Jodha-Akbar : A Preview

In my last blog on movies, I had remarked that one of the movies that I am looking forward to eagerly in 2008 is ‘Jodha Akbar’. I watched the trailer of the movie today and my eagerness has multiplied manifold. 

 After extolling the virtues of ordinary men with extraordinary determination using British India and cricket as backdrop in the Academy Award Nominee Lagaan and stirring many an educated foreign bound young Indians through Mohan Bhargav in Swades, Ashuthosh Gowarikar has come up with a historical now on the marriage between the great Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar and the Rajput princess, Jodhabai. Knowing Gowarikar’s penchant for perfection, I am confident that this would be a very good movie. I have not read on the movie yet but see its trailer, so my knowledge on the movie is limited but I have only speculations as to what to look for in the movie.

 First on the trailer…The trailer looks brilliant, very well edited and has a terrific background title track music by none other than our own ARR. The sets look extravagant yet realistic (not like the ones in Saawariya or Devdas). The sequences involving the armies are grand – what you would expect to see in a good historical movie like this. Hritik looks royal as Akbar, charms with his smiles and delivers the dialogues (whatever little in trailer) authoritatively. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays Jodha and looks confident reminding us of her role in Guru. The support cast of Kulbushan Kharbandha, Sunrendar Pal et al. look impressive too. We can expect a cracker of a movie. 

What can we expect from the movie? The name ‘Jodha-Akbar’ suggests that this movie will be centered on Akbar’s marriage with Jodha and Jodha will have an equally important role as Akbar. In other words, this might not be a story on Akbar the Emperor, but on a small part of his life. There is no elderly Akbar seen in the trailer suggesting the movie will restrict itself to the younger days of Akbar. I believe this is a wise thing to do. 

Akbar has always been held in respect and awe by me, wondering whether such an emperor existed. A Mughal emperor married to a Hindu princess, ruling almost from Khandahar to the Deccan, a secular at heart, progressive and even tried to start a new faith by incorporating the best of all – Din-e-Illahi (that’s a sure MCQ question in history  examJ ). But we know very little of his early life and why he married a Hindu princess.  Is it a strategic move to establish peace with the warring Rajputs? Or was he really secular at heart even then at that young age? If yes, what or who shaped his ideals to have such a radical thought at that time?  What were the reactions of other Rajputs and Mughal princes? What was his equation with Jodha after marriage? Was she comfortable being the wife of a Muslim emperor? Was she the only queen or were there other wives of Akbar too? If yes, what then is the position of Jodha in Akbar’s heart? How much of this marriage shaped Akbar’s ideals later on? I look forward to answers for such questions in this movie. Hope Gowarikar has done his homework right. In that sense, historically this is a much needed piece of work. 

The movie I think will have relevance in today’s world too where we stand confused on what secularism and inter-religious harmony is, having let that discourse hijacked by the politicians. With the talk of the ‘clash of civilizations’ being imminent in the near future, this movie can be relevant at a global level too. Who knows Jodha-Akbar might win Gowarikar what Lagaan failed to!! 

Here is the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRyDWVXheL0

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One thought on “Jodha-Akbar : A Preview

  1. Mani,
    well written review of a preview….but the answers which you are looking for questions ( marrying a Rajput Princess )”it a strategic move to establish peace with the warring Rajputs? Or was he really secular at heart even then at that young age?”….I am sorry to say that you are relying or expecting from a very wrong source (Commercial bollywood movies!!)………There is no historical evidence that a person name “Jodhabai” did exist…there is no mention of Jodhabai even in ‘Akbarnama'(which is one of the reliable source of that era), nor in any Mughal documents of that period. Jodhabai seems to have become popular after the film, Mughal-e-Azam (Bollywood is expert in making illusive stories).First came the myth of Anarkali which made Mughal-E-Azam a huge success and several other Bollywood creations. Now, another movie is being made!! ………. If you want to know about the secular credentials of a Mughal Emperor then i should say this movie will not be a proper source!

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