Review - Jodhaa Akbar: Excruciatingly long!
Painstakingly made but painfully long. The history and politics is interesting but the teachers seemed to be in a rush to cover the course material. What we do know now though, is romance 450 years ago was same as it is now. It is a visual treat nevertheless.
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I am not exactly a fan of qualified opinions - especially with opinion on movies. Either you like it or you don't - no if, no but, only "mut" (opinion in Hindi). In a 5-star scale, Jodhaa Akbar certainly deserves 3, but that would translate to "Wait for DVD release" here. And what a waste it would be to have you do that with such a beautifully shot movie. However, after spending half of the 200+ minutes on mostly mundane romance and the other half on interesting yet dissatisfying display of politics, I cannot tell you it is a must watch. Either catch it in theaters or skip it completely.
Meanwhile, suggestions for a descriptive rating to go between the second-last and middle rating are welcome!
Jodhaa Akbar can be clearly divided into two parts - the political saga and the romance between the royal couple. It is also obvious that the romance is the prime focus of the narrative.
Hrithik Roshan (Emperor Akbar) who is chiseled to fit the handsomest mould and picture-perfect, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan (Queen Jodhaa) are wonderful in their scenes together. You get your dose of Chemistry along with History and Geography. But, I would say that it is largely due to the time given for that chemistry to develop - for the curiosity to become respect to become love. And here we hit the circular argument; the time taken is the biggest culprit. The movie is unjustifiably long.
In these often heavily clichéd romantic scenes, the law of diminishing returns kept cropping into my mind. In any movie in general, every extra minute beyond the 120-minute mark yields lesser enjoyment than the previous one. Unless, unless ... you have an extremely captivating story to tell, or you are telling it in an extremely captivating manner. I need something more than glittery jewelry and costumes, bright reds, oranges, and yellows, and fantabulous sets to keep me from fidgeting. Something more natural, something less made-up. And get this, here the interval is at 120 minutes!
The romance is pretty dull. From the bedroom tiffs to the mistaken identities - nothing is new or handled in a creative way. Especially appalling is the way the mother of all misunderstandings takes shape - a speech delivered in the most monotonous fashion by Ms. Rai-Bachchan. The sole scene that might stand out is the sword fight between the two. All-in-all this romance lacked Bhuvan-Gauri's innocent charm or Mohan Bhargav-Geeta's elegance.
On the other hand, the political drama, including the dialogues, was extremely interesting, - even though most of it is a voiceover delivering a lesson in history. All credit to the history teacher, Amitabh Bachchan - listen to how the voice softens when it talks about Jodhaa. Some of the political situations are executed really well too. The reactions of various Rajputs to Akbar's orders is a fine example.
Another highlight of political dramas is the language used. Both Urdu and Hindi are used beautifully, especially in the political sequences. At times the same dialogue was repeated once in each language. It sounded like an enchanting jugalbandi of the languages.
Unfortunately though, these are treated as mere sub-plots to give a break to the mushy-mushy happenings in the main story. Most of the side characters are underdeveloped and thus one-dimensional. It seems like the director is simply fulfilling his duty by filling us in on the political environment. To watch Akbar become a crowd-pleaser with just one act of kindness is unconvincing. If this one action is supposed to be symbolic of all such actions he must have taken, then it is extremely dissatisfying. More instances of Jodhaa being the light that guides Akbar's soul would not have harmed. And of course, lack of time cannot be an excuse now, can it?
The war and action scenes are an integral part of the entire drama. While other battle sequences are rather repetitive, the first one has some exquisite camera work and background score. Some of the fast camera movements have an awesome 3-D effect (okay, almost!). The silences add to the drama as much as the drum rolls.
The Rahman-Gowariker duo usually churns out some wonderful music. And if nothing else they are a spectacle. But, here I felt let down. Only towards the end of "Khwaja" did I realize that all through the song they were trying to build Akbar's character. To show how he can be mesmerized and go into a trance. Till then, all I could do was empathize with the giggles around me looking at mannequins wearing clay-pot-look-alike hats and attempting a puppet dance. "Azeem-o-shaan" is brilliant more because of the crowd and the aerial shots rather than the choreography and use of color. We've had much better from both A. R. Rehman's musical sensibilities and Javed Akhtar's pen and imagination.
Mr. Gowariker, how about leaving the melodrama, the "almighty solving all problems without any input from humans" syndrome to the Barjatyas? How about letting Ekta Kapoor reign the "salt-pepper" kitchen politics? So, we can block that out of our systems just by name. Surely there must have been more to the saas-bahu equation than that! Cannot thank you enough for sparing us the triple action repeat cuts, though. A thousand salutations to N D Studios, magnificent sets! But how about leaving that to the Bhansalis of the world? What's the point if you can't focus on what you do best - narrate a story, reach out to us?
- meeta, a part of the audience
Jodhaa Akbar - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Website Facebook Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: UTV Motion Pictures, Ashutosh Gowariker Productions
- Producer: Ronnie Screwwala, Ashutosh Gowariker
- Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
- Lead Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai
- Supporting Cast: Sonu Sood, Raza Murad, Ila Arun
- Story: Haider Ali
- Screenplay: Haider Ali, Ashutosh Gowariker
- Dialogues: K P Saxena, K P Saxena
- Cinematography: Kiiran Deohans
- Editor: Ballu Saluja
- Background Score: A R Rahman, Kiran Deohans
- Action Choreography: Ravi Dewan
- Choreography: Chinni Prakash, Rekha Prakash, Raju Khan, Raju Khan, Chinni Prakash, Rekha Prakash
- Music Director: A R Rahman
- Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
- Costume Designer: Neeta Lulla
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 210 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: History, Politics, Romance, War