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Movie Review: Jodhaa Akbar

Don’t accuse me of going back on my words. Yes, I admit that I had said that I won’t be watching this one, but can you really blame me for watching it, when all the blogs that I read have already posted a review or the blog authors are waiting to watch this movie and review it? 🙂 Hrithik fans- one request- please don’t read this review. You might get a little pissed off. Aamir Khan fans- you can stop reading this post now. I have absolutely no donuts for you.

Ashutosh Gowarikar has made movies like Lagaan (which was nominated for the Oscars) and Swades (one of my personal favorites). So, people have high expectations from Jodhaa Akbar. And if you already don’t know, then let me tell you this- even Aamir Khan, along with his wife, Kiran Rao, attended the premiere (Okay, I did lie- there is something for Aamir Khan fans). I succumbed to peer pressure and ended up watching this movie last night, at the cost of my beauty sleep. It was not that bad. It was not that good either. The movie doesn’t proclaim to follow the Mughal History to the hilt and the story is Ashutosh’s personal interpretation of the love story between the famous Mughal King, Akbar and his wife, a Hindu princess, Jodhaa.

The movie has some really good moments. Let me talk about those first. The scene where Hrithik, as the King, makes an appearance for the first time, is quite impressive. Also, lots of other people have talked about the way the marriage scene between Hrithik and Aishwarya has been shot. Yes, that was very colorful (in Rajasthani style) and eye soothing. One of my personal favorites is the song “Khwaja Mere Khwaja”. Ashutosh has shot this song with a lot of subtlety and no one else would have done this song justice. It’s a simple song where the singers of Akbar’s court are paying homage to the Allah and are singing praises of their Lord and God, Akbar. Hrithik Roshan has done a phenomenal job in this song and really acts like the Emperor. I loved the way he got up and joined the singers, raised his arms towards the sky, and got lost in the lovely atmosphere. this has got to be the best scene in the movie, according to me.

Another memorable scene is the one where Hrithik is having a court discussion with his courtiers and he hears Aishwarya singing a bhajan “Man Mohanaa”. He gets so mesmerized by it that he dismisses the court and follows the faint tune to finally reach his Hindu wife, genuflecting in front of the diety, Lord Krishna.

But after setting such high standards, Hrithik did let me down in some other parts. I am not happy with his Elephant taming scene or the other scenes where he’s flexing his muscles. He was not acting like Akbar then. He was just plain Hrithik. Can you even imagine Akbar out in the courtyard, without a dress, exercising his muscles and Princess Jodhaa, a couple of yards away, pining for him? This is clearly a directorial fault and some loose editing. It kind of spoilt the entire aura and the richness that’s supposed to be omnipresent in each and every scene.

The song “Azeem-O-Shan Shahenshah” is one of the best tracks in the CD and I expected it to be shot on a large scale. Basically, the song is about people from different walks of life coming in front of the king and paying their respects, after Akbar demolishes the taxes that Hindus pay for taking pilgrimage trips. Ashutosh should have taken help from his dear friend Sanjay Leela Bhansali in designing the sets for this song. I know that there are lots of people who loved the way this song was done, but I don’t know why, I felt as if something was missing. The picturization looked too hurried. It ended up looking more like a roadside locality show.

Hrithik Roshan’s acting is quite good in some scenes, but overall, it’s not very consistent. In the first 45 minutes, he’s done a decent job, but after that, he stops behaving like Akbar. I’m suprised that Ashutosh Gowarikar didn’t realize this while making the movie. Or perhaps he did and realized that it was too late.

Aishwarya Rai’s acting, surprisingly, is much better than Hrithik’s, in my opinion. She has done a decent job and manages to keep her giggles and stiff motions under control. I would give Ashutosh the credit for this. She looks extremely pretty throughout the movie and for once, you will be overwhelmed by her beauty, only for the simplicity of it. But..err..she looked like a crazy daaku who doesn’t know how to fight in those sword scenes. Oh, and that sword fighting scene between Ash and Hrithik was way over the top. Hrithik’s trying to woo his lady by throwing flowers at her (as elegantly as he can) in between the fights? 😮 Total work of genuis! Lesser mortals like me can’t even talk on cell phones while driving.

Poonam Sinha, as Akbar’s mother, is a treat to watch and if it were not for her acting, Ila Arun would have very easily turned half of the movie into a Saas Bahu kind of serial.

I really enjoyed seeing the big palaces and forts and the sheer opulence, because it reminds me of my trip to Rajasthan, that I’d taken a long time ago. I’m originally from that state and I always like it when it’s shown in movies 🙂 My mouth almost started watering in the scene where Aishwarya cooks a Rajputana meal for Akbar and the other kings. Ghewar, dal, bati, sanghri ki subzi, boondi ke laddoo…eating such a traditional, Rajasthani meal is my ultimate dream.

The length of the movie kind of made me a little wary of watching it and I need to admit that there were times when I stopped watching the screen completely and got lost in my thoughts or my work. 3 hours 20 minutes is way too long for the story that Ashutosh Gowarikar is trying to tell. He could have easily restricted it to 2 hours 30 minutes at the most. But I guess, he believes in giving you full paisa vasool kind of entertainment.

This movie could have been a simple love story between any prince and his princess and not necessarily between Akbar and Jodhaa. I wish I could have seen some more details of the actual rule of Akbar instead of the mushy love scenes, that only made me want to run away. The country flourished during Akbar’s rule and there was so many advancements in Arts, architecture, music, general administration etc. and because of that, 3 hours 20 mins should have been used for showing some other stuff too. Ashutosh Gowarikar could have devoted less reel to the saas-bahu saga and some of the battle scenes and concentrated more on other aspects of the Emperor’s rule and the relationship with his wife (which kind of, turned out to be half baked in the second half of the movie). Even the ending was a little hurried and dissapointing. Perhaps, a mini series on a television channel would have done justice, no? 🙂

Rating: 6/10

Related Reading: Music Review- Jodhaa Akbar 

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36 thoughts on “Movie Review: Jodhaa Akbar

  1. Nice review Ruhi and am a bit surprised that you gave it a 6 out of 10, knowing that you are not a bollywood fan. This means that this movie must be really good, because you thought it was better than most. Well, I haven’t seen it as yet, but plan to see it this weekend and will probably write my review then!
    I think you should link your music review of Jodha Akbar to this post as that was an excellent post.

  2. Nita, actually, I wanted to give it 5/10, but then, people would get pissed off. 🙂 And the movie is watchable (surprisingly) even though it is not Gowarikar’s best. I think the length of the movie didn’t really work this time. You’ll find the use of the Urdu language quite fascinating.

    I’m waiting for your review and want to read what you’ve got to say about this movie, because you love Indian movies. And thanks for the reminder to put the link. Edited my post accordingly. 🙂

  3. Even I agree with Nita. I was like..6 outta 10? This movie is gonna be a superhit! You’re like the Rajeev Masand when it comes to movies. You know who he is? He’s a critic and he’s pretty strict and if he doesn’t like a movie, he completely dismantles it. Probably the only guy who had the courage to give Saawariya I think half a star and that too for Toweliya.

    Now, coming back to the movie itself. Most reviews I have read have said that the elephant scene and the fighting scene were the best part of the movie. Yet, you are saying that they were overdone. But yeah, everyone has agreed that Aishwarya is looking very pretty and has done a great job in the movie. Well, that’s nice. But I still hate her. 😛

    As far as Critic Roshan is considered, I always thought he was looking very good as an emperor in the promos. Cause he has that kind of aura and stuff and you can’t deny that he’s a good looker and a good actor as well. But what about the voice? Didn’t it let you down or didn’t he give any orders during the movie at all? You haven’t talked about that so I thought I’d ask.

    And about your disliking the movie because it showed less of Akbar is not correct man ’cause Ashutosh had already said before the release of the movie that this wasn’t a historic movie or anything about Akbar’s rule and stuff. It was supposed to be all about the relationship between Akbar and Jodhaa and all the bickering between the ladies and stuff. That is exactly what he had wanted to show. But yeah, the movie should have been shorter. The audience has changed now, 2 and a half hours is enough to watch a movie. It’s not a cricket match after all. And this holds true more so to history related movies because they start getting boring pretty fast.

  4. @ ish:

    Okay, never heard of Rajiv Masand, but I’m happy if you compare to such ‘great’ critics 😛 I take movie watching very seriously and find it very difficult to watch movies just for entertainment value. Oh and btw, I gave Saawariya 1/10, because of Toweliya Kapoor too.

    Re: the elephant scene- you won’t believe what they showed! Hrithik Roshan (trying to look as hot as he can) escapes from being rolled into a flat roti twice and then he managed to get on the elephant’s back somehow and the minute he does that, the elephant gets tamed! Waah! I wish it were that easy. It was totally unrealistic and stupid . He didn’t even behave like a Mughal Emperor in that scene and that is what I don’t like. Same thing goes with some fighting scenes. He behaves like Hrithik Roshan and not like Akbar. His performance has been quite inconsistent. His voice modulation was fine and so was his Urdu. It was the way he acted that wasn’t quite good. There was this one scene- the first night scene between him and Ash after they get married- where his acting was outstanding. So subtle and lovely. You could actually see the emotions on this face changing every second. I just wish that he were more consistent.

    I feel that Ash’s performance was much more consistent, but that may be because her role didn’t have that ‘range’ that Hrithik’s role had- that of an emperor, lover boy, son etc. Ash was just shown as his pretty wife who is battling against the new style of living.

    Re: The story…well it shouldn’t have been 3 hr 20 mins long when all that Ashutosh is trying to show is the love story between Akbar and Jodhaa and it’s not that this was really a love story between them exclusively. It could have been ANYONE’S love story. There was no exclusivity. Given the length, Ashutosh could have added more substance to the movie. He wasted too much of reel showing Hrithik flexing his muscles and some silly scenes, that were not required.

    I liked the scalability of this movie and the overall treatment. So I guess 6/10 is fine…actually 5/10, but I was scared of giving it 5/10. 😛

  5. @Ruhi : YOU SAW IT!!!! Great. This is totally out of the blue. 🙂 But Ruhi, Akbar was also human na. If your wife tells you that she won’t allow you to touch her till she falls in love with you, then what are you going to do. Well, flexing your muscles is one of the things you can do. 😆 She will surely fall for it. I think Ashutosh was trying to portray him as a normal human.
    Yes, this was not Ashutosh’s best but believe me 6/10 is just fine. Good that you didn’t give 5/10. I am one of those people who would have got pissed. 😆
    @Ish : Why are you so ANTI-ASH? I love her. Please Please don’t say bad things about her. It kills me. 😥 And she is looking so Beeeeeuuuutiful in this movie. I was burping out a sigh every 20 seconds while watching the movie. 😯

  6. Nice review.. but I don’t fully agree. I liked Hrithik’s acting (am not his fan or anything) his expressions were wonderful.. his character though was flawed and director needs to be blamed for that….. and yes the movie was waaaaaay tooooo looooong.. I had to get pop corn thrice cos of the length! 😛
    I dint like the songs much .. Azeem-O-Shan Shahenshah was picturised in a pathetic way though by GF liked it.. I though the settings were too small compared to Akbar’s position in India then! (it looked more like a birthday celebration of a village land lord!)

  7. @ Amit:

    Yeah, Akbar was also human, but he was a rotund king and not someone with 6 packs. 😛 Btw, in the movie, Ash falls for Hrithik only when he abolishes the taxes that Hindus pay, which proves the fact that flexing muscles doesn’t always work. Tell me honestly, did he look like Akbar in the movie? No! He was no inconsistent.

    Even though I’m anti-Ash, I’ve really tamed my comments in this post. Believe me, most of my bollywood reviews are really harsh and I don’t spare anyone. I’m surprised that I didn’t criticize Ash’s acting much. I think she was better than Hrithik in this movie and didn’t I mention that it’s a great achievement that she controlled her plastic-stiff-like expressions? 😉 And yes, she did look very pretty.

    @Balu

    Yes, Hrithik’s expressions were wonderful in some scenes, I agree. I just wish that he were more consistent. You have to agree with me that he didn’t look or behave like Akbar in that elephant fighting scene or those scenes where he’s busy flexing his muscles! Yes, it is definitely the director’s fault. It’s bad direction, I agree. Movie was way tooo long too. Gowarikar should have put in more substance. By the time the movie ended, I was wondering what it was all about! There are so many things about Akbar’s rule that he could have introduced. He says that it’s a love story- all right it’s a love story, but a half baked one at that! It doesn’t seem like he did a lot of research for this movie (even though he says he did). There was nothing extraordinary.

    And I totally agree with you regarding the song Azeem o shan shahenshah. Even I mentioned it in my review that the scale at which this song was shot was not grand enough It definitely looked like a village show. The entire effect was quite mellow. The sound track is so amazing, but the cinematography was way too bad.

  8. LOL phully agree and hey heres wat a my cousin said after seeing the movie (first day first show – lunatic)
    Its good time pass… the problem was I forgot how the movie started by the time it finished! 😀 No he doesn’t blog.. he is apparently ‘busy’ in life

  9. Nice review, but I’m surprised at 6/10. Some of my friends who have seen the movies says its 4/5 material.
    Ashutosh Gowarikar’s movie will be at least 3 hour long, so one can’t complain about it, and I believe it will be a very difficult task for him to create the magic of Swades again.
    I hope, I get some time to catch up this long movies.

  10. @Amit: Aiight, no more Ash-hating.

    @Ruhi: However inconsisten Critic was, I’m surprised that his voice did a fine job because I thought that was totally gonna destroy everything. His voice is very Duggu-ish if you know what I mean. It’s not like a Maharaja but since you’re saying that it was fine, it must have been. Oh and managing to sit on an animal = taming it in Bollywood. That’s the norm. You know, it’d be fun if all these mainstream actors start doing only item numbers and the people who are doing item numbers start doing the mainstream roles. There’ll be a lot of heroines then, unfortunately not many heroes. Mallika would be Rani Mukerjee and Rakhi Sawant would be Preity Zinta. 😛

  11. shruti says:

    Well I can only say d movie was like a khichdi(althou i admit to liking it) of three important ingredients;
    1. Mills and boon romances(esp one of those medieval 1s)
    2. Saas Bahu serials
    3.History book(probably only 1/4th of it was correct)

  12. OH my god !!!! that was big big big biiiiiiiggggggg review… 😛
    i dont know why i dont have interest in these historical movies… 😦
    i dont know if i would be watching this movie or not 😛

  13. @Ruhi : Yes, I completely agree with you. Even I pointed out this in my post that sometimes Hrithik tries too hard to be the emperor and it shows. And, believe me even I am too harsh on hindi movies specially the comedies. Its just that this was such a different attempt that it somehow worked for me. 🙂
    @Ish : Thankyou. You are so kind. How can I ever repay you? 🙂

  14. @Balu

    Heh…he went to watch this movie First Day First Show? whoa! I used to do that when I was in college too. Every Friday, I used to make a list of all the movies that have been released and then allot days to each of them. My mission was to get done watching all the movies before next friday (to get ready for the next installment). 😛

    @Anand

    Thank God I didn’t give it 5/10. There would have been a battle right here on my blog then. 😛 Okay seriously, the length of Lagaan and Swades worked in the favor of the movies, but for the story being told, I think 3.33 hours were way too much. 🙂 You definitely need to have lots of time 9and energy) to watch this movie.

    @Ish

    Even if Critic manages to sit on the elephant, couldn’t the elephant have just thrown him on the ground? That was the stupidity. And after this, Critic pats the elephant like its a pet dog. It was sooo funny. I burst out laughing. It was like “akbar wakes up every morning and tames one wild elephant every day as a substitute to gymming” (yet he’s so rotund…or not). 😛

    About the Rakhi becoming a main stream actress, well…did you see the video where she slaps her boyfriend? It’s so freaking funny. You’ve got to watch it if you already haven’t. I think that’s her way of telling Johar, Chopra etc. that she’s ready for a lead role 😉

    @Shruti

    Great analysis! Totally agree with you. 🙂 Mills and Boon romance without any of the external love making though. Ashutosh made sure that the final consummation of the marriage becomes a historic event, which I think was quite ridiculous. I guess it was another way of throwing in another song. Heh.

    @Anirudh

    Yeah, it was fine as a whole, I agree. The length was too long though. Thank God I was watching it at home. so I started working in the middle. 😛

    @Arvind

    Loong movie na, so I had to write a big review to cover all my points. But the review is not that long, believe me. It’s because of this (comparatively) narrow theme. And yes, you can totally skip watching this movie…nothing that great.

    @Amit

    Yes, I remember reading this point in your review too and I agree with most of your analysis. 🙂 I liked the use of Urdu though…even I found it difficult to understand some dialogues.

  15. have also heard that this fictional story and presentation is quite good, i just may see it but , i prefer better cinema that after just seeing life is beautiful on star movies.

    ur dealing here with bollywood and this is- like the prev historical s, a story loosely based on true history …finally commercial success is all that matters.
    in real terms the akbar jodha wedding may have been a political wedding so as to cement peace between a rajput king and akbar,something commonplace in those times.

  16. @ Prax:

    Life is Beautiful is a wonderful movie. I saw it a long time back and it’s one of my absolute favorites. 🙂

    And yeah, we can’t expect much from Bollywood. No point whining and complaining. What I don’t like is when people start regarding mediocre movies as great pieces of cinema, because they are yet to see the real gems.

    And no, haven’t seen Death At a Funeral. I plan to watch Bad Education tonight (spanish movie) and Michael Clayton tomorrow.

  17. @ | Balu |:

    Oh really? Will let you know once I’m done watching it 🙂 I’ll probably be doing a short post on it anyway, because it has Gabriel Garcia Bernal in a lead role. Amores Perros was awesome! No doubt. Even The Motorcycle Diaries. And I even liked Y tu Mama Tambien (though I know you didn’t like it that much? right?).

  18. I din’t get to see the full movie.. (Y tu Mama Tambien) so I rilly cant make a judgment abt the movie! Gabriel has done a great job in ths one as well! You can see Gabriel the actor in a few scenes and you wonder if thats how he is in real life! no more spoilers enjoy the movie

  19. Ruhi..I agree with your rating. Even 5 would have been ok.

    Though I disagree with some of your observations. Like I thought Hrithik was good and Ash ordinary. She was breathtakingly beautiful. As someone said, she looked like some of her good roles. She could do better because it ws a plum role.

    agreements, sword scenes really over the top. could be a love story betwen any king n princess. a common boy mets girl story. It ws hard for me to sit thru entire length in movie. better to watch on dvd like u watch nimi tv series. 🙂

  20. @Balu

    Wow! Can’t wait now 🙂 I think he’s a very jovial fellow in real life. I want to read more about him and watch more interviews. I hardly know anything much about him, funnily.

    @Shruti

    Good point! 🙂 Funny that she didn’t start a protest, because the Rajputs have already demonstrated their resent towards the movie.

    @Poonam

    Really? You agree with my rating? 🙂 Happy happy! First time, I think!

    Yes, Ash was really good and me saying this is a big thing, because I’ve hardly ever liked her in a movie. The only parts where I didn’t like her were in those white daaku uniform scenes. That was an overkill.

    Mini TV series would have definitely been a better choice, considering the fact that the movie almost turned in a saas bahu drama somewhere in between. 🙂 I’m glad that our observations match so much.

  21. Good that You saw the movie at last….
    🙂

    I didn’t see the movie yet, let me come back after doing that.

    anyway, your 6/10 seems to be too less….NOW…!
    at least consider the effort they have taken, dude…..
    🙂

  22. @ Arjun:

    6/10 too less? OMG! 🙂 I was battling between 5/10 and 6/10 and finally settled for the latter (to avoid some chappals and eggs and tomatoes). Will wait for your review after you’ve seen this movie.

  23. yeah yeah…..don’t know why……i’m not satisfied by the marks you gave :p
    and yes i will see it asap….and will tell you….

    by the way, how would you rate Swades….out of 10…….i would love to know that…..

  24. The thing is that you are comparing hindi films with international movies.I don’t think that is the rite way to do it. Both r diff in many ways.

    Anyway i would give swades smething b/w 8.5 & 9.
    And u knw wat, gowarikar rockz 🙂

  25. Hey,

    I too disagree with you. Hrithik was much better than Ash. She isn’t good, in fact, she is nvr good. Yeah, her clothes, make-up etc were done pretty well. But, Hrithik the actor was much better than Ash the actress. Agreed, the movie should have focused more on akbar the emperor than just the love story. But all movies, after all are a director’s pespective, rite? One of the interviews, i rembbr the director saying, “Jodhaa was his imagination…mite or mite nt be real”. I guess that statement applies to the whole movie and not just the character!
    Music was excellent. I liked “inlamhon ke daaman mein”, but i agree “Khwajaa” was picturized very well.

    Hrithik had done a good job (though the elephant taming scene, akbar half dressed in his courtyard was too hard to believe and was a bit too much take).

    Movie was long, but i really enjoyed watching Akbar ( especially the way his character was etched), the huge courts, beautiful costumes and jewellery ( though personally, i wud hate to wear such heavy stuff). The best part of the movie was the 1st 15-20 minutes. the war scenes, it was superbly shot. cinematography was excellent.

  26. @Arjun

    I think there is global competition everywhere. So why single out Hindi movies? If they compete for Oscars, then we need to look at them at an international level. 🙂

    @Vaishno

    Even I’m not really a fan of Ash, to tell you the truth. Probably I found her more tolerable because she didn’t have many dialogues and the movie was a costume drama anyway! I didn’t expect the movie to stick to facts; so I’m not complaining on that quarters at all. But yes, I do think that Hrithik was very good in some scenes, but in many other scenes, he was quite mediocre.

  27. As expected, mum and dad absolutely loooooooved the movie. I asked them about all the points you hadn’t liked and they opposed me vehemently. My mum said that Azeem oh shan shahenshah whatever was very grandly picturised and that the elephant scene was perfectly fine as well.

  28. @Ish

    My parents loved it too….if that is any consolation 😐 You watch it and then decide! And don’t hate your parents for liking it. People have different tastes. 🙂

    @ Ankur Aggarwal:

    Yes, I feel so too. Anyway I didn’t expect much from a Hindi movie. So, I’m not really disappointed. Plus, Gowarikar never claimed that his movie is true to the historical facts. So you shouldn’t expect anything more…really.

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