It requires courage, prowess, patience, aptitude, knowledge, passion and of course, loads of currency to attempt a movie like Jodhaa 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 crore in a film that could go either ways.
Only when you're convinced yourself can you convince millions of moviegoers. And convinced you are after watching Jodhaa 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, Jodhaa 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 Jodhaa 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 Jodhaa 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, Jodhaa Akbar leaves you spellbound, enthralled, entranced and awestruck. Ashutosh Gowariker makes the legendary characters come alive on screen.
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 Jodhaa 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 Jodhaa Akbar extremely special.
* The war sequence at the very outset. You realise 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, Jodhaa 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 Jodhaa 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 realise 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!