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Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

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Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by sashashyam on 2013-08-01, 01:58

Well, folks, if there is one thing anyone who knows me would say about me, without any hesitation,  it would be that I am never at a loss for words.  Wrong. Yesterday, after watching Rajat's  Shahenshah Jalaluddin Mohammed in full flow, not once, not twice, but four times back to back, I find myself searching for words adequate to describe, judge and appreciate him as he should be appreciated, and praise him as he should be praised .

It was an infinitely subtle, layered, and controlled performance, not only by the actor, but by the character himself. One would say  a  superbly choreographed and directed drama, except that it was a solo triumph. For the lead actor was all in one:  writer, director and performer.  The kind of  bravura act that deserved any number of curtain calls.  It was like  a tennis match : serve, volley, retrieval, smash, set point, match point, game and match to the Emperor.

Let us take it from the beginning. It is a given that Jalal wants Jodha, come what may. Why he wants her is not relevant for the moment, merely that he does, and what Jalal wants, Jalal gets. But for that, he has to force  her bull-headed, obstinate, and impractical  father to agree to their marriage, for Jalal never visualizes anything else, for reasons both his own and those of state. Not being a fool like Bharmal, and having spent his early years with the Rajputs, he knows their psyche, and realizes  how tough the going will be, given that this idea will be seen as a grave transgression of the Rajput code of honour, of their aan, baan and shaan.

So what is the way out? The first thing is obviously to give not the slightest inkling that this is what he wants.  He does not give any. Next, to box Bharmal into a situation from which there would be only one  vikalp (alternative) :  the one that leads to this alliance. Jalal does this as well, and it is how he accomplishes this that makes this a true humdinger of an episode, perhaps the best so far.
As a young diplomat,  I was taught the art of negotiating,  and one of the first lessons was that with a hostile interlocutor, it is vital to keep him off balance and, secondly, that one should never lose one's  cool.  These rules apply in any age. So Jalal, Bairam Khan's star pupil, plays the game  of siyasat by these very rules.

After having brushed aside Bharmal's gauche  reference to him as the Sultan of Agra with a throwaway comment about his being the Hindustan ke Shahenshah, he proceeds to disconcert Bharmal by interrupting his litany of complaints and offering him refreshments. He is in fact checking whether Bharmal would be ready to accept food and drink  on enemy territory, and when Bharmal dodges the offer, the secret smile on Jalal's face shows that he has got his answer.

It is now time to turn the screws on Bharmal, who is going on an on about yuddh ki sandhi and the need for Sharifuddin to observe those rules and return the Amer princes and other hostages.  So Jalal points out, with smooth sarcasm,  that as the Mughals have conquered Amer, nothing in it belongs to Bharmal any longer. And he turns to smile at Chugtai Khan.

Bharmal being Bharmal, he walks straight into the trap set for him. A small battle lost, he harrumphs, does not mean that Amer is no longer independent. That does it. Jalal turns to face Bharmal, his eyes, as hard as agates and openly  hostile now, widening in disbelief at such ill-timed arrogance. He is on his feet in an instant, as agile as a panther, offering to settle the matter by waging outright war and annexing  Amer, and though he never raises his voice, the overt aggression in his manner is like a whiplash.

Bharmal is thus forced to reveal his Achilles heel – that  he cannot afford to go to war, for that would mean the total destruction of Amer. He is not afraid of war or of death, he huffs, but he does not want the blood of the brave to flow needlessly.

Jalal's  expression, as he mocks Bharmal's dilemma, is a throwback to his terrifying mirthless smiles of old, but it is not quite the same, for he is not quite the same Jalal of old. He  motions Bharmal back to his seat and resumes the discussion. Bharmal, by now,  has been softened up, and his voice is hesitant and pleading as he seeks a third path, a way out of his dilemma. 

When Jalal rules this out, Bharmal, by now desperate, looks at Chughtai Khan for support, and the Khan gets the opening that he, and probably his Shahenshah as well, have been looking for. If one was unsure that  this was a carefully choreographed exercise, Jalal's  wide smile when the word rishta is pronounced would seem to offer some corroboration, even if not cliching evidence.

What follows is pure, kneejerk stupidity from Bharmal, which is par for the course, and silken, sledgehammer  brutality from Jalal. His voice breaking and his throat constricted by helplessness, Bharmal rages that no alliance is possible between  him and the Mughals, as Chughtai Khan watches in an agony of apprehension and Jalal sits unmoving, his chin in his hand and his dark eyes veiled and unfathomable.

It is when Bharmal has run out  of steam that Jalal finally moves, and how! There is no need for any alliance, he declares as he moves to stand face to face with Bharmal. Hope flickers in Bharmal's eyes, for he has no idea what is to come next.

When it does, the level monotone contrasting with the harshness of the words, one's breath is caught in one's throat in sheer shock. Jab Amer hamara hai,  to Amer ki har cheez hamari hai, phir woh chahe uski shehzadi ho ya uski baandi. Aur hum jise chahein  apni harem ki shaan bana sakte hain. The lips are drawn back in a smile that is almost a snarl. As the full import of Jalal's words dawns on him,  Bharmal's face crumples in helpless dismay.

Chughtai Khan, predictably, moves to fill the breach, seeking permission for a private heart to heart with Bharmal. It is then that Jalal, unconsciously following the dictum of Chanakya, delivers the coup de grace. They had better deal with his representatives, he says, for  an emperor can talk only to another emperor, and Bharmal must be now have realized that he is no longer even a king. Nothing more crushing could have been imagined, and as Bharmal looks into his mocking eyes , his heart must have plummeted into his mojvis.

The discussion that follows is a triumph for Chughtai Khan's powers of persuasion; he  would have made an excellent diplomat. He uses  every argument in the book to convince the by now almost tearful Bharmal that his duty as a king should take precedence over the fears of a father, and that Jodha's  marriage to Jalal is the sole way out of total and inevitable disaster for Amer and its citizens.

When the pair trek back into the audience room, Jalal, who has in the interval been listening impassively  to his Ministers who oppose this marriage, has changed tack dramatically, for he knows that what he wants is in the bag, and he can now afford to be generous. So he even pulls Bharmal's leg a bit, stopping at Hum ne tay kiya ki Jodha se rishte se inkaar..  and it is proof of how drastically things have changed that Bharmal's face falls visibly at this point. He only recovers when Jalal concludes, grinning like a mischievous schoolboy,… nahin kar sakte. Hum is rishte se razaamand hain.


When Bharmal tries to retrieve some face by asserting that he did this not out of fear but to save Amer and its populace,  Jalal shows how subtle and effective a tactician he has become by praising him for being a good king. He goes on to reduce Bharmal almost to  tears by restoring Amer to him and assuring him of the freedom of the princes, now to become his relatives.

For us, Jalal's bravura act does not end with Bharmal's departure. Jalal the strategist still has some surprises up his sleeve. The smoothness and plausibility of the (entirely correct)  reasons he gives for agreeing to this marriage are such that his disapproving  Ministers   are not just convinced, but turned into his cheerleaders. 

As their praises fill the air, his face is still and inscrutable, but his eyes gleam with some secret triumph. We , the viewers, know, even better than he himself does right now, the reason for that, for we know why he wants what he wants and he does not.

In the rest of the episode, apart from the beautifully alternated scenes of Jalal and Jodha praying, what stood out was Jalal's somber and somewhat troubled face as he prays at the Ajmer dargah and speaks to Shaikh Salim Chisti. ( Seven years after their  marriage, Akbar and Jodha  made a pilgrimage to the same  shrine to seek blessings for a son, and  it was then that Salim was born) . His assertions that he can mould his own destiny and that of Hindustan  are brushed aside by the mystic, who repeats the by now familiar prediction that Jalal  is on the threshold of  momentous change, for himself and for the Mughal empire.  Jalal listens in puzzled silence, and no wonder, but there is no scepticism  in his face.

As for me. I  was thankful that his melancholy Ammijaan was not around to repeat the Shaikh's prophecy in her trademark whining tones.

So we came to the end of an episode that would rate 9.5 out of 10, the half mark lost being for the apparently mandatory scenes of Jodha's Mamma dearest, and the rest of the Amer lot, as they bleat about the absence of their portly pater familias.  There was some compensation in the precap, as the shellshocked Rani slid gracefully to the ground  on hearing the fell news that Shakuni Bai had hit a sixer and she, Mynavati,was to end up with Jalal the Jallad as her javaisa.

Shyamala B.Cowsik

NB: Chughtai Khan's  revelation about a newly puffed up Sharifuddin having evil intentions towards Jodha  was a surprise. I for one cannot imagine Sharifuddin ever having the guts to poach of what he knows is Jalal's territory. It is likely that he meant that he wanted Jodha for the Shahenshah, not for himself, and Chughtai Khan misunderstood what was, after all, a cryptic comment

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by riyya6 on 2013-08-01, 05:57

shyamala aunthy long hug ....

Welcome to Dhwani Forum..... Bye ....

Loved ur analysis, wont say much as i Have commented on IF ......Ur post made my day :) 

Would love to see post from you coming.... always have been very informative n a good read... Im getting use to the length now.....


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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by Abavi on 2013-08-01, 08:20

Wow, What an Analysis... Welcome to Dhwani.. Its a real pleasure to read you!!

Your writing gives me the push to watch the epi... 2 more days to go for the weekend!


Last edited by Abavi on 2013-08-01, 13:27; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by cheena007 on 2013-08-01, 08:39

WOW!!What a brilliant analysis , Loved it ..

Welcome to Dhwani ..

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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by pollyanna on 2013-08-01, 11:06

Hi Shyamala, Welcome to Dhwani and thanks for bringing your fabulous posts here :) :) 

After I Pmed u, i was worried as I did not see you last evening, thought ur facing some glitches , was about to PM u today again...but what a marvellous morning this has been, I see u here....yay!!!!

I caught the epi repeat yesterday and thank god, i dint miss it or watched on YT.....Jalal was such SUPERB when he was talking to MA ....salt and sugar thing.....i was bowled over by his expressions in one shot, where camera actually stopped too for a one long moment :) :)

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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by Maria J on 2013-08-01, 11:17

Hi Shyamala,
Welcome to Dhwani hug1 

Nice post... Would look forward to more posts..

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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by sarra0 on 2013-08-01, 11:47

Hi shyamala welcome to D, nice post enjoyed reading and indeed it was a good episode, Jalal stone out his contrast words to voice were good also liked wen he was giving his reasons for the marriage to his ministers he was generally shown hidden / behind veils like his true intentions were not being unveiled to them...he has learnt well the art of politics...

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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by amimus on 2013-08-01, 11:55

Hi Shyamala , a very good post and it was a pleasure reading you.

Yes Jalal bought out his political strategy so well that even his ministers had to praise him and Bharmal had no choice but to agree for the alliance.

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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by Tanthya on 2013-08-01, 12:31

Hi Shyamla ,

A warm welcome to Dhwani,

One of the best written  post that I have read in a long time  .. Loved  and savoured every line of it ..

Rajat has brought the nuances and shades of Jalal very well . Be it the widening of his eyes, the body posture  or even the way he stands ..it reflects  the  attitude of Jalal ..


Loved the scene where Jalal accepts the salted  'Meetha'  and a fine saying that along with meethas, Jodha will also bring  the salty truth keeping him grounded to reality and the truth shall be accepted and loved by him ..

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Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by sashashyam on 2013-08-01, 14:32

My dear Polly,I am truly grateful for such a warm welcome to your fascinating forum Dhwani.I do not analyse every episode, only those offering enough material, so I skipped yesterday's. As you would agree, there were only 2 significant bits - one, the Jalal-Mahaam Anga clash, for that is what it was, and the other the scene between Jodha and her father, which also explains how she is in the dark as to the identity of her bridegroom till the muhdikhayi ceremony(I still think that it was very silly of her parents to have let that happen).I  loved the level, freezing cold look Jalal gave Mahaam Anga for her impertinent suggestion, and the way he held it till  well after she had lowered  her eyes. If one has such an air of command, one does not need to raise one's voice at all. Plus the categoric putdown when he says \"Namkeen cheez mein jo mazaa hai woh meethe me kahan... alag cheezon ko apnane ka mazaa alag hota hai ..":  it was crushing. He knows how to show anyone,be it Bharmal or his Badiammi, who is the boss in Agra, does Jalal! He is clearly to the manor born. I also really liked Jodha, who has not been a favourite of mine so far,  in the last segment with her father. She had such a clear-eyed dutifulness and nobility about her, and she looked the best she has done so far. Once again, thanks ever so much for inviting me here; I am truly flattered, and I am sure I will enjoy myself thoroughly! Shyamala wrote:
Hi Shyamala, Welcome to Dhwani and thanks for bringing your fabulous posts here :) :) 

After I Pmed u, i was worried as I did not see you last evening, thought ur facing some glitches , was about to PM u today again...but what a marvellous morning this has been, I see u here....yay!!!!

I caught the epi repeat yesterday and thank god, i dint miss it or watched on YT.....Jalal was such SUPERB when he was talking to MA ....salt and sugar thing.....i was bowled over by his expressions in one shot, where camera actually stopped too for a one long moment :) :)

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

Post by pollyanna on 2013-08-01, 14:56

sashashyam wrote:
My dear Polly,I am truly grateful for such a warm welcome to your fascinating forum Dhwani.I do not analyse every episode, only those offering enough material, so I skipped yesterday's. As you would agree, there were only 2 significant bits - one, the Jalal-Mahaam Anga clash, for that is what it was, and the other the scene between Jodha and her father, which also explains how she is in the dark as to the identity of her bridegroom till the muhdikhayi ceremony(I still think that it was very silly of her parents to have let that happen).I  loved the level, freezing cold look Jalal gave Mahaam Anga for her impertinent suggestion, and the way he held it till  well after she had lowered  her eyes. If one has such an air of command, one does not need to raise one's voice at all. Plus the categoric putdown when he says \"Namkeen cheez mein jo mazaa hai woh meethe me kahan... alag cheezon ko apnane ka mazaa alag hota hai ..":  it was crushing. He knows how to show anyone,be it Bharmal or his Badiammi, who is the boss in Agra, does Jalal! He is clearly to the manor born. I also really liked Jodha, who has not been a favourite of mine so far,  in the last segment with her father. She had such a clear-eyed dutifulness and nobility about her, and she looked the best she has done so far. Once again, thanks ever so much for inviting me here; I am truly flattered, and I am sure I will enjoy myself thoroughly! Shyamala wrote:
Hi Shyamala, Welcome to Dhwani and thanks for bringing your fabulous posts here :) :) 

After I Pmed u, i was worried as I did not see you last evening, thought ur facing some glitches , was about to PM u today again...but what a marvellous morning this has been, I see u here....yay!!!!

I caught the epi repeat yesterday and thank god, i dint miss it or watched on YT.....Jalal was such SUPERB when he was talking to MA ....salt and sugar thing.....i was bowled over by his expressions in one shot, where camera actually stopped too for a one long moment :) :)

Wow, Take a bow!!! 

The way u explained the two scenes Thumbsup  thoroughly loved it :) :) 

Really looking forward to read u .....This is our forum; yours, mine and and everyone's online home :)  hope we have some real great time knowing each other and discussing Jodha-Akbar adventures :)

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Re: Jodha Akbar 31: The Emperor Strikes Back (July 30, 2013)

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