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Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

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Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-07, 16:53

Folks,


If  I am so late with this,  it is partly because I expected most of you to be down with acute, possibly terminal  mohaningitis, and thus incapable of assimilating anything other than the prospect of our suitably chastened Amer ki Mirchi,   in an agony of guilt and grief, nursing her patidev.
Also because the assorted beautiful, highly emotional takes on this episode, awash in sentiment and imbued with the hope that the meeting of  souls was just around the corner,  gave me the impression that there was nothing more to be said and I could take a weekend off. Alas, that tempting prospect seems out of reach, and in view of demands from some of my young friends,  here I am !
As there is obviously no point in my describing how aesthetic, or moving, or uplifting,  or all of these, one or the other scene was, let us take as a given that the whole episode was indeed a treat for the eye and the heart alike. Instead, let us analyse   it as a whole,  as the sum of its parts, and see how what happened has affected each of our principals, and what could be the implications for their  immediate future (and ours!).
The turning of  the tide: But  first, the title. On the seashore, when the tide runs out,  in some places, it goes out very far into the sea. Large swathes of sand are laid bare, littered with the sad debris of dead marine life,  and of  human folly in terms of garbage. The tide recedes further and further. The wreckage strewn around seems all pervading. As if there will never be anything more than this arid expanse of dirty brown sand,  devoid of life and even the prospect  of life.
Then, suddenly, the tide begins to turn. First very slowly, millimeter by millimeter, the white foam spreads across the grubby brown sand and whitewashes it. Then come the waves, white sea horses dancing and prancing in the wind, ever advancing as they gallop farther and farther inland. Soon, one can see nothing of the ugly wreckage that littered the seashore, it is  all a stretch of  rich, gleaming blue laced with the white of the foam, like imperial robes edged with ermine.
So it is with our tale. In the previous episode, as Jodha plunged to hitherto unsuspected depths of folly, it was as if the tide had gone out for a long, long time, leaving us with the ugly debris of a relationship damaged almost beyond recall. But on Friday, it seemed that the tide was indeed turning. Very slowly at first, and hesitantly,  but with the promise, and the prospect, of brightness and beauty ahead.
Jalal:   To  those who fear, after watching the last 3 episodes,  that Jalal is being reduced from a dominating, alpha male  Shahehshah to the leading man of a standard issue Ekta soap, dancing attendance on a demanding and capricious lady love, I would like to offer reassurance. It is might seem so, but  our medieval Rhett Butler is not about to be reduced to Manav Deshmukh of Pavitra Rishta.
Methinks the real key to Jalal's behaviour with Jodha - during the tent  squabble, after the snake episode, and at the dargah -  lies in his perception of their shared sense of being rootless, and not belonging anywhere,  of having no one who really cares for them, that he describes the other day, ostensibly to Mahaam, but really to himself and perhaps to an invisible Jodha.

Because of this feeling of kinship, and because he thinks he can understand her hidden desperation that surfaces in illogical,   immature  and even ugly reactions, like an obstreperous child  having a tantrum and drumming its heels on the floor, Jalal goes the extra mile, not to be provoked into retaliating in kind, and being accommodating  to a fault with her.

That is why he is  so unruffled when Jodha harangues him about the  khema,  disarming her and making her look extremely foolish with a  calm explanation,  and a concluding jab that  he is not interested in looking at her, thank you. And shakes his head slightly in  bemusement as she stomps off.

Also why he does not react to her mindless and  extremely stupid assertion that the Rajput  assassin's  motives were entirely  understandable, and  that he (and not her Babasa and his desire to save Amer by offering her in marriage to Jalal) was responsible for the  attack, and also for Rajput hostility towards her family. His eyes widen in disbelief as she rants on,  but he says nothing.  One does not argue with a frantic, hysterical woman.
He lets Jodha  down even more gently after the snake episode. She is acutely  embarrassed,  as well she might  be after her atrocious accusations against him,  and  he helps her  recover by turning it into a joke. The sarcasm is there, and in abundance, in his dialogue with the snake,  but it is  not bitter, for all that he does show how much her accusations hurt him - hamein kitna kuch suna diya.. tumhare zeher se to ek bar hi marte hain,  jeekar roz roz nahin marte ..

She is not of the same mettle. I would have been pleased and impressed if she had immediately apologised, without any holding back, for the ugly barbs she had thrown at him, which were beyond the pale  and worse. But she lacks the grace and the sensitivity to do that. However, despite this, he has succeeded in making her feel guilty and ashamed of herself.

To revert, that is also why he guides he so gently in the mazhar. Why he explains, with a little pause while he searches his memory for  the right word, that what he is asking her to eat is the prasad. Why he asks, after tying the mannat ka dhaga,  only for her wish to come true,  and, in a gesture of genuine friendship,   tells her so.

NB: Rewatching that segment clarifies  that he says Humne usse bahut kuch liya hai -not aapse bahut kuch liya hai  - ie that he has taken a great deal from the Almighty,  and so wants nothing now,  and has thus  made his wish  for her. Which makes sense. Why on earth would Jalal endorse, even if partially, her illogical  mantra that he has despoiled her of everything she holds dear?  
It is his territory, he belongs there, but for her it is strange,  and he wants to make sure that she  is comfortable and does not feel that she is being left alone.

He also  wants her to feel comfortable with him. To many of you, it might seem that the reason for his making her accompany him on the hunt is to get back at her by scaring her and harassing her. But  I feel  it is more of what I noted above, trying to get her used to being with him, even if she cribs and nags at him non stop.That he why he teases her to talk with him - kya aap pura raasta hum se baat nahin karengi? - , so  that  interaction between them becomes commonplace, and does not seem strange and awkward.  When she  gets to be too much, he shushes her abruptly.

In fact, as  some of you have noted, the whole build up to the  shikar is vintage Jalal:  the insistence on having his own way, her homilies going in thru one ear and out the other, and the mischief with which he  looks back at Jodha cupping her ears at the report of the matchlock gun going off. But there is none of the automatic hostility of old.

I hasten to clarify that all this, even put together, does not add up to love. Not as yet.  Nor is it desire, at once simpler and more commonplace.  At no point in the last two episodes does he even look at her with even a hint of longing in his eyes. If anything, as in the  tent scene, there is  only  a weary patience, and  at other times, a detached kindness.

The challenge: Apart from the sense of kinship mentioned above, and  the understanding  of her inner turmoil that makes him cut her  a lot of slack, there is something else. She is a challenge of  a kind he has not faced till now. The first woman he has encountered who wants nothing from him, and will give him nothing, not even friendship. Who detests him openly and fiercely, and often, especially of late,  wrongheadedly.
This has to be changed, for he never lets a challenge pass, and he does not like losing. She has to be brought round to liking him, caring for him. So  he tackles it the way his Khan Baba has taught him. When a straight on attack does not work, then you adopt salami tactics, fine slice by fine slice.

In the process, he  will, in due course,  find that she has, with all her follies, her pigheadedness, her self-righteous bhashanbaazi, insinuated herself into his being, so much so that she becomes indispensable to his comfort.  But for that, as in mathematical problems, there is one  necessary and one sufficient condition, of which later.

Finally,  his stopping Jodha from donating her jewellery and giving his instead, right down to the shahi pagdi, had nothing to do with his wanting to please Jodha. He was being the Shahenshah, which is something that pervades every cell of his being at all times, and a Shahenshah has to make these grand gestures, and make them exclusively. He asserts his pet prejudice that his begum should not strip herself of her jewels, and shooes Jodha off abruptly without a word of explanation, but he gives that explanation  to the fakir.

This fetches him the unexpected bonus of warm praise from the guardian of the dargah at Ajmer Sharif, for having come so humbly, like  a common man, without his shahi pagdi!  Talk of undeserved encomiums!

Jodha: I do not cut her anything like  as much slack as Jalal does. She comes across,  even after making allowances for the  trauma of the dature ka ark episode, as someone with a closed mind that she resolutely refuses to open up and broaden, being addicted to snap judgments, and once she has taken them,  allergic to any facts, especially those concerning Jalal, that run counter to these judgments.
The fact is that Jodha  is a very warmhearted and good girl, but she is opinionated, unyielding in her prejudices, and with no understanding of anything beyond her Amer, like a frog in a well. She is like a small town girl pitchforked into the capital of an empire, with none of the understanding of the complexities of imperial governance that the gentle and equally goodhearted Salima has.
Worse,  Jodha seems to have  no desire to learn either, exulting instead in  simple minded self-righteousness. She will not understand that for her imperial husband, the choices  are  rarely between good and bad, black and white. That they are mostly between the  bad and the worse, between two shades of grey. She has been spoilt by her whole family and told constantly that she can do no wrong, and here in Agra, Hamida Banu spoils her even worse. No wonder she is the way she is.
I am not one of those incurable  romantics willing to overlook all her failings in order  to luxuriate in the prospect of le grand amour being round the corner. Or rather  just behind Mohan's charge against Jalal as a horrified Jodha looks on the outcome of her handiwork,  a burning mashaal in her hand (where on earth did she get that from all of a sudden?)
I do not propose to rehash what I had written about her  2 days ago. On Friday, she was so shellshocked and ashamed after the snake episode that she was on her best behavior for most the rest of the  Ajmer trip, of course till the hunting expedition, when her inbuilt do-gooding instincts took over and, predictably, led to disaster.
The missing apology: But  first, to answer the obvious  question: Why does she not apologise to Jalal after the snake fiasco? Why merely thank him for saving her life, and that too in a muted fashion?
She does not apologise, as she should have,  because that needs the courage to expose yourself without fear of ridicule, and she, for all her self-righteous bluster, does not have it. She  is afraid that he will laugh at her and despise her for her folly. Once you do not apologise at once, it can never be done,
 So, instead, once the initial sense of guilt has ebbed, she  starts looking around for  ways to getting back to thinking badly of Jalal, so that she can silence  the  inner voice that rebukes  her for her  failure to apologise.

She thinks  she has found it in the jewellery episode, whence her rush to a harsh judgment against him. She ends up falling flat on her face once again.

Jalal, in contrast,  is  completely self-assured. He can stoop without being  worried about whether that would be interpreted as a sign of weakness. That is  why he does not hesitate to apologise publicly to the Ameris in the open court,  not because he is a Shahenshah, but rather in spite of it.

The mannat:  Jodha behaves impeccably in the mazhar,  and even her penchant for making a speech at the drop of a hat - this time about the Khwaja's holiness - serves her well.  Jalal is pleased and the maulvis are delighted.  She looks so  beautiful in her eager sincerity that this would have been so even if  she had spoken is Swahili!

As for the mannat,  a clarification is in order here. There are two places where they  pray. The first, and the really important one, is at the mazhar of the Khwaja,  inside. That is where she copies Jalal and prays  with her hands raised,  and I am sure with all her heart, for her husband's safety and well being. One does not know what he prayed for, probably for the well being of his subjects.

Next, after the chaadar chadana ceremony and the blessings, they come to the second, subsidiary place and tie the mannat ke dhaage. This is a more devout version of throwing a coin in a well and making a wish. It is not as holy a place as the mazhar. So she can  ask for whatever she most wants.

Here. Jodha's mannat,  not for her husband's downfall, as some have commented, but that she should, at least once, be able to teach him a lesson, is a  childish thing to want, and  inappropriate given the sanctity of the place.  But it is  not malicious. 

He wishes that her wish might come true and, in a gesture of genuine friendliness, tells her so. Her odd response to this, that she is glad of that,   seem to be less due to haughtiness than to awkwardness  and an inability to open up and say something warm and appreciative to Jalal.
I am sure that after the tiger attack, Jodha will be horrified, thinking that it is her  mannat   that has come true in an almost deadly manner. She will see it as a paat  for herself, and will feel unbearably  guilty.
But what was disappointing is her sticking to her old mantra that Jalal has taken everything away from her, which is  as illogical as her even more curious  assertion that the Rajput assassin's attack was all Jalal's fault.  Disappointing because even  the shock of having misjudged her husband so terribly  in the snake episode has not taught her to re-examine the facts dispassionately, and  reassess her opinion of him in the light of the  facts.
It would do her a lot of good to fall helplessly in love, and have to try and win over the object of her affections. I hope this happens, in the sense that she discovers she is in love with Jalal  before he discovers that he is in love with her. It is not impossible, for he will, for quite a while,  interpret his soft corner for her as due to  the kinship of ek hi kashti mein sawaar hone ki. Let us see!
To revert, the necessary condition I had mentioned above would  be her learning to assess him objectively, free of her deep rooted prejudices. The sufficient condition would be for her to discover in herself the capacity to love him truly, deeply, unreservedly, to match his love for her. For there is  no deewangee  that can exist without an equal passion from the beloved..
But somehow, I have  a sneaking suspicion that she will  never feel the same for him as he will for her. In all love affairs, as I wrote on my last thread, there is one who loves, and one who is loved. Jodha is likely to fall in the second category. For her, Amer, and all the  assorted Sas - her dadisa, bapusa, maasa,  bhaisas - will, I suspect, always come first. But how does it matter, as long as Jalal does not mind?  But I do hope that I am wrong.
Tiger, tiger, burning bright:  The arrival of Mohan, and what follows,  will of course mark the real turning of the tide.
I do not know how Jodha will express her sense of guilt  - it is not going to be just feeling sorry when  you have almost got your husband killed - but she will be very remorseful. Jalal of course would have had no time to tell her off, as he will be unconscious at least for a while,  and possibly  incapacitated for a while longer.

But to cut her some slack - yes,  I do that occasionally! - she was imagining that it would be a nirdosh pashu like a deer, not a khoonkhaar pashu  like our Mohan. The blood freezes in her veins as soon as she realises what is surging out of the undergrowth!

Question of  the day:
To me, the real question re: the tiger episode is this, and do think about it, all of you.

What will Jalal tell the others, once he has regained consciousness, and especially his Ammijaan once they are back in Agra, about why he was not able to shoot the tiger?

My bet is that he will shield Jodha by saying that the trigger mechanism got jammed, for he knows that no matter how much Hamida Banu loves Jodha, she will never  forgive her for this piece of meddling that could very easily have lost her her only son. This will also be the crowning  lesson for Jodha in what her husband is like as a man.

What would be your guess?

Quiz for the day: Guess the number of times Jodha uses the words nirdosh pashu  in the hunt segment. No cheating by rewatching the episode and counting!  
Entries will be received till 7:59 pm on Monday.
Prize for the closest count: The winner will be given  a chance to attend the 16th century PETA General Assembly at Amer  along with Jodha Begum.
Alternative prize: A shikar trip with the Shahenshah, with the winner acting as his caddy (in golf lingo), and carrying his shamsheer  for all eventualities (this is subject to His Imperial Majesty’s consent, which is still awaited)
Shyamala B.Cowsik

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by neha on 2013-10-07, 17:43

Awesome post !!! ....Maybe 8 times, I am not sure though but would like to have the alternative prize :geek:

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Re: Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by sonia1 on 2013-10-07, 17:46

Read this on IF first and commented there .:) 
Re-read again......Its truly awesome. Flows beautifully like a poetry. Thumbsup

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Re: Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by ShaliniRobinson on 2013-10-07, 17:57

Love the write up and agree wholeheartedly Thumbsup 

You just echo my feelings, and reading this on a Monday is terrific; it brings back not just the memories, but all the understanding and emotion back.

Thank you so much! :)

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Re: Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-07, 17:59

Aha,my dear Neha, I knew it! Which young lady in her right mind would prefer a preachy Jodha to Jalal, even if she had  to caddy for him! Shows good taste, it does! Well, you would never have won it in any case, for that is a trick question. She says nirdosh pashu 3 times, and nirdosh praani twice, so the correct anwer is 3. Never mind, my dear, the Shahenshah, after his close encounter with Mohan, will not be up to shikar for a while yet!Shyamala Auntyneha wrote:Awesome post !!! ....Maybe 8 times, I am not sure though but would like to have the alternative prize :geek:

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Re: Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-07, 18:01

Thank you, my dear Sonia. I  am glad I wrote it after all, for  it came out quite well in the end. I myself liked the bit about the tides.Shyamala Auntysonia1 wrote:Read this on IF first and commented there .:) 
Re-read again......Its truly awesome. Flows beautifully like a poetry. Thumbsup

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Re: Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-07, 18:03

What  a sweet thing to say, Shalini! I am now really pleased that I did it after all.Shyamala B.CowsikShaliniRobinson wrote:Love the write up and agree wholeheartedly Thumbsup 

You just echo my feelings, and reading this on a Monday is terrific; it brings back not just the memories, but all the understanding and emotion back.

Thank you so much! :)

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Re: Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by ShaliniRobinson on 2013-10-07, 22:56

sashashyam wrote:
What  a sweet thing to say, Shalini! I am now really pleased that I did it after all.Shyamala B.CowsikShaliniRobinson wrote:Love the write up and agree wholeheartedly Thumbsup 

You just echo my feelings, and reading this on a Monday is terrific; it brings back not just the memories, but all the understanding and emotion back.

Thank you so much! :)
You're most welcome, dear! :)

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Re: Jodha Akbar 79: The turning of the tide

Post by --sumana13-- on 2013-10-08, 03:53

Wonderful post Shyamala .... I loved the episode and loved your writing even more ...

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