Astonishment- that is what one feels after watching the epic, Jodhaa Akbar. There has truly never been a film like this in recent memory. It is grand, rich, beautiful, and gargantuan. The film is an epic in every sense of the word. Ashutosh Gowariker has some big onions to attempt a film like this, but when you’re a man with such high confidence and intelligence, you can make any film and turn it to gold. Ashutosh believed in his project from day one and never wavered from it and it shows on the screen. The entire film is his vision and we are witnessing it through his eyes. Pulling off a film like this is incredibly difficult, but Ashutosh has pulled of the remarkable feat and makes it look so easy. Historicals may be a dicey bet in Bollywood, but this is one historical that you can put all your chips in and be sure that you will come out a huge winner. Why? Because Jodhaa Akbar is clearly one of the biggest winners we have seen come out from Bollywood in recent times.
It is already known that the film is about the marriage and romance of the Rajput princess Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai) and the Mughal emperor Akbar (Hrithik Roshan). The film starts off with a phenomenal battle sequence, which is a rarity in Bollywood. We get a brief backdrop of the history of the Mughal Empire and a backdrop of our main protagonists. The film then turns to the political alliance of a marriage between the two title characters. Akbar marries Jodhaa for benefits, but eventually finds himself falling in love with her. Jodhaa refuses to be used for a political alliance, but eventually caves in for the betterment of her nation. Eventually, she starts to warm up to Akbar and a love is eventually formed. The movie basically revolves around the politics of the empire and the threats to their relationship. The story is not complicated to follow and it is does not feel like a history lesson like many feel it may be. The screenplay is very tight and the script writers have done an excellent job with it. The one and only deterrent of the film is obviously the duration. The film runs at about three and a half hours, but honestly it does not even seem that long. There are some instances where the film slows down a bit, but overall the movie runs at a brisk pace and it keeps your attention throughout. Key sequences that stand out in the film are the opening battle sequence as mentioned above, Hrithik attempting to tame the elephant, Aishwarya’s confrontation with Hrithik’s foster mother (Ila Arun), the misunderstanding between Hrithik and Aishwarya right before intermission, the sword fight between Hrithik and Aishwarya, and the closing battle between Hrithik and his deceiving brother-in-law (Nikitin Dheer). All of these scenes just add to the drama and intrigue of the film and make it such a pleasure to watch.
Ashutosh Gowariker has gone out and proved exactly why he is one of the top most, if not the top, directors in Hindi cinema. Every scene is executed with the utmost precision. You can tell that he has given his heart and soul into this film. The two years he spent in bringing this film has sure been well spent as there is not a dull moment to speak of while watching this film. As mentioned before, the editing is the only place where the film could have been worked on. But Ashutosh’s direction and part in the writing definitely make up for the length of the movie. He deserves great credit for not turning this into a movie straight out of a textbook, but rather an entertaining and enthralling epic.
Huge props go to the cinematography of the film. It is absolutely superb. As a matter of fact, it plays a huge factor in lifting the film to an even higher level. The camera is always fixed on the appropriate places and helps build even more drama. The sets are to be seen to be believed. It only adds to the grand spectacle that the film is. The action of the film is also wonderful, as the battle sequences look very real and authentic. It’s safe to say that they belong to Hollywood standards, especially since the last battle reminds you of the film Troy.
AR Rehman’s music is very easy on the ears. He creates a wonderful soundtrack that may not create an impact at first listen, but once seen on screen, you can’t help but be mesmerized by each and every song. The best of the lot are Azeem-o-Shaan Shahenshah and Jashn-e-Bahara. In terms of picturization, In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein is very aesthetically shot and Khwaja Mere Khwaja is very soothing and beautiful. Overall, a beautiful soundtrack that sounds even better once you see it on screen. Also to be noted, the background music is awesome and totally captures the mood of the film every time it takes a turn.
The performances are nothing short of fantastic. Hrithik Roshan becomes Akbar and not once do you feel you are watching Hrithik on the screen. He is beyond brilliant and carries the film on his broad shoulders throughout. The way he emotes and delivers his dialogues shows that he is a super performer. This easily has to rank as the best performance of his career.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan matches Hrithik and delivers a wonderful performance as well. Although she does not have as many lines to deliver or have as much screen time, she still makes you sit up and take notice of her through her extremely expressive eyes. She emotes superbly with them and it only enhances her performance. This will go down as one of her career best performances. Also, the Hrithik and Aishwarya chemistry is as flawless as ever. They sizzle every scene they are in together.
Out of the supporting cast, the ones that stand out the most are Nikitin Dheer, Sonu Sood, and Ila Arun. They all are great and provide wonderful support to the lead actors. Kulbhushan, Punam Sinha, and Raza Murad are solid. Amitabh Bachchan is the perfect person to provide narration for the film with his baritone voice. Come to think of it, there are no bad performances in the film. Gowariker deserves all the credit for bringing out the best out of all his artistes.
Jodhaa Akbar ends up being a superb and extraordinary film that lived up to the enormous hype. It is a film that definitely needs to be seen in theaters in order to get the maximum impact. Everyone associated with the film has given their blood, sweat, and tears into this enterprise and we, as an audience, appreciate the brave effort by these brave and talented people. My advice to the audience is to not miss Jodhaa Akbar because doing so would be a huge mistake. It is a masterpiece and a definite must see. Don’t miss it!