Thursday, February 21, 2008

جودھا اکبر Jodhaa Akbar. Zzzzz

Went earlier to see the new Bollywood historical epic, Jodhaa Akbar, about the Hindu wife of the greatest of the Mughals, Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar.

Bollywood meets Cecil B. DeMille, meets LOTR (lavish battle scenes, stunning landscapes). With the most tepid of story lines, hackneyed dialogue, stilted and stiff acting, all kinds of irritating anachronisms, totally flat characters, eyes perpetually wide open in anger or hatred or whatever other emotion that Bollywood wants to club us over the head with, so much so that by the time the intermission rolled around two hours after the darn thing started, I leaped out of my seat, and told mom, "I'll see you later!"

Of course all the Muslims spoke saaf Persianized Urdu that would make a PTV anchor proud (yes, it sounds quite beautiful. That's not the point). All the Hindus spoke shuddh Sanskritized Hindi that would bewilder a Doordarshan newscaster. And they all understood each other perfectly. The whole Hindus are from Mars and Muslims from Venus thing was way overdone, as if Muslims and Hindus had just discovered each other. And even a bhai-bhai film could be better than this!

Yes the soundtrack was not bad. Ok it was actually quite good. "Kahene ko Jashn-e-bahaara hai" [YouTube link, includes trailer] is neat. Classic A.R. Rahman. The Sufi song "Khwaja" was captivating). And ok, Ash is still breathtakingly stunning, though definitely not in her teens anymore (Wasn't Jodhaabai supposed to be like 14 or something?). And Hrithik gets another opportunity to let the world know that he works out. (Wasn't Akbar short and dark with a pock-marked face?)

And all those nincompoops who are protesting the historical inaccuracies, and taking them as some kind of kalank (stain), puh-lease. Grow up. Find something better to do than march down streets shouting slogans, whining to mai-bap-sarkar, and disrupting the aam aadmi's life. And, since when did Indians really care that much for historical accuracy? Didn't the NDA government (and every darn BJP government in power in the states) do its best to rewrite history in the textbooks to match its Hindutva ideology?

At least according to mom, I would have hated the second half even more.

:: Sigh :: Most of Bollywood just isn't my cup of tea.

Here's a quote from the review in the NYT:
These royals are played by Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, two rather astonishing specimens of human beauty. Neither is a great actor, but both know what's required of a star and seem to the palace born.

Ms. Bachchan makes Jodhaa's willfulness a sign of character, especially when she lays down the conditions for her marriage: She will remain a Hindu and would like a small temple for her Krishna statue in the Mughal fort. As Akbar, the green-eyed Mr. Roshan, a charter member of the Bollywood six-pack-abs club, has the bearing of a king, yet can seem a little blank when not in motion, fighting enemies or stripped to the waist taming wild elephants (just a hobby).
The title of the review? "A Hindu. A Muslim. Let's Dance."



Mac said...

Aishwarya Rai's idea of acting is to make faces, and alas, she only seems to have three different expressions in her repertoire. I wonder what Shashi Kapoor and Rahul Bose make of her.

Mac said...

(Mind you, the biographical film of the life of Mohammed Ali Jinnah was pretty hair-raising.)

Gashwin said...

There was a movie on the Qaid-e-Azam?

Mac said...

Yes, with Christopher Lee in the starring role.

Gashwin said...

Yeah, I looked up it up on IMDB and Wikipedia. The reviews weren't great. And I just can't imagine Lee as Jinnah.

Mac said...

At least one wouldn't sit there in the cinema wanting to give him two tight slaps (like Mrs Rupa Mera in "A Suitable Boy") as one does Aishwarya Ray.