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Jodha Akbar 174: Shadows over Camelot

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Jodha Akbar 174: Shadows over Camelot

Post by sashashyam on 2014-02-17, 12:59

Let us begin where we left off the last time.
As Shaikh Salim Chisti, looking at Jalal and Jodha kneeling before him, intones Taarikh badalne ke liye betaab hai, aur aap donon ke chehre par khuda ke noor ka taap hai,  it is not Jalal who, finally setting aside his fears about her reaction to being declared the future Mariam-uz-Zamani,  immediately looks across at her.
She looks across at him first, her eyes soft and shadowed with a hidden contentment  at what she now knows is to come. Eyes that are  lit up with a slow smile that  is  neither  shy nor hesitant, but open and warm, full of a  welcoming acceptance of their saanjha  kal.
As they both do a maatha tekhna before the saint and receive his farewell blessings,  and Jodha smiles once more, this time to herself, it is evident that they are both full of a quiet joy that needs no words.
It is their first truly shared emotion as husband and wife.
Ek hi dhaaga, ek hi mannat: When Jodha goes to tie the mannat ka dhaga  in her turn,  there is a very beautiful detail that sums up their new relationship. Not so long ago, at the dargah in Ajmer, Jodha had tied her dhaaga separately, at some distance from Jalal's,  and sought peace and wellbeing for her loved ones. Jalal had prayed  for Jodha's dua to be accepted.
This time, Jodha carefully ties her dhaaga right over Jalal's, on the same khoonta,  so that they  become, in effect, a single thread. And she does it with a kind gentle deliberation,   as if,   just as  her dhaaga  is entwined in Jalal's,  so too are her fate and her dreams  for the future now entwined  with his. As if, with that gesture,  she was  merging herself, out of her own free will, with him and all that was his.
Jalal seems to understand this,  if only vaguely, for his face, even in profile,   reflects unexpected delight.
It is the same with their respective wishes, which are in effect the same: that they should be companions for life. In a revealing mirror image of his dua  at Ajmer, Jodha now wants nothing for herself, but only that Shahenshah ki manokaamna poori ho.
Which is in effect herself, her saath  all thru the journey of his life, but does she really know that? For Jalal makes his  wish soundlessly, and if she knows his man ki baatein, as she claims,  she has become clairvoyant where he is concerned!
That little scene is pure delight. When he immediately asks her, as before, what she had sought in her dua, she protests and  declares, Hum aapko nahin batayenge! But there is such shy coquetry in the little pout that accompanies this statement, and in the cheeky tilt of her chin as she eyes him,  that Jalal, if he was not so  preoccupied with trying to learn what she had prayed for, would have been on to  this new ada  of his Jodha Begum in an instant.
As it is, he is still in that groove. So he next proposes, with the shy eagerness of a little  boy trying to discover what is inside the gift boxes at the foot of the Christmas tree, Agar hum aapko apni murad batayein to kya  tab aap apna batayengi? It was so utterly charming and childlike that I was in stitches, and for two pins, I would have  dived into the screen and hugged him, as if he had been my Sasha in a similar situation. And if I had been 40 years younger and in Jodha's place, I would have  hugged him at  once, if in a different spirit,  and told him not to worry, that  he would get everything he had prayed for.
Jodha of course, being a sanskaari 16th century queen, cannot   hug her husband  in full public view, however much she might have wanted to. So she does the next best thing, and proceeds to tease him, by declaring that she knew what he had wished for, Kyonki , Shahenshah, aap man mein bhi itne oonche swar mein bolte hain ki hamein  sab sunayi de chuka hai! 
Jalal  is torn between  his dil , which wants to believe that she  can read his mind, and his dimaag, which refuses to do so. So he begins with Jhoot hai, aap sirf baatein bana rahi hain!  But  as she insists, her eyes fixed unwaveringly on his, that she is not fibbing and she does know what he wished for, he ends up (despite her dodging his demand that she tell him),  with a wistful, hopeful Kya aap wakayi jaanti hain ki humne kya maanga?
As he watches her eyes fall slowly and her lips widen in a smile, there is a sudden flutter of eagerness  in Jalal's face. Next, the eyes rise again, the eyebrows arch in  mischievous assent to his question, the head nods in sync, and the lips  smile teasingly. As Jalal watches this new roop  of his Jodha Begum in astonishment,  she hides her face with the end of  her dupatta, bites it,  and flees in  shyness and charming confusion.
It is the typical  gaon ki gori  ka lajaana sharmaana  act that has been shown any number of times  on the big and small screens, where it nowadays evokes only  a yawn. But when Jodha does it,  very prettily, it is so unexpected from her that it seems as fresh and appealing as if it had never been seen before.
Plus, it shows up the core of what is new in her. For when does a girl feel shy  in front of  a man, that too  a nakchadi (ex-)chudail like Jodha, ever ready with aggressive retorts to Jalal in the past?
As for Jalal, he seems unable to believe his good fortune, for  he is now convincde that she does know his dil ki baat,  which can thus be now safely revealed to her without any risk of a rebuff.   He goes after her to do just that.
Unfortunately for him,  Lady Luck, who is a capricious female,  has by now decided that she has done enough for him of late. So  she trips him up neatly just as he is getting set, after a chummy exchange of views with Jodha about the spiritual merits of this retreat, to finally open  up to her.
Jalal is telling Jodha about his hope that their duas  would be fulfilled when they both  look up. There is Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, barring their path,  with an expression of mingled disdain and resentment on  her face.  The sun is still shining, but shadows have fallen  over Camelot.
Nascent posssessiveness: How does Jodha react to this sudden invasion of their togetherness?  Why, with distinct dismay. I rewatched that sequence frame by frame, and in the last shot of Jodha, it is  clear that she is more than disappointed at having her little idyll with Jalal so rudely disturbed.
For this is not the Jodha who was shooing Jalal off to Ruqaiya not so long ago. Not the one who, when Ruqaiya arrived while she was giving Jalal  a head massage, promptly  got  up and left.
When she now leaves Jalal and Ruqaiya alone, it is not because she feels that Ruqaiya  has a superior claim to Jalal's time and togetherness.  It  is rather because she fears that Ruqaiya  is all set to make a scene, and she does not want Jalal to be embarrassed by her presence.
And when she leaves that khema declaring to Jalal, with a little catch in her voice, that she prefers to sleep in the open air, there is the hurt and the resentment that comes with nascent possessiveness. Not the kind of possessiveness that demands exclusive  rights to his time and his attention, but the kind that seeks unfailing regard and caring from him.
I was very pleased to see that Jodha is no longer going to automatically defer to Ruqaiya when it comes to Jalal, but will stand up for herself, even if in the most understated and civil manner possible.
Hamari zid samajhiye ya hamari khushi:  Unlike many here, I was also pleased when Jalal,  while laying down  his rules firmly regarding the return journey,  also reassures Ruqaiya that she is his dearest friend and he would be  very pleased to have her with him for that journey.
He is obviously dismayed and displeased to see her land on them, and that too with such abysmal timing. His thoughts are still fixed on Jodha, and as he looks at her thru the lattice, his eyes are dreamy and far away. Ruqaiya can see this.
If now he was off putting and tried to pack her off, it would be a tauheen of what is  perhaps his oldest  relationship, the one of lifelong friendship and camaraderie with her. And Jalal, who has had very few real relationships in his turbulent life, values those he has, and he will never wilfully damage any of them. Least of all this one, where there is genuine affection on both sides. And this no matter how tiresomely Ruqaiya behaves, for he knows  that he is all she has ever  had or ever will.  I love this trait of his.
Thus, while he schools her with his hamari zid samajhein ya hamari khushi pronouncement, tells her bluntly that with her lazazmi (pomp and show?) she had spoilt  his plans to  make this trip as an aam aadmi, and sends her off  alone to make her obeisance to the Shaikh, he will never even hint to her that she is unwelcome.
He is also used to her overbearing nature. So, in the  hut, when Ruqaiya complains about the insects and the mahaul,  asserting that she is not used to this kind of life, he listens impassively, merely pulling her leg a bit, though he does point out, now as earlier,  that Jodha and he are enjoying it.
Jodha understands all this  instinctively, and accepts it as part  of him, something with which she needs to help him cope. Which is partly why she is  so indulgent to Ruqaiya, responding to all her impertinences, big and small, with unwavering calm and good sense.
She will not compound Jalal's problems with any flare ups of her own; so there are now none of the smart retorts with which  she used to face  down a  rude, overbearing Ruqaiya in the past. There is merely the smiling, gentle reasonableness with which a grown up tackles  a troublesome child's temper tantrums. 
Thus she reassures the distraught Ruqaiya, almost in tears over the charring of the first ever roti she  had ever made, and that too with  such childlike pleasure,that the Shahenshah will appreciate the effort and affection that she has put into even the charred roti. Jalal sees this, and he is grateful for it. And he reacts exactly as Jodha had known he would.
I had hopes that with this, Ruqaiya would have felt reassured and secure enough to be at least civil to Jodha. But that was a hope belied, and her nasty streak resurfaces at once, and in full strength, while  she is making the bed in the khema .
NB:I do not propose to speculate about why, having this luxurious khema  at hand, Ruqaiya was bemoaning  her not  having a chatai to sit on inside the hut, and shoving Jalal back as she appropriated a  good chunk of it. Nor why Jalal, so intent on being an aam aadmi,  does not send the khema packing as soon as he sees it.
Nor why travelling as an aam aadmi has to mean sleeping in ramshackle  barns. Why can they not stay in a proper sarai, modestly  but in relative comfort? An aam aadmi does not  have to be literally on the roads! Next, the seth looks prosperous enough, so why can he not have some ready cash for buying provisions for dinner? How long is he planning to live off Jodha's head ornaments (for the necklace, bangles and earrings are gone, to pay the jaziya)?

The whole scenario is plain cuckoo. It was aimed, in the first half, solely at promoting the Jalal-Jodha relationship, and now at  sketching out for Jalal the skills he will have to acquire to balance his 2 khaas begums.  Plus being a comedy track, such as in Ruqaiya's  roti-making session.

For the rest,  the latest segment is clearly part of a plan to paint Ruqaiya a deeper shade of grey. As this seems to be a given, and  we have to discuss a character as given, there is no point bothering about it.
 I will also pass over all the glaring  holes in the script I have listed above; there would surely be many more. Maybe the CVs like Swiss cheese, which always has lots of holes in it!
Shades of Panchavati:  Before  you start wondering at my sudden geographical (and mythological) leap, from Camelot to Panchavati, let me explain.
I listened to Jodha tell Jalal, beginning with a gentle Aap aise to mat kahiye!, how happy, indeed blessed she feels to have been able to come here and  have the darshan of such a very holy man, and how grateful she is to him for having brought her here.
Later, I watched her hurry after him into the hut, exclaim about his having stretched himself out on the bare hay-covered ground, and look around for a spread to  make him more comfortable even  as he insists that he is just fine. Hasten to spread the chatai offered opportunely by the banjara. Settle herself, quietly and companionably, next to him on a corner of the chatai, while taking care not to disturb him.
I watched her make out  at once, from seeing him look across at the banjaran cooking on the chula, that he is hungry and needs to be fed. Hustle off at once to cook something for him, dismissing his saying that he did not need it with the mischievous  observation that she knew  he liked to eat a little every few hours. Jalal is obviously chuffed up by this evidence of her caring for him and his needs, and this surfaces in his teasing her about doing jasoosi about him as she goes, smiling widely, to buy the necessities from the banjaran with an easy friendliness that shows her innate kindness and common touch.
As she begins to make the rotis, she turns and smiles at him, and there is, in that smile, all that has now changed between them.
Watching all this, and though the parallel, is a loose one, I was suddenly reminded of Sita during those 13 years of exile in the forests with Rama.  It has long been  accepted wisdom that Sita had made a great sacrifice in abandoning all the comforts of the palace to face the hardships of exile with her husband, but I have never felt so. It is true that Janaki had never before set foot on the hard ground or had her feet bruised by stones or pierced by thorns. She had never had to subsist on fruits and roots for years on end.
But yet, she had made a clear-eyed choice driven as much, indeed more by her personal desire to be with the husband she loved above all else,than by the concept of the dharma  of an ardhangini. I am sure that Sita was as blissfully happy in exile with her Raghunandan, all the privations in the forest notwithstanding,  as  she would  have been wretchedly unhappy without him, in the luxuries of the palace at Ayodhya.
Of course Jodha is, as yet,  no Sita in her total, unquestioning devotion to her husband. It is far too early  for that. But still, when she constantly looks out for Jalal, when she is sensitive to his feelings, to what hurts him, what angers him, when she wants him not to worry about her comfort, when she  does all these little caring things for him,  when she tells Ruqaiya, with total sincerity,  that she has never felt so much anand on any other journey as she felt of this one -the jail episode, the biting cold, the swollen feet, the dacoit attack notwithstanding - it is the same kind of  affection and loyalty and sense of belonging together that she is moving towards.
In fact, one gets the feeling that this Jodha would have been perfectly happy traipsing around the countryside on foot with her sethji for weeks on end, making jowar ki rotis for him on a chula and then contentedly watching him eat!  I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that  it is all for real!
Andar-baahar:  I do not trawl the forum, basically  for sheer lack of time, but even on my own last thread, I could sense the outrage among some at Jalal for what seemed like his having let Jodha sleep outside in the cold, while himself sleeping in the comfort  of the khema  Ruqaiya has forced on him.
For a moment to begin with, I shared this feeling. That Jalal should have put his foot down and told both his begums that Jodha cannot sleep outside, she is not well and it might not be safe,  even if Hoshyiyaar and the  baandis Ruqaiya had  brought along would be there (the soldiers escorting her would have been left behind).  That they could all sleep in here on 3 separate bistars.
But a bit more of consideration  produced a different interpretation. Jalal has always, even when he was  very angry with Jodha,  been very careful about her welfare.  He risked his life to save her from the tiger. On this trip, with the newfound closeness between them, usne  Jodha ko har waqt palkon par bithaya hai.
Nor is it as though he cannot put Ruqaiya in her place when he wants to. He did assert himself when nullifying Ruqaiya's orders and returning her hoojra to Jodha , He also insisted now that Ruqaiya could come along only if she came as a commoner (with 2 baandis, Hoshiyaar and the khema, of course!).

So it would be strange and totally inconsistent if he were suddenly to leave Jodha, who is now so close to his heart,  to her own devices outside. In fact he would not have done it even if it had been any other begum of his.

It is very likely that Jalal, not having listened to what Ruqaiya was saying to Jodha, assumed that it was Jodha who would not have wanted to share the khema with him and Ruqaiya.  It is  a perfectly plausible assumption to make.
He might also have assumed that Hoshiyaar would have arranged a proper bed for her outside, even if it was in the open, with a fire to keep her warm. That is after all  what would have been the case for all of them but for Ruqaiya and her khema.  Except that instead of mosquitos, they would have had Ruqaiya's constant complaints to keep  them awake!
He must  have gone out very soon to persuade  Jodha  to come back into the tent,  using the arguments of her health and safety to overcome her reservations,  and found her already uneasily asleep, tossing and turning on the hard ground.
The slight, sudden smile of tender amusement which twists his lips as he stands there looking down at her tells its own  tale. He must have been  saying to himself Humne to theek hi kaha tha ki ye to adiyalon ke sultanat ki malika hi hongi! Achche khaase bistar ko chhod kar, apni zid ke liye yahan aise leti hain!  
My bet is that he will now either pick Jodha up or wake her up, drag her into the khema  regardless of her protets,  and force her to sleep in his half of the bed, while he makes some alternative arrangement for himself.  It would be the exact parallel of the hoojra restoration incident.
He will not rebuke Ruqaiya,  but his silence while he goes about doing all this will be worse for her that a sharp rebuke. Let us see if my take, based solely on the logic of Jalal's nature and his present equation with Jodha,  proves to be at least halfway correct.
Lastly, for those wondering why I am so uncommonly  kind  in my  takes on Jodha since the last week,  it is not I, but she who has changed. For me, the first priority has always been my boy Jalal. If I am so warm towards  Jodha now, it is  because she has now learnt to care for him and is so good to him in so many ways.
Shyamala B.Cowsik 
PS:  I am now at the beginning of a bad bout of conjunctivitis, and I have had to do this post,which I wanted to share with you all,  in bits and pieces. I will thus not be able to respond, as I always try to do,   individually to all those kind enough to  add their comments on this thread. But I am sure you will all have a lot of fun arguing among  yourselves, so much so that you will not  even notice my  absence!


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Re: Jodha Akbar 174: Shadows over Camelot

Post by Manasvi on 2014-02-17, 13:17

Another beautiful post. Am your fan, big time! Hope you feel better soon.

I hope what you said about Jalal coaxing Jodha to come into the Khema is correct as she is just recovering from the vishkanya episode and the posion. I would be mighty disappointed in Jalal if he leaves her to herself thibkng she is adiyal or ziddi.

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Re: Jodha Akbar 174: Shadows over Camelot

Post by neha on 2014-02-17, 14:58

A lovely post Aunty, and  Thumbsup for Shades of Panchavati para I loved the analogy with Sita Ma.
 Ruqaiya did spoil their short-lived honeymoon and their mood! but as long as Jalal is patient with her and Jodha ignores her tantrums I'm fine with her. But she needs to learn manners! what kind of Malika-E-Hindustan she is? I do not believe that she did not learn manners and cooking because she lost her parents in childhood. It was must for any Shehzadi in those times to show etiquettes in public at least! This was the only reason Jodha was criticised widely by us  Twisted Evil cuz despite Jalal on being good terms with her she was very much rude and cold towards him. Ruqaiya seems to have survived in harem only because of her roots and Jalal else she would have been a victim of constant planning and plotting of harem because of her rudeness towards others. The new spoiler confirms she is digging her own grave by again trying to humiliate Jodha publically trying to ruin her character either with Sharifuddin or with Sujamal Bhaisa. But why would Jalal believe this when Jodha has clearly informed him about Sharifuddin? scratch But lets just wait and watch how the Jashn-E-Bahara turns into another Jashn-E-Saazish.
  I'm skeptical what kind of aam aadmi trip is this ? Why did Jalal even ask Jodha where she is going to sleep ? If Ruq's khema was not there then all would have slept outside in cold then obviously all could have been well! but Jalal himself seems to have forgotten that he has asked Ruq to leave behind all the luxuries she has brought with her from Agra. Now this is a big time blooper  Twisted Evil. And precap does show Jalal was sleeping inside and that's why Ruq when wakes up and comes out looking for him! But I will wait till tonight to see how he tackles this situation without being partial towards Jodha.

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Re: Jodha Akbar 174: Shadows over Camelot

Post by suchee on 2014-02-17, 16:41

Get wel soon....
As usual..i find no wrds to describe ur article....

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Re: Jodha Akbar 174: Shadows over Camelot

Post by anurao66 on 2014-02-17, 17:56


A lovely post as usual. Please do take care of yourself and get well soon.

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Re: Jodha Akbar 174: Shadows over Camelot

Post by Jiggy on 2014-02-17, 19:15

aunty, reading your posts makes me relive every part of the episode and see things in a new light..... simply beautiful, your writing is superb
thanks for your take on what jalal might do with the khema incident... badly needed a positive take to his silence....
paridhi and rajat are doing a great job in their roles and their chemistry is a treat to watch....
you needn't have to overburden yourself....last time i had conjuctivitis... i was all but blind....

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Re: Jodha Akbar 174: Shadows over Camelot

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