Monday, February 18, 2008

JODHAA AKBAR: MOVIE REVIEW

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ila Arun, Sonu Sood
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Runtime: 193 min.
Rating: **
Genre: Drama, History (hah), Romance (hah-hah)

Come on, a quick one, what is similar between Hrithik Roshan and a mutant lamb? Well, apart from the fact that they both look deceptively innocent? Yeah, they both manage the same score when auditioning for any role. Okay it wasn’t that funny, but I’ve just visited the land where time stands still, and if you intend to keep your sanity within appreciable limits in there, you got to make stupid jokes as these. The purposes they serve are two-fold in nature, one they make you laugh, and two they make you laugh at your sorry plight.
Okay, another one, what is the perfect present for your loved one on this Valentine weekend? You got it, a return ticket through a wormhole to a world where there exists no reason to venture anywhere near this mind-numbingly boring film.
Promise, no more bad jokes.
Where do I begin with this royal ramble, I’ve no idea.
Let me just start by saying this isn’t actually a bad film, but films don’t have to be bad to be unwatchable. This is that kind of a film.
Performances. Principle: It is fundamentally impossible to make a period romance piece with hardly-an-actor and furniture. The furniture may look good, may look divine, and I’m sure furniture is an art form in itself, but it is still furniture and it will not emote. Simple. On top of that it is given lines laced with words it can barely pronounce, forget comprehend. When it delivers those lines it feels like a roll-call of words, most of them turning out to be present. The hardly-an-actor is fine at shouting, but seems to find himself in total discomfort rest of the time. He is wary of opening his mouth too much for the moustache seems to be a fence of sorts, and he has the added responsibility of posing for the cameras too, ala Superman – chest held high, arms equidistant from the trunk – a picture of symmetry. That is what royalty is supposed to be, isn’t it.
The story is simple, actually. Only that it is wrapped around in a lot of hokum passing for cultural details. Akbar wants to rule India. He sends emissaries all over the place. Rajputs have their pride. They also have beautiful furniture. And daughters. One of them asks Akbar to marry his daughter. And take away their furniture. Akbar agrees. How can one deny such royal furniture? Wedding. Wedding night. Daughter rejects Akbar. Akbar sleeps on furniture, which in today’s world would have been a nice little leather couch in the drawing room. Next morning, enter Maham Anga. Every period seems to boast of a Manthara, and Mrs. Anga was glad to turn it on during this part of the Mughal rule. Mrs. Anga’s own son Aadham Khan is an idiot. Sorry, he is worse than an idiot. He just picks up a sword and storms towards the emperor’s chamber to kill him. What was he thinking? He is put to death, and I’m sure it is inscribed on his tomb – here lay a supremely dumb man. Mrs. Anga is raged. Conspiracy is hatched. Some brother of Rajput’s daughter arrives. He is arrested. Akbar mistakes him for Daughter’s lover. Interval. Blah-blah.
Just to tell you, and I’ve no intentions to scare you, there’re some obligatory songs along the road too. You are wondering if I might rather have surprised you with a boo!
Oh yeah, just remembered. There’s a eunuch in there too, unleashing wisecracks with oblivious aplomb, none of them appearing too wise, or too cracking.
Does it feel like a plot that would have been more at home in Inder Kumar’s office, the guy who made those silly films in Beta and Ishq? Yes? Great, then I’m not the only one. It irks me when juvenile conspiracies and romances are passed in the name of a period piece. Agreed, at the time Akbar had that silly half-brother of his executed he was just nineteen. And it doesn’t matter to me that no one looks one wee bit what their historical age is supposed to be. Honestly I don’t care, and I’m more than happy with what the film passes for history. What displeases me is how unimaginatively the romance, the alleged point of the whole film, is handled. Leave aside all the details, and what you get is a paper-thin romance trying to balance itself on encounters witnessed several times on the screen.
That it is very, very long would be an understatement of criminal proportions, it is beyond that. There’re needless scenes all over the place, and if I wouldn’t be exaggerating one bit in saying the film could do away with at least half of it. Scenes just linger on, and on until we forget about what the hell the people in there are blabbering and start wondering that if the beards and the moustaches seem to have been supplied by separate contractors. Do we really need a sequence where some old chap pretending to be the messiah of wisdom hammer upon us his insight – Heaven is nothing but love in heart, and hell is the absence of love. Or the wisecracking eunuch and all the Daughter’s ladies, sitting around a game of Ludo break into some dull romantic ideas on first love, which a 12-year old would be embarrassed of.
Not that they’re beautifully shot though. I assure you, it is a gorgeous film, probably the most spectacular film Indian cinema has turned out. But Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is gorgeous too; you know where I’m going with this right. There’s a time limit to how long you can sit there and gaze at it. After that, you start laughing at the silliness. The battle sequences are derivative, comprising exclusively of standard shots. They’re good, but nothing revolutionary. Don’t even get me started on the climactic sword fight. Anyways, I didn’t expect much since the budget is a constraint. I understand when directors seem to get possessive about what they’ve created, and it is a wicked little feeling to leave on the cutting room what you’ve created. But you need a tough editor too, to show you the light, and Gowariker seems to need the services of someone good very badly. And I greatly agree with Raja Sen of rediff.com, when he says Gowariker isn’t best suited towards cinema as an art form. Also, when he says Jodhaa Akbar would have been fantastic as a mini-series. Gowariker lends a great deal of sincerity to each and every sequence in this film, and that would be just perfect for a mini-series. Really, it would have been terrific. More importantly though, this film would have been super forty years ago. Or even thirty years ago. Its simple mindedness is just too outdated for the modern audience, who I guess need more insight into their characters. They wouldn’t mind romance, but they want it between two people, not some idealistic notions of them. They want insight, understanding their history and this film doesn’t have that. I could go and on, but then I will only be extending the mea culpa. The end of the month has just arrived a bit early for me, and I still muster the audacity to venture into Jodhaa Akbar. I remember that quote – 'The road to hell is paved through good intentions.' Well, they sometimes are paved along the road to the nearest cinema hall too. Sometimes, they’re pretty much the same.



Please do visit my predictions for the Oscars by clicking on the link below -
http://satish-movieviews.blogspot.com/2008/02/80th-annual-academy-awards-predict-me.html

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey…

This is hilarious…. My team-mates and I had a good time laughing over it.now im in a fix to watch the movie or not… J


Regards,

Sarita

Sadanand Renapurkar said...

just watched Gone Baby Gone...just wonder what a more intense actor, by intense I mean expressive, would have done to the role of Patrick, that intriguing moral dilemma..the clash practicality-catholic belief-a child's life at stake...The movie is great so is Patrick's character...What casey has done is good but not spectacular...it could have been better, someone like Bale could have added so much power to it...anyway, brilliant film.If this is what happens when Afflek comes to other side of camera I would beg him to stay there.

chambilkethakur said...

thanks man, you have saved me some efforts, i knew aushtosh gowariakar's inability to make such movie. but i thought of giving it a shot, but i know will not, for sure.

saurabh said...

Same seniments here too!! I don't understand how can some of the reviewers went ahead and gave it 4 stars.. Atleast, I didn't expect it from a reviewer like Rajeev Masand.

saurabh said...

Btw please do watch Mithya and post a review of the same. I found it to be absolutely brilliant.. It deserves to be seen. All these big budgeted Jodhas and Akbars can go to hell..

Sushant Taing said...

"It is fundamentally impossible to make a period romance piece with hardly-an-actor and furniture. The furniture may look good, may look divine, and I’m sure furniture is an art form in itself, but it is still furniture and it will not emote. Simple. On top of that it is given lines laced with words it can barely pronounce, forget comprehend. When it delivers those lines it feels like a roll-call of words, most of them turning out to be present. The hardly-an-actor is fine at shouting, but seems to find himself in total discomfort rest of the time. He is wary of opening his mouth too much for the moustache seems to be a fence of sorts, and he has the added responsibility of posing for the cameras too, ala Superman – chest held high, arms equidistant from the trunk – a picture of symmetry. That is what royalty is supposed to be, isn’t it."

U Rock, Satish. hats of to you For Such a fantastic review. The way you have described Hrithik's incompetency, man its a very accurate description of how he has done full injustice to Emperor Akbar's character. A Character the Late Great Phrithvi Raj Kapoor immortalised in Mughal-e-Azam.

And the lines below are so true. They clearly describe a Blunder like Jodha AkBORE.

"The road to hell is paved through good intentions.' Well, they sometimes are paved along the road to the nearest cinema hall too. Sometimes, they’re pretty much the same."

Sushant Taing said...

After reading the review, all that I have to say is, Wooooooooooooooow, Superb, Stupendous.

I had stopped reading Hindi film reviews as everyone from Khalid Mohammed, Vinayak Chakravarthy, Taran Adarsh and Rajeev Masand were trashing quality cult films like No Smoking, Manorma Six Feet Under and Dil Dosti Etc and on the other hand were praising overhyped overrated blunders like Om Shanti Om, Welcome, Bhool Bhulaiya, Apne, Hey Baby & Partner

I must say this review is the most unbiased review of a Hindi Film ever written. No matter a movie does commercially well or not, what matters is the movie is entertaining and keeps the viewer thinking about it after its concluded. Kudos to you Satish for brilliantly describing what kind of a Cinematic Blunder Jodhaa Akbar is.

And such great textual pyrotechinques are coming from a fellow Software Engineer.

I'm not flattering you. All what I've said is the truth and U deserve all the praise.

Satish my friend, keep up the great work & stick to writing reviews. I look forward to seeing you as the most sought after Movie Critic in India.