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Jodha Akbar 70: Of things said and left unsaid

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Jodha Akbar 70: Of things said and left unsaid

Post by sashashyam on 2013-09-24, 16:30

Folks,
In the virtuoso opening sequence yesternight , what I could not forget for long afterwards was the drawn,  stunned, nearly unbelieving look on Jodha's face  as Jalal was explaining the mechanics of the talaq-e-khula. Her dark eyes looked unnaturally large in a pale face, and they seemed to be burning with a lambent fire. Exactly like that other time when it finally dawned on her, at the muh dikhayi scene in Sambhar, whom she was marrying. There seemed to be the same sudden, crushing despair, the sense of being trapped without any way out. But why?
It is from the answer to this question, and  that to the identical question we could pose to Jalal, that the title to this  post is derived.
The Shahi maafinama: It is the unexpected, small  pleasures that are the sweetest. In my case, it is being occasionally,  just occasionally, correct in some plot prediction. Just  2 days ago, I had written on the latest weekend analysis thread:
I too think he (Jalal) should  apologise to her - for he was unnecessarily beastly to her in the dature ka ark affair, and to her alone, not to  her brothers -but in privacy. Emperors then, like goverments today, do not apologise publicly for their mistakes unless, in the latter case, an election looms ahead. Jalal does not have bother about elections, but he does have to bother about any perception of him as being weak. 
When he actually did  so last night, I, in spite of my advanced years, got up and did a little celebratory jig .
What surprised me, however was the candour and straightforwardness of the apology. As Vicki has noted in her excellent take on this scene in her thread of last night,  Jalal is nothing if not honest with  himself about himself, and he knows full well when and how he has gone wrong. Very rarely, he acknowledges this to others as well, as with Bharmal the other day and, even more unequivocally,  with Jodha now. But when he does so, it is straight from the shoulder, there are no if and buts and maybes.
So it was yesternight. He is open about his galti, and does not let his imperial ego stand in the way of confessing that he is trying to right the wrong he has done,  and is now seeking Jodha's maafi. This is more than he haa ever done before, and more than what he said, in an identical situation as far as his unjustified accusation went, to Bharmal, when he explained it  as a harsh compulsion a ruler faces at times. And he does not say even so much to Jodha's brothers, nor do they, beginning with Mansingh, expect it. So why this explicit apology to Jodha now?
Methinks it is because  he is not apologizing for the false accusation or the nazarband. He is really, without saying so, apologizing for all the unwarranted and extra harshness, the emotional cruelty bordering on sadism, with which he treated her during those days, the constant threats at close quarters, the sneering announcements of special pain to be visited on her by hurting her loved ones.

Jodha does not know that this relentless hatred and sadism were rooted in his perception of a loss almost as bitter that of his unborn child. The loss of his budding trust in her, the caring, the special regard and respect, that he had begun to feel for her despite believing that she still detested him. It was the conviction that she had killed his child out of her hatred for him , to hurt him in the worst possible way - Tum mujhse nafrat karti ho na? To mujh par vaar karti. Mere bachche ko kyon mara? - that  fuelled the  blind rage that shut out  Jalal's sense of justice, his sense of his responsibilities as the final court of appeal, leaving only a burning thirst for revenge. A thirst that was all the more implacable because he knew that lurking in some corner of his being, there was Jalal II, who still refused to believe in Jodha's guilt.

This, then, is one of the things unsaid, but alas, not understood.
Jalal: There is a veiled bitterness when Jalal speaks of all that he finds ajeeb,  and if he is economical with the truth when he asserts that hamein aapko niharne (what a lovely, delicate term, with so many hidden meanings!)  ki ichcha nahin hai, who  shall blame him? He has already bent more than ever before in his life, and to demand that he be truthful now would be asking too much of him.
When Jodha asks, at the end of his apology, whether that was all he had to say to her, Jalal's face is still and inscrutable. His eyes look not outwards, but inwards into his own zehen.  He is  preparing for the final throw of the dice, for his final gamble. Like all good gamblers,  he hopes to win, but he can take it on the chin without flinching if fate decrees otherwise.
He wants her, not so much to merely stay back in Agra, as to stay back of her own free will. To be offered a way out which she would then refuse, again of her own free will. He wants her, in short, to accept him,  to care for him, to feel a sense of belonging with him. This unspoken longing, that he has not managed to articulate even to himself, is another of the things unsaid, and again not understood, at least not as yet.
The same bitterness with which he speaks of what he finds ajeeb, colours his repeated references to the beinteha nafrat  that he believes she feels for him. That she cannot bear to be imprisoned here in Agra, aapka yahan dum ghutha hai.  The words are as harsh and unsparing as the hidden sense of  hurt that drives them. 
But every time he uses that phrase, I  think he hopes  that she would, though not deny it, at least qualify it. But she  is shellshocked, and unable to take it all in, so he  gets  no such reaction, in fact no reaction at all, and he goes on till the end.
The talaq-e-khula:  It has been said elsewhere in the forum that Jalal does not understand the meaning of a marriage, of the special bond between a man and  a woman, as Jodha  does. This is  not true. The theoretical longevity of a Rajput marriage might have been for this life and beyond, but that hardly meant that it was, inevitably,  an idyllic saat janam ka rishta.
The norm for a marriage, Rajput or Mughal, in those days was an alliance of convenience, of familial obligations and compulsions, of suitability. Not one  based on affection, not to speak of love. Queens, Rajput or Mughal, claimed no exclusive rights to their husband, whom they shared with many other queens,  one or more of them where his favourites. There was jealousy, scheming, plotting, and often helpless detestation of the husband. No ideal, janam janam ka rishta, this!
The Mughal nikaah was more contractual; it gave a woman a way  out of an insufferable marriage, and was thus, in theory at least,  more woman-friendly. There was no such way out for a Rajput queen. But did that always make her more compliant, more accepting, more desirous of adjusting to the situation in which she found herself ? Insofar as  Jodha was concerned, no, it did not.  
Jodha rages endlessly at her fate, even yesterday. She openly affirms that she hates her husband,  and tells him and her brothers so. The reasons for this are not relevant here, for a janam janmantar ka rishta to har haal mein nibhana padta hai.  Jodha, thank God, does not subscribe to the pati parameshwar  concept, whatever the wedding vows she might have taken, and she is quite ready to  visit badduas on her patidev  till stopped by Bhagwan Das. So how can she be said to be more committed to the marriage, and to understand its value and its rules better than Jalal does?
As for her stout defence of Jalal in the bazaar, it is of the institution of the Shahenshah, not of  the man. That is why she does not defend him on the charge that he is kroor. She cannot in all honesty do that, for she feels the same, and she will not lie for him. But she forbids any criticism of him in his capacity as the Shahenshah. in a blanket fashion, on the grounds that his critics  are his praja and it is no more for them to criticise him that it would be for a son to criticise his father.  It is an entirely authoritarian a pronouncement, rooted in the attitude peculiar to royalty. Jodha has the same pride in her being royal as  her husband has in his being the Shahenshah.
As for  her wifely duties, she has  a very selective approach to the subject! And why not, if she can get away with it?
To revert, Jalal might not value a nikaah per se, but he values this intransigent, wild filly of  a wife he has saddled  (pun intended!)  himself with.  He now regrets the pain he has inflicted on her, and he wants to make amends in the only way he can think of, by offering her freedom from all that she say she hates here in Agra, beginning with the sight of him.
In doing this, he is being kinder to her than he is to himself (apologies to Jane Austen for this riff on Mr. Darcy's identical pronouncement to Elizabeth), for she will, he believes, be gaining something precious, her liberty and peace of mind, but he will lose something as yet unassessed: Jodha, and all that he had hoped to get from her.
Jalal still hopes, deep down,   that she will not leave.  But he also makes it clear that if she does stay, it has to be on a different basis.  One of acceptance and some caring for him, if not of affection. No more of the beinteha nafrat, of the shrinking at the very sight of him. Whence the almost throwaway, but in reality deeply significant line: Hamein hara rang khaas pasand hai, use pehne rahiye.  A thing said, and perhaps also understood.
Jodha: She, of course, does not  his offer on the above lines, and her incredulous  look mirrors the sense of shock that she feels. Shock,  and the sense of having been outwitted once again by her detestable other' (as Sangeeta would explain it!), of being forced to choose between the  Charybdis of  still more disgrace for her and her family if she returns to Amer, and the  Scylla  of living in Agra with the man for whom she has more ghrina (latest count: used 2986 times so far ) than for anyone else.
(NB: Scylla and Charybdis  were a monster and a deadly whirlpool respectively, between which Homer's hero Ulysses had to navigate at the peril of his life).
Jodha knows that for her,  the choice is really  no choice, she has to stay. But she is now hoist with her own petard. The hateful man has boxed her in comprehensively. She can no longer rail at him for having forced her  into this marriage (a manifest falsehood,for it is Bharmal who proposes it  to save Amer, but never mind!) and then compelling  her to stay here jahan uska dum ghutha hai.   She can no longer lament that she cannot even curse him because of her marriage vows and Rajput maryada.
And this is  something that Jodha understands, but leaves unsaid. Whence the hysterical laughter that dissolves into equally hysterical tears, as a helpless Moti looks on.  
But what Jodha does not yet realise is what Jalal has really done for her. By offering her  freedom from him,  he has opened the  door of the cage in which she had locked herself.   She might  now rail that she cannot fly away for family reasons, but soon she will find that she never wanted to leave after all.
With Jalal having restored her sense of self-respect and dignity with his apology, she will soon begin to breathe more easily even in his presence (I am here not even touching on Kamal's primal urge!),without starting like an unwilling filly, and looking and sounding as if she had been running the 400 meter heats .
The performances: Rajat and Paridhi played this scene to perfection, both individually and by playing superbly off each other.
Jalal's rigid profile, the half-self-mocking  pronouncements that said one thing and meant something different, the  offhand manner meant to hide the difficulty he faced in taking this high fence without stumbling, the parting, over the shoulder remark that defined what their new  relationship would be if she stayed - every word, every stance , every look and tone of voice, went beyond the script and added colours and meanings that were never there to begin with. So  too did Jodha's  silences which spoke, changed mood and expression,  conveyed  nuances that the writer would have never thought of.
The humshakal farce:  As Jalal held forth  about his tafteesh in loving detail ( for all the world like Poirot showing off in the last chapter; Holmes never revealed his techniques, any more than a magician would explain a trick), with one Mahaam on the floor, sneering and spitting hatred with her eyes,  the other Mahaam swanning in and regarding her alter ego with (assumed?) bewilderment, and Adham Khan leading the rest in looking pole-axed, I was on  the verge of breaking into giggles.
It was all so ridiculous, as full of holes as Swiss cheese, though some of the holes might be plugged this evening. 
But the one clever trick (of Mahaam's, I am sure) was to let Jalal discover the duplicate by himself (the mystery door seems to be common knowledge, alas!).  Exactly like a magician making you pick a particular card by yourself.
I only  hope that Jalal does not follow thru on his imitation of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland,  who was always shouting Off with his head! I could never either understand or appreciate his obsession with depriving the imperial executioner of his daal-roti-biryani by doing the head chopping business himself. And in the Diwan-e-Khas at that. Only think of the bloody mess on the Persian carpet!
Plus I  want to learn Abu Hamza's technique for manufacturing humshakals.  Just think how very useful it would be for anyone of us in a sticky situation !Let us launch a petition to the CVs that this secret be shared with us in the IF.
This day's special: A petition to the Shahenshah, which read as follows:
"Shahenshah ka iqbal buland ho (who said Ameris are not quick on the uptake?) !

I hope Your Imperial Majesty will pardon my forwardness in addressing you directly, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Please do not rest content with telling Jodha Begum Hamein hara rang khaas pasand hai, use pehene rahiye, but get your shahi darzi to make her new jodas in half a dozen different shades of green. I need a rest pronto (that means at once) if I am not to come apart at the seams, seeing that she has taken to wearing me like a school uniform!

With profound respect,

Jodha's yellow joda"

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 70: Of things said and left unsaid

Post by pollyanna on 2013-09-24, 19:45

Such a marvellous piece of writing Aunty, and  said-unsaid is portrayed so beautifully.....I loved that scene.....and u have aptly brought out the differences in the words put by Jalal, the spoken and the underlying meaning......SUPERB :)

About MA expose, less said , the better.....found it quite ridiculous though the makers tried their best to make sense but guess......kuchh toh chhoot raha hai rathod...aka Ekta Wink

I srsly want Jodha to wear some new colour.....lolzzzz

pollyanna
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Re: Jodha Akbar 70: Of things said and left unsaid

Post by sashashyam on 2013-09-25, 03:11

Thank you, Pallavi, but then you are always just as sweet!Shyamala Auntypollyanna wrote:Such a marvellous piece of writing Aunty, and  said-unsaid is portrayed so beautifully.....I loved that scene.....and u have aptly brought out the differences in the words put by Jalal, the spoken and the underlying meaning......SUPERB :)

About MA expose, less said , the better.....found it quite ridiculous though the makers tried their best to make sense but guess......kuchh toh chhoot raha hai rathod...aka Ekta Wink

I srsly want Jodha to wear some new colour.....lolzzzz

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 70: Of things said and left unsaid

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