Khalid Mohamed On Jodhaa Akbar (Jodhaa AkBORE)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, February 15, 2008
And the rest isn’t history – Jodhaa Akbar
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Poonam Sinha
Direction: Ashutosh Gowariker
Rating: **

…..Please, what is Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar trying to serve anyway ?  A romance dopiaza ?  Mughlai history biryani ?  Secularism sushi ?  Chandeliers-e-Azam ?  Battle Stroganoff ?  Absolutely no answers to that, except that you’re as disappointed as a guest who came away without a morsel from a wedding banquet.  Sad.  As you know, the romance is between Shahenshah Akbar (from the look of things here, a bachelor at 30) and Jodhaaji (not exactly in the prime of her youth either).  She is coerced into a marriage with the Mughal but won’t allow him his conjugal rights till she feels up to it from her ‘dil’.  Frowns she like Kill Bill.  Till that belated Dil-Day occurs, they sword fence, she a crouching dragonette, he a patient tiger.  Never mind, if her swashbuckling skills aren’t ever re-employed by the script.  Misunderstandings and a patch-up later, the regal couple at last share common pillows-`n’-quilt.  Takliya really.  Vis-à-vis history, you learn about Rajputana kings who either acceded to Mughal supremacy or hatched plots culminating in battles starring scabbards, cannon balls, bows-arrows and helmets.  Sorry but you’re not sure which soldier is fighting whom and why.  The body count rises to Ramboesque proportions; the displeased emperor banishes a mulla and good ‘ole lieutenant Bairam Khan to Mecca forthwith.  Surprisingly, the mulla looks as if he were being sent to Siberia.  Is this history?  Secularism is conveyed through such gestures as Akbar allowing Jodhaa her own temple space and approval of  A R Rahman-composed bhajans.  No mention of the emperor’s foundation of the all-religion-embracing Din-e-Ilahi faith.  Moreover, how relevant is it to address the issue of Hindu tolerance of the minority today, instead of vice versa?  Sufism is touched upon by a clap-a-hand-here-clap-a-hand-there qawwali in the course of which the emperor is zapped by a sky light, causing him to break into a jolly jig with the qawwals.  Unintentionally funny.  Did Akbar ever boogie woogie?

For a tribute to Mughal-e-Azam, a fluttering palace eunuch is recalled and durbar cliches abound like “Hukam ki taamil ho.”  Inevitably, flighty handmaidens clasp secrets to their bosom, eavesdroppers lounge around at jharokas.  And the venomous Nigar Sultana is supplanted by a diabolical daai, or Ila Arun, playing the role as if she were a harridan from Harry Potter.  The Shahenshah’s mum, Poonam Sinha, is so benign that it hurts.  So does one of her Eiffel Tower-tall hats.  What a balancing act!  In fact, the headgear displayed here – from Aladdin Cave turbans to those qawwals’ upturned ice-cream cones — are a gas.  The action set pieces – involving a rather senior citizen elephant and the Troy-like one-to-one combat finale  — are sound and fury amounting to nothing.  Amitabh Bachchan’s voice-over commentary is stale.  Kiran Deohan’s cinematography is conventional and Ballu Saluja’s editing is rather old-fashioned, what with the 1950s-style wipes.  The length of three hours-20 minutes is a punishment.  On the plus side, Nitin Desai’s sets and plush pageantry are eye filling.  So is the elaborate picturisation of the Marhaba song in the style of the drum-stacked Chandralekha of yore.  Still, like it or not Gowariker – normally a fine, conscientious director – has miscalculated the technical logistics and emotional content of a period piece.  Crucial detailing isn’t the virtue here.  The child actors playing the eponymous pair have coal black eyes which magically turn cat light on adulthood.  Of the cast, Sonu Sood in a strongly written part fits the bill.  But Hrithik Roshan is a major let down.  His Urdu diction is laboured, his physical presence unequal to the role, and far too frequently he blinks his eyes like a neon sign gone out of order.  The imperial gaze and carriage are conspicuous by their absence.  Relatively, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is more convincing.  She carries off difficult scenes with unexpected fluidity, her eyes conveying the pleasure as well as the pain of a woman oscillating between love and rancour. 

Bottomline: Toss a coin, whether you want to buy a ticket for Jodhaa AkBORE.. or not.

7 Responses to “Khalid Mohamed On Jodhaa Akbar (Jodhaa AkBORE)”

  1. Gautam Says:

    Don’t believe dis. How can Mr. Khalid assault the film like dis when every1 else is shouting praises for it. Plz read Mr. Taran ADarsh’s review for a more sensible insight. And why is Mr. Khalid so anti-Hrithik in his deliveries? were u expecting the JA team to pay u or something???

  2. Sandeep R Says:

    Well, Mr. Khalid Mohammed, far from encouraging good cinema… it is because of constipated critics and failed filmmakers like you that India still does not have an informed cinema audience. The film is good and it deserves to be seen in the right perspective. I am sure if you would have reviewed Mughal-e-Azam you would have found Madhubala laboured, Dilip kumar insipid and Prithviraaj overworked. Take a break Khalid.

  3. Gaurav Mahendru Says:

    Hi Khalid

    It was great to read this review done by you.

    Let me tell you honestly, I was not surprised to read this review which has essence of all the emotions that any such human being would have who has spent all his life criticising others and when it came to proving his own point and mettle, with the best of the starcast in the tinseltown (remember Fiza?) flunked badly.

    Let me sum up your review in 3 words here:
    Jealous, Frustrated, Baffled and Utter Childish attempt at proving a masterpiece as flop which, ofcourse, has by now proved to be a bigger hit than Om Shanti Om.

    My reason to reply to this review 1 week after the release of the film was for the reason that I, by this time, would not have to proove the success and potential of the film but would only be making a point to u that no one would respect your writing abilities by reading the rot you have written rather people respect intelligent reviews.

    This is really cheap and and unsuccessful attempt to gain popularity by trying to rip a great film apart by writing against it.

    So what if Ashutosh Govarikar came out as a 3rd time winner with this film and you delivered the biggest flop in your maiden attempt.

    If you really have the guts and money, make another film taking an off-beat subject and fetch equal business from that as this film has till date.

    Trust me, if you seriously think this film was bad, and it was not pre-planned, then you seriously have a pathetic movie sense.
    Try another profession!

    But you wont improve… and why should you… after all you also have to run a family but at the end, my advice to you would be to just have a look your own career viz a viz anyone else’s career whom you have criticised and see where you are and most importantly WHY YOU ARE THERE TILL NOW…

  4. devika Says:

    hear hear khalid saab! lol.u’v put in words each nd everythng tht struck me. from th chef topis to blinky-winky akbar to th carpet-sharing. th movie was out nd out hillarious.’imperial gaze nd carriage’-th very words i was looking for. ur right, in every sentence. wt was gowariker thinking. wher did al his research go? i loved wt he did in swades. i’m not so impressed wid this one. mebe he shld stick t nri’s or taxes, which btw, he din leave out in this one either (teerth yatra tax).

  5. ravi Says:

    Mr.Khalid can only show his literary skills and thats it. he has been an unsuccessful critic, lays more stress on use of high level angrezi rather than appreciating good cinema. I request hindustan times to please do away with such a sick person and hire somebody else for the job….khalid is no match even as a critic to Nikhat Kazmi of TOI who is very liberal critic.
    Khalid Ji, aap ki gaand me dum hai to jodha akbar apni tarah se banake dikhayiye. it requires guts, man.

  6. pappu Says:

    khalid mohamed is one of the distasteful critics i have
    seen and his articles or reviews are not reviews but like hitting someone below the belt , he reviews films as if he has the most successful films to his credit but
    if he has to introspect within he has directed himself some flop films.


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