The Contradictions of Jodha Akbar

my boys had the pre-school, and i had an off-day at work! probably the first time in years, and me/wife/bro/sil took off for a 10am showing (that must be a first in about 15 years) of “jodha akbar“. the ticket price was Rs.100 at INOX multiplex at the garuda mall – a steal.

first things first – the stunning glitter of jodha’s jewelery (by tanishq jewelers) was breathtaking. paired with the beauty of aishwarya rai and costumes by neeta lulla, many women were gasping as much as men would drool over her in Dhoom-2. the regalia of mughal and rajput forts was captured beautifully without the regalia going over-the-top.

that out of the way, i should say the movie was as true to the period, story and the characterization as these aspects were handled by the director in Lagaan – including some bars of music from A.R. Rahman.

right from the presentation of titles, the contradictions of india were subtly showcased throughout. here are a few:

  • all mughal characters speak urdu, and all hindu characters speak hindi.
  • the khwaja-mere-khwaja was as devotional and faithful sufi song as was the Man Mohana was a devotional hindu bhajan. both songs are by the music director that was born a hindu and now a muslim. A.R. Rahman is slowly but surely building a treasure of great islaim songs that i (a hindu) also can relate to.
  • after i saw the prithviraj kapoor’s stunning character of akbar in mughal-e-azam, i was dreading a trivialization of the character in the hands of hritik roshan. i was pleasantly surprised. the regal splendor and righteousness was diligently preserved. kudos. interestingly this most revered mughal empero’s character was portrayed by two hindus (prithviraj kapoor, and now hritik roshan).

the contradictions are a reflection of a nation that thrives on it’s mantra of ‘unity in diversity’, reminding us of the heritage that makes this land special. in 60 years, india had a muslim, a hindu and a sikh president. it had a hindu and a sikh prime minister. we had a woman prime minister and a woman president. one of the best devotional singers in south india is a christian. my maid is a christian, she wears sindhoor. Ashoka (hindu, converted to Buddhism) gave the identity to the land that Akbar homogenized. bharat ratna bismillah khan is the most distinguished shehnai (an wind intrument widely used for hindu marriages) maestro of the land, who played in the most holiest temple of hindus in varanasi. some of the most beautiful hindu devotional lyrics in movies were penned by a muslim, javed akhtar.

and so on…
it was a moment of pride being an indian, watching these contradictions so subtly portrayed in the film. for instance, jodha brings a idol of krishna to the mughal palace (idol worship is believed to be a blasphamy in islam). when akbar visits jodha’s pooja room, he graciously accepting the aarti from jodha.

good movie, check it out. it’s runs 3.5 hrs, but doesn’t feel long. and here’s one final contradiction below.
Dhoom-2 (2006)

Aishwarya Rai - Dhoom2

Jodha Akbar (2008)

Aishwarya Rai - Jodha AkbarHritik Roshan Jodha Akbar

8 thoughts on “The Contradictions of Jodha Akbar

  1. Nice article! I just posted one blog post on my site regarding your post.


  2. thanks desh. i think at the deepest creative level, the emotions are universal. we in india lived this confluence of contradictions for ages. our tolerance might look like apathy, and the debate might look like a flash-point, but indians have lived this contradictions for hundreds of years, and we are better off for it.

  3. @spandana, rather than call all these contradictions, i’d like to think that it’s just a matter of having the best person for the job w/o any relevance to the religious/caste of the person (or such “don’t care conditions”), which happens to portray the “unity in diversity”. the film was beautiful. in general, the references to religion/caste are meant to positively highlight the unity etc. but sometimes it could be a case of “trying too hard”. wish such sanity prevailed today, esp . among our parochial dealer-leaders and masses. Dr. Kalam as president was great reason for cheer. sadly, after him, it back to the usual. there’ll always be narrow-minded people but it’s important to not let such people/ideas become a majority. Shashi Tharoor gave an analogy to this unity in diversity as the yummy, different food items that make up a multi-course indian thali :-). yes, sometimes tolerance is seen as apathy or weakness – then it’s time to assert.

  4. @sanjay : i contradictions were called out in a positive light, to show case the proud unity in diversity and incredible tolerance that india represents.

    we tolerate a lot, which probably is a testament to the longevity and uniqueness of our culture. the ‘indian-ness’ of tomorrow might be different form the ‘indian-ness’ of today, but tolerance is one thing we should never lose.

  5. Why the name kites? You wonder and I wonder too? Well its all the brainchild of of Rakesh Roshan who got mesmerized by the two kites flying high in the sky. It looked romantic, intriguing – the way it came close.. know more about hrithik and barbara mori

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