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Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

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Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-30, 17:36

Folks,
As is often the case in Jodha Akbar, what stayed with me last night was the very last shot.
Jalal, in his suite, looks at the ants swarming over the pile of sweetmeats on the table (which does not say much for Ameri hospitality, how is he supposed to eat the mithayi?), and remarks that they take it for granted that no one else can even touch  what they have been lucky enough to land on. He summons Atgah Khan and tells him  to send back the 5000 odd troops he had brought with him to Amer. The Minister protests: they are here for the Shahenshah's safety. I seek to ensure the safety of  the Mughal sultanate, replies Jalal.
So the troops will go, ostensibly to Agra, but in reality to Ratanpur, for Jalal intends to retake the fort which he has just been, in effect,  forced to hand over to the Rat King of Dhawalgarh by, as he believes,  a devious piece of chicanery. He will ensure that his word to Bharmal is kept, by officiating at all the rites at Sukanya's wedding. The wedding  which has been made possible only because he, the Shahenshah, has had to bend in public to the king of  a tinpot little riyasat  who has, he is convinced,  cheated him out a prized fort by last minute  emotional blackmail. Then, once Sukanya is safely married,  he will teach this upstart that  no one, but no one, can pressurize the Mughal sultanate or force the Shahenshah to hand over anything.
 As he says this, Jalal's face is a study in somber amusement - which Rajat shows need not be a contradiction in terms. His eyes are still and expressionless as they look, not outwards but inwards,  as he contemplates this exercise in the ruthless art of statecraft.
Chanakya, that master of  strategy and rajaneeti-kootaneeti, would, looking at his latest pupil from  over 12 centuries ago, have approved. Here is a student after his own heart. Chanakya's child,  perhaps even more than the original one, Chandragupta Maurya, the first Chakravarti Samrat or Shahenshah, of Hindustan.
So would Kunwar Pratap, whose virulent contempt for the Rat King and his ways, and his satisfaction at seeing his prediction fulfilled, might override his distaste at this left-handed manoeuvre that he might not contemplate himself. So, from over a century into the future, might Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who went into an ostensibly friendly meeting with Afzal Khan armed with the baagh ke naakhoon that he used to kill his treacherous opponent before the latter had made a murderous attack on him. That the hapless Rat King was not guilty of anything but an excess of greed would not change anything, for what would matter would be what Jalal believed of him.
A breach of faith?:There will be those - and this is almost sure to include Jodha,  thus moving the Jalal-Jodha the mandatory 2 steps back after the latest 1 step forward - who will rage at what they see as a breach of faith on Jalal's part, in taking back with the left hand what he had given with the right. But that is not what it is, from his perspective, and that is, in this case, the only one that counts.
Firstly, once Jalal, in a force majeure situation  decides to hand over the fort, taking it back becomes mandatory. Not to do so would (as Mahaam, who understands the arithmetic of power in a way that the mofussil-rooted  Jodha does not, rightly asserts) send out the message that the Shahenshah can be made to  yield even by  such a petty  opponent. This would dent his image, which is a major component  of his power and influence, very  badly. So the demands of his empire make this move essential.
Secondly, seen from Jalal's  side, it is perfectly justified. It is merely paying the Dhawalgarhis back in their own coin.
We know the Rat King and his son are honest, but how would Jalal know that?  He thinks they are lying, and let us not trot out the Rajvanshis never lie mantra. Like all rulers down the  ages, they too have lied often enough,  from the days of Jaichand downwards. In fact, I  cannot understand why the Rajputs protest against this serial, which glorifies them far more than history  warrants.

So, it is not that Jalal  trusts Sharifuddin blindly, whatever he might have said, for form's sake, to Jodha. It is rather that he cannot see what the latter would stand to gain from such a charade. At first sight, no rational person would be able to understand WHY Sharifuddin would want to take such an enormous  risk for no visible gain. In fact, I too found it very strange that he is doing it merely to take revenge on the Amer royals, plus damaging the Jalal-Jodha relationship, but at a very great risk to himself if ever he should be found out.

It is the same with Jalal. He is absolutely  logical in what he says to his mother. For him,  it is one man's word, his brother-in-law's,  against the two others, for there are no other witnesses, and he does not know the Rat King and his son as people at all. And in contrast with Adham,whom he does not trust at all,  right now he has no reason to distrust Sharifuddin.

As for Jodha, he initially thinks she is a prejudiced party and is cooking this up to get him to hand over the fort. Here too, one can hardly fault him. After all,  just  2 days earlier, she had told him, in one of the worst worded pleas I have ever heard,  that  if anything happened to him  in Amer,  it would jeopardise her sister's marriage, in effect  aap  kahin bhi jaakar mariye, par Amer mein nahin.

When this was  the apparent extent of her caring for his life in comparison with this wedding, why would he  not believe that she would implicate Sharifuddin to get the marriage back on the rails?  That too after Jodha's repeat of  the Rahim fiasco with Bakshi Banu? * That he dismisses  her far more gently this time, with a kind of weary patience rather than anger, shows how much indulgence he has towards her, and how much he understands her emotional compulsions vis a vis her family.
*NB:  For Jodha to repeat the Rahim fiasco with Bakshi Banu was pure folly, and a display  of the same rank ineptitude,  of dragging an unprepared and  frightened witness in front of the Shahenshah without any warning and expecting them to tell the truth , with no thought given to that person's  own interests. She should have anticipated that Bakshi Banu would be what is called in legal parlance a hostile witness. But then Jodha neither has any imagination, nor the ability to put herself in  the shoes of another and try to visualise that person's likely reaction. Which is why she always comes a cropper. Till yesterday, that is.

The change of heart : Why then does Jalal relent? It is because Jodha - inspired, in a delightfully ironical twist, by Mahaam's gloating lecture on her  assorted follies - does an about turn and asserts, in a remarkably candid and courageous public display of repentance, that she will, from now on, see herself first and foremost as his begum, only then as the daughter  of Amer, and that his family  will be hers and will always come first for her. As he tells her later,  she gave his family izzat, and so he had to reciprocate in kind and salvage Sukanya's marriage in the only way it could be salvaged.
But for the Shahenshah, there are separate compartments in his mind, and they are watertight. Jodha and Amer fit into one compartment, shall we call it that of the heart? The others, right now the Rat King and his son, fit into the other, that of his brain. That one is laser sharp, inflexible, and knows only one imperative: the interests of the Mughal sultanate and  his own prestige and power as the Shahenshah, both of which merge seamlessly.
Whence the secret smile on his face as he looks at the visibly moved Jodha  after he has given the fort away, and again as she is leaving his chambers, unsure of his real motive and frankly skeptical that he did it for Sukanya's wedding alone. The Shahenshah does what he has to do for the empire, and he is accountable for it to no one else.
What of Sukanya?: But what of Sukanya once it becomes known that Jalal has retaken the fort the Rat King was so relieved to get on a plate? Will she not be reviled in her sasural, and punished by her inlaws for what they would see - and rightly so, from their point of view  -  as a breach of faith  by her jijasa? I think Jalal believes that he can, by extending a strong assurance of protection to Dhawalgarh against any other Rajvanshis, and of course from the Mughals, while simultaneously warning the Rat King against any ill treatment of their bahu, take care of this angle. 
However, Jodha will hardly be convinced that these tactics will work, and the resultant bitterness she will feel against Jalal for his siyasati chaal will put great, possibly fatal strain on her resolution to support her husband in all he does. Good for the CVs, who can then go back to seesaw mode for another few dozen episodes!!
Wisdom comes to Jodha : To revert to Jodha's grand apology, Paridhi is superlative in this emotionally  demanding scene, helped by the fact that she can cry any amount and still look gorgeous.
The shot of Mahaam's face as Jodha advances on her and hugs her most unexpectedly is to die for! I was collapsing in helpless laughter to see Madame Devious, for once,  rolled up,  lock, stock and barrel,  by the girl she had proclaimed to be a novice at the power game. Chaal, sheh, aur mat!
Earlier, after Mahaam has swept triumphantly out of her room, the look on Jodha's face as wisdom dawns on her is wonderfully done. It is like watching the sun rise, the first rays illuminating space, and then, as they gather strength, tinting it pure gold. It is the same with Jodha's face, as it lights up from within, stage by stage, as it comes to her, out of the blue, what exactly it is that she must now do to square the circle that has been staring her in the face ever since her meeting with Bakshi Banu.
Another Chanakya's child?: Now the question that arises is this: is Jodha sincere in her profuse and apparently heartfelt apologies, or is she also a Chanakya's child in the making? Jalal is not quite sure: his face  as he watches her, especially as she comes up to him in the end and assures him that she will be with him in all his decisions, is a study in complex emotions. He is trying to read her mind, and his reading is clouded by his own siyasati  proclivities. Is she sincere,  or is she putting up a show to salvage her standing in Agra?
In the end, he settles for the former, and all the rest follows.
Much as I personally regret it, for I would  have loved a siyasati  Jodha outwitting the foxes of Agra at their own game, I know that he is right, for Jodha will never be a disciple of Chanakya. She is too straightforward, if foolishly bullheaded  most of the time, too much given to seeing things, and persons, in black and white.
This dilemma, between Sukanya and Bakshi Banu, was perhaps the first time she came face to face with a problem that could not be easily slotted into white and black, right and wrong. As I have repeated in the past, there are, in an emperor's life, mostly greys of various depths, two wrongs of which the lesser has to be chosen. Jodha, so harshly judgmental of him thus far,  has now learnt this the hard way. In the end,  she chooses  her husband, and Bakshi Banu, over Sukanya and her loved ones in Amer, even if this means accepting a lie and apologizing to the man she knows to be a villain.
When this choice of hers pays rich dividends, as Jalal relents, and Mahaam fumes and rages in impotent fury, Jodha is back in her black and white framework, convinced that she has, as she tells Mahaam in a pardonable fit of triumphalism, brought her husband over to her side. She does see that the handing over of the fort will have a politico-military fallout for the Mughal sultanate, but she leaves that to the Shahenshah to handle. 
But Jodha's mind is more astute, sharper, than that of most women of her era and her upbringing. So she is still doubtful as she leaves Jalal's rooms,  after having been told not to worry her pretty head in trying to decipher what is going on inside his head.  Why has he done it? - the question is still buzzing inside hers, like  an annoying and persistent bee.
Soon, she will learn why. And the way in which she reacts to that revelation, and the manner in which she handles it, will have a major, if not permanent,  impact on the future of the Jalal-Jodha relationship. Get set for a storm ahead, folks.
So, if her looking back just as Jalal too turns and looks at her reminds you of the famous Palat, palat, palat! Palti!  scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, remember that this is not Raj and Simran. This is Jalal and Jodha,  and their path to eventual trust and love will not be as easy, or as quick, as racing  thru a field golden with sarson ke phool,  straight into the other's arms. It will be a stony path,  littered with thorns, and their love will get to its manzil   only slowly, painfully, dragging itself on bleeding feet. But of one thing we can be sure. It will get there.
Shyamala B.Cowsik

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by Maria J on 2013-10-30, 18:08

Loved reading u Shyamala hug1

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-30, 18:22

Thank you, my dear MariaShyamalaMaria J wrote:Loved reading u Shyamala hug1

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by Janvi on 2013-10-30, 19:01

Amazing write up

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by pollyanna on 2013-10-30, 19:44

Superb write-up Aunty......indeed Chanakya neeti Wink :)

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by Tinkerbell on 2013-10-30, 21:12

Agreed.. Jodha did employ some low cunning  but was it equivalent to Chanakya..  I would say   Jalal and  Maham have the propensity to display the chanakya Kutilta  more ..

 
It is a pleasure reading you !!

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-30, 21:59

Thank you, my dear Pallavi. I liked my post myself, especially the title, and then again, it was a superb episode too. Shyamala Auntypollyanna wrote:Superb write-up Aunty......indeed Chanakya neeti Wink :)

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-30, 22:01

That is why, my dear Tinkerbell, you will see that I have said that Jodha does NOT qualify to be another Chanakya's child.What a cute id you have!Shyamala B.CowsikTinkerbell wrote:Agreed.. Jodha did employ some low cunning  but was it equivalent to Chanakya..  I would say   Jalal and  Maham have the propensity to display the chanakya Kutilta  more ..

 
It is a pleasure reading you !!

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by Maria J on 2013-10-31, 09:57

sashashyam wrote:
Thank you, my dear MariaShyamalaMaria J wrote:Loved reading u Shyamala hug1
hug1

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by sashashyam on 2013-10-31, 10:04

Thank you, Janhvi. Shyamala B.CowsikJanvi wrote:Amazing write up

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by amimus on 2013-10-31, 19:47

What a fantastic post . Loved reading you

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Re: Jodha Akbar 96: Chanakya’s Child

Post by sashashyam on 2013-11-01, 00:17

Thank you so much. Shyamala B.Cowsikamimus wrote:What a fantastic post . Loved reading you

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