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Jodha Akbar 51: Clearing the Air

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Jodha Akbar 51: Clearing the Air

Post by sashashyam on 2013-08-28, 13:19

Folks,


There was a lot of this around last night, was there not? Rather like a giant exhaust fan in operation, sucking up the cobwebs of misunderstanding/ misconception on several issues, of the kind that are the daal roti of TV serials and which festoon every one of them from the beginning to within 3 episodes short of the end.  I was  quite amazed, and this reinforced my conviction that, the sudden downward plunge in Ruqaiya's character notwithstanding, Ekta's writing team for Jodha Akbar is not from the usual soap factory lot.


I will try and get this off quickly, for mornings are not free time for me, which is probably  a blessing for you, my gentle readers (just an old-fashioned phrase;  I am sure  most of you are not gentle at all!). Let me just list the highlights, and let us dispose of the unpleasant bit first.


Chinti ke par nikal aaye: Sharifuddin's natural cunning and instinct of self-preservation kick in instantly, and aided by his foolishly gentle wife (this is the kind that breeds wife-beaters) , he extricates himself from a potentially deadly faux pas. Then he proceeds, in the time honoured manner of old fashioned screen villains, to proclaim (for our benefit), to the accompaniment of a loud stagey guffaw, that he actually has ambitions to rule the Mughal empire.


 It seems that no one was listening in, which seems impossible in the Agra palace, but as Sharifuddin's  head will be still on his shoulders for a while yet, one presumes that all the chartered eavesdroppers must have had a day off then



If Sharifuddin had had a mother like Mahaam Anga, he would have received 3 ringing slaps, but his mother had probably kicked the bucket soon after finding out that she had produced such an offspring, so he escapes that salutary lesson for excessive ambition.  His eventual fate is likely to be the same as the aforesaid chinti.


That Jodha is excellent at spotting what others seek to hide was already evident at the Amer jail, when she recognized Jalal from just a wavy image sighted in the water. Now  she proves it again by spotting the dark mark of fingers on Bakshi Banu's cheek, but she also proves her sense of diplomacy by covering up the bruise, and her knowledge of it as well.


A gentle mind and a generous heart: That is  Salima Begum. She is wonderful in her scene with Jodha, and not just because she clears away so many of Jodhas misunderstandings and fills in so many gaps in her knowledge of the various  dramatis personae in her new world:  about Rahims real parents, about her own happy life with Bairam Khan, about Jalal and Bairam Khan, about Jalal and Rahim, about Ruqaiya and Jalal, and most important of all for Jodha and Jalal, about what happened to the parents of that little Hindu boy, who were initially sentenced to prison at the Diwan-e-Aam.  (The CVs slipped up there; they should have inserted a flashback of  Jalal gripping Jodha's arm hard and hissing Adhuri jaankari ek gunaah hoti hai, Jodha!)


The real importance of Salima's role in this segment lies more in the  deep and compassionate insights she provides the normally impatient and judgemental Jodha "not just about Jalal's hidden qualities and about the compulsions of imperial rule, but even about Ruqaiya's hidden hurts and what lies beneath her aggressive possessiveness towards Jalal.



The lovely little scene earlier, between Jalal, Ruqaiya, Salima and Rahim,  illustrates and emphasizes all that Salima has to say here. It also starts the process of upgrading Ruqaiya (for want of a better term)  by making her again  more human and more vulnerable, both in her open, unalloyed affection for Rahim and in her desperate longing for a child of her own, and thus less of the plastic harem superintendent she had been presented as for these last few weeks. It was most refreshing, and it made me realise once more how much I was missing the old Ruqaiya.


To revert, when Salima  says that what matters is not how long one lives, but how one lives,  and with whom, the wisdom of the ages speaks thru her to Jodha.



Jodha herself seems to have arrived at some measure of wisdom and acceptance when she tells Bakshi Banu earlier that time heals all wounds: I wondered then if she was  referring to Suryabhan's death.  After the conversation with Salima, her mind must more open, and more at rest, than it has ever been since the battle for Amer.



The quality of caring: With apologies to Shakespeare. Like Portia's quality of mercy in The Merchant of Venice, the quality of caring in Jodha is also  twice blessed:  it blesses her that gives and also the one who takes.


Jalal wonders earlier what more there might be for  him to discover about Jodha. He gets a large dollop of it here, served up front and centre, with the natural self-assertion of a wife who insists on setting her laggard spouse right where she believes that he has fallen short. A most novel experience for both Jalal and the Shahenshah! But of  that a little later.


The earlier part of the scene with Jodha, Hamida Banu and Sheikh Salim Chisti is charming, both in the affectionate respect that marks Jodha's behavior towards her Ammijaan,  and in her calm demeanour when she receives the holy mans blessings on her marriage with Jalal. When he prophesies that this will herald a new bright era for the Mughal empire, maybe her thoughts go back to what her mother told her, before the wedding, about bhagya  choosing its own yoddha.



Even when the Sheikh goes on to proclaim that this union would soon produce an heir for the empire, she does not flinch. It is worth noting that at this point, Jalal, who is of course constantly stealing sidelong  glances at Jodha, does not look either smug or triumphant.  On the contrary, he looks very serious and even a tad troubled, as if he were wondering how on earth any such near miracle was to be pulled off  when his wife cannot even stand his touch.


The touch part takes a baby step forward when Jodha, after some initial hesitation, lets Jalal help her off the podium. The look he gives her afterwards is neither amused nor one of arrogant self-satisfaction. It is one of pure pleasure  and happy possessiveness, and when she looks up and catches it, there is no distaste or pulling back in her eyes. There is something quite different in them, and that relates to Hamida Banu's sudden mannat to walk to Ajmer and back to ensure that  the Jalal-Jodha baby does make its appearance as the heir to the Mughal empire.


To go back a bit, when Jodha immediately endorses his protest against this alarming proclamation, Jalal does an imperceptible double take. It was not clear whether it wis because he heard Jodha calling his mother Ammijaan- with all that implies, not just for her relationship with Hamida Banu but also in terms of Jodhas desire to adopt Mughal tehzeeb -  or because her ready support for him astonishes him.



Thereafter, once he gives up, one sees Jodha darting some fairly irritated glances at him when they  are still seated on the podium. It seems clear that if they had been on even slightly better terms, she would have nudged him sharply and hissed instructions into his ear that he should  react more strongly and decisively to halt this dangerous mannat.


It is also to be noted that when Jalal, who spends a much longer moment looking down at his wife than taking leave of the rest, finally departs, he nods farewell to Jodha, and her eyes follow his retreating figure - both firsts of their kind!


An aggressive biwi: This is one  delightful  scene  - the Shahenshah being hauled over the coals relentlessly  by  his hitherto distant wife for having, of all  things, failed to prevent  his mother from undertaking a hazardous pilgrimage.



When Jodha lands up at Jalal's suite, he must have wondered what was in the offing, though he maintains a poker face. This  is accentuated when she begins by apologizing for disturbing him: he was surely wondering Ab isko kya ho gaya hai, ki hamare saath itni tameez se pesh aa rahi hai?


But she is dead set on her worries,  and does not bother about his expression or even pause as she launches into her arguments. The beautiful face is creased with genuine fear and concern for her Ammijaan as she ticks Jalal off in  no uncertain terms for not having been forceful enough in stopping his mother. He is bemused, and even as he lodges a proforma protest about his being lectured to about how he should handle his mother, one can see that he is both touched and impressed by the quality of caring that is so evident in her.



What follows is, at one level, a triumph of quick thinking by Jalal, who is undoubtedly used to exploiting every opening he can get in battle, and this is, after all,  also a battle of a kind. The stroke of pure genius lay, however, in  his remembering the way in which Jodha had given a kasam to Motbai in the Diwan-e-Khas, and immediately adapting it to his own benefit! Poor Jodha is boxed in by the kasam on her patidev's head on the one hand,  and her fears for the mother-in-law she has come to love on the other. No wonder that,  after some anguished attempts to read his eyes, she gives in.


Two caveats here. One, whatever the degree of sudden closeness Jalal and Jodha now set out to exhibit to the rest of their world  - and this is undoubtedly going to be manna from Heaven for the legions of Akdha enthusiasts! " they can hardly announce that Jodha is in the family way for at least  6-8 weeks. How do they make sure that Hamida Banu does not set out for Ajmer Sharif by then?


Two, I am a great admirer of Rajat and his mastery of facial nuance. He scores very high grades in that department 99 times out of 100. Yesterday, as he was making an overly eager sales pitch to Jodha about the natak that he was proposing, it was the 100th.  His eyes gleamed too much. and the whole expression was too forced. The director should have spotted it and got him to tone it  down in a (rare) retake; it would have made that part of the scene a lot better. Paridhi, on the other hand,her  anguished eyes,  filmed over with unexplained tears,  desperately looking into his and searching for reassurance (probably that this would remain a natak), was pitch perfect.


Budding tenderness: Never mind, the precap more than made up for that bit of OTT stuff.  Jalal holds Jodha's hand  and, as it slips down from his to shield the jyoti from the wind,  drops his hand to shield it from the other side,  as he regards her with a new, unalloyed tenderness. Her eyes are grave and searching, and one hopes that they both find their answers. For us, much viewing pleasure lies ahead.


Shyamala B.Cowsik

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 51: Clearing the Air

Post by pollyanna on 2013-08-28, 14:33

Thanks for the PM Aunty :) 

Once again a marvellous post with superb detailing :) 

loved the headings and the explanations, agree, Salima na hoti toh pata nahi yeh MU kab tak chalta Wink  

Ekta's team is defo doing a good job..and me feels had it not been for Shaguni Bai and Salim Chisti Baba, Jo-Ja history would never have even existed bounce  God Bless these two :P 

@The quality of caring: Its absolutely bang ON!!! awesome explanation

@Aggressive Biwi--I was almost laughing at this pati-patni nok jhok.....so endearing and yes as u have pointed out Rajat was a bit OTT in that shot 

@Precap: I cant take off my mind from this uber sexy couple Wink

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Re: Jodha Akbar 51: Clearing the Air

Post by zuzana on 2013-08-28, 14:51

Loved your eye for detail of the expressions....the ice is fast breaking between these two...I am infact surprised as to what made Jodha melt so soon ..or that the direcotrs need to give us a glimpse as to whats she feeling about him.

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Jodha Akbar 51: Clearing the Air

Post by sashashyam on 2013-08-28, 15:07

Thank you so much, Pallavi, especially for liking the quality of caring riff on Portia. It is not many these days who know their Shakespeare.If it  is not too much trouble, please post your comments in the IF thread for this episode as well, for  I like to keep that complete.Shyamala Auntypollyanna wrote:Thanks for the PM Aunty :) 

Once again a marvellous post with superb detailing :) 

loved the headings and the explanationsj, agree, Salima na hoti toh pata nahi yeh MU kab tak chalta Wink  

Ekta's team is defo doing a good job..and me feels had it not been for Shaguni Bai and Salim Chisti Baba, Jo-Ja history would never have even existed bounce  God Bless these two :P 

@The quality of caring: Its absolutely bang ON!!! awesome explanation

@Aggressive Biwi--I was almost laughing at this pati-patni nok jhok.....so endearing and yes as u have pointed out Rajat was a bit OTT in that shot 

@Precap: I cant take off my mind from this uber sexy couple Wink

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Re: Jodha Akbar 51: Clearing the Air

Post by --sumana13-- on 2013-08-28, 15:18

How beautifully you write Shyamala it is such a pleasure reading you again n again ....


                     

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Jodha Akbar 51: Clearing the Air

Post by sashashyam on 2013-08-28, 16:46

Thank you, Sumana. That is very nice to hear, for after that is all that any writer, amateur or professional, looks for, intelligent appreciation.Shyamala--sumana13-- wrote:How beautifully you write Shyamala it is such a pleasure reading you again n again ....


                     

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Re: Jodha Akbar 51: Clearing the Air

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