Jodhaa Akbar | Review


Name of Movie: Jodhaa Akbar
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Producer: Ronnie Screwvala (UTV) and Ashutosh Gowariker
Screenplay: Ali Haider and Ashutosh Gowariker
Story: Ali Haider
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Ashwarya Rai Bachchan
Watchable % : 70%

Jodhaa Aknar

Grandeur and Opulence – these are two terms that have been associated with Sanjay Leela Bhansali movies in the recent years. Take both the attributes and add Ashutosh Gowariker’s subtlety to it. The result – Jodhaa Akbar.

Jodhaa Akbar is the coming-of-age story of Akbar. We see his span of life from a twelve year old to that of a 20 odd year old. The movie starts of with a history lesson that starts at 1100 AD and ends up at 1600 AD with Amitabh Bachchan assuming the role of the history teacher ala Lagaan. We see the complex politics that the Mughal Empire had to contend with internally as well as externally. The then Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, marries a Hindu Rajput princess Jodha Bai as a result of one such political maneuver. Post that how does Akbar grapple with his newly married status and how does he start gaining supremacy as the ruler of India is what the movie is all about.

Jodhaa Akbar is movie that has a lot of risks already riding on it.

  • It’s a period film. A huge risk
  • It’s based on a love story which many believe didn’t exist in the first place.
  • The promotions of the movie show war scenes which would put off the love story lovers.
  • And lastly it’s directed by Ashutosh Gowariker who, off-late is known for his non-masala flicks.

All the above fears were allayed by the fact that the movie has plenty of juice and material to sustain viewer interest all along the 3 hour 20 mins narrative. The narrative is a tad slow in parts but there’s always something interesting happening on screen to hold your attention. The movie comes on its own with the introduction of the Jodha Akbar love story track. The adoration that Akbar has for Jodha from word go and the way Jodha holds to her own as the Rajputian wife in alien surroundings have been captured very nicely.

The story by Haider Ali is quite vast and it covers a whole lot of topics. Due to this some of the tracks like the story of Sujamal is half baked. There are many betrayers in Akbar’s circle but there’s not enough room to properly run us through the emotions that they go through and their scenes are dealt in a sloppy manner. You know that they want to get control of Delhi but you’re not fully convinced of their modus-operandi.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s expertise in showcasing the songs and carrying the story forward through songs is again highlighted in Jodhaa Akbar. Watch out for the song Khwaja Ali. It’s one of the best pictured sufi-quawali songs. The way the song ends with Akbar immersed in the devotion for Khwaja is a mesmerizing moment. Songs like Mann Mohana and Kehne Ko Jasn-e-bahara have been split so as to not hamper the movie’s pace. The picturization of Azeem O Shaan Shehanshah starts off poorly as a Mughal equivalent of a Republic Day parade but it succeeds in wowing us towards the end.

There are quite a few battle scenes in the movie. While they are not as good as Braveheart, Troy or LOTR, there is no doubt that the battle scenes are depicted on a scale not seen before in Hindi movies. The sword fighting scenes and the elephant taming sequence have been dealt with a lot of finesse and they succeed in taking your breath away.

Ashutosh Gowariker as the director and co-screenplay writer is in fine form. He deftly takes us through the minds of Jodhaa and Akbar and succeeds in exposing their emotions to the audience. Wish he would have cut down on some of the characters so that the script could do equal justice to the others as well. He not only refers to History books for inspiration but he also takes a leaf out of Indra Kumar’s Beta(!!) to highlight the game of one-manship that plays out between the foster saas and the dutiful Bahu.

The cinematography by Kiran Deohans is excellent. The camera captures everything from the sparkle of Jodhaa’s jewels and the sweetness of Jodhaa’s face to harshness of the desert and the grandeur of Akbar’s palace with equal success. The editing was a bit out of place especially during transitions when a night scene suddenly gives way to a blinding daylight scene. The quality of the battle scenes are elevated by Rahman’s pulsating background score.

Hrithik Roshan and Ashwarya Rai carry their parts admirably and are quite convincing in their roles. Hrithik though, makes Akbar look like a dumb bhola bhala guy in some sequences. But to his credit most of the times you are convinced that this is how Akbar would have been in his hey days. The supporting star cast of Ila Arun, Sonu Sood and Raza Murad do admirably well in half baked roles.

Overall Ashutosh Gowariker succeeds to large extent in narrating a serious story set in historical period in an entertaining manner. And he goes whole hog in depicting the events with a lot of realism. Due to this many of the scenes look larger than life and nearly become a visual spectacular. A movie like this has to be savored in a theater to be enjoyed.

Click here for a howlarious review of Jodhaa Akbar

The buzz around this movie:

Meeta, Without Giving The Movie Away.”..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..Read More Aniruddha Guha, DNAThe story has enough ingredients that make a political drama, and could have been set against any backdrop. The Mughal era, however, brings along with it the chance to be opulent, and at the same time, intriguing.Read More
Meena Iyer, Mumbai Mirror
“..But this enterprise belongs fully to Ashutosh Gowariker (Lagaan, Swades) who with his grand vision and utmost sincerity makes this larger-than-life-reel experience worth the price of a multiplex ticket.” Read More
Abhishek Mande, Buzz 18 “..The magnitude of the canvas is indeed very breathtaking. However it is this very thing that tends to get overwhelming. There are chances that the dialogues and language of the characters may put you off..” Read More
Deepak Venkateshan, PFC
“This movie cries out for all those international awards but will not get it since our dear government will send some really shitty movie instead as the nomination. I do not think this should be a problem as this movie will definitely be discussed even after say 2-3 decades for the things it has bought together.” Read More
Baradwaj Rangan, Desipundit
“To make an epic entertainment out of all these disparate elements is perhaps impossible without a dash of go-for-broke madness, and Gowariker is too sane a director, too methodical, too… nice. What he’s very good at is in filling in the emotional landscapes of people”
Read More
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