Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

Review: Jodhaa Akbar

If you ever harbored doubts about whether beautiful people get all the breaks in life, look no further than Jodhaa Akbar, a movie that’s practically the epitome of all things Bollywood. One could say Ashutosh Gowariker packs in extravagant set-pieces, gory battle-scenes, an epic romance, jealousy, betrayal, and lots and lots of swelling music in his latest venture. Only, it feels wrong to use the term “packs in” when describing a 195 minute long movie.

After a preliminary nod at the somewhat dubious origins of this story, Gowariker quickly gets on with his tale of romance between Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Akbar and his Hindu bride Jodhaa. Every third or so minute, one starts losing patience with what is essentially a Velveeta cheese factory (make no mistake, for all its beauty this is no gourmet cheese farm). But a nanosecond before one crosses over to anger, along comes Hrithik Roshan (or the younger Mrs. Bachchan – depending on personal sexual orientation) with his / her green eyes and you forget all about the lactose-overdose.

After one or both of these almost too-gorgeous people move away from the camera, and you regain the use of your grey cells, you realize that were this man around today, he’d be the perfect Republican presidential candidate. Forget about McCain and Huckabee and their wannabe conservatism – we’re talking about a ruler who’s waged (and won, which is always nice) more wars than our current one might have even had wet dreams about, and whose idea of economic reform is a permanent abolishment of tax on religious travel. And if the evangelicals had any doubts about his social conservatism, they only need to be reminded that not only did Akbar and his wife wait till they were married, but what’s more – they waited till they truly fell in love (this being your cue to go “Awwww”). Yes, this chap does harbor an unnatural penchant for tolerating other religions, but surely, with time, he can be made to see the light.

One has to congratulate Gowariker on his casting. Among the current crop of Bollywood heroes, Roshan is perhaps the only one who can get away with a wink and a smile, appearing almost humble in a story whose only intent appears to be to get everyone to either worship or fall madly in love (preferably both) with the character he plays. If the movie only had the lead couple, you might be tempted to write it off as a story about an alien species of human-like creatures characterized by their stunning good looks. But Gowariker fills the rest of the cast with a fine collection of gargoyles who constantly remind you that Roshan and Rai are indeed earthlings, only more special than you and I could ever be.

Final verdict: cheap cheese in a near-perfect package. How can you not fall for it?

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