One of the finer period dramas from bollywood
10 April, 2013
An outstanding effort at putting together a period drama for a modern audience. It has all the good things associated with a great period drama – legendary characters people have always known, wonderful sets and costumes, a sense of idealism and new perspectives into historical events. And thanks to the wonderful direction of Ashutosh, it has been able to avoid most of period drama pitfalls – snail-pace storyline, black and white characters you cannot identify with and an overwhelming focus on facts rather than the storytelling. Hrithik and Ash are wonderful in their roles of Akbar and Jodha respectively. Hrithik brings a sense of sensitivity and genuineness to Akbar’s character rarely seen in period dramas. Akbar is a scared little boy not having the courage or the intent to participate in a war; an illiterate who cannot read or write but loves to spend time in the company of intellectuals philosophising on life; a kind and sensitive person to everyone around him but cruel enough to get half-dead people thrown down his fort walls. Ash is at her natural best, looking stunning in the most elaborate of dresses and jewelry and using her beautiful eyes to create the silent steelness of her character. This character reminds you of her look in HDDCS. Though awful at times in her acting, she has proven to be a great artist in the hands of the right directors – Raincoat, HDDCS, Choker Bali, Taal, Devdas are some performances that come to mind. Having said all this, Jodha-Akbar too has its share of shortcomings. There is still a tendency to cover too much – politics, war, love, betrayal, growing up, you name it. Especially disappointing is the entire war angle – most of it could have been done without, especially the war towards the end of the movie which seemed so pointless (why would you keep such fluff when you anyway know that the length of the movie is going to be a challenge!). The dresses used in the wars and the acting of extras in it made me go back to the days of Mahabharat and Ramayan (they were really shocking!). There are a lot of cliches in the movie that are hard to ignore – overplaying the no sex before love angle, the setup of Jodha by Badi Ammi, the killing of Jodha’s brother in the end. But overall this remains a great attempt at making a really watchable period movie. My favourite scene was Akbar’s dance with the Sufi saints – in some ways it had the makings of another cliched scene but Hrithik makes it look so honest and serene that it eventually slows down time and creates a sense of peace within you
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