Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bollywood Night: Jodhaa Akbar

It takes a certain combination of factors to watch a Bollywood movie. First, you have to be in the mood for a really, really, really long movie. Second, you have to enjoy frequent singing and dancing that may or may not have anything to do with the actual plot. Third, you have to enjoy fantastic costume design with so many colors and jewelry, it will make your head spin. If you are feeling all of these things, then Bollywood is there for you. As it turns out, last night was a Bollywood night. The movie? Jodhaa Akbar
This wasn't necessarily out of the blue. I had heard really good things about it from an acquaintance or two. It's really interesting to note that when you have a interest in something that isn't really mainstream, like Bollywood, you tend to hear the same things brought up by different people. For instance, when you are talking to someone and you say, "Oh I happen to like Bollywood movies as well", then there are only so many that are here in the U.S. and there is a pretty big chance you've seen many of the same ones. OK, and just to set the record straight, to be a fan of Bollywood, Bride and Prejudice cannot be your only exposure. It's not even completely Bollywood. It's heavily influenced by Bollywood, but it has too many trappings of Hollywood to be "real" Bollywood. Although, if you like that movie, going Bollywood all the way won't be that much more difficult. Do it. You will like it.
Start with Jodhaa Akbar. (Warning: Since this is a Bollywood movie, be prepared for the three and a half hour watch time.)
But it is so worth it.
I mean, just look at them!
Can you think of a more beautiful couple? Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is quickly becoming one of my heros. She was crowed Miss World in 1994 and is frequently referred to as "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World". And from everything that I've read about her, she acts like it too. Even though she is beautiful, she doesn't act like a witch. She has her values and beliefs and I admire that.
The male lead, Hrithik Roshan, is absolutely wonderful too. All I've seen is this movie but what a character to play! He plays Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar who is trying to unite all of 16th century Hindustan (India). As the first Mughal emperor actually born in India, he cares more for the country and people than for his actual title. He tries to show his people to be accepting of others' differences, particularly differences in religion. Especially in a country like India which has a large Muslim minority and Hindu majority, tolerance is a lesson that is just as appropriate today as it was four hundred years ago. Even for places outside of India, tolerance is a valuable lesson to learn.
I have my own beliefs of what I think the world should be like and what religion to observe. But even if I don't agree with you, I hope I would be mature enough to value your opinion and listen to what you have to say. I think respect is something that too few people give to others and that causes problems. No one is perfect, so being high and mighty is hypocritical and unhelpful. If this world is ever going to get better, people are going to have to start thinking beyond their wants and needs and working together to find solutions to the very serious problems that we all face.
But I digress. Back to the movie. So to preserve peace in his country and to expand his borders, Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar makes a strategic marital alliance with a Hindu Rajput princess (Aishwarya Rai). The crux here is that Hindus and Muslims don't mix. So there is a lot of lessons that both sides must learn. Your heart aches when they misunderstand each other. Which is a sign of a good movie if you still identify with the characters, even though they are speaking a different language and all you have to go off of is subtitles. (Another warning: This movie is NOT in English, but is does have English subtitles. You get used to it.)
All in all, great movie. There is some graphic battle sequences at the beginning. War elephants squishing people and such, but no sex. It was based on actual characters and events---to an extent. Any movie director is going to color outside the lines for the sake of the movie. Regardless, fact or fiction, I learned a lot and it was a visual treat. Lots of color, beautiful settings, beautiful people, and a wonderful story.


  1. My friend raves about that movie! I also recommend Lagaan. It's my absolute favorite!!!

  2. I have heard really good things about Lagaan too! It's playing at international cinema this semester, so I am planning on going to that one. The music and dance library in the HBLL has Jodhaa Akbar. I hiiiiighly recommend it. :) So how is the new semester treating you?