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Jodha Akbar 98: Snakes and Ladders

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Jodha Akbar 98: Snakes and Ladders

Post by sashashyam on 2013-11-04, 16:12

Folks,
Now that it is the morning after, and at least some of that body heat that was frying the forum must have been dissipated, it might not  be a bad time to offer a different take on the episode. To be precise, on the latter half, for by now, 99% of the forum has forgotten that there WAS anything before the infamous "body heat" segment!
In fact, by late last night, it was not just that I did  not know  what to make of  the  Jodha we were shown. I did  not know what to make of the quasi-universal obsession with something  so commonplace -  something that not just the birds and the bees, but the barnyard rooster and fowl too do - the purely physical side of marriage,  as if it was in some way synonymous with the divine passion,  love! The frantic goings on the  forum over “body heat” were, to me at least, decidedly  disconcerting.
So,  to answer the one all important question which seems to have robbed most here of their sleep last night, as to whether Jalal did IT, my answer would be  a resounding NO! As Vicki put it pithily in her gallant attempt to make sense of the goings on yesternight, Jalal is not into necrophilia.
Newton's Law of Gravity: It was bad enough to have the CVs ruin what promised at first to be a exceptional episode, a fitting third segment of a superb triptych.  A triptych  that would  have wrapped up the  Amer visit, a visit during which the Jalal-Jodha relationship would have advanced to a new level of trust, understanding, and friendship.
But alas, that was not to be. After its initial promise, Jodha Akbar yesterday set out with a vengeance to prove Newton's law of gravity afresh,  by demonstrating that what had gone up - the quality of the last 2 episodes - had necessarily to come down. By episode end, it was dismally clear to me that  we will have to wait, maybe  for weeks,  before seeing anything halfway rational. In the  meanwhile, we will  be treated to the spectacle of Jalal trying helplessly to explain himself to a Jodha who is fast plunging,  as in a snakes and ladders  game, from about 51 to 0.   
As did the serial itself, with a total lack of balance in the character graphs of the two principals.
In fact, as loveanime has put it with admirable clarity, force and logic in her post on Lashy's thread (the opening post of which is a lucid and lovely piece of writing) at http://www.india-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=3795247&TPN=16&#p95083417,
"Jalal has gone so forward in character development that he is walking alone, and his apparent soul mate is nowhere near him".
To which I would only add that I too am nowhere near this Jodha, who, just when I get set to start liking her, sends me back to the starting point, again as in snakes and ladders.
I am not surprised that despite Vicky's brave and admirable attempts to  explain this Jodha to her readers, some are actually beginning to root  for Ruqaiya, who is presumably rushing military reinforcements to dig Jalal out of the snowstorm (on the way from Amer to Agra?!?. Maybe the CVs confused Rajasthan with Ladakh?).
But what of the even deeper pit , of helpless emotional subservience to a woman who is so relentlessly negative towards  him, into which the Shahenshah-e-Hindustan  seems to have fallen?
Squaring the circle:  It is not that the CVs cannot surprise you  when they set their minds to it. I had worried a lot, and written a lot, about the likely  fate that awaited the hapless Sukanya in the  hostile, icy environment in her sasural, even if Jalal had scared her inlaws into avoiding any overt ill-treatment.
Lo and behold, Jalal squared that circle effortlessly, with true imperial panache - first grinding the Rat King into the dust with his   Humein unhe batana tha ki kis se baat kar rahe hain, and his ostentatious post-wedding gift, to Vijendra.  of his father's life. Next,  safeguarding Sukanya totally thru the gift to her of Ratanpur fort, which is now hers and hers alone. Not something sneakily gained by the Rat King.
They  used to say in the old days that a girl needed strong family backing from her maayka to be respected and valued in her sasural. I do not know about her maayka,  but in her jeejasa, Sukanya has a suraksha kavach beyond compare, and she knows it.
Jalal-Jodha at Amer: Now was the time for the CVs to build on this, and on what was presumably a Jodha overflowing with gratitude to her patidev, to fit in a scene  that would be fresh and appealing in its open warmth and friendliness, with some intelligent conversation between them.  This was surely  not too much to ask for. Alas for such vain hopes!
There was, in the whole of that scene, which was a bad let down as far as Jodha was concerned,  not a single good line written for  her. She has no word of appreciation for what Jalal had just done. She seems to have not the least understanding of all that he explains to her so patiently about the needs of statecraft, and this is supposed to be an intelligent young woman!
She does not react to the obvious gentleness  and affection in his saying that he did it because of his relationship with her; the addition of her family and Amer is clearly an afterthought, and the warmth in his eyes as he holds hers in a long gaze would have thawed an iceberg.  Not our Jodha, however.
She does not react when he tells her that what she and hers think about him does matter to him. This momentous confession should have instantly  reformatted her take on Jalal and made her reevaluate him. It seems, strangely, to barely register with Jodha.
She has no empathy for what he tells her about his boyhood at Ratanpur with his father the Emperor, not a single interested comment, or question about how he felt then. Nothing.
She bustles in, asks her stereotypical questions,  like a chartered accountant, rather than a woman whose sister's wedded life has just been saved by this husband of hers, and then sashays out .
We are told endlessly by her apologists, who are undoubtedly sincere, that Jodha wants to develop a level of understanding with Jalal  before she lets him anywhere near her. But when and how is this level of understanding to be reached if she is not interested in anything concerning him, except for what her family can get out of him? If she is not sensitive to even the most open indications of caring for her that he gives?
Body Cold: After this none too promising prelude , the snowstorm scene was a unmitigated disaster, which not only completely wiped out all the tentative gains that seemed  to have been made between Jalal and Jodha at Amer, but pushed them back several steps beyond even the state of play post the dature ka ark ,  Meena Bazaar, and Holi  episodes.  
In fact after Jalal's dreamy reminiscing about the Gangaur celebrations,  the whole episode went steadily downhill. It was most artificially and ridiculously constructed:  why would a female, even one with so little commonsense as Jodha, run out into the freezing cold in her flimsy clothes and  undertake a bout of satyagraha  under that tree, instead of going to Hamida's tent  with some halfway plausible excuse? Worst come to worst, Hamida would have assumed that she and Jalal has had a fight. How did Jodha  think she was going to keep her Ammijaan's maan if a soldier found her freezing there?
And as for Jalal, why the devil did he not drag the idiotic female back to the tent by main force and barbecue her in front of the fire? Then dump her on the bed, fling all the bedclothes on her and leave her to her own devices? Instead,  he walks off in  a huff, something fully  as idiotic as her stomping out of the tent and camping under the tree in the first place.

But for Rajat's star power and his exceptional mastery of facial nuance,  things would have been infinitely worse. The expression in his eyes as he looks at the sleeping Jodha, the delicacy and the hesitant gentleness with which he almost pats back a tendril of her hair, the worry and the kashmakash  in  his face as he strokes her forehead towards the end ,  are all  like  illustrations for aching tenderness.  Not to speak of the long  lingering  close up shots of his face, hair blown about artistically by the wind, looking for all the world like  a Van Dyke portrait  or a matinee idol  with whom the camera has fallen in love.

Poor Paridhi, she has no chance at all to do anything worthwhile. She ought to  go on  a hunger strike against such terminally stupid scenarios.  When Jodha wakes up and finds her cheek in her husband's palm, she behaves as if she was one of the 1960s film heroines and he was Pran. It was recidivism with a vengeance, and  I found her  ranting and her wild accusations very boring and tiresome.
If Jalal had actually grabbed her and declared that he had the haq to claim his conjugal rights, it would have been interesting to see how she would have reacted. After all, she is his wedded wife, and she cannot refuse him that even in current law if he is so minded. There is a legal provision for the restoration, or claiming of conjugal rights, with sentences for non-compliance with the court's ruling. A wife can sue for divorce, but while she is married, she cannot say that she will not let her husband touch her. And this is the 16th century!

That Jalal does not, and will not, do any such thing is a matter of his indulgence, not of her right. His problem, as I see it, is that he is too yielding and, now that he is practically in love with her, far too hesitant. In being so,  he reinforces the worst in her - her mindless stubbornness, and her insensate conviction that  he is out to “take advantage” of her.  

To listen to her, one would have thought that she was an innocent village maiden who had been abducted by the local  satrap, who was now out to ravish her. Does she think that when Bharmal, in effect, struck that bargain with Jalal - the security of Amer for the marriage with Jodha -  with her explicit consent and after meeting her sharts, Jalal  had  also given some sort of written undertaking that he would never touch her?   
Does she count on keeping up this touch-me-not charade indefinitely, and how is she sure he will play along? But for  the fact that he is an honourable man, which husband would let her carry on like this? She apparently plans to go on taking from him, she and her whole family, with no thought to anything he might want in return.  Not the physical intimacy  with which she seems so strangely obsessed, but  perhaps some caring,  or even a civil word of thanks?

Jalal might do much better for himself and also for Jodha if he really set himself to determinedly woo her and seduce her. He is after all not cross-eyed or bucktoothed, but is an exceptionally handsome and attractive young man. Plus he must be well versed in handling women, and can surely fine tune his tactics to fit even such a prickly specimen as Jodha.   

I would be willing to bet that if he had done so, it might have ended up like that famous scene in Gone with the Wind when Rhett picks Scarlett up and carries her up the grand staircase, leaving the rest to the imagination of the 1940s readers. Remember Scarlett's reaction the next morning? Jodha might well have felt the same.
But of course Jalal  will do no such thing. For his Achilles' heel is this: he wants her to care for him, for what happens to him, even more than to satisfy the undoubted physical attraction he feels for her. And this, judging from last night, is nowhere in sight. I do not know about the self-righteous,  pokered-up Jodha. But Jalal's feet are surely going to bleed on that stony, thorny path I had written about  the last time. His deewanis in the forum had better keep plenty of lep and bandages ready.

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 98: Snakes and Ladders

Post by ShaliniRobinson on 2013-11-04, 16:52

Well said! Thumbsup  Loved reading the write-up. Thank you!

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Re: Jodha Akbar 98: Snakes and Ladders

Post by sashashyam on 2013-11-04, 17:39

Thank you, Shalini. ShyamalaShaliniRobinson wrote:Well said! Thumbsup  Loved reading the write-up. Thank you!

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Re: Jodha Akbar 98: Snakes and Ladders

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