We expected fantastic stuff from a 40 crore budget and Ashutosh Gowariker. Because we all liked Lagaan and Swadesh, albeit their rather patience-testing durations. The former was a fictitious event based in pre-independence India and hence, Mr. Gowariker had his creative imprimatur to tweak a character here, to tune an emotion there, to finally produce Lagaan as it was. And Swadesh again was heartwarming. Modern when it had to be, rural when it had to be and entirely inspirational. And yes, we did overlook the obvious lack of chemistry between Shah Rukh Khan and Gayatri Joshi. And we lived.

But Mr. Gowaiker why-ever did you get so confused with Jodhaa Akbar? Were you thinking 'I want to direct an epic love story, a union of hearts, a union of minds, a union of skills and a union of religion?' or were you thinking 'I want to direct a period movie, resplendent in all its glory, intrigue and historical accuracy.' Because what you finally did deliver was a perfect pastiche of incongruous ideas.

If twas' a love story you were looking to depict, then I can digest that the infamously lascivious Mughals' descendant became a one-woman man for his wife from an evidently political alliance (Of course, his grandson Shah Jehan did reject his ancestors' wanton ways for Mumtaz Mahal. Of course, Mumtaz Mahal also went ahead to die in childbirth, incidentally while giving birth to her 14th child. Our very virile Shah Jahan impregnated her more than once due to the lack of a most effective contraceptive - polygamy). So Mr. Gowariker, you wanted to create the perfect love story that our monogamous minds could accept and cherish. Love that arose from the darkened depths of political interests and religious discontent. That left behind deceit and conspiracy in its virgin wake. Love in the time of mughal-era. Marquez would be proud.
But then why would we have to sit through three and a half hours of historical events, all well-researched I presume? Because it was a love story right?

Oh but you wanted to direct a period film! Aaaaaaah. But then why no mention, however fleeting, of Ruqaiyya Begum or Salima Sultan, Akbar's 2 wives from before his marriae to Jodhaa Bai, and very much a part of his principal queens? Yes we know you included a rather prosaic disclaimer warning us that there are various names for Jodha Bai, but did you have to pander so much to the Indian sensibilities that you just dropped essential facts?

A Mughal epic was attempted at, but the Mughal era can never be created without a consistent portrayal of their stories on the battlefield, and their stories in the bedroom. The Mughal era that saw tolerance under Akbar, but if one version is to be believed, intolerance when it came to Jehnagir entering into wedlock with Anarkali. They saw the golden age under Shah Jehan, yet intense deceitry and conspiracy amongst his progeny. The Mughals just shouldn't be reduced to eye-gazing, coy-smiling lovestruck stars.

Ok, ok but yes we concede that Hrithik Roshan was better than decent. Aishwarya Rai looked pretty, dainty and all those wonderful adjectives. And hell Sonu Sood (do you remember him from Aashiq Banaya Aapne? No? I thought so) was pretty darn good. Give him some good films please, he has some latent talent that boy.


Szerelem said...

Hmmm I'm still thinking about whether I should go watch this. Decisions, decisions.

Of course, his grandson Shah Jehan did reject his ancestors' wanton ways for Mumtaz Mahal. Of course, Mumtaz Mahal also went ahead to die in childbirth, incidentally while giving birth to her 14th child. Our very virile Shah Jahan impregnated her more than once due to the lack of a most effective contraceptive - polygamy

Well, actually The Mughal Emperors wanted to have as many children as possible - child mortality was made up for having many, many children and the only reason Shah Jahan impregnated Mumtaz fourteen times was because she didn't want him to have children from another woman and had to make up for it - so it wasn't like he wasn't sleeping around, he just wasn't having children with anyone else.

MISSquoted** said...

szerelem: Oh but Shah Jehan did have children with his other wives, and solely for the purpose of having children. There might be conflicting reports as to why or why not he didn't sleep with other women, but he in fact did have children with his two other wives, that he regarded his duty. Also, of course tht Mughals wanted to have more children, but seldom would the children from the multiple courtesans ascend to the throne.

aandthirtyeights said...

oh, read this:

siropdevanille said...

Hmmm... I didnt see it in the theatres, but I got the DVD, which had a decent print. But I slept off in the middle... I also forwarded stuff... What I'm trying to say is that I didn't quite like it.

siropdevanille said...

Ugh, malfunction..

ok, so I didn't quite like it cause of the same reasons you put forth. The most important one being - I expected a lot from the Director, and he sadly failed me, you and lots of us. Also, why is it that beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes is considered a good movie even now in Bollywood! We have some amazing movies being churned out, why would Ashutosh Gowatriker forget that he should have focused on the direction and story line and what he wanted to portray rather than Aishwarya's jewellery and Hrithik's gorgeous torso!

Aah, done. :) Will keep on visiting...

Anonymous said...

I'm told there's a sequence in which Akbar in the form of a buff Hrithik goes Mano-a-mano with his enemy and the fate of the Mughal Empire hangs in the balance. Finally some thought provoking cinema. A fitting reply to all those crusty textbooks with the portly Akbar illustrations, no six pack abs or faux golden tan even. I'm sure after a century or two, when Bollywood remakes the Indian independence story, Jinnah and Gandhi will probably have nunchucks in their hands, while a skimply clad Kasturba watches anxiously.


Bina said...

I should've read this before watching the movie, Ishita!

plus, I'd watched it on a CD, so I had tons of pixellation to trudge through to get to the end...waaah!

bassiouni beats bantekas said...

From accounts of history less popular i.e. the accounts not commisioned or even encouraged by the king, Shah Jehan is reputed to have committed incest with his eldest daughter and that he almost never cared much for the well-being of his wife when she was alive. He continued impregnating even against the advice of court physicians . The beautiful Taj Mahal was in fact an ode to Power not Beauty.

bassiouni beats bantekas said...

I direct you to -Taj Mahal, the Illumined Tomb: An Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Mughal and European Documentary Sources by W. E. Begley; Z. A. Desai