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Jodhaa Akbar [Blu-ray]
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Bollywood drama about a marriage of alliance that gave birth to true love between a great Mughal emperor, Akbar, and a Rajput princess, Jodhaa. Political success knew no bounds for Emperor Akbar (Hrithik Roshan). After having secured the Hindu Kush, he furthered his realm by conquest until his empire extended from Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal, and from the Himalayas to the Godavari River. But little did Akbar know that when he married Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai), a fiery Rajput princess, in order to further strengthen his relations with the Rajputs, he would in turn be embarking upon a new journey - the journey of true love.
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I wrote the following review when it was shown on Channel 4 in 2010: the film is based very loosely on a real Mughal emperor of the sixteenth century, though most of the plot is fiction. Emperor Akbar (Hrithik Roshan) has conquered most of the kingdoms over a wide area. To cement this rule over the Rajputs he marries the King's daughter, Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai) over her opposition. Though they are hostile to each other at first, their love slowly develops, and this is the main plot of the film through a welter of subplots involving battles, treason, revenge and duels.
The film has caused controversy: present-day Rajputs objected to the portrayal of their ancestors (who I would have thought come out of the story quite well, even though one of them is the main villain), and there have been objections about historical accuracy (Jodhaa may actually have been married to Akbar's son) which seem a bit off the point - it's on a par with Robin Hood: a colourful legend, not a history lesson.
Though Roshan is a little bland, Rai is genuinely beautiful and acts the character convincingly; and the other actors manage the grand manner without turning it into ham. The inevitable songs and dances - with a huge number of dancers - jar less than they might in what is hardly an accurate representation of history: and the photography is stunning. It's a tribute to the film-maker's skill that it sustains what is really a very slight plot through three hours and thirty-four minutes (though I was watching it in a comfortable armchair with breaks when required: I would have been less happy about it in a cinema, particularly if there was no interval).
In this modern era of secular distrust between Hindu and Muslim, it is nice to see that toleration is encouraged and many of the Muslims are good people.
If you buy this film, go for the extended version. Apparently it is longer then the single disc.
The film starts like a good old fashioned war epic, but the stylish modern directing style is evident and brings the film right up-to-date. The plot is a bit spoon-fed, with a narrator establishing the scene and describing the state of Hindustan during the 16th Century. But in a film of complex political intrigue and dynastical bonds - a little help is welcome!
As someone with a limited knowledge of religion - this film proved to be a fascinating insight into the basic differences between Hindu and Islamic faiths, and the consequences of how strong the reaction can be when the two clash. And the centre of that clash is the budding romance between the Emperor and his new, but reluctant Empress.
In many ways this is the ultimate feminist film, Jodhaa calls all the shots and everything that happens, happens on her terms. Hritik is perfectly cast as the Emperor Akbar. His physique commands the power such a role needs, whilst his boyish charm reflects the vulnerability and compassion of a man who came to power when just a child. The romance between the two is genuinely intriguing, and is given energy by the opposition it receives from all those around it.
In a nutshell: This is the story of how a boy Emperor becomes a man and though often ruthless, he attempts to unite the nation by preaching acceptance. His decisions court controversy, and gestures and actions are loaded with politics and power play. The Emperor Akbar and his Empress Jodhaa, are both united and isolated by a very unconventional marriage.
Despite the description (unless the page has been updated) this is a 3 DVD set. The first and second DVDs contains the first and second parts of this three and a half hour film, whilst the third contains special features.
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