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Jodhaa Akbar - Movie Review


Published: November 1, 2010


By JENNIFER HOPFINGER


Jodhaa Akbar
Jodhaa Akbar (2008)

Starring Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan


Director Ashutosh Gowariker—who helmed the Oscar-nominated Lagaan (2001)—transports audiences to another world—a world of courtly romance, legendary battles, and palace intrigue—the 16th-century world of one of history's most fascinating figures, the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great. But Jodhaa Akbar is more than a lavish period piece with sumptuous sets and rich costumes and more than a love story between captivating characters. Its focus is the Muslim emperor's noble goal of religious tolerance—which was the impetus for his conquest of the Indian subcontinent and his marriage to the Hindu princess Jodhaa.


Akbar the Great was one of the most progressive leaders the world has ever known, and under him, Indian culture flourished. His marriage to Jodhaa—an important political alliance—is an historical fact, but her actual name is a matter of dispute and the details of their relationship are unknown. It's unlikely that they actually shared a great love, as the film purports, given that Akbar had hundreds of wives and concubines and Jodhaa was not even the first among them—a reality the film completely ignores. But no matter—the film's message that differences can be transcended by respect is a powerful one, sadly all too relevant today, and their marriage, loveless or not, was an important first step in making religious solidarity his public policy.


The early years of Akbar's reign are the subject of the film. Akbar (played by Hrithik Roshan) is a young man who has been king since he was a child. He dismisses his regent and assumes control of the government, but he's unsure of himself. While praying, Akbar has an epiphany about how to unite the religious factions in his empire and he makes the controversial decision to marry a Hindu princess. Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is resistant to the idea, but she agrees to the marriage because he's going to let her keep her religion.


Akbar is soon besotted with his feisty, willful bride, but Jodhaa doesn’t feel the same way and she keeps him out of her bedroom. He tries to coax her into consummating their marriage by patiently earning her trust and—the film isn't all earnest idealism—by showing off his incredible body. Meanwhile, palace insiders, who would like the country to remain religiously divided, keep trying to drive them apart.


The later years of Akbar's reign—and his contentious relationship with his son Salim—are the subject of the Bollywood classic Mughal-E-Azam (1960), starring Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, and Prithviraj Kapoor.


Jodhaa Akbar is rated Must See.




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