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Jodha Akbar 104: The tilting of the scales

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Jodha Akbar 104: The tilting of the scales

Post by sashashyam on 2013-11-13, 13:30

Folks,
In the whole of Jodha Akbar to  date, in the context of the epic love story that we have been promised, but which seems to be perennially receding like a mirage in the Sahara, there was one remarkable scene in the Friday episode that re-anchored this promise firmly in the fabric of the narrative. Its symbolism was so heavy and in your face that it was inescapable; it practically knocked one over.
It was thus all the more remarkable that in the several multipage theses littering the forum over the weekend, dissecting each eye glance, each word and each facial muscle twitch of Jalal, Ruqaiya  & Jodha, past, present and future, no one, bar a single member who started a practically unnoticed thread on this point, seemed to have given the real significance of this seminal scene even a passing thought. If the CVs do scan this forum, they would have been bitterly disappointed at this near  total disregard  of their tour de force.
So I decided to boost their spirits  a bit with this post. En avant, then, with the
Sri Jodha Tulabhaaram: I know, I know,  it does sound rather sacrilegious, equating even our Amer  ke Registan ka Gulab with her aaradhya  Lord Krishna, but I am sure the Lord with forgive me for this, seeing how great a bhakt of his Jodha is.
So then, we have this unprecedented event in the Agra palace, with Jodha Begum being weighed, a la the Ameri practice on her birthdays, in a tulabhaaram, against jewels, gold,  silver,  and other assorted bundles of no one knows what in velvet pouches.  The donors include not only her adoring saas and the rest of her Three Musketeers - Gulbadan Begum and Jijianga - but Salima Begum and Bakshi Banu (her shauhar Sharifuddin glaring from  a distance in impotent fury at this supplementary waste of his hard-earned wealth!).
Then there is a gaggle of Jalal's courtiers,  obviously  shanghaied into making donations for this good cause and undoubtedly worried, as they dropped their pouches into the overflowing bucket on the scale,  whether this depredation on their purses was to become an annual feature.
Even after all the pouches are in place,  the scales are still tilted by a good 5-10% on Jodha's  side. Assuming that she weighs 125 pounds, normal for a  woman of  her height, and adding the the 25 pounds that would be a conservative estimate for her heavy joda and jewellery, we arrive at 150 pounds in all. Taking even the lower figure of 5% , the collective offerings fall short by at least 8 pounds, and very likely more.
Keep  this in mind,  folks, for here  lies the crux of the tale as the CVs saw it.
At this point, when the donors are all done and no more nazrane  are in the offing, the Shahenshah rises from his faraway seat and moves towards the platform, on which all this is going on, at a stately, unhurried pace. He arrives at the tula, casts a considering look at the opposite pan,  and at the tilted beam. He does not look at Jodha Begum at all.
He then deliberately removes a single ring, a heavy, ornate one, true, but  a plain gold one that could not have weighed more than 70-80 grams at the most. He circles it 3 times round Jodha's head in the traditional nazar utaarna, but he neither  smiles at her nor does he meet her eyes, though she has been looking up and around, wondering what he is going to do.
He moves to the opposite scale and, very gently, places the ring in the pan with the other gifts. Lo and behold, the 75 gm ring suddenly weighs more than 8-10 pounds, for the beam tilts sharply away from Jodha!  The loyal courtiers break into relieved (as no supplementary offerings will be expected of them now) exclamations of Subhanallah, subhanallah!
Jalal does a Rukmini: Shahenshah-e-Hind Jalaluddin Mohammed has, unbeknownst to himself, done a Rukmini .
His heavy gold ring might not have been as dramatic as the single tulsi  leaf with which Rukmini outweighed her Lord in the tulabhaaram scales at their palace in Dwaraka, thus shaming the arrogant Satyabhama in the Sri Krishna Tulabhaaram katha, but the spirit behind the two scenes was the same.
The parallel  was crystal clear and inescapable:  that Jalal's  devotion to Jodha outweighs (or would eventually outweigh) even  the collective affection and caring of all the others,    just as Rukmini's single tulsi leaf outweighed the combined offerings of not just Satyabhama but all of Lord Krishna's other queens (oh yes, he had many of them in Dwaraka, even if not quite 64000, like the gopis in Vrindavan. But then the Lord  had a great advantage over  poor Jalal; he could be with all his wives at the same time if he  so chose!) .
Or rather, it should have been crystal clear and inescapable, but apparently was not. Either way, it was an exquisite piece of scripting, and executed to perfection by Jalal,  with such impeccable dignity that Rukmini would have approved.
But curiously enough, Jodha, such a devout Krishna bhakta, never seemed to note the symbolism  that practically jumped out at her. Instead, with her usual obtuseness, she was cribbing that the Shahehshah was not likely to give her anything more than jewellery.

I hope he sends her a single rose, along  with the lost single payal from  Amer in a box.

A few supplementary points:  Those of  Jalal's begums who were not part of the  event, for obvious reasons, were probably having a meeting of their own, to set up a little trade union  to demand, with justification,  identical treatment on THEIR  saalgirahs,  complete with their being weighed solemnly in gold ornaments, not in some downmarket stuff  like sugar! Jalal would have very soon run  out of rings,  and the Mughal treasury would have been emptied long before Shahjahan got around to nearly bankrupting the Mughal Raj while building the Taj. 
Secondly, I agree with shan2430  that the whole tulabhaaram scene was OTT and not at all credible. It would have only stoked general resentment in the palace against this obvious and excessive favouritism being shown to a begum who had, so far, done nothing to deserve such pampering.  It was not as though she had produced an heir for the throne, after all!  Jalal and Hamida could, as shan2430  has pointed out,  done a jashn in the evening and given Jodha lavish gifts, but a tulabhaaram ceremony?  This copying of the Ameri custom would not  have gone down  well with 90% of the palace.
Morever, did they do it even in Amer for Sukanya and Shivani? Not that one knows of.
The true significance of the Tulabhaaram : But this criticism, valid though  it is,  misses the whole point of the exercise, as the CVs visualized it. That was to underline  that Jalal's love for Jodha would,  in due course, be as strong, as undemanding,  and as totally absorbed in the beloved as that of Rukmini for her Lord.
To cite a nazm that brings out this deewaangee, but in different words:
Yaar mera Kaaba Kashi                                                                                                                          Yaar bin khali rooh ki pyali, rooh ki pyali                                                                                       Yaar mera Eid Diwali                                                                                                                         Yaar ke bin yeh tanman khali...tanman khali                                                                          Yaar basaloon rom rom, deewani ban jaaon                                                                              Aur kahan rab dhoondun, yaar mein rab paaun 
Tu karam hai,  tu dharam hai                                                                                                             Tu hi mera kalma hai                                                                                                                           Teri khatir, tere dum se                                                                                                                                                                        Raahe ishq pe chaal na hai
Tu hi saya, ashk bhi tu                                                                                                                     Rooh mein bhi tu rehta hai                                                                                                                  Tu hi main hoon, main hi tu hai                                                                                                    Tera haaji kehta hai
Ek boond ishq pe hoon zinda                                                                                                              Ek boond ishq pe hoon zinda
Tu hi tab tha,  tu hi ab hai                                                                                                                    Jag hai jab se tab se tu hai                                                                                                                        Meri hasti,  mera rutba
Meri daulat,  shoharat tu hai    
Ek boond ishq pe hoon zinda                                                                                                              Ek boond ishq pe hoon zinda


Our Jalal is not quite there still, of course, for one does not see even ek boond ishq coming  his way as yet.


Plus a lot  of messy, ugly things will still clutter Jalal's path to this state of self-sufficient bliss, but he will get there, and so will we.  I am not all that sure of Jodha, neither now nor any time soon, but that hardly matters. I suppose she will get somewhere halfway to this, and if Jalal is content with that, who am I to quibble that my boy has been shortchanged ?


That, to my mind, was the sole point of the last episode. The rest, which I will cover for  the sake of form, hardly mattered. In fact, the desperate eagerness to decipher the Jalal-Ruqaiya-Jodha equations, now and in the future, that was so evident across the forum,  reminded me of nothing so much as the medieval theological debates in Europe,  in the Middle Ages, as to how many angels could dance on the head of a pin! No, I  am not joking; this was seriously debated by monks and the clergy in those days!
Jalal-Ruqaiya: I have always liked and respected Jalal as a character, and I always believed that having had very few relationships in his very troubled life, he attaches tremendous importance to maintaining those that he has, and right now that does NOT include Jodha.

One can love a person, or be obsessed with that person without understanding or being close to, or even liking him/her. But friendship is different, especially one of such very long standing as the one he has with Ruqaiya, who has been with him thru thick and thin. Whereas Jodha has not, and in fact so far she has done nothing but take from his, mostly  with little or no gratitude.

So, if  Jalal were to ditch Ruqaiya now for Jodha because he is of late obsessed with the latter, I would lose all respect for him, whatever the frantic forum might think or feel. I am glad that he is not doing any such thing, and I was amused by all the hyperventilation across the forum last night.

I thought that he  was pitch perfect with Ruqaiya yesterday in both their scenes together, especially the second one. He soothes her the way one soothes an angry, miserable child which feels that the parent does not love it.

One more point. Jalal knows Ruqaiya inside out,  and so he probably discounts her frantic  insistence that the only thing she resents is the possible loss of her auda in the palace/harem,  and that she is NOT jealous and NOT   afraid of losing him to Jodha. 

He realises that the lady doth  protest too much. That what  Ruqaiya asserts is not true at all, that  what she fears in the innermost recesses of her being is precisely that she will lose him  to Jodha. Not so much  in the physical sense - she does not mind that - but in the psychological sense of having decisive influence on him and his thinking. And that she cannot stand.

Which is why he repeatedly tries to get her to come out and acknowledge that she is indeed jealous of Jodha, and by extension that she cares for him,  Jalal, at the emotional level as well. Maybe he does that because it would  be cathartic for Ruqaiya.

Maybe he does that also because, after having rejected the very idea all his life,  he now seeks and needs that expression of emotional attachment to him from his dearest friend. Jodha does not love him or even care for him, and he cares nothing for any other begum. So perhaps, now that he has hitherto unknown feelings for Jodha that are clearly one-sided (as yet),  he  also  has this strange new need for emotional support and caring. And for that, whom else can he turn to  but his Gatti?

Lastly,  he very likely sees that this whole balancing and adjusting exercise as vital  for preventing Ruqaiya from going off the rails,  and perhaps taking her fury and her frustrations out on Jodha.

I do not see what Jalal  is doing as a preparatory exercise to help Ruqaiya adjust to a life without him .She  will always be a part of Jalal's life, and a very dear one, as his chief begum. She is not going anywhere. Jodha will have her own compartment and Ruqaiya hers. But Ruqaiya has to be brought round to accepting and not furiously resenting the very large part of Jalal that Jodha will eventually  appropriate. 

That is what Jalal is now working towards, even as the contours of his eventual relationship with Jodha are as yet unclear.
He needs to keep his Gatti on a reasonably even keel all thru and that will take all his skills at cajoling, charming and persuading her that her importance for him will never be diminished come what may.

And if in the process, he has to indulge in a bit of suppressio veri at one time (as not revealing to Ruqaiya  that it was he who told his Ammijaan about Jodha's birthday) ,  and a bit of suggestio falsi at another, why, one  never tells children more than what is good for them,  does one?

Shyamala B.Cowsik

PS: Folks, I am in a mess with the formatting of the nazm,  and I will try and improve it, but till then, please bear with it !  I cannot understand why the lines get into such a disorderly form as soon as I post. for they look ok in the draft!!.

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 104: The tilting of the scales

Post by pollyanna on 2013-11-13, 14:15

Wow...awesome post...loved the symbolism of Tulabharam and the nazam......

Thanks a lot Aunty :)

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Re: Jodha Akbar 104: The tilting of the scales

Post by sandhya on 2013-11-13, 19:49

I had heard of the tulabaram story as a kid from grandmom. So I had a sense of deja vu when I saw the scene but simply couldn't put my finger on it. THANK YOU so much for explaining aunty.

Yes. Jalal's affection for Jodha is unalloyed. But does Jodha deserve it? Jalal said in Amer that 'Zameen ho ya Qila; Daulat ho ya mohabbat' he gives only to those who earn it. But Jodha has done nothing to deserve all that Agra and its Emperor has given her. Her lack of politeness, dignity, understanding and sensitivity and her presumed know-all attitude only deserves disgust.  The Shahenshah may be in a trance but I am developing a Jodha-phobia nowadays.

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Re: Jodha Akbar 104: The tilting of the scales

Post by sashashyam on 2013-11-14, 01:37

I did that long ago, my dear/ Shyamala Auntysandhya wrote:I had heard of the tulabaram story as a kid from grandmom. So I had a sense of deja vu when I saw the scene but simply couldn't put my finger on it. THANK YOU so much for explaining aunty.

Yes. Jalal's affection for Jodha is unalloyed. But does Jodha deserve it? Jalal said in Amer that 'Zameen ho ya Qila; Daulat ho ya mohabbat' he gives only to those who earn it. But Jodha has done nothing to deserve all that Agra and its Emperor has given her. Her lack of politeness, dignity, understanding and sensitivity and her presumed know-all attitude only deserves disgust.  The Shahenshah may be in a trance but I am developing a Jodha-phobia nowadays.

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