Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Went Back In time

(My review on for Jodha Akbar)

It was Sunday and I reached the Cinemax theatre at I2:45, fifteen minutes before the movie Jodha Akbar was to start. The next four and half hours I was glued to my seat watching the scenes unfold one after the other.

It was as though the director had pulled out a few pages from Emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar’s daily diary and I was going through it, seeing his early life and the incidents that made him Emperor Akbar – a great ruler in all manners of speaking; but on wide screen, in multi-colour and with stereophonic sound.

I remember my journey to Agra that had taken me a couple of hours from Delhi to what was the tomb of Emperor Akbar – a plain red sand stone monument, at the door a khadim requested us to leave our footwear and we proceeded in through the long dark corridor at the end of which was a large room at the center of which rested a great king under a marble tomb that was covered in velvet chaddar showered with flowers, with incense burning on the side and just a very small ancient oil lamp hanging from the tall roof providing light we could not take a picture but it felt like being inside a womb - calm, quiet, still – in peace forever – respected and loved even by those who still came to pray at his tomb.

This story was about that individual…yes, but here, in the movie the story begins with a battle with Hemu, the pretender to the throne and the young Jalaluddin. Give me a battle scene any day and win me over forever. Zoom in - soldiers running towards each other, swords clashing, blood flying – zoom out. The shots have been sequenced well, giving the watcher a feel of what it would have been like to be there in the battlefield with the warriors on that day.

War, hate, anger, revenge all a part of a love story that is different from the rest of the junk you see in every other movie. Sorry guys I do love history- my favourite subject and yes I am very very partial to movies like Jodha Akbar. Though people may complain that the movie is long – but time seems to stand still, as I watch the medieval era roll by in front of my eyes. Perfectly set – the clothes, jewelry, language, characters, palaces, expressions – everything, left me breathless.

As Subash K Jha put it in his article – Hrithik sweeps the screen. – Perfection isn’t a state of mind. It is a quest, a quenchless journey that never ends. I believe Hrithik eats lives and breathes his work. He does – I believe it to.

Ashutosh Gowarikar does not loose sight of the story throughout the movie. Kudos for doing a great job. Each character actor has been chosen and portrayed well to leave a lasting impression such as Mahamanga, Sharifuddin, Sujamal, Todar Mal, Raja of Amer, and the list is unending.

While Hrithik and Aishwarya make a perfect on screen couple with the right body language and expression at the right moment. Yes the story is with them.

Some incidents that made the audience laugh but really has very interesting tales in history like every time somebody went against Akbar they were sent on a Haj – yes they did go on Haj and while returning they were quietly taken out of the way so they could never make a comeback and make a stand against him ever again. The other where Adham Khan is thrown from the Red Fort parapet, which is very true in that era Akbar always immediately ruled on cases of treason and drastically, it was later that he changed.

What made me laugh was the fact that the villain- Sharifuddin was under the impression outside of the movie that the movie revolves around him, but he is so wrong the movie belongs to Akbar. Sharifuddin is just one of the characters and not the main character of the story.

There were some sequences that will remain etched on my mind one of the elephant being broken for riding by Jalaluddin, the song Khwaja mere khwaja and the dancing dervishes, Akbar practicing sword fighting techniques and Jodha watches through the flimsy curtains. The desert shots give you the feeling of vastness, the emptiness and the beauty of it all. The curtains have been used well giving the feel of being in the clouds and dreaminess to the sequences. The scene speaks volume where Jodha tastes the food she has cooked as the law of Akbar demands (but a Hindu wife always eats after she has fed her husband), and Akbar realizing the humiliation she faces, eats in her plate changing the humiliation into an expression of love and respect.

Well, I can just go on – the movie will grow on you, as do all the songs well placed complimenting the shots.

All in all a good movie, a great way to learn history, there is no controversy anywhere except for some who clearly take everything on name value only. A request to the director, if you make a sequel Mr. Gowarikar , I wish you the best and will it that it will bigger and better than this fantastic movie.

And please guys, Jodha – is just a name, let it be just that – a name in fact a beautiful name.