Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jodhaa Akbar: A lesson in Armor-getten

Dr. Gulab Jamun,
Bollywood Man Film Reviewer

I watched, I cried (because it's run time is listed as 4 hours) and I attempted to slit my wrists with the Netflix DVD after the fifth CG fight in the Rajasthan desert in the first half hour of "Jodhaa Akbar." To say the least, the film "Jodhaa Akbar," starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai-Khan-Oberoi-Bachchan, was a lesson of what happens when a Bollywood filmmaker lets one legendary effort go to his head.
Director Ashutosh Gowariker tries to give us "Lagaan" all over again, which he also directed to great success with the help of an evil little elf (Google "Aamir Khan"). In that inspiring effort detailing one village's remarkable quest to beat the Colonial British at a game of cricket, we watched a wonderful story full of history, drama and colorful dance. So you think it would be a good idea for Mr. Gowariker to revisit this theme and do something historical. He does, but instead of another "Lagaan" we get something more like "Lagaan II: The Attack of the 4-Hour Film."

Amazingly, "Jodhaa Akbar" doesn't mean "ripping off my own source material," but is the name of our romantically-linked protagonists. Could have fooled me since the beginning starts just like Lagaan, narrated by the same man - Amitabh Bachchan - and stars at least half of the cast of "Lagaan." The Mughals have invaded and young Hrithik is heir to the kingdom his troops capture. Rajput kings fall one after another until one dares to refuse and instead says, "Hey, lets rule together, mmkay? I'll give you my sword-wielding, former Miss World daughter as an enticement!" Hrithik accepts, making sure his muscles bulge through the iron mesh armor to show his pleasure.

I would reveal more about the movie but after the fifth or sixth CGed battle sequence that apparently included thousands of warriors (the director actually used 20 street peddlars and five overly demonstrative theater actors from Mumbai and used a computer to replicate them). But the special effects creating the illusion fell short each time. By the time Aishwarya comes on screen to glare and pray and whatever she does else, I had had it. 35 minutes in I turned it off. It was the time of the big dramatic turn where Aishwraya said she wouldn't marry Hrithik unless he accepted her Hindu religion. Being a Mughal in the film, he was Muslim. After ten minutes of him deciding, he goes and says to the gathered public he will accept her, even though she is Hindu and may try to partition him into little pieces.

Great. Meanwhile I had fallen asleep on the floor, dreaming about green horned trolls trying to snatch my money belt in a Mysore temple. Plus, in that first 35 minutes there are no song and dance numbers, nothing to overcome the mediocrity of the filmmaking. In short, I decided that it wouldn't be worth watching both DVDs (they couldn't put the entire 4 hours on one DVD!) and turned it off so I could watch a rerun of "The Mentalist."

"Jodhaa Akbar"
Starring: Aishwarya Rai-Khan-Oberoi-Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and five guys from "Lagaan."
Rating: 2 out of 10.


  1. I appreciate your candor! May the Force of Bolly be with you.