Jodhaa-Akbar, 2008

Directed by: Ashutosh Gowariker

I’m right under the “S”… I have a white thing on my head.

Fact: I have a weakness for Rajasthan. It was the first part of India that I saw and I spent a week on the un-air-conditioned, open windowed train cars riding from Delhi to Jaisalmer to Jodapur and everything in between. I spoke a lot of terrible broken Hindi and used a lot of facial expressions and doodles and hand signs to communicate with the people who shared my train car. (It was a beautiful family that actually shared our compartment on our out trip and our return! Talk about fate!)

Our cabin family, well, one side of it. 
There were a Maa and Babaji, 2 sons and their wives and their
 children and two sets of grandparents. 

I think Rajastani women are the most beautiful women in the entire world. Their clothing and color choices are the best and their children the most dil-squashingly precious things I’ve ever laid eyes on. The men are so poised and dignified, quiet and observing. And then there was the fact that Rajasthan always looks like a film set. Billowing curtains, rooftop lounges with cushions and carpets made for a king.

And then there is the architecture. The forts. Be still my heart. I could hardly go from one chamber to another in the Amer and Amber forts without absolutely bawling. On both trips through both forts I had a steady stream of tears on my face because it was the only way I knew how to express how arrestingly beautiful the sights were.

This is me at the Amber Fort. I look a little disheveled (to put it lightly) since we had arrived in Jodapur at 3 am and had to stay awake to wait for our hotel room, and then we hired a driver to take us around…and he left at 9am… and I had been in those clothes for about 48 hours. 
Since Jodhaa Akbarwas filmed on sight at these forts I had a similar reaction to the film. There was no crying but placed in a setting that I had found so life altering I was instantly drawn to the film and fell in love with it, even if (at first) it was because I was seeing the forts decked out in their supposed grandeur and beauty as they would have been during the time of Mughal rule.

When I was in Mumbai, actually working, I went one day to a storage unit where we saw the costumes and sets and props from the film. Seeing those, I can only call them works of art, coupled with my boss’ insistence that JA was his favorite film of all time, made me have to watch it too. A copy of the film was actually kept in our house, but I was too busy drooling over all the Shashi swag I bought every day and I never got around to it.

I was apprehensive of both Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. Yes, the both of them are gorgeous but did they have the umph to pull of a historic, political drama?

The answer, my friend, is yes. A million times yes.

Hrithik is increasingly growing on me, that boy has skills! While in this film he mostly is just commanding and fierce there was something under the surface that brought to life his character of Jalal. With Hrithik, as with Amitabh Bachchan, I have learned that the subtleties are the clinchers in their performances. Sure on the surface it doesn’t look like they’re doing much but building up scene after scene they become an integral part of the fabric with which the film is woven. (Tacky cliches for $100, Alex.) A lot of Hrithik’s lines could have been so groan-inducing, tacky and awful, but he kept them from going there by giving his character a bit of stoicism that really helped keep things from going towards the eye-rolling category.

Aish, Aish, Aish… I always forget how much I love seeing her in films when all I see are her on a red carpet looking fug, stuck up, and aloof. (Aish, can we stop with the updos? You look so much better with natural, free flowing hair.) The woman literally mystifies me, mostly because I spend half of the time watching her going “I forgot she’s actually really good” and the other half thinking “Man I wish she wasn’t such an ice queen in person.” (That’s just how she comes across to me, take it or leave it.) Jodhaa Akbar is no exception to her prowess. Doesn’t she just look her best decked out in full garb, a-la Devdas and Umrao Jaan? She takes on the regal role so well and so fully becomes her character that I could not help but to fall in love with her all over again. It was interesting to me how well she played the innocence and doe-eyed wonder that she put into Jodhaa’s character, but at turn was strong, independent and demanding. Plus, wearing hardly any makeup, I kept thinking she looked like Juhi Chawla.

I would have been content to watch this film just to “ooh” and “aah”at all the visual spectacle, but thankfully there was dialogue and a story. And oh, my, goodness. I had no idea that JA was a love story! Come on! It’s about war, and empires, right? Well, yes, but there is a love story too (stupid me, forgetting) and it totally knocked me quite out of my senses. My heart felt like warm, melty butter. I was just so entranced by the chemistry between Aish and Hrithik that I don’t think I breathed a lot during this film… so by the end of three and a half hours I was a little woozy. Also, I have been spoiled by all the kissing in modern (2008 is not modern, aparantly) Bollywood because I just kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a kiss to happen, especially in this scene:

Wah! Wah! Wah! Steam city, my friends, steam city.

The music was… well, it was A.R. Rahman and that’s all I can say. I know, I know, A.R. Rahman is the best composer ever and blah… blah…. blah. Frankly, I’m not terribly impressed by him. His music, to me, is just a bit shallow and never quite reaches the emotional intensity that I so desire and long for. I’m not going to deny that his music is very beautiful, but it just leaves me a little underwhelmed.

You’re now free to hate me for that comment.

I have to buy this fillum, that’ just it. Excuse me, I’m off to eBay!