestly it does not even seem that long. There are some instances where the film slows down a bit, but overall the movie runs at a brisk pace and it keeps your attention throughout. Key sequences that stand out in the film are the opening battle sequence as mentioned above, Hrithik attempting to tame the elephant, Aishwarya’s confrontation with Hrithik’s foster mother (Ila Arun), the misunderstanding between Hrithik and Aishwarya right before intermission, the sword fight between Hrithik and Aishwarya, and the closing battle between Hrithik and his deceiving brother-in-law (Nikitin Dheer). All of these scenes just add to the drama and intrigue of the film and make it such a pleasure to watch.
Ashutosh Gowariker has gone out and proved exactly why he is one of the top most, if not the top, directors in Hindi cinema. Every scene is executed with the utmost precision. You can tell that he has given his heart and soul into this film. The two years he spent in bringing this film has sure been well spent as there is not a dull moment to speak of while watching this film. As mentioned before, the editing is the only place where the film could have been worked on. But Ashutosh’s direction and part in the writing definitely make up for the length of the movie. He deserves great credit for not turning this into a movie straight out of a textbook, but rather an entertaining and enthralling epic.
Huge props go to the cinematography of the film. It is absolutely superb. As a matter of fact, it plays a huge factor in lifting the film to an even higher level. The camera is always fixed on the appropriate places and helps build even more drama. The sets are to be seen to be believed. It only adds to the grand spectacle that the film is. The action of the film is also wonderful, as the battle sequences look very real and authentic. It’s safe to say that they belong to Hollywood standards, especially since the last battle reminds you of the film Troy.
AR Rehman’s music is very easy on the ears. He creates a wonderful soundtrack that may not create an impact at first listen, but once seen on screen, you can’t help but be mesmerized by each and every song. The best of the lot are Azeem-o-Shaan Shahenshah and Jashn-e-Bahara. In terms of picturization, In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein is very aesthetically shot and Khwaja Mere Khwaja is very soothing and beautiful. Overall, a beautiful soundtrack that sounds even better once you see it on screen. Also to be noted, the background music is awesome and totally captures the mood of the film every time it takes a turn.
The performances are nothing short of fantastic. Hrithik Roshan becomes Akbar and not once do you feel you are watching Hrithik on the screen. He is beyond brilliant and carries the film on his broad shoulders throughout. The way he emotes and delivers his dialogues shows that he is a super performer. This easily has to rank as the best performance of his career.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan matches Hrithik and delivers a wonderful performance as well. Although she does not have as many lines to deliver or have as much screen time, she still makes you sit up and take notice of her through her extremely expressive eyes. She emotes superbly with them and it only enhances her performance. This will go down as one of her career best performances. Also, the Hrithik and Aishwarya chemistry is as flawless as ever. They sizzle every scene they are in together.
Out of the supporting cast, the ones that stand out the most are Nikitin Dheer, Sonu Sood, and Ila Arun. They all are great and provide wonderful support to the lead actors. Kulbhushan, Punam Sinha, and Raza Murad are solid. Amitabh Bachchan is the perfect person to provide narration for the film with his baritone voice. Come to think of it, there are no bad performances in the film. Gowariker deserves all the credit for bringing out the best out of all his artistes.
Jodhaa Akbar ends up being a superb and extraordinary film that lived up to the enormous hype. It is a film that definitely needs to be seen in theaters in order to get the maximum impact. Everyone associated with the film has given their blood, sweat, and tears into this enterprise and we, as an audience, appreciate the brave effort by these brave and talented people. My advice to the audience is to not miss Jodhaa Akbar because doing so would be a huge mistake. It is a masterpiece and a definite must see. Don’t miss it!
What causes Gowarikar’s radical and quite stunning transformation is the authenticity that thrives beneath the man’s imaginative sculptures and inventive portraits. For his uncanny and unbelievably entertaining storytelling skills have been put to a test rarely ever taken by other filmmakers. He is to explore a very real romance, to which there is very little known. The mission is dreadful for many reasons. For one, there is a very thin line between fact and fiction. One man’s creative interjection is another man’s blatant lie. And those who have been following the controversy leading up to the film’s release will agree that Gowarikar has been walking this very line quite cautiously.
Painted within the 16th Century, Jodhaa-Akbar opens with the child Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad ruling his empire, done so on his behalf by the brutish chief Balram Khan. The wars are fought and won without hesitation and the Mughal Empire continues to expand its borders across the region. As the kingdom grows, so does young Jalaluddin Akbar (Hrithik Roshan), whose charming looks bleed into his merciful soul.
As the empire grows stronger and larger, many surrounding Rajput kingdoms begin to fear the Empire’s reigns. As an offer of alliance, King Bharmal (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) of Amer proffers his daughter, Jodhaa, (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) to Akbar in marriage. However, Jodhaa is a dignified Hindu princess who will only accept the political marriage if her conditions are met: 1) She must be allowed to freely practice her religion, and 2) Akbar shall not lay a finger on her until she has consented.
Here on out begins the imaginatively real and beautiful story of love between Akbar and Jodhaa.
Let’s not be mistaken, Jodhaa-Akbar is a film which is whole-heartedly an epic portrayal of unbridled love, amidst the glorious tapestry that is the Mughal Empire. The historical accounts of how this country came to be are extremely accurate. Writers Haider Ali and Ashutosh Gowarikar have created a film three years in the making, extensive research was put into both Mughal and Raput history to create a film true to its core when it tries to document history. However, Jodhaa-Akbar is an imaginative tale more than anything else – a love story which does not hang in the balance of historical evidence and factual documentation. As Gowarikar has stated, the film has been envisioned to entertain with its epic tale of romance, and one man’s pursuit to win-over the woman he loves.
Tremendous credit must be given to Ravi Dewan who, as an action director, has single-handedly brought this film up to international standards. From the roaring crowds and stunning battlefield scenes, to the titillating sword fights and the brilliant portrayal of Akbar’s playful taming of a wild elephant. The task given to him was gargantuan, and the man passes with breath-taking accuracy.
Although it is quite easy to be ravished and astounded by the architectural opulence and lavish visual designs by Nitin Desai, never does this grandeur intrude the script or take focus away from the roots of the screenplay. The entire look and magnificence of the re-created Empire blend seamlessly into Gowarikar and Ali’s story.
Gowarikar’s script is long, simply said. And even though it is enchanting for a certain period of time, the script is unable to maintain itself for the full 3hrs 20mins running time. The writing is virtually flawless up until the romantic crescendo between Akbar and Jodhaa, after which Gowarikar tends to overkill the subject matter. Editor Ballu Saluja would have been wise to snip a good half hour towards the end. Apart from the indulgences and a few clichéd sequences, the film has been written very well and quite convincingly – as you can truly believe that this is how the romance may have truly evolved.
Performances are quite extraordinary to say the least. Hrithik Roshan as Emperor Jalaluddin Akbar seems to be the perfect cast. Everything from the majestic mannerisms, to the twinkle in his eye fit the documented character that was Akbar. His approach of reading all he could about the protagonist, and then throwing the books out and playing the role from within seems to have worked beautifully. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude were a must for such a role. The efforts given into the thrusting of the swords and the graceful elegance in his every step portray all that is royal. His shifty transformation from the innocent young emperor with a heart of gold into the self-confident and dignified Emperor is surreptitious and seamless. Yet, his performance would have seemed incomplete if it weren’t for the princess presiding beside him.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is Jodhaa, simply put. As if no acting was present, Aishwarya has re-written Jodhaa’s personality in the film and has made it her own. It is the emotional sequences in which she is able to grab on to your senses without letting go. Her self-dignified portrayal and out-going spirit balances aptly with Hrithik’s Akbar, as the chemistry between them is almost as glorious as the art that surrounds them.
The supporting cast is regally built, yet never takes the limelight away from the spectacular lead pair. A.R. Rahman’s music, especially the instrumentals of Khwaja Mere Khwaja and Jashn-E-Bahara, are creatively integrated into the screenplay. Special mention must be given to one of the most captivating sequences in the entire film – where Akbar is caught in a melodic trance upon listening to the ode of Khwaja Mere Khwaja.
Ashutosh Gowarikar has made an epic love-story, a genre he has never tried before. Jodhaa-Akbar, not without imperfections, is a film that enchants its viewers, while beautifying the hidden romance that took place between these two grand figures, etched in the pages of history. It’s highly worthy of all the world’s attention.
A UTV Motion Pictures release of a UTV Motion Pictures, Ashutosh Gowariker Prods. production. Produced by Ronnie Screwvala, Ashutosh Gowariker. Executive producer, Sunita A. Gowariker. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. Screenplay, Haider Ali, Gowariker, K.P. Saxena; story, Ali.
With: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Punam Sinha, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Suhasini Mulay, Raza Murad, Rajesh Vivek, Pramod Moutho, Ila Arun, Surendra Pal, Visshwa Badola, Prathmesh Mehta, Shaji Chaudhary, Manava Naik, Disha Vakani, Abeer Abrar, Indrajit Sarkar, Aman Dhaliwal, Nikitin Dheer, Pradeep Sharma, Balraj, Sudhanshu Hakku, Digvijay Purohit, Uri, Sayed Badrul Hasan, Dilnaaz Irani, Tejpal Singh Rawat.
Narrator: Amitabh Bachchan.
(Hindi, Urdu dialogue)
After the memorable screen heat they generated in dumb megahit “Dhoom:2,” Bollywood marquee thesps Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai go for the slow, slow burn in costume romancer “Jodhaa Akbar,” a connoisseur’s epic that relies more on character and dialogue than on big battles and teeming extras. A return to form by writer-director Ashutosh Gowariker (“Lagaan”) after his sappy “Swades,” this cross-cultural big-budgeter about a legendary romance between a Muslim emperor and a feisty Hindu princess opened pretty well in its first frame Feb. 15. In the longer run, it looks to carve rosy, though not spectacular, returns.
Effectively a prequel to the 1960 classic “Mughal-e-azam,” centered on a romance between the couple’s son and a court dancer, “Jodhaa Akbar” is much more than just a preachy tale about religious tolerance between Muslims and Hindus. Along with scripters Haider Ali and K.P. Saxena, Gowariker has come up with a long-limbed story that is utterly simple in structure, but decorated with enough character interplay and side plots to keep the movie ticking over to a powerful finale.
Clocking in at a mere 205 minutes, compared with the 223-minute “Lagaan,” the movie lacks the latter’s narrative tautness, and could benefit from trimming in the early stages of part one. But from the first musical interlude a half-hour or so in, there’s little downtime, despite the intimate nature of the material.
Solemnly narrated by veteran Amitabh Bachchan, pic’s intro sketches the era, starting in the mid-15th century, when the Mughals (supposedly descended from the Mongols) invaded India. After a succinctly staged battle,resistance crumbles a century later and Mughal influence spreads through northern India.
The first Mughal emperor to be born on Indian soil, Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar (Roshan), is a strong but tolerant guy. His arranged marriage to Jodhaa (Rai)is meant to forge links with the Rajputs, the dominant clan of northern India with a strong warrior tradition.
However, Jodhaa has two demands: She doesn’t have to convert to Islam, and she can have a Hindu shrine in her quarters at the Mughal palace in Agra. Jalaluddin admires her spunk and agrees; when, on their wedding night, she says she needs more time before sharing a bed, he agrees again.
Next two hours chart Jalaluddin’s patient “courting” of Jodhaa in between various attempts by others to destroy the relationship and what it symbolizes. Villains include Jalaluddin’s devoted but ambitious wet nurse, Maham Anga (Ila Arun, wonderfully evil), Sharifuddin Hussain (Nikitin Dheer), Jodhaa’s relative, who teams up with a snubbed Muslim cleric (Abeer Abrar); and a corrupt governor (Shaji Chaudhary). But aside from a manufactured misunderstanding between Jalaluddin and Jodhaa that provides the pre-intermission climax, their growing bond proves stronger than anything politics can throw at them.
Pic is bookended by well-staged setpieces in which opposing armies face each other on a vast plain. Otherwise, Gowariker avoids military spectacle, concentrating instead on sequences that define the central relationship: the putative lovers dueling in a courtyard; Jalaluddin identifying Jodhaa among a bevy of veiled women; their eventual, elaborately choreographed declaration of love.
As well as managing the story’s epic span (and showing a natural feel for framing his characters in widescreen), Gowariker seems to have a liking for classic Hollywood epics. Parallels abound, the most obvious being with “Cleopatra” and “The Fall of the Roman Empire.”
No stranger to elegant-cum-spunky costume role, Rai (here billed under her married surname, Rai Bachchan) handles Jodhaa with ease. Biggest surprise is Roshan, who brings a commanding physical presence and vocal heft that he’s shown in none of his earlier, standard-Bollyhunk roles.
Production values are lavish, with Neeta Lulla’s costumes complemented by richly dressed locations in Rajasthan and northern India. Typically rhythmic, percussive score by A.R. Rahman is stronger in ceremonial setpieces than lyrical ones, though most of the songs are not directly sung onscreen. CGI in the battle sequences is OK.
Camera (color, widescreen), Kiiraan Deohans; editor, Ballu Saluja; music, A.R. Rahman; lyrics, Javed Akhtar; art director, Nitin Chandrakant Desai; costume designer, Neeta Lulla; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Stephen Gomes, Hitendra Ghosh; visual effects, Pankaj Khandpur; choreographers, Raju Khan, Rekha Chinni Prakash, Ash Kumar; action director, Ravi Dewan; assistant director, Gurment Singh. Reviewed at Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue 5, London, Feb. 18, 2008. Running time: 205 MIN. (I: 118 MIN.; II: 87 MIN.)
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, winner of Miss World in 1994, wife of Abhishek Bachchan, was put on this Earth to play Jodhaa, the fiercely independent yet totally devoted Rajput princess turned empress of all India.
Hrithik Roshan, son of Rakesh Roshan, husband of Suzanne Khan, too was born to play Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar, the religious yet secular, the valiant yet ultimately peaceful Muslim emperor of India.
Ashutosh Gowarikar’s romantic historical epic is lavish and exciting but also very human and emotional. The characters are not lost in the grand sets, the grand moments of history nor in the grand battles. The movie is just as comfortable with the internal scenes inside a dark, closed room as it is with large war scenes with thousands of extras and elephants and horses and the clanging of shield and sword. Aside from Aishwarya and Hrithik, the cast includes Sonu Sood, Ila Arun (the very same woman who sang Resham Ka Ruhmaal and Choli Ke Peeche), Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Nikitin Dheer, carrying on Ashu’s tradition of using big names for only the leads. The divine music is by A.R. Rehman with the poetry of Javed Akhtar.
Jalaluddin (Roshan) is the first Mughal emperor to be born in Hindustan itself. Thus, he has a deep love for his country and its people and wants his people to practice whichever religion they choose since the people are mostly Hindu and the rulers are mostly Muslim. Raja Bharmal (Kharbanda) rules Amer, and agrees to rule under Jalaluddin, much to the chagrin of the other rulers. To solidify this deal, Raja Bharmal offers the hand of his daughter Jodhaa (Rai Bachchan) to Jalaluddin. She agrees to the marriage only if Jalaluddin lets her keep her Hindu beliefs and if he builds her a temple in her chambers. Admiring her straightforward nature, Jalaluddin agrees. This marriage is scandalous, alerting Maham Anga (Arun), Jalaluddin’s nanny/most trusted minister and Sujamal (Sood), Jodhaa’s cousin-brother/best friend. Sujamal, on a campagin to rule Amer, joins Sharifuddin (Dheer) to take down Jalaluddin, who now has won the favor of the people. They honor him by giving him the title Akbar (I’m not sure if this is just a name or if it means something. Jalaluddin is his given name as in, when he was born, his parents said, “And he shall be named Jalaluddin.”) How Jalaluddin sees through the treachery of Maham Anga, wins the heart of Jodhaa and conquers the rebellious Sharifuddin forms this tale of love, war, deception and religious tolerance.
Ashu makes some bold artistic choices. Choices that make a viewer ask: “Did he just go there?” But, in the end, the movie is better for it. For instance, in any other movie by any other director starring any other actor, showing Jalaluddin completely entranced by the Sufi singers (in JA’s loveliest song, Khwaja Mere Khwaja) would be almost laughable. But here it works. Because we know that Jalaluddin holds his faith very dear to his heart as well as his patron Khwaja, or saint. Also, Ashu and Haidar Ali write very interesting scenes for the blanks in the history book. Most amusing are the scenes showing the Mughals baffled by Jodhaa’s Hindu practices or the subtle, adorable courtship between Jalaluddin and Jodhaa. Also, the scene where Jalaluddin travels through the Amer market, dressed as a nobody is key in showcasing Jalaluddin as a good ruler and why he deserves the title Akbar. The Rajput feast is a great sequence as is the scene where Jalaluddin punishes his traitorous foster brother Adham Khan. Basically, the movie is full of exciting scenes and great dialouges. You really only feel the weight of the running time right before the intermission but that’s only because that part of the movie is full of great intermission points and Ashu chose the greatest. (The moon reflected in the lake being the “o” in “intermission” was just classic.)
Jodhaa Akbar can be seen as India’s answer to the countless Greco-Roman stories being produced by America these days. The battle sequences have half the gore but maybe a third more the impact. This is because JA has real, live men battling each other not CGI clones. Also, these battle sequences include animals which just make things more awesome. Seeing an elephant crush a man is pretty cool even for me. I mean, normally I find battle scenes boring and I’m like, “Please just get to the drama and the romance! Jeez!” But these battles are exciting and original. They are not only well-choreographed but expertly performed by Hrithik and Sonu and Nikitin and Aishwarya. Yes, you read that right. Aishwarya gets two awesome, spectacular sword fights. And I know that it was really her and not just a double because a) her work in The Last Legion and cool.gif her eyes are visible almost at all times in her fight with Sonu and her face is visible during her fight with Hrithik. Speaking of Mr. Suzanne Khan, his climactic fight with Nikitin Dheer’s character is AMAZING as is the scene where he tames a wild elephant. No doubles were used in this movie or at least when concerning the two main leads. During the movie’s many marvelous sequences, I thought to myself: How awesome is this movie!
Deciding which Rehman soundtrack is the best is like deciding which How I Met Your Mother episode is the best. It’s impossible! Each is great and awesome. This holds true to JA. The soundtrack is absolutely splendid. Mann Mohana, the CD’s weakest song, is picturized well, almost humorously (in a good way). Khwaja Mere Khwaja is such an amazing, laidback qawaali. The choreography is so simple yet very intricate. The camerawork is just too, too good. Jashn-e-Bahaara is good in showing the the growing love between Jodhaa and Jalaluddin. Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah is magnificent as the people’s tribute to Akbar the Great. The choreography is great and spectacular. In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein is straightforward and so very romantic. I heard some lame comments about Aishwarya cheating on Abhishek and I wanted to yell out, “HRITHIK IS MARRIED TOO!” but I didn’t want to ruin the song. Sure, the video is a bit racy but why not? It is their much delayed wedding night, after all. The songs are all very well-done.
Speaking of In Lamhon, here you have two of Bollywood’s most attractive stars who both need to prove themselves. Three-fourths of Hrithik’s hits have been directed by his father and Aishwarya needs to break the “Married Actress” curse that Kajol and Madhuri Dixit have been (rather successfully) trying to break. The chemistry between Aishwarya and Hrithik is practically living and breathing. After their romp in Dhoom 2, they succeed again in completely different roles. They compliment each other and they look good together. The best thing is that, while it is no question if Jalaluddin thinks Jodhaa is pretty, we get to see Jodhaa admire her husband’s good looks and swordfighting prowress. Just another great touch to make these larger-than-life characters more human.
Of course, there’s more to these two’s performances than their rocking looks. Hrithik Roshan is completely at ease as Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar. His dialogue delivery and his body language is spectacular. He seems extremely regal but also extremely human. He is just so good and perfect as Jalaluddin and he doesn’t even have to resort to a caricature of a guy who has some nameless mental disease and finds an alien! Aishwarya Rai Bachchan delivers a performance that no other Bollywood actress has attempted before. She is a woman who is very, very traditional but also very modern in thinking. She knows how to take control and push her man to be his best. Sure, she cries a lot in her first few scenes but then she gives a fierce, passionate performance. For both her and Hrithik, this is their career best.
The supporting cast is terrific. Ila Arun is fantastic as the evil Maham Anga, Sonu Sood is great as Sujamal but Nikitin Dheer takes the cake as Sharifuddin. The only real sour point is Amitabh Bachchan’s narration. Sure, no one else has his kind of voice but why is he in everything?!
I dare say that Jodhaa Akbar is my generation’s Mughal-e-Azam. It is a historical epic with a very modern message: people should not be judged by their culture or religion. It’s funny that nowadays a Hindu-Muslim marriage is taboo because one of India’s greatest emperors married a woman outside of his religion and fell in love with her despite these differences. Do these trivial things really matter? No. This movie comes at the right time. We all can learn from the just Jalaluddin and from the devoted Jodhaa. And while Lagaan was overrated and Swades was preachy, Jodhaa Akbar accomplishes much of what those two films tried to accomplish in its three hour and thirty minute running time. Kudos!
Jodhaa Akbar rates a 9.5/10.
PS: I am so glad Ash chose Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and not Aishwarya Bachchan. She will break the “Married Actress” curse, I know it.
One Majestic Epic!
This is one review I always wanted to write. One review I always dreamed of writing. One such review I never want to end. Here I present the review of one of THE BEST Indian films EVER…. Jodhaa Akbar.
It was hyped and eagerly awaited. This was supposed to be a crowd puller and a trend setter. And so it was, a CLASSIC crowd puller and a trend setter. Ashutosh Gowarikar deserves aBIG pat on the back and a thousand hugs and kisses from all.
This film is set in the age of the mighty Mughals. It is about a 14 year old king Jalaluddin Mohammad, played by Hritik Roshan. It is about a young Princess, Jodhaa Bai of Rajputana, played by Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan who is forcefully allied with this Muslim kingon matrimonial lines.
To begin with, Jodhaa Akbar has all the elements of a fantastic and memorable film. A TOP CLASS script, equally good screenplay and a jaw dropping level of cinematography. I think Ashutosh Gowarikar is the best film maker in India, thanks to Jodhaa Akbar. His consistencyis something you should appreciate. Back to back hits- Lagaan, Swades and now Jodhaa Akbar.The biggest similarity in all these films is that they were not clichés. They did not reinforce stereotypes and more than that, they had some appeal for everyone. The same can be said for Jodhaa Akbar. Some say that the film is too long, 3 hours and 20 minutes long.But if you can watch ABSOLUTE THIRD CLASS films like “Aap Ka Suroor”, “RGV ki Aag”, “Dhoom-2” and of course, the film which crosses all levels of being third class, “Sivaji” which were a modest 2 and a half odd hours long, I surely believe that you can spare just 1 and a half hour more for this filming spectacle. The length of a film does not decide howgood it is. “GONE WITH THE WIND” was still longer, about four hours. But who complains? It is worth a watch and it deserved the Oscars everyday. Jodhaa Akbar is something, to be very frank, the classes would love better. This film is made for them. This is not the normal bollywood flick which has all the “masala” stuff. This film is not for those who whistle in the theatres and multiplexes on seeing their idols. This is not for those who don’t understand the basic elements of filmmaking. If someone says that he/she watches films just for the sake of time pass, not respecting the labor and the brains involved in the process, I seriously advise you to just stop watching films and stop humiliating all thosehardcore professionals involved in this business. Go watch Sivaji or RGV Ki Aag or Dhoom again. You deserve no place here.
To be on the safer side say that this film is 300 times better than “300” and totally comparable to “Troy”. Not disrespecting “Troy”, which was a true period saga, fantastic to watch, my only logic behind comparing this film with “Troy” is the sheer difficulty thedirector might have faced while making this film. He had to please the great Indian audience, one of the most versatile and knowledgeable audience (except some morons, of course). He had to make an Indian film. And an Indian film essentially consists of all things starting from the selection of the leads, their dialogues to their costumes. From the songs and dances to the colors of Indian culture (Includes exceptions, of course. Black did not contain any. It was an act of a genius but an inconsistent and overconfident director and one of the best actors in this world). But it is sad to say that Ahsutosh Gowarikar has not done enough research to prove that it was Jodhaa who was the wife of Akbar which looks wrong because its banning in Rajasthan is not a small thing. As far as my knowledge of history goes, it was Jodhaa who married Akbar (Reference – Mughal-e-Aazam (K.Asif)). At the same time, an inscription in Red Fort claims that she was married to Shahjahan. So making a comment on this topic is far away from my reach as my study of history is dismal to say the least.
Coming back to the topic in which I am well versed and knowledgeable enough to make a comment, there was an essence of expectation from this film to be a biography of JalaluddinMohammad concerning his might and power. But it wasn’t just that. It was a highly maturedcomment on the relationship of the Rajput princess and the Mughal King. It was a comment onthe conscious and genuine approach of Jalaluddin Mohammad towards the people of India andhis way towards integrating the nation which was divided on the basis of religion.
To start off, the film has all correct elements in the exact place. Its jaw dropping cinematography is never ever seen in any Indian film. The cinematographer is not an Indian.He, as far as I remember, was the same for Troy too. One of the main things you would wantto watch in period sagas is the Art because the film travels back in time. The art directorhas to replicate all the artifacts of that age and present it in a totally legible and acceptable manner. I have to accept that the Americans are a master at this. This film makes you feel that you are in the 1500’s. One more very basic and important element is the music (as, of course, it is an Indian film). The music also has to travel back to the tabla and veena oriented time. And if you have some one with the name A.R.Rahman as yourmusic director, you can relax in the beaches of Goa leaving all the responsibility on the shoulders of this musical genius and a legend in every sense. The background score will remain in your minds forever. The songs in this film, especially “Khwaja Mere Khwaja”, which happens to be my favorite, is the one song I would rate five out of five for its top class music and of course the immensely popular and incomparable baritone of Rahman sir. “Jashn-e-bahaara” is one song you would cherish for its hidden romance and “In Lamhon Ke Daaman Main” for its totally explicit expression of romantic love. The lyrics are one of the best Javed Saahab has ever written. Take for example the line-
PAAS HAI PHIR BHI PAAS NAHI, HUMKO YEH GAM RAAS NAHI, SEEHSE KI EK DEEWAR HAI JAISE DARMIYAAN.
Or KARTE TO HAIN SAATH SAFAR, FAASLAIN HAIN PHIR BHI MAGAR, JAISE MILTE NAHI KISI DARIYA KE DO KINAARE.
from “Jashn-e-bahaara” and from “In Lamhon ke daaman main”-
MILE DEKHO AISE HAIN HUM,KE DO SUR HO JAISE MADDHAM, KOI ZYADA NA KOI KAM, KISI RAAG MAIN, KE PREM AAG MAIN JALTE DONO BHI KE TAN BHI HAI MAN BHI MAN BHI HAI TAN BHI.
These lines should turn you on. And talking about turning you on, the way “In Lamhon Ke Daaman Main” is shot, it should get even the dullest romantics excited and will reciprocate, if they have someone(in which I am totally unlucky and people who have someone to do so, watch Troy, which has nothing but a top naked lady jumping on her bed. Well, the former leads to the later, but I somehow advocate the idea of turning things on first. You should make things exciting, shouldn’t you? “YEH KHEL DIL JEETNE KA HAI”.). “Khwaja Mere Khwaja” is spiritually engaging and so well shot that even you would want to stand up and dance like Hritik does. And if you want to know why Rahman Sir is the best, “Azeem-o-shaan shehenshah” is the perfect lesson for you. Listen to the music in your music players and no doubt you will discover that it is nothing less than a privilege to have such a master around you. HATS OFF RAHMAN SIR!!!
Jalaluddin Mohammad was just a kid of 12 years when he was forced to participate in the battle of Panipat. He was under the guidance and the leadership of a very capable general of the Mughal army fighting against the only Indian king who had ever defeated the Mughals,Hemu. This scene, of course inspired by Troy, is shot with utmost class and precision. The maturity with which the whole scene is handled by the director is totally appreciable. The cinematography deserves the credit for this particular war scene, just top class. I think if I go on like this, I would not be exhausted to thoroughly examine each and every scene of the film and explain how the director completed the scene because every scene and every dialogue in this film is something never seen in Indian films before. It was unique. It was simply the BEST. I felt that utmost sense of satisfaction and happiness to have sucha film maker in my nation.
Starting from the adamancy of Jodhaa to get her wish fulfilled before the marriage to the extravagant sword fight between the pair which was sprinkled with sexual “provocation”, every part of the film carried originality and innocence. I don’t think mentioning anythingabout the plot of the film would be justified because the whole film unfolds like a self sustained drama, like a narrative which needs no preview. Among the actors, Hritik stands out as an actor. In his style, his dialogue delivery and his expressions, you can foresee an acting phenomenon yet to be unleashed. I have a very serious advice to Hritik- Please don’t accept any roles which makes you look like an amateur as it did in Dhoom-2. AishwaryaRai-Bachchan delivers the role of her life. I think she will do well if she is in good hands, such as Mani Ratnam (Guru) and Ashutosh Gowarikar (Jodhaa Akbar). We should look forward to see her in many roles in future. She is proving that she is not like any other actresses. She possesses utmost versatility which was hidden until Guru. Jodhaa Akbar has the momentum which she carried form Guru. Her acting was just fantastic.
This story unfolds at its own pace. This will never bother good viewers. This, as I said, is a cinematic spectacle. Gear up. Get all your wits and intelligence packed with full efficiency in your skull and watch this film. You will not be disappointed. Thank you, Ashutosh Gowarikar, for Jodhaa Akbar. Keep making such films. Hollywood is not far away!
Akshay Shah Review
Unarguably JODHAA-AKBAR was one of the biggest films of 2008, and the expectations from the movie were absolutely GIGANTIC. Every since the movie was released it has been in the news, and given Ashutosh Gowariker’s attention to detail and years of research it was no doubt going to be a film that everyone had their eyes on, so the key questions…does the movie live up to expectations? In my humble opinion, yes it does, though the opportunity to make a timeless classic for years to come has been missed in the wider context in some ways.
Set in 16th Century India, the movie revolves around a Mughal emperor Akbar (Hrithik Roshan) and a Rajput princess Jodhaa (Ashwariya Rai Bachchan. Despite her wishes, Jodhaa is married off to Akbar. She hated the fact the marriage was nothing more than a political alliance and feared that the marriage would result in her identity being lost. Akbar however loses his heart to Jodhaa and agree upon her every wish, though soon he realises that despite winning every battle on the battlefield he would have to try a lot harder at the biggest battle of his life, the battle of love.
Haider Ali’s story is good, and he has kept things simple. No doubt with a historical it’s easy enough to make the film too complicated and over-long however Ali has crafted a simple love story and woven the politics around this central point. The initial sequences in the movie are perfect for setting the scene in regards to the era the movie is set in. The love story itself captures the viewers attention from the word GO and keeps them hooked. The complications in that arise in the second half too are well done however the culmination of events come across as a bit too over-simplified. The screenplay by Haider Ali and Gowariker himself is a job well done. The amount of detail and research that has gone in to the movie is clearly visible in each and every frame, and the sequence of events manage to keep the viewer enthralled. From a writing point of view sequences like Ashwariya’s two pre-conditions, the Ila Arun-Ashwariya clash, the sequence where Hrithik eats the food prepared by Ashwariya and the intermission sequence are all a class apart. The second half too has it’s fair share of these sequences, however the second half feels somewhat incomplete. The movie stagnates to an extent in the second half and leaves one wishing that more had been incorporated in to the film.
As a director I have high regard for Ashutosh Gowariker, I absolutely loved his LAGAAN and considerf SWADES to be one of the best films to come out of Hindi cinema post millennium. With JODHAA-AKBAR he again reconfirms this regard, however in comparison to his earlier efforts this is Gowariker’s weakest film of the three (and also his hardest). In today’s time and age a period film of such magnitude is indeed a risk. The genre is by no means a “safe” bet and furthermore it takes a director of immense passion, dedication, and understanding to convincingly pull it off which Gowariker does. The initial sequences at the outset give us a understanding of the scale of the film. The war sequences are simply jaw-dropping and Gowariker’s vision cannot be doubted. The love story too comes across as fresh, and Gowariker does a spell-binding job by slowly allowing the love story to develop as it grows on the viewers as well. The drama has been superbly maintained, and despite the long running length of 3 ½ hours JODHAA-AKBAR never comes across as “too long” which speaks volumes for Gowariker’s handling of his art. The second half too has it’s fair share of sequences which again make the viewers jaw drop. The AZEEM O SHAAN SHAHENSHAH track is a feast for the eyes and indeed a treat for the viewers. The manner in which the song has been executed is absolutely mesmerising and deserves the highest of accolades. The fight sequence in the climax too has been done with aplomb. So what doesn’t work? Well I would say the biggest fault I found with the movie is that it fails to really takes that next step forward which was the need of the second half. The movie goes and flows exactly as one would expect, and when the end credits roll I couldn’t help but feel under-whelmed. Given Gowariker had to trim significant parts of the movie, I guess this maybe something which I may change my mind on after seeing the un-cut version.
The performances in the movie are simply smashing from the leading pair.
I have never been a huge fan of Hrithik Roshan, I don’t deny his Box-office prowess nor do I deny his talent however he’s basically an actor who is not my cup of tea. However I’m not biased or blind either, and with JODHAA-AKBAR he delivers a performance that even the most ardent naysayers will have to sit-up and admit….WHOA-WHAT A PERFORMANCE! To say Hrithik becomes Akbar is an understatement, he lives the role. The first thing that blew me away about Hrithik’s performance here is his powerful delivery and absolutely confident intonation. He delivers his lines with gusto leaving a lingering impact each time he opens his mouth. The second thing would be his powerful and electrifying screen presence. A character of this stature would fall flat on it’s face if the actor doesn’t possess the screen magnetic and royal screen presence to pull it off, and Hrithik does. In my humble opinion this is Hrithik Roshan’s finest performance to date, and one I would rank ahead of KOI MIL GAYA, MISSION KASHMIR, FIZA, and LAKSHYA.
It took a long time for Ashwariya Rai Bachchan to convince me she could act. It wasn’t until her winning performance in HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM that I admit the girl has talent, and later with performances like RAINCOAT I and GURU I was sold. JODHAA-AKBAR further confirms that! Firstly and foremost she looks the part she plays through and through right from her first entry in the film, however the thing that really leaves one amazed is her emotional sequences in the film. This is a quiet performance and requires an actress of substance to speak a million words with her eyes and Ashwariya does that so eloquently. Her delivery is great and she hits the right note every time. Her chemistry with Hrithik Roshan too is absolutely amazing, and the main reason for this movie working so well is the chemistry between the two professionals-truly admirable.
The supporting cast in the movie are good, though apart from Ila Arun no one performer really stands out. Sonu Sood continues to remind me of a “poor mans Abhishek Bachchan”; he’s good here but nothng great. Khulbhushan Kharbandha is efficient as ever. Suhashini Mulay isn’t given much to do. Ila Arun is excellent and her performance registers strong impact (specially her scenes with Ash). Raza Murad, Pramod Moutho, Rajesh Vivek, and Surendra Pal are good. Nikitin Dheer makes a confident debut.
Technically every single person who has worked on JODHAA-AKBAR requires a pat on their back. It’s not easy work to create an era bygone convincingly, however the team of JODHAA-AKBAR succeed in sending the viewers on a time warp with utmost conviction. Cinematography by Kiran Deohan’s is mesmerising, and the lens captures the entire movie on celluloid like a beautiful painting on canvas. Award winning stuff! Nitin Chandrakant Desai is no doubt a master of his craft, and with JODHAA-AKBAR he gives the viewer one of his finest works to date. The monumental sets in the movie are simply mind-boggling and Desai ensures he leaves no stone unturned. Ballu Saluja’s editing is good given the subject matter at hand and despite the running length the movie never feels like a “long” one. K.P Saxena’s dialogues are wonderful and consistent throughout.
Ravi Dewans action sequences deserve a round of applause. It’s been a long time since one has seen such magnificently mounted action sequences, and the sheer magnitude of these blow you away!
What can one say about A.R Rehman that hasn’t been said before? With JODHAA-AKBAR the legend delivers yet another amazing score which leaves the viewer completely enthralled. The JASHN-E-BAHRA, AZEEM O SHAAN SHAHENSHAH and MAUJA MAUJA leave a ever-lasting impact. The background score too is excellent and deserves full marks.
All up where does that JODHAA-AKBAR? The movie is well worth a watch that’s for sure! The sheer size and magnitude of the film merged with some stunning performances and passionate director who is a master of his craft ensures this, however the movie does have it’s share of shortcomings too, and relative to expectations I would say JODHAA-AKBAR could’ve been more and had more. The movie does stagnate a little after a point which in turn ends up hindering the overall effect of the movie though not to any such extent that it ruins the experience of watching the movie.
“Jodhaa Akbar” strives to showcase magnanimity and tolerance in the midst of political expediency and racial and religious divides.
DIRECTOR Ashutosh Gowarikar announces clearly that his Jodhaa Akbar interprets the love story of the great Mughal emperor and his Rajput queen with more imagination than history. His interpretation presents Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar (1542-1605) as the proponent of tolerance – religious, cultural and linguistic. It underscores the secular values that guided his administration. It shows the conqueror as generous towards defeated enemies, especially those of a different faith. It does more. It depicts the mighty emperor as a man who overcame male chauvinism in his approach to love and marriage. Each of these ideas is enough to make hackles rise in fundamentalist circuits. Neither new nor surprising. History tells us that Akbar faced charges of apostasy in his own lifetime.
Jodhaa Akbar is as much a multi-crore, superstars-lit masala film as were Gowarikar’s earlier Lagaan and Swades. But the glitz has not been at the cost of taste and good sense. Nor have the doses of melodrama drowned genuine emotion. Gowarikar seeks to establish idealism in the dazzling opulence of Mughal palaces and Rajasthan courts and show that the camel can go through the eye of the needle. He makes the young Akbar grow in stature from a malleable child to a self-critical monarch, quick to learn and correct himself.
Scriptwriter Haider Ali follows the parampara of the kavyas and gathas in the vira (valour)-shringara (love) formula, adding karuna (compassion, pathos) to make a stronger potion.
Akbar the protagonist is the mighty hero of battlefields, combining courage with mercy. Even his dismissal of the faithful Bairam Khan, who preserved Humayun’s kingdom for his son, is attributed to the regent’s mercilessness in beheading the conquered Rajput kings rather than to Akbar’s need to stand on his own feet. Similarly, the screen Akbar settles his dispute with insurgent brother-in-law Sharifuddin in a single combat to minimise bloodshed. Tedious as it was in the film, this sequence is not fictive bravado. Did not the real Akbar offer to do the same with the rebel Daud on a Bengal campaign?
Gender sensitivity marks the portrayal of Jodhabai, the Rajput princess of Amer forced to marry the Mughal king to seal a political alliance. She, too, is no stranger to valour, but is a swordswoman. In training sessions with brother Sujamal, she is eager to prove herself an apt pupil. When her husband challenges her light-heartedly, swordplay becomes a fervid avowal of her identity. It evolves into a sublimation of lovemaking between equals. To Akbar she becomes dear and desirable because of the strength of her conviction and sense of selfhood.
Her first words to Shahenshah Akbar are that she will marry him only if she can remain a Hindu and she is free to worship her Krishna in the Mughal palace. Akbar not only agrees but refuses to touch her until her heart is won over. The film takes three and a half hours to show just how the man achieved this goal. Gowarikar succeeds in making the romance grow naturally and spontaneously, with Akbar’s care for Jodhaa’s well-being, concern for her status and participation in her puja. When foster mother Maham Anga insults Jodhaa by insisting that she take the poison test of tasting the food she has cooked for the king, Akbar converts her humiliation to pride: he will eat only from the plate she has used. When his jealous suspicions are disproved, he hastens to apologise to the wife he has wronged.
Drawing from the sound cast of stage actors from his past films, Gowarikar has ensured fine support for the main protagonists and an overall quality in performances. Sonu Sood stands out as Sujamal, the noble prince and tragic scapegoat destined to wander from court to court in search of a throne. With her well-chosen words and penetrating glances, Ila Arun is quietly chilling as Maham Anga and striking when she accepts the justice of Akbar’s command to hurl her son Adham Khan from the terrace top. Others, from Todar Mal to the chief mullah, avoid caricature in routine roles. Even the harem eunuch is restrained in comedy.
Gowarikar succeeds in making the romance between Jodhaa and Akbar grow naturally and spontaneously.
In lush costume and lavish jewellery but minimal make up, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan becomes a princess who knows her own mind and is unafraid to express it. She is as much at ease when she admits her distaste for her Mughal groom as when she looks straight into her husband’s eyes to say, “Ji hanh [I love you].” When assured that Mughal munificence would build her a resplendent temple, she says she needs an unostentatious place for prayer. This is a special film for Aishwarya Rai. It imbues her with dignity. And it sits well on her. We try to overlook the mushy moments – weeping with sakhis on the bridal bed or rushing to sing to her god in gratitude for saving her husband. And what a wise decision to have not made her dance in the film!
Hrithik Roshan actualises the awesome majesty of Mughal grandeur along with a touch of very human tremulousness. His Urdu diction has been criticised, but the precision and control in his performance speak of enormous effort and preparation. Roshan’s authenticity stems from his reel persona being linked to the real Akbar: as when he confesses his illiteracy to his wife or in life-endangering sport with the elephant in musth. The great Mughal had a penchant for daredevilry with elephants.
Akbar’s secular outlook is part of Indian history. Not only did he build temples for his Rajput wives but he also celebrated Diwali and Dasara, reckoning that being born in Hindustan, and king of the realm, he had to seek the welfare of all his subjects of all creeds. He wandered through bazaars in disguise to know the grass roots. He abolished jeziya and the pilgrim tax on non-Muslims. (This is celebrated in the film with a Republic-Day-parade-ish song and dance.)
Roshan’s achievement is to have demonstrated the warrior king’s inexhaustible energy – in dusty cotton as well as in splendid silks and priceless gems. Obliqueness marks his romance. In an arresting scene, Roshan listens to sage advice but his eyes stray to Jodhaa standing in the sun. Eyes are important in the film, the lover’s and the hunter’s. But it wholly avoids the male gaze. Gowarikar introduces the female gaze, though almost in jest, as Jodhaa’s eyes drink in the rippling muscles of her Shahenshah, supremely fit for love and war!
What we miss is the reality chiaroscuro. The magnanimous, secular, illiterate intellectual was also a ruthless warmonger, territorial aggrandiser and perpetrator of genocides. His hunts turned forests into slaughterhouses. His religious tolerance had political implications. Din-i Ilahi (Divine Faith), the creed he invented by combining the tenets of many religions, was regi-centric, not God- or people-centric. And let us not forget that the great Mughal had a harem of 300, and to him no amir’s wife was sacrosanct. The film avoids these fascinating paradoxes and murky underpinnings in favour of the romantic archetype.
Dissatisfactions? There are many. The lighting design creates no medieval tapestry. It is at times childish – as in the great love scene, or the white light for Akbar’s mystic trance. Unsophisticated editing allows the camera to linger after the key expression is past. The war scenes are the least convincing, with naive visuals and pedestrian camerawork. The costumes, jewels and blazing colours satiate after the first hour. Much of the music is no more than sweet.
Like the puranas and kavyas, Jodhaa Akbar offers the old message that might should do right and that freedom should partner love. The film is no disconnect from Bollywood goals or blockbuster models but does project the new values of a syncretist, secular, liberal approach to the world with sincerity and conviction. It strives to showcase magnanimity and tolerance in the midst of political expediency, territorial greed, racial divides, religious factions and material concerns. Not insignificant lessons for our times, especially when we recall that great-grandson Aurangzeb destroyed the empire forged by Akbar with his short-sighted, self-destructive mistrust, ungenerous vengefulness and killjoy intolerance.
It is “Khwaja Mere Khwaja”, the moving song sung by A.R. Rehman, that gives the film its resonance. Addressed to the Sufi mystic, the powerfully orchestrated score, brilliantly rendered lyric and aptly visualised sequence evoke a light that is rare in cinema: a flash of transcendence.
I am a huge fan of period films. An even bigger fan of films that have vast elements of realism in them, or that reflect fathomable circumstances. I consider Lagaan (2001) to be the best film ever made on the planet. I know that some day I shall practice what the message behind Swades (2004) was. My research specialization (as an undergraduate student of Computer Science but one who focused on liberal studies) was the Mughal Empire.
Given my understanding of the Empire, I knew to treat the film Jodhaa Akbar purely as historic fiction. I suggest every movie-goer do the same. See, the film distorts history in a rather perverted sense (there is strong evidence to indicate that Jodhaa was Akbar’s daughter-in-law, and not his wife; she was the wife of Akbar’s son Salim, referred to as Jodhaa because she was from Jodhpur). Given that this history is relatively recent (yes, 400 years is not an eternity in historic terms), from an Ashutosh Gowariker project, I really expected a lot more in terms of a more accurate reflection of the history of the Mughal dynasty. All it required was a name change! Maybe Jodhaa sounded more sexy?!
Yet, because I am truly fascinated by the Mughal Empire (have been for as long as I can recall) and its contributions to the South Asian society and culture, I was obviously excited to see the results of Mr. Gowariker’s latest project. The Mughal Empire made immense contributions to our culture. They were founders of one of our languages (Urdu — a fusion of Hindi, Arabic, and Persian). They gave us elegant but modest dress (salwar kameez). They gave us phenomenal foods (butter chicken with naan, anyone?). They gave us music and arts galore, and some fantastic poetry. And did I mention they had a taste for better-than-world-class architecture?!
Add to that that the emperor Mr. Gowariker picked as the subject of his film was Jalaluddin Akbar (Akbar means ‘great’ in Arabic/Urdu), who is widely regarded as the most successful of the Mughal emperors because of his willingness to tolerate and accept others. Also important is that it was during Akbar’s time that the arts in South Asia (or I should say Hindustan, for that was present-day India/Pakistan/Bangladesh) truly flourished because of this refreshing viewpoint he brought with him, of the fusion of cultures and religions. No surprise then, was that as the arts and commerce in Akbar-ruled Hindustan flourished, so did the average civilian’s love of his/her fellow country men and women. Akbar, inherently a founder of liberal arts institutions, might well have been the leader of Phi Beta Kappa equivalents of his time.
Anyway, enough of history. On to the movie. From a movie-lovers standpoint, was my excitement (expressed in this earlier post) warranted or what!
Make no mistake. As a piece of historic fiction, Jodhaa Akbar is a fantastic film. Starring Hrithik Roshan as Akbar, Aishwarya Rai as Jodhaa, Sonu Sood as Rajkumar Sujamal, Kulbushan Karbanda as Raja Bharmal, Ila Arun as Maham Anga, Suhasini Mulay as Rani Padmawati, and Punam Sinha as Mallika Hamida Banu. And with music by the maestro A.R. Rehman (read my music review from an earlier post).
Some notes on the portions I enjoyed the most:
1. The relationship between Jodhaa and her cousin Rajkumar Sujamal. The latter is torn between his love for his ‘sister’, and his lust for power. On several occasions in the film, he is shown thinking of her during a discussion of prospective attacks on Akbar’s men, and would resist, weighing the options. This is very well developed, and the climax to this relationship is fitting.
2. There are several action sequences in the film that are engaging. The taming of the elephant scene, which is where Raja Bharmal is first introduced to Jalaluddin, is quite remarkable. Instead of laughing it off, as I know some people have done, I choose to praise it, for it is extremely well put together and a bold attempt in Bollywood terms.
3. Speaking of sequences, there are a few non-battle scenes pertaining to the one-on-one combat. With Jodhaa and Sujamal, then a friend, and then Akbar; and Akbar with his brother-in-law. And how about that portion when Jodhaa ogling Akbar’s physique as he practices his sword-weaving skills. While I think there was one too many with Jodhaa, this is merely a nuance that certainly doesn’t take much away at all from the film, so I shan’t be too picky about it. Each of these sequences was very well shot. A couple of us were discussing how far Indian film-making has come from the Ramayan and Tipu Sultan days on Doordarshan TV in the 1980s, which we the 80s kids grew up admiring. The combat sequences in Jodhaa Akbar are absolutely fantastic and engaging.
4. The portrayal of religions is very well done too. No matter whether you are Muslim or Hindu, you will feel proud of the way your religion is projected. That there existed a religious strife in those days comes as no surprise (little has changed in that regard, unfortunately, in fact things have sadly gotten worse for the minorities in India). I have had people in political science and international relations classrooms be astonished that the Mughals were able to sustain any form of rule over Hindustan for over 400 years, given that they represented a minority demographic. Yes, there is such a thing as an Indian Muslim, O people of the world! Back to the point, though. The initially tumultuous relationship between Akbar and Jodhaa is very well portrayed — the bit where Jodhaa’s wish for a temple inside the Mughal fort is shown as a pre-requisite to the wedding is perfectly done. The bit where Akbar tells Jodhaa that Islam gives an equal right to women, as it does to men, to nullify a wedding. These are tangible issues that are seldom discussed in contemporary society, and it is refreshing to see them be brough to light. Both the Muslim and Hindu perspectives, as the plot demands.
5. The internal struggle Akbar faces, for having married a Hindu woman, is well showcased too. From his conservative to liberal advisors on religion, to his growing love for Jodhaa and his unwillingness to tolerate any defamatory statements against Jodhaa. Nicely done.
6. Another bit that was nicely done was Akbar’s going into the market to hear first-hand what the aam janta, i.e. the common man, thought of the Empire. While the businesspeople in the market put in a performance that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would proudly use in their speeches that I have grown bored of (what with all the criticisms of the poor always paying the biggest price, the highest taxes), the most touching part was when Akbar asks his adviser if he knew of the tax imposed on the pilgrims. To the adviser’s affirmative response, Akbar’s saying ‘Why doesn’t anyone tell me this?!’ is fitting of a great ‘Emperor’. In the more conventional movies, we would have seen Akbar meeting Jodhaa in the bazaar, and not question what a queen was doing there!
7. I liked how several Lagaan alumni (yes, Lagaan is an institution in my eyes!) showed up. As I watched the film, I would call out their character names! So of course, Raja Puran Singh (Jodhaa’s father), then Ghuran (a member of the army), Ismail and Baagha (in the song Khwaaja mere Khwaaja) made an appearance. Exciting!
8. The scene with Maham Anga storming into the shaahi bawarchi khaana, i.e. the royal kitchen, to warn Jodhaa to not take over the components of the fort, was very well done. I loved the bit where Jodhaa says, in essence, that ruling the kitchen is the right of every wife. Beautiful!
9. The scene that followed, with the foods and the thaalis, reminded me of the Tanjore restaurant at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. I felt I was in the Mughal dining hall, inhaling the aroma of the wonderful foods, and enjoying the way they were laid out in the thaalis. Speaking of the Tanjore though, if you ever visit Bombay, you must visit (if it is still called that). A treat for the senses unlike any other, with excellent food and live classical music and dance.
10. A big reason for why Jodhaa Akbar works is the quality of the acting. Both Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai are fantastic. Certainly setting a benchmark for 2008. I would not at all be surprised if their names came up next year for the acting awards, for they would have thoroughly deserved it. Hrithik Roshan is perfect for the role. And Aishwarya Rai’s chaal (her mannerisms) suit her character like hand in glove. Their on-screen chemistry is great. Abhishek Bachchan, eat your heart out!
11. Another significant complement to the film is its music. I had said in my review that I was waiting to see how A.R. Rehman’s work fit in the film. I am convinced that it is Rehman’s trademark that his soundtracks sound better after watching the films he composes for than before watching them. The soundtrack fits in very well indeed. Khwaaja mere Khwaaja is a beautiful devotional song, and the bit where Akbar starts to jhoom (trance) along to the qawwali toward the end is fantastic. Azeem-ush-Shaan Shahenshah is extremely well choreographed, and the carnival atmosphere portrayed is a heck of a treat. The lyrics to the song are in synch with history, what with sentences like Tehzeebon ka tu sangam hai (you are the confluence of cultures), which was obviously true.
Overall, I think Jodhaa Akbar is an excellent film. Four stars and then some for a bold attempt at a bold plot, excellent performances, a fantastic background score, and visual and linguistic grandeur that befits the Mughal Empire. By far the finest film to release in 2008, my only disclaimer pertains to the distortion of history, which I believe can be overlooked if one treats this as historic fiction. The costumes and adornments are brilliant, and the artwork and sets provide a visual treat that connoisseurs of cinema (not merely Hindi cinema) should be proud of.
One of the greatest motion pictures of our time, Jodhaa Akbar is a sixteenth century epic romance with heavy doses of electrifying drama and wide canvas battle sequences. Possibly the most ambitious and gutsy Indian film in recent years, possibly decades, ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ begins to an era tread by few in the history of Indian cinema.
That the film released on the stroke of Valentines’ Day is befitting for the major theme of the film revolves around the love affair that existed between Emperor Akbar and Jodhabai, the fiery Rajput princess. The marriage was actually a marriage of alliance, with the Rajpur King Bharmal of Amer deciding to get his daughter married to Akbar primarily to be on friendly terms with the latter.
Not one to bow down or suppress her voice, princess Jodhaa expresses two strong wishes to the Emperor. Only if he agrees would she marry him. The first being he would not force her to change her religion and the second was that he would have to give her a place in his palace to have a temple of her own. Akbar, who is head over heels in love with her, grants both the wishes!
Right from the Battle of Panipat where the thirteen-year-old Jalaluddin was crowned to his conquests and his benevolent and just role that won him the title of ‘Akbar,’ meaning ‘The Great,’ the film traces the graph of the mighty emperor and his love for the defiant Rajput princess.
But, make not mistake: Jodhaa Akbar, though a period film, is very much contemporary in its outlook. With the central love story flavoured with political conspiracies and palace intrigue, this turns out to be a very important film that has dramatic entertainment besides making us realize the many shades of secularism and its relevance.
Hrithik Roshan as Akbar is magnificent, giving a fantastic performance that has to be seen to be believed; his vocal intonations and commanding expressions, working every facial muscle in delivering his lines, makes you almost believe he is a Mughal. This can easily be termed as the best film of his career so far.
A mature Hrithik not only delivers fine dialogues with great command, but features in an elephant taming sequence, a sword fight with Jodhaa, battles, and a climactic combat with the main villain. Gowarker makes the most of the build and prowess of the star and has succeeded in making this magnum opus as young and contemporary as possible.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Jodhaa is so real and convincing as a Rajput princess, a role of a lifetime. Aided by the grand jewellery and costume finery, she shines as the princess who makes the greatest sacrifice for her people, consenting to a marriage of alliance with the Mughals.
The grace of her swordplay coupled with some fine horse-riding sequences gives ample hints of the off-screen preparation. Kudos to Gowariker for turning his main stars into the character they are enacting!
Singer-turned-actress Ila Arun as Maham Anga, who was Akbar’s mother-like figure and guide and was instrumental in bringing up the young Jalal, delivers a commendable performance. Sonu Sood as Jodhaa’s brother is also appreciable and Nikitin Dheer as Sharifuddin, Akbar’s treacherous brother-in-law, is menacing and comes out with flying colours as a worthy adversary to Hrithik’s Akbar.
Cinematography by Kiran Deohans is regal and sweeping, be it capturing the romance between the lead pair or the action in the battle sequences. From the sun-soaked landscapes of Rajasthan to the candlelit interiors of Agra fort, his lighting is impeccable.
The costumes by Neeta Lulla and jewellery by Tanishq add to the wondrous staging, creating imagery that speaks volumes. A.R. Rahman’s grand background score aids sleek editing by Ballu Saluja. A couple of songs have come out really nice.
‘Jodhaa Akbar’ sends a message, loud and clear, that the country is above everything else, even self! For our warring politicians, for this message alone, this movie is worth many a trip to the multiplex.
A great film that is undoubtedly Gowariker’s labour of love, with every technician helping him to make his grand dreams come alive on celluloid. The spectacular scale coupled with the veteran director’s sensitive and emotionally evolved direction, a rare combination in Indian cinema, makes this film unique.
‘Jodhaa Akbar’ will rule cinemas with its victory march!