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Jodhaa Akbar movie review

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The Jodhaa Akbar Movie Review

Enchanting but exhausting
By Naresh Kumar Deoshi
Rating: 3/5

Ashutosh Gowarikar's film 'Jodhaa Akbar' enchants you and exhausts you at the same time.

The movie has several great sequences ingeniously conceived by the no-nonsense Gowarikar. But as the film crosses two and half hours of its running time, you begin to notice Gowarikar's over-indulgence in the subject. Once the slowly blooming romance between the titular lovers reaches its consummation point, the movie begins to drag. From then on, your interest begins to wane.

Granted that the film is unparalleled in its opulence and visual splendor. The Mughal art and architecture has been recreated in the film with meticulous precision. On top of it there are superb (to put it modestly) performances by the leading cast - Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai . But it is hard to overlook the aberrations that blotch the otherwise flawless screenplay.

A couple of such aberrations come right after the film hits its crescendo: the point where the love between Jodhaa and Akbar is consummated in a brilliantly shot song sequence. From then on the plot seems to slip away from the director's grip.

The sequence I am talking about has Akbar's own brother-in-law Shariffuddin staging a rebellion against the emperor. Ashutosh Gowarikar shows a shocking lack of subtlety as Jodhaa, along with a retinue of orderlies, rides a long distance on a horse to inform her husband of an underhand plot of the enemy to kill her prodigal brother, Sujamal ( Sonu Sood ). And she arrives at the battlefield just at the time when her fatally wounded brother is about to breath his last. What follows is the same beaten-to-death clich of a repentant brother dying in the arms of his sister while mouthing lofty dialogues.

Such unsubtle and filmi treatment of a crucial sequence was not expected from a filmmaker whose past works I have greatly admired.

'Jodhaa Akbar' has more such sequences that spoil the otherwise beautiful and enchanting film.

Set in 16th century India, the film begins with the kid emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad presiding over the wars fought on his behalf by the bestial commander Bairam Khan who slays the enemies of the Mughal kingdom without as much as a flinch.

The kingdom expands as the emperor grows to be a handsome king Akbar (Hrithik Roshan) with an empathetic heart for his enemies.

Many Rajputana kingdoms feel threatened by the fast expanding empire of Jalaluddin Akbar. One such Rajput, king Bharmal ( Kulbhushan Kharbanda ) of Amer offers his daughter Jodhaa's hand to Jalaluddin as a marriage of alliance between two kingdoms.

But the defiant Hindu princess (Aishwarya Rai) puts forth her conditions to Akbar before and after marriage. The conditions are that she should be allowed to practice her religion and worship lord Krishna. The post marriage condition is that Akbar won't touch her until he has won her heart over.

Thereafter begins the beautiful relation between Akbar and his self-respecting wife as they draw closer to each other in tender moments and are driven apart by cunning plots of those who don't want their love to succeed.

These moments and this gradual flowering of love between Jodhaa and Akbar is the USP of 'Jodhaa Akbar'. And it is in such sequences Gowarikar shows his incredible skill as an imaginative filmmaker.

However, my most favourite sequence from the film comes at the fag end of the sufi song Khwaja Mere Khwaja when Akbar goes into a trance-like state while listening to the devotional ode to Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. He rises from his seat, walks into the whirling dervishes, looks to the sky and begins to whirl. I swear I got goose bumps watching this sequence. This, for me, is Gowarikar at his best.

But the filmmaker disappoints in the second half. In this half there are moments when the film's plot begins to crumble under its own weight.

Now to the performances.

Hats off to Hrithik Roshan for playing the Mughal emperor with great finesse and restraint. The way he sits on his throne, with his palms resting gracefully on his thighs, the way he wield the sword and the way he walks and talks reeks of everything that's royal. Hrithik superbly brings a transformation in his character from an indecisive, kind-hearted king to a self-assured emperor who learns to take his own decisions.

Aishwarya Rai is brilliant when it comes to expressing emotions. But she definitely could have done better with the sword.

Sonu Sood as Jodhaa's muhbola bhai is just about okay.

A R Rahman 's music grows on you gradually through the course of the film with the instrumental versions of Jashn-e-Bahara and Khwaja Mere Khwaja. The cinematography is topnotch. Be it the panoramic battlefield scenes or the lingering close ups of Hrithik's sweaty biceps, the camera work in 'Jodhaa Akbar' is of superb quality. Praise should also be reserved for Nitin Desai for excellent and authentic recreation of Mughal ambience.

At its core, 'Jodhaa Akbar' is a romantic love story. The politics in Akbar's court and household is more or less an adjoining prop in the plot.

Save for a few shoddy and wishy-washy sequences in the film, 'Jodhaa Akbar' is an engaging watch. If only Gowarikar had rid the film of these aberrations, 'Jodhaa Akbar' would have been a cinematic masterpiece. In any case it would have been less exhausting.

User Reviews for Jodhaa Akbar

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07 May 2013
Nice pairing
their pairing was great and luvly.sweet on screen couple.
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04 Oct 2010
Jodha Akbar
i think this movie has everything adventure, love you name it it has everything.
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11 Jul 2010
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Movie Review : Enchanting but exhausting (3/5)
Ashutosh Gowarikar's film 'Jodhaa Akbar' enchants you and exhausts you at the same time.The movie has several great sequences ingeniously conceived by the no-nonsense Gowarikar. But as the film crosses two and half hours of its running time, you begin to notice Gowarikar's over-indulgence in...
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