Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jodhaa-Akbar

I hesitated to write this post, because I felt anything I would say just wouldn't capture my true love of this film.



But now it's time to try...

Quite surprisingly, this movie has left an imprint on my heart that I've been unable to shake, and I've been reflecting on my favorite parts and humming the tunes for the past couple of days now.

I was surprised because I really wasn't all that excited to see the film. I'm not a big fan of Hollywood epics (Violence is not my thing and sometimes the battle scenes are tedious), so I really didn't know what to expect in Bollywood. Hrithik and Aishwarya are two of the most physically beautiful creatures on the planet, but I had yet to really connect with them onscreen.

But, being the Bollywood fan that I am, I went to see Jodhaa-Akbar on opening day...only to be turned away at the door of my not-so-local AMC theater because--get this--they hadn't received the second half of the film! Frustrated, I decided I wouldn't go back until I read some of the reviews from my blogging friends...Luckily, Beth, Sanket, and Carla all had positive things to say, as did my friend Mary (who doesn't have time to sit through 3 hour+ movies, but considered this one worth every minute),so I figured I'd better trek on back to AMC next week (when they were expecting the rest of the film to arrive).

And so began my obsession with Jodhaa-Akbar.



Oh, how I loved this film! It stretched to almost four hours, but I honestly did not want it to end. This amazed me because during most three hour movies, I get extremely irritated when I feel like the whole thing is dragging and should just end already (ahem, Karan Johar). But with this movie it was different- I was so entranced that I kept glancing at my watch wishing time would go slower.

You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm just such a sucker for a good love story! And Jodhaa-Akbar was love the way I like it...there was this sweet affection between the two lead characters that eventually grew into passion, instead of the other way around. Watching their love story grow was almost as intense as if it were my own!

I usually think love stories in epic films (in Hollywood, anyway) are forced into the script when the movie is really about the historical events. With Jodhaa-Akbar, there was just the right amount of history, action, and love, with the latter taking center stage. I didn't have to wait for scene after scene of drawn out battle for the love story to resurface-it was always there, weaving in between the more dramatic scenes when I needed it to.



I was extremely impressed with both Hrithik and Aishwayra in this film, but I may be biased since I loved the story so much. I'd seen Hrithik before in Kabhi Khushie Kabhi Gham and Dhoom 2, and found him a bit cold...In Jodhaa-Akbar, this iciness may have still been there, as his character was supposed to be a little intimidating (to some degree) as a Mughal Emperor. However, as he fell in love with Jodhaa and expressed his desire to unite Hindustan, I was caught off guard with his tenderness and compassion. I grew very fond of him in this film and loved his portrayal of Jalaluddin.



This was my favorite Ash performance by far...As with Hrithik, I always thought she could act, but had a hard time connecting with her (with the exception of my recent Devdas revisit) prior to this film.
Here, she was as likable as she was beautiful. Jodhaa had a spunkiness to her, but also a strong bind to her faith, which I could both admire and relate to. She was exquisite and refined as a Rajput princess, looking somewhat like a glass doll (she wore less makeup in this film, and actually looked better than ever, lucky gal). Ash was definitely the best choice for this role...I could see how a mighty Mughal emperor like Jalaluddin would develop a soft spot for her, despite all of her "conditions". Had they stuck someone else in this role, I may not have bought it.



By the way, I happen to be one of the few people who liked the Hrithik/Ash pairing in Dhoom 2. However, I loved them a whole lot more in Jodhaa-Akbar, perhaps because I enjoyed the story so much. One of my favorite parts of the entire film was the song "Inn Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein", a scene I found to be really romantic and incredibly steamy. The increasing tempo of the music matched the building intensity between Jodhaa and Jalaluddin, giving us yet another great example of Bollywood creating some heat onscreen in a tasteful manner. Now why can't Hollywood get this right?

Speaking of the music, I found the entire soundtrack to be unique to anything I'd heard before in Bollywood, but in a very lovely way. Instead of the actors lip-syncing and prancing around (as I happen to also enjoy), we get actual performance-type pieces like "Khwaja Mere Khawaja" and "Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah". These ensembles were so majestic on the big screen that I felt like I was actually there, either in the crowd praising the emperor or sitting outside at the wedding tent. I loved all of the songs, every single one, and have played the soundtrack practically on repeat since I saw the film.



Now, I realize I've done nothing but gush about the film for this entire post, but I just loved it that much. The purity of the love story, the beauty of the whole production, the haunting image of Krishna during "Mann Mohana", Jalaluddin identifying his wife amongst a room of covered women, Sonu Sood in his supporting role, the strong ties both leads had to their unique faith...these are just a few of the things I adored. I may have to make it down to the theater to see this one again, so stained is Jodhaa-Akbar on my heart.

I know its a little hasty to say this off of one viewing, but I think Jodhaa-Akbar is one of my favorite films ever.

11 comments:

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat March 3, 2008 at 6:08 AM  

You are spot on about the analysis on Hritik- he is so pretty and a bit of a non actor in most movies, but here the iciness translated very well. Its just good to see a epic movies come out from Bollywood after so long.

Nida March 3, 2008 at 2:53 PM  

Shweta--

I'm sure it is. I love when Bollywood proves they can do just as well,
if not better, than the Hollywood folks can!


I'm glad someone understands what I was feeling about Hrithik before seeing this movie. I knew
he was attractive, but just couldn't bring myself to love him or find any real personality in his performances. However, after this film, I found myself saying,
"Shahrukh who?" lol

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat March 4, 2008 at 9:57 AM  

rofl- I can agree w/ that last easily, since I dont like Shahrukh- I tried, during Chak De, but the minute he wrinkles up his eyebrows, I do want to shake him so!

Nida March 4, 2008 at 8:59 PM  

I couldn't help myself--I went to go see it again!:)

I've been in my Jodhaa-Akbar trance for a week now, so I figured it was time to either snap out of it and rejoin the land of the living or go see it again and get it out of my system.

Was I as blown away the second time around? Well, sort of. Of course, there's really nothing quite like the first time(with most films), and since I knew what was going to happen, I was really just reliving some of my favorite scenes. But make no mistake--I really do love this film. I also realize that while most of the reviews have been positive, I'm more enthusiastic than most on this. I don't know what it is exactly...it's just that one film that hit me in the right spot at the right time.

Even more impressed with Hrithik, by the way... as Shweta said, "the iciness translated very well", as he could be cold at times, yet he possessed a lovable ackwardness when it came to things like trying to understand the "common man" or wooing Jodhaa. There were times he looked at her with a certain shyness and I would just think, "Aww..."

Daddy's Girl March 16, 2008 at 12:45 PM  

Aww... glad you liked it so much - it's always great when a movie captures your heart. I liked JA but I didn't quite love it for a number of reasons; it was definitely a worthwhile trip to the cinema for me though.

joss April 1, 2008 at 4:21 AM  

I had high expectations of this film because I had lived with the music for weeks beforehand. But, was I disappointed! I really wanted to love this film, but right from the start I just couldn't. It so badly needed editing, or compltely rewriting. All those irrelevant historical details at the beginning ... I could have read those in book. But this was a movie. A movie is there to show us not to tell us things. I nearly walked out at the interval.

The next day I watched my DVD of Asoka again. That film is in a different league entirely. The cinematography is beautiful, and revolutionary for Bollywood. The narrative is far more adventurous, and t while it covers a historical period of time, it doesn't claim to be an epic. It is a story about individuals who are large in history. But the film shows them as real people we can identify with. I have never understood why this film was a flop in India.

Nida April 4, 2008 at 9:42 AM  

Daddy's Girl and Joss--

Sorry you guys didn't love the film like I did...I hate when you have high expectations for a movie and then are let down! Especially, like you said, Joss, when you are already so into the music...

Of course, I loved everything about this movie...but I'm sure you guys already know that!:)

Anonymous,  July 2, 2008 at 6:03 PM  

Good post. Notice that Indian films still make films the old-fashioned way as the majority of the films consist of actual physical props, sets and costumes, whereas most Hollywood films (particularly the epics) unfortunately uses CGI to create these props, sets and costumes. I doubt that Hollywood production companies nowadays would be bothered to make the sets to its actual real-life size - they'd pull out the blue screen instead! ;-)

Nida July 8, 2008 at 12:28 PM  

Anonymous,

That's very interesting! I had no idea that Hollywood and Bollywood made their epics so differently--but, now that you mention it, I can truly see the difference.

I've heard so many mixed reviews on the fightings scenes in Jodhaa-Akbar. And, while violence onscreen is not really my cup of tea, and therefore I don't feel qualified to judge it, I thought this movie did a much more realistic job with these scenes than other films I've seen in Bollywood (such as Hum, DDLJ, Baazigar, etc).

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