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Jodha Akbar 187: Conduct unbecoming

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Jodha Akbar 187: Conduct unbecoming

Post by sashashyam on 2014-03-06, 18:01

Folks,


I  have been out of commission, with a virulent attack of viral conjunctivitis with complications, which is how you have had this over 2 weeks break from me - my last post was about Episode 174. I hasten to reassure you that I am not back, and am unlikely to be for a while yet, so this is a one off post, a sort of letting off steam after last night's episode. Which I did not like, except for one bit, of which more below.

A statutory warning might be useful at this point, As most of you would know, Jalal is a great favourite of mine, my very own boy whom I have defended  consistently under any and all circumstances. But not for last night. So those who were delighted with Jalal last night  might like to stop at this point. For the conduct unbecoming of the title refers, solely and squarely, to him.
This post is not about this Ruqaiya, who last night was, well, this Ruqaiya. That is to say, scheming, devious, unprincipled, self-satisfied,  and worst of all, stupid. I would have forgiven her all the rest if only she had been  more intelligent.  Anyone with an ounce of sense would have seen at once how Jalal was likely to react to such an implausible plan to incriminate Jodha. As he demonstrated  at the meeting  with his begums, when he rubbished the idea of Jodha being the culprit, primarily on the  grounds that it made no practical sense at all for her to pull such a stunt.
Nor is it about Jodha, who was throughout calm, dignified, restrained, and above all, spared us any more  of her uplifting  bhashans.
It is all about Jalal. I disapproved of almost everything he did last night, and more so of the way in which he did it. Let me explain why,

- He abandons his political affairs meeting to rush off to rescue his Jodha Begum. Well, you will say, so what is new? But the way he let a mere baandi interrupt a Diwan--e-Khaas meeting was unbelievable. How the devil did he let her even open her mouth? Before the Shahenshah? And how ever was she given admittance? It was beyond ridiculous.

- Of course he believes Jodha, which is a given these days, and this time he does so with good reason, for as noted  above Ruqaiya's  grand plan made no logical sense from the very beginning. So he does not merit any brownie points for that.

As for the genuflection in front of the Krishna idol and taking the aarti and the prasad, it is as well for him that no mullah was hiding behind the curtains. To me, it seemed this time, unlike on the previous occasion when he offers Jodha the aarti, less like a charming gesture of genuine devotion and more like an ostentatious gesture of solidarity with her.

This apart, pretty soon we will see him do a shashtaang namaskaar as well, not just to Lord Krishna, which is par for the course, but to Jodha Begum. He is already doing it in the spirit every time he sidles up to her , as he did in the angoori bagh scene, and hesitantly caresses her fingers, only to draw his away when his touch-me-not beloved extricates hers. He looked then not like any kind of emperor, but like a  lovesick teenager, except that any self-respecting teenager in a cinema with his girl friend would have caught her hand firmly and held it.

There is a kind of   subservience in the way Jalal behaves in such scenes with Jodha these days that I find distinctly off putting. He might be in love for the first time, but that does not mean he has to become  supine and helpless like this.He sounds more like a court poet lavishing praise on his lord and master than anything else.

- In the meeting with the begums, I did not at all  like the way he shouted at the begum in green. He was bullying them from the word go, and it was quite clear that it was his intention to make sure that they did not stray from supporting Jodha Begum. But he had asked them for their  views, and when that poor woman started to voice her objection, he slapped her down in the most aggressive and uncivilised manner possible,. Why?

He could simply have held up his hand and she would have stopped at once. That would have befitted the dignity of his rank. Where was the need for all this ranting about his status as a Shahenshah, which in any case seems to come out only with those too weak to stand up to him?

It was the same with his shutting Ruqaiya up in public with brutal vehemence,when he could have halted her with an upraised hand.  Again, it was both undignified and  totally unnecessary.

Before you all counter that Ruqaiya deserved to be verbally slapped down, which is absolutely true, I would emphasise that that this is NOT the point here. The rest of the begums do not know that the culprit is Ruqaiya. She is still the Begum-e-Khaas. Responding to her last comment the way Jalal did was demeaning of her stature and equally demeaning of his own.

When he knew that it was Ruqaiya ( his spies work overtime to exculpate Jodha Begum, it seems,  though they, and he, are totally in the dark as to what Sharifuddin is up to, what Abul Mali is up to, and what Adham Khan is up to)  - where was the need to threaten the whole assemblage with dire consequences if there was any recurrence of such a trick? And to add that this would amount to challenging the Shahenshah?

This is to a pack of terrified females who wait for weeks to catch a glimpse of him, mostly in vain, and who had already been reduced to petrified silence by the way in which he had dressed down the begum in green.

Jalal looked and sounded like a pompous schoolmaster strutting around in the schoolyard, bullying the  pupils and threatening them with a caning. It was a pathetic show.

All of his ranting seemed meant to impress Jodha with the strength of his faith in her nek dil, and the extent to which he was ready to go, not just  to defend her honour,  but to make sure that she won the election, for surely none of the assembled begums would be ready to oppose her now,  and favour the roundly snubbed Begum-e-Khaas in what would  surely not be  a secret ballot.

- Lastly, the scene  with a frightened Ruqaiya. She had surely done something that went beyond the pale, but who egged her on with dire warnings about how the hunar ki khaan Jodha Begum would run rings round her before she even realised it? Why, Jalal. Why did he have to do that?

And had he not plotted and schemed  with the selfsame Ruqaiya against Jodha in the past, and had he too not done things acutely humiliating to Jodha, and in public, during the Benazir phase, to get back at her for The Dhakka? So how was all that excusable in him, and how has Ruqaiya now suddenly become a pariah because of this mindless folly of hers, which is any case not going to become public knowledge? Why, it is very likely because Jodha Begum nowadays condescends to smile upon Jalal  from time to time, and when she does not, he is on pins till he has found out whether or not she is khafa  with him.

I can only repeat what I had written on my last thread - which is still alive, after 18 days,  at 78 pages ! -a week ago, about Jalal's Elect Jodha as Harem Superintendent campaign.

"Next inciting Ruqaiya to be wary of Jodha's alleged cunning and her propensity to pull fast ones over her opponents. He also clearly says that Jodha is Ruqaiya's dushman.
He was sly and scheming, not dominating and decisive. In short, what he did seemed cheap, something beneath the dignity ot the position he holds.
To  play one woman against another, and for what? His personal amusement?His "best friend"  Ruqaiya's humiliation? One more coat of gilt to  Jodha's 24 carat halo?  So that she gains in status as the in charge of the harem?
The kind of Jalal I could admire would have sat Ruqaiya down and talked to her, soberly, rationally, persuasively and forcefully, as  only he can, so that the stupid woman has some sense drilled into her head and does not self destruct. He owes that to what they have been to each other since their childhood.
He would not, like this one, egg  her on to further follies so that he can laugh at her and rejoice in Jodha shining even more by contrast. It is despicable, and not at all my idea of a "best friend". A friend is one who saves you  from committing follies, even if this has to be in spite of yourself. Not one who pushes you even deeper into the pit of your making.
In fact it is Jalal who is degrading himself, and pulling Rajat down with him."

I feel exactly the same now, especially re: the part in blue. He screams at Ruqaiya  and bullies her as never before, and ends with a caustic comment about his having lost almost all the regard he had for her.

This is not the way a  friend deals with even the worst follies committed by his bachpan ki dost. I would not want a friend like this Jalal at any cost.  The way he handles Ruqaiya is tailormade to push her to commit even worse follies, which is perhaps what he wants, so that he can have a valid excuse for ditching her altogether.

He  yells at the cowering Ruqaiya for having dared to tamper with the Mughal kayda (by introducing the Hindu idols into the harem). But in the angoori bagh, he in effect contradicts himself when he tells Jodha that if she had in fact introduced the Hindu idols into the harem, he would have gone along with it.

That is implicit in that long spiel he indulges in about his (undoubtedly admirable) trait of  having equal respect for all religions,  and his belief that all human beings should have the right to worship the Almighty in their own way. (Incidentally, Jalal seems to believe that doing this is a sure recipe for peace and happiness all around.  He seems to have no idea of the violent denominational fights within all religions).

In fact, I was surprised that he did not announce at the meeting with the begums that all the Hindu daasis would henceforth be free to worship their God as they pleased. He will surely get around to it after the jaziya and the pilgrimage tax have been abolished, and he will probably put up a plaque in the harem -  by then it would have been renamed Begum Jodha Shahi Harem, just like roads,, libraries etc are these days  - giving her  sole credit for all these epochal changes.

Yes, now for the bit I did like. It was when Jalal asserts that he was always respectful of other religions, that he was always for religious freedom and equality of all faiths. By implication, that these wonderful traits and beliefs of his were sui generis,  not inculcated in him by Jodha Begum.

He does indulge in a bit of revisionist fiddling with the truth when he claims that it was because of these beliefs of his that he agreed to her pre-wedding sharts -  he agreed to her conditions, which he declared were very major ones,  because he wanted to marry her at all costs, not because he was so broad-minded. But never mind. I was glad that Jalal gave himself some much needed credit for his own breadth of vision. So, as and when he becomes Akbar, he cannot be labelled "Completely Made Over by Jodha Begum".

Well, that took way more than the 30  minutes the doctor allots me as laptop time per day. So I shall have to make up for this over indulgence by total abstention for two days at least. So bye, folks, and have a great time rebutting my tirades against my favourite boy. And yes, Rajat was magisterial, especially in the angoori bagh segment.

Alas, the Jalal-Jodha chemistry quotient is now, after the highs of the immediate post-Benazir period and the  Seth-Sethani track, at a dismal low. Their interactions are juvenile;  Jalal cannot go beyond ribbing her about her jealousy,  and Jodha's pouts are becoming so routine that they are tiresome. They have not moved an inch on the road to any kind of amar prem,  and in fact she seems to have retreated several steps from the delightful, romantic camaderie of Badal-Kajri, which I loved.   I suppose there will be something far more obsessive and fierce somewhere down the line, but for now, Jalal and Jodha make me yawn.


Shyamala B.Cowsik

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Re: Jodha Akbar 187: Conduct unbecoming

Post by anurao66 on 2014-03-06, 22:30

Hi Shyamala,
I sincerely hope you get better soon. I really has missed your posts. I agree with you that Jalal was behaving like a love sick boy and not a man of his stature. I enjoyed reading your point of view of the episode. 

Please do not strain your eyes and come back as soon as possible.

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Re: Jodha Akbar 187: Conduct unbecoming

Post by megharanjini on 2014-03-08, 16:30

Get well soon, Shyamala, missed you.

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Re: Jodha Akbar 187: Conduct unbecoming

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