A Grand Love Affair

As he pierces the air with the sword,his bare torso perfect,muscles taut,and sweat glistening on his sinewy back,Hrithik Roshan in his screen version of Mughal Emperor Jalauddin Akbar makes you catch your breath.

Gowariker’s film is set in the sixteenth century and it traces the graph of a confused but conscientious teenage prince,who has a crown thrust upon his head.Through he is initially squeamish about getting his sword bloodied,he manages to become the emperor of Hindustan with relative ease;and through his conquests and deeds wins himself the tittle of Akbar the Great.Simultaneously the film also follows the trajectory of Akbar’s love story with Rajput princess Jodhaa.Their dalliance is a politically motivated move,but it has the magic of a true-blue romance.

The first 20 minutes of the film unfold slowly because the plot-line and the various characters are established slowly.But once the Jodhaa-Akbar marriage is arranged,the magic of romance takes over.Interestingly the reticent Rajput princess Jodhaa(Aishwarya) is not too eager to give herself up to the all-powerful Mughal Emperor Akbar.And she walks into the relationship by laying down conditions;of how she will not convert to Islam;and she also requests for a temple to be made in her corner of the palaces.An indulgent Akbar agrees to fulfil his queen’s wishes much to the chagrin of the hardliners in his court.And though he’s liberal in thought,Jodhaa takes her own sweet time to warm up to her Prince Charming.

Here-in-lies the magic of the love story.The fact that the couple don’t consummate their wedding on their first night;the fact that much of the romance is played out aankhon hi aankhon mein adds a lot of color and character to this story.You get none of those been there-done-that romantic cliches.Obviously while the romance between Jodhaa and Akbar is the mainstay of the plot there are several other dramatic moments provided by sub-plots revolving around deceit,conspiracy,murder and jealously.Moham Anga Akbar’s surrogate mother and his queen Jodhaa are locked in a battle of jealously;and then there is the emperor’s brother-in-law played by debutant Nikitin Dheer(Sharifuddin Hussain),who keeps making innumberable plots to overthrow Akbar.

Kiron Deohan’s cinematography is ostentatious.Gowarikar and story-writer Haider Ali provide a competent screenplay.A R Rahman weaves magic with his sufiana Khwaja mere khwaja and Javed Akhtar captures the magical mood perfectly in Azeem-o-shann….

As for the performances,Hrithik Roshan brings to life Emperor Akbar in all his glory.The actor is superlative in the intense moments,and charismatic when he is playing the romantic.Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan looks picture-perfect and fits into queen Jodhaa’s shoes with her restrained performance.But this enterprise belongs fully to Ashutosh Gowarikar who with his grand vision and almost sincerity makes this larger-than-life-rel experience worth the price of a multiplex ticket.

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