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Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

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Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by sashashyam on 2014-03-23, 16:41

Folks,



At the outset, I need to warn you that this bi-centennial post, my first in nearly 3 weeks, is being written reluctantly, because of  force majeure from some young friends who tired of trying to locate anything in my last thread, on Episode 187, which stands now at a daunting 102 pages.
I am afraid this one is going to be considerably at odds with the general  trend in the forum, which seems to be  one of great sympathy and empathy for, no, not  Jodha, but Jalal. This might just flummox you - seeing that Jalal/Rajat (for me, they are mostly a seamless whole) has always been my blue-eyed boy, even at his most exasperating. It might flummox you enough for you to go ahead regardless. If so, you are more than welcome, but please note that you have been forewarned!
Jalal: the Lost Emperor: The curious thing is that my post for Episode 150 was called Lament for the Lost Emperor. It could, bar the welcome  changes in Jodha's attitude towards Jalal,  be almost the same now.  I was in fact tempted to call this one Lament for the Lost Emperor II, but I refrained in the end. In the Slough of Despond will do just as well!
The dictionary meaning of "lost" is one who does not know where he  is, or how to get where he wants to go.
If you take a long, hard look at our Shahenshah-e-Hind  now, what do you see?  He does not know where he is, i.e. where he stands vis a vis his sabse zyaada kareeb Jodha Begum.  
And where does he want to go? Obviously into the zone of her trusting him enough to keep no secrets from him, especially as he has repeatedly reassured her that she can do so with  her dost, who would help her cope with any problem of hers. But he does not  know how to get there.
All he can do is to lament endlessly: Aap hamein kis gunaah ki sazaa de rahi hain, Jodha Begum?.. Hum jaante hain ki aap kisi galat kaam ko anjaam nahin de saktin... Sahi waqt aane par aap hamein sach bata dengi... Hum aapko yakeen kyon nahin dila paye? ...Hum sirf khaufzada hain ki aapko koyi khatra na ho.. And so on and on and on and on, as he paces the corridors of the Agra palace ceaselessly, like an unquiet ghost, and ends up periodically, unannounced, at Jodha Begum's hoojra, only to be told that she is not there.
His visits to her rooms,  merely to confirm what he already knows, are of  a piece with his cutting his finger on the edge of his khanjar. It  is a masochistic gesture of inflicting pain on himself, just as the visit to the empty hoojra  is another, to remind him once more that the woman he now cares for more than any other, more than himself, is lying to him and keeping things from him. That she  is apparently  neither the humsafar he thought  he had found  in her, nor a  humraaz.
He is thus well and truly lost.
Shaayad wo aaj raat bhi jayegi :How, folks, would you give a visual definition of pathetic?  Not in a sneering way, but pityingly, with reluctant understanding?  Well,  for me, it would be the sight of the Shahenshah-e-Hind wandering down the palace corridors in a near daze, muttering to himself Shaayad wo aaj raat bhi jayegi... shaayad nahin ...  before he  fetches up, as usual, in Jodha's  rooms, like a  lost puppy.
The overt bitterness on the other occasion might be different, but when he tells Jodha, before shambling off wearily, Kaash aap hamein sach keh paatin..kaash kam  se kam koshish to kartin.. Hum samajhte aapki baat ko.. the pathos  that Rajat brings to the scene - in  the tired disappointment in his eyes as he gazes into hers, in the bitter shake of the head -   is just as strongly visible.
This Jalal is no longer a dominant alpha male. He is so piteously, so desperately emotionally dependent on Jodha, or rather on his need to believe that she trusts him and cares for his feelings, that he seems like  a hollow man.
He  sees her with a strange man in  a desolate hut  in the middle of the night, but he cannot summon up the courage to confront them on the spot. Or even to question her about it later. He is afraid that he will alienate her by what might be taken as his suspecting  her virtue.
Instead, he  goes  to her rooms every night  unannounced. After entering Jodha's  hoojra and seeing for himself that it is empty,  he looks despairingly at Motibai as if she could unlock the key to the puzzle that is Jodha. The way he looked back at Moti,   as he says to himself that he knows where  Jodha  is,  was the worst of all.
It needs to be understood that this  is not a question of his suspecting Jodha  of an affair. He does not, at least as of now, and rightly so. The question is not of her morals, but of propriety, of the honour of the Shahenshah and the Mughal sultanate. It is also a question, the only one that Jalal clings to even in his private thoughts, of Jodha's personal security.
I  cannot imagine any man, even in this century, not to speak of a 16th century alpha male emperor, who is so afraid that  this wife of his would  throw  him over as a friend  (for Jalal is too scared to try to move an inch further than that even now, and with just that dosti, he seems to thinks that he is on the doorstep of Elysium !),  that he does not lift a finger to stop her  from going again and again, at the dead of night and all alone, not just out of the palace but into the jungle next to the river,  to meet an unknown man and confabulate with him  behind the closed doors of a hut.
It is not just pure folly, it is insane.
What if Jodha had been attacked and carried off by bandits wanting to loot her of her shahi zevar? She goes out looking like a glittering Christmas tree half hidden by a blanket, and her gold nose ring, almost as big as a cartwheel, would attract thieves from a mile away.  
NB:One would think, seeing the way both Jodha and Sujamal carry on,  that 16th century Mughal Agra was  a revival of the Tretayuga Ramarajya -which was defined as a place where a lone woman laden with jewellery could wander about the streets in the middle of the night in complete safety.
What if Jodha had been stopped by a patrol when she was with Sujamal? The ensuing scandal would  have reduced te honour of  the Mughal imperial family to shreds. When Jalal  rescued  Jodha from committing suicide, he gave a big Jodha-style bhashan about the paramount need for him to preserve the honour of the Mughal sultanate. Where has all that gone now?

Instead of putting a stop to  her midnight gallivantings by ordering the guards to bar anyone, without exception, from leaving the palace, Jalal goes about bleating that she might or might not have  gone to meet the mystery man yet again, interspersed with  laments that she should trust him and tell him the truth.
To put it plainly,  Jalal  has clearly lost it.
He had lost it, if  to  a lesser degree,  even earlier.  It is not a question of suspecting your own shadow. It is more a question of incessant curiosity and eternal vigilance. They are  both be the necessary attributes of a successful ruler. When Jalal  saw the writing on the temple leaf that he had picked up in Jodha's hoojra,  like any normal man, he should have been curious about it, especially as there was so much  of it and  very clearly visible at that. Even on the crushed leaf, Mahaam could read all of it, as could  Jodha a bit later. He would have asked his wife what was written there, even if he assumed that it was just  a prayer. He would have expected her to explain what it was, and that would have been, he would have assumed, the end of it.

Next, if Jalal  had taken even the most fleeting look at Jodha's face as he was holding the leaf platter, he would have known at once that something was seriously wrong and that she was hiding something and was mortally afraid that he would find out about it. Doubt, even if it was merely that she was endangering herself with unnecessary secrecy, would have set it at once.

Why, if my Sasha had looked like that when I was clearing out his cupboard, I would have smelt a rat at once!

But when it comes to Jodha, Jalal is like Gandhiji's three monkeys. Both when that  is justified, and when it is not.
Helpless desperation: Let us come back to Friday last. I watched, with growing dismay,  the abject helplessness in his face as Mahaam was pushing him, inch by subtle, camouflaged inch - with endless repetitions that Begum Jodha could do no wrong as she was paaksaaf, nek neeyat -  into suspecting that very Jodha. The desperation with which he was resisting it,  again inch by inch.
His refusal to confront Jodha  because he would then be seen as suspecting her yet again was meaningless. He can object to her  midnight trysts purely on the grounds  of her own safety, and of propriety and the  honour of the Mughal imperial family. Which respectable  family would allow the women of the house to do what Jodha is doing? How  did Bharmal react on learning about her nighttime boatride with Suryabhan? He wanted to strangle her.
When Jalal finally offers Mahaam the excuse that  Jodha  might have been meeting Sujamal, he adds that she would have been afraid to tell him so because Hum Sujamal ko apna gunehgar maante hain.  Not  gunehgar hai. And this is  the  man who has attacked and captured Mewat, a Mughal territory, and killed two of Jalal's close relatives.
What did  Bharmal, and Jodha herself,  think of Sujamal after he attacked Amer? How does Jalal now define an enemy when he is related to Jodha Begum?  Remember, he does not know that Sujamal has saved his life, so that factor does not enter into it at all. It is just his obsessive fear of offending Jodha, plain and simple.
It was unbelievable, the total lack of any clear thinking on Jalal's part, not to speak of  the absence of  the kind of swift, decisive action needed to nip all this dangerous stuff in the bud.  He is a puppet of his obsession with staying in Jodha's good  books, and that clouds all else in what passes for his mind these days.
What kind of emperor is this, who aspires to rule all of Hindustan? When I was an IFS probationer at the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, our riding instructor used to scold the poor performers (I was not one of those; I loved riding!)  Agar ek ghoda nahin sambhal sakte.  to district  kya sambhaloge?  One could say the same for this Jalal, Agar ek begum nahin sambhal sakte, to pura Hindustan kaise sambhaloge?
Mental paralysis: I watched Rajat's bravura take on crippling weakness as Jalal sought to defend his non-action vis a vis Jodha. The twisting and turning to escape the net of questions that  Mahaam was, slowly but surely, closing around him. The naked fear in the pathetic eyes, like those of a trapped deer. The thrashing about for any explanation that would  be consistent with Jodha's innocence.  And  my heart sank, or rather it plummeted into my non-existent shoes ( I am always barefoot inside the house).

Rajat was splendid as the clueless, depressed, haunted Jalal, who cannot bear the very idea that he has not been able to make Jodha trust him - see how here too he makes out that the fault is really his, not hers? .

Who repeats endlessly to himself that his restless misery is due to his fear that she might be in danger (from a man whom she permits  to hold her comfortingly by the shoulders, and with whom she goes willingly inside a remote hut in the dead of night?? ).

Who repeats endlessly to himself that he cannot run the risk of accusing her wrongly one more time (but he does not need to accuse her at all, he only needs to halt her reckless shenanigans).

Who repeats endlessly to himself  that she can do nothing wrong and he is sure of that (but she can be, and is, exceedingly thoughtless and foolish).

While all the while, seething inside him, is the terrible fear, the fear he refuses to acknowledge,  that she is perhaps doing just that.Mahaam has made sure of that when she tells him  that if  he does not get a proper explanation from Jodha, Shak aapke dilodimaag mein baith jayega..
If he would only face that fear up front and centre, and ask Jodha  point blank, NOT whether she is cheating on him with another man, but  WHY she is risking her honour and his, and that of the Mughal sultanate, to meet a strange man outside the palace, alone and in the middle of the night.
If only he would ask her  why she does not trust him, her husband, enough to confide in him, despite his having  tried, again and again and again, to reassure her of his understanding and to persuade her to do so.
If he had done this,  the suppurating ulcer of latent suspicion would be lanced. The unacknowledged, but still very much present poison would flow out and the ulcer would be healed. And Jodha too would be freed from the crushing burden of guilt that is weighing her down.
But he does not , and instead, when the last straw  breaks the camel's back, there  comes Jalal's savage outburst (in the promo)  to a terrified Jodha.  
NB:Whether this uncontrolled outburst is going to lead to her fleeing Agra and entering the vanaprasthashrama decades ahead of time remains to be seen. If indeed she does take refuge  in the forest, we can be sure that when Jalal goes after her, apologises profusely for her acts of omission,  and brings her back, it will not be before she has founded a Nirdosh Pashu  Pakshi Raksha Kendra in the forest and got Jalal to fund it.
Jodha:  Contrary to what some might expect, I  have hardly any complaints against Jodha. She is what she is. As I once described her, Jodha is like  a brisk, gurgling stream flowing over a bed of pebbles. The water is pure and  clear and you can see right thru to the bottom. What you see is what you get. There are no treacherous eddies, no underwater currents  to drag you in. But there is also much less gravitas, less depth, less subtlety. It babbles on, this brook, unconscious and  uncomprehending of any world but its own simple, and simplistic, one.

So it follows that Jodha is totally lacking in comprehension of what a deep,  turbulent ocean like Jalal can be like, with raging storms beneath the surface, and even an occasional tsunami. She cannot read his moods, cannot hear the words he does not say, as most wives can with  her husbands, using the fabled feminine instinct.It is the same now.
Let us go a bit back and take  the shamsheer riyaaz/tulsi aarti scene. Jalal came across very strongly in that scene, especially the raw anger in his eyes when he stares at Jodha over his shamsheer till her eyes drop.  Then the deliberation with which he washes his face and hands before he turns back to her with that unsettling question about her looking tired.

Even the least perceptive of women would have known at once that something had gone badly wrong overnight, seeing this drastic change from the dost who sought to share her worries and to ease them, the one who set the caged birds free because that was what she would like, to this remote new Jalal with the sharp probing questions and the weary disillusionment  with which he refers to constant betrayal by those closest to him.

The only  conclusion possible was that her guilty secret was out. But Jodha's face looks blank, and I doubt if any of the above penetrated into her cerebral processes.

It is only after the Diwan-e-Harem scene,  where Jalal goes  from the  smouldering  sarcasm with which he asks Jodha Batayiye, kaunsa naya kanoon lagoo karna hai, harem ka kaunsa rivaaz badalna hai?,    to the narrow-eyed anger as he looks up at her from under lowered brows, to the cutting dismissiveness when he says that he had always told her that Ruqaiya handled the harem the best, that  it seems to finally dawn even  on  Jodha, accustomed of late to  his constantly praising her in abundance for her hunars,  that something is amiss with the Shahenshah and her own equation with him.
Contrary to some views elsewhere in the forum, I do not think Jalal's overt anger here is due to his disappointment at Jodha Begum having let him down by failing to exploit her management talents to the full. It is because of the reason she offers for dropping out - her (sudden) personal problems. That, for Jalal, is like a red rag to a bull, as it is shorthand for her involvement with the Mystery Man  in the hut.
To continue, I  found the way in which Jodha's  turns up later in  Jalal's rooms,  to ask him why he seems distant and unconcerned by her harem tyaag  decision, rather cute. Even more so the way  in which she immediately stands  up when he says he had not asked her to sit down. The whole thing was exactly like an abashed schoolgirl in front of the headmistress.
I do not blame her for not having told him about it in advance, not to speak of consulting him, for what convincing excuse could she offer him? She would have been cornered in an instant. So  she avoids him beforehand and  blurts out her decision cold turkey.
But I did find her badly wanting in her reaction to Jalal's infinitely touching parting remarks: Kaash aap  hamein sach keh paatin.. kaash kam se kam koshish to ki hoti,,Hum samajhte aapki baat.. coupled with the weary disappointment and visible pain in his eyes as he looks at her before turning away.
Any woman with an iota of perceptiveness would have known how badly he was hurting. She would never have let this incredibly trusting, caring and supportive husband go away without reassuring and comforting him. She would have assured him at once that that she wanted to tell him everything, but was bound by a vachan she could not break, That she needed just a little more time,and then he would be the first, the only one to know all. Till then, she would implore him to trust her. What a difference that would have made!
But Jodha sees nothing except that he is not normal towards her. She can perceive nothing of the inner turmoil he is going through,  the helpless despair he feels,  because of her prevarications, her lack of openness,  and her silence. Nothing at all.
It was exactly the same as when  she went to him, radiant and brimming over with gratitude, to thank him  for all that he had done to protect her honour and her good name in the false pregnancy affair.  Then too she had no clue as to the anguish at Bakshi Banu's treachery that was raging inside Jalal. 
Nothing much seems to have changed in Jodha in this respect. It is evidently going to take a while before anything does.
Mahaam: For me, she was the Star of the Week. Watching her  weave her nefarious  webs with silken efficiency was like rolling scrumptious dark chocolate under one's tongue. She had two spectacular scenes with Jalal, and Ashwini/Mahaam   was tops in both.
In the first one, the subtle tonalities of her voice, the fake reticence and hesitation,  the praise of Jodha's paakhizagi,  the feigned regret at having to alert Jalal to what was going on behind his back - it was all so perfect ki  dil khush ho gayaa.

A superlative bit of emoting. Not for a moment did  she slip out of her role: even if Jalal had been staring at her face unblinkingly from beginning to end, he would have spotted nothing wrong.That is what is meant when they say that a secret agent has to stay in character throughout. She betrays her real feelings only for a split second at the very end, when Jalal has turned his back to her.

When she mentions the message written  in chandan  on the leaf,  as a clinching point, she guards against a likely question from Jalal as to why she did not come to him at once with that information. She wanted to be sure if anything was wrong, she says, and to make sure Jodha would be safe, she had personally followed her to the temple.
But Mahaam must have been in despair after that session, and even more so after they both sighted Sujamal with Jodha that night. For even after listening to Mahaam's masterly kaan bharofying, Jalal unhesitatingly gives Jodha the  benefit of the doubt,  and believes that firstly, she  can do nothing really wrong, and secondly, and this was wonderful, that she will tell him about it when the time  was right.
So, being the master tactician that she is, by the time she corners him for the second  session, Mahaam has refined her technique.  She repeats that Jodha Begum is paaksaaf aur nek neeyat even more frequently and emphatically than Salima Begum would have done.  Fortified behind this wall of  fake faith in Jodha, she  draws Jalal into a chakravyuh of unanswerable questions, each posed with what seems to be infinite regret.
She pins him down into the net that she draws ever tighter, nixing his hope that it was Sujamal after all by citing the fake intelligence report she has planted in advance in his mind.  By the end of the session, he is exhausted and  defeated, and that shows in his eyes.
And yet, not just Jalal, but no dispassionate outside observer could have found even a single  remark, or a word, in all that Mahaam says, that could be interpreted as being hostile towards Jodha.  Mahaam is truly one of  her kind, and her Renaissance counterparts in Europe of a couple of centuries earlier - Catherine de Medicis and Lucrezia de Borgia - would have applauded her.
Those who want her to be disposed off in short order in the most painful manner possible know not what they are asking for. Without Mahaam, we would all  be in imminent danger of contracting diabetes.
Moti: She behaves more  like Jodha's sister than her maid,  even in front of Jalal. Her impertinence in standing there like a lamp post and letting the Shahenshah bend and pick  that temple leaf  up from the floor was hardly surprising. That is the way she behaves these days. The old Jalal would have paralysed her with a look and sent her scurrying out of the room. This one just stops short of asking her permission to speak with Jodha Begum. But if Moti had tried any such stunts with Bharmal, she would have copped it  good and proper.
Sujamal: A ham  of the  worst kind. His exchange with the suspicious daroga at the temple would have been laughable even in a high school play. As for the suhaag ki raksha  stuff, enough has been written about it already. It is pure   poppycock, as illogical and senseless as can be. What if Jalal were to lead the campaign to retake Mewat? Would Sujamal protect him against his own Rajvanshi army?
Yes, he does not know that Abul Mali's co-conspirator, who was meeting him  near that poisoned well, is Sharifuddin,  because he cannot see his face from his perch on high. But he should, at a pinch, have been able to recognise  Sharifuddin's  voice, for after all he spent so much time with him preparing to conquer Amer!
NB: During that scene, I was amusing myself by imagining Sujamal tumbling out of the tree right on top of Abul Mali, like Alibaba's unfortunate neighbour. Alas, no such thing happened!
And why the devil does Sujamal get Jodha to promise to keep their meeting(s) a secret? What if  someone had spotted her and  told Jalal? Moreover, where was the need for him to call her to meet him is such a desolate spot near the river, just to tell her that he had nothing to tell her and they should not meet any longer? It is plain nuts.
Finally, how does he propose to find out who the ghar ka bhedi   out to get Jalal is, by hanging around near the Ambe Maa mandir looking like a suspiciously well fed fakir/bhikari?Does he imagine that someone is going to write the name on the temple notice board?
Well, there is no point fretting about these trifles in a script as full of hole as Swiss cheese.
But even so, the Friday precap seems very odd. It appeared to be after  Jalal's outburst, and what I presume is Jodha's continued vachan badhdhata,  for their dresses are the same as in the promo. But Jalal's lines about beinteha mohabbat sound misplaced. But then when have such considerations prevailed in Jodha Akbar?
Well, folks, that is au revoir for the next 2 weeks at least. Till we meet again, do not fret over the  onscreen goings on, and have as much fun as you can.
Shyamala B.Cowsik
 


At the outset, I need to warn you that this bi-centennial post, my first in nearly 3 weeks, is being written reluctantly, because of  force majeure from some young friends who tired of trying to locate anything in my last thread, on Episode 187, which stands now at a daunting 102 pages.
I am afraid this one is going to be considerably at odds with the general  trend in the forum, which seems to be  one of great sympathy and empathy for, no, not  Jodha, but Jalal. This might just flummox you - seeing that Jalal/Rajat (for me, they are mostly a seamless whole) has always been my blue-eyed boy, even at his most exasperating. It might flummox you enough for you to go ahead regardless. If so, you are more than welcome, but please note that you have been forewarned!
Jalal: the Lost Emperor: The curious thing is that my post for Episode 150 was called Lament for the Lost Emperor. It could, bar the welcome  changes in Jodha's attitude towards Jalal,  be almost the same now.  I was in fact tempted to call this one Lament for the Lost Emperor II, but I refrained in the end. In the Slough of Despond will do just as well!
The dictionary meaning of "lost" is one who does not know where he  is, or how to get where he wants to go.
If you take a long, hard look at our Shahenshah-e-Hind  now, what do you see?  He does not know where he is, i.e. where he stands vis a vis his sabse zyaada kareeb Jodha Begum.  
And where does he want to go? Obviously into the zone of her trusting him enough to keep no secrets from him, especially as he has repeatedly reassured her that she can do so with  her dost, who would help her cope with any problem of hers. But he does not  know how to get there.
All he can do is to lament endlessly: Aap hamein kis gunaah ki sazaa de rahi hain, Jodha Begum?.. Hum jaante hain ki aap kisi galat kaam ko anjaam nahin de saktin... Sahi waqt aane par aap hamein sach bata dengi... Hum aapko yakeen kyon nahin dila paye? ...Hum sirf khaufzada hain ki aapko koyi khatra na ho.. And so on and on and on and on, as he paces the corridors of the Agra palace ceaselessly, like an unquiet ghost, and ends up periodically, unannounced, at Jodha Begum's hoojra, only to be told that she is not there.
His visits to her rooms,  merely to confirm what he already knows, are of  a piece with his cutting his finger on the edge of his khanjar. It  is a masochistic gesture of inflicting pain on himself, just as the visit to the empty hoojra  is another, to remind him once more that the woman he now cares for more than any other, more than himself, is lying to him and keeping things from him. That she  is apparently  neither the humsafar he thought  he had found  in her, nor a  humraaz.
He is thus well and truly lost.
Shaayad wo aaj raat bhi jayegi :How, folks, would you give a visual definition of pathetic?  Not in a sneering way, but pityingly, with reluctant understanding?  Well,  for me, it would be the sight of the Shahenshah-e-Hind wandering down the palace corridors in a near daze, muttering to himself Shaayad wo aaj raat bhi jayegi... shaayad nahin ...  before he  fetches up, as usual, in Jodha's  rooms, like a  lost puppy.
The overt bitterness on the other occasion might be different, but when he tells Jodha, before shambling off wearily, Kaash aap hamein sach keh paatin..kaash kam  se kam koshish to kartin.. Hum samajhte aapki baat ko.. the pathos  that Rajat brings to the scene - in  the tired disappointment in his eyes as he gazes into hers, in the bitter shake of the head -   is just as strongly visible.
This Jalal is no longer a dominant alpha male. He is so piteously, so desperately emotionally dependent on Jodha, or rather on his need to believe that she trusts him and cares for his feelings, that he seems like  a hollow man.
He  sees her with a strange man in  a desolate hut  in the middle of the night, but he cannot summon up the courage to confront them on the spot. Or even to question her about it later. He is afraid that he will alienate her by what might be taken as his suspecting  her virtue.
Instead, he  goes  to her rooms every night  unannounced. After entering Jodha's  hoojra and seeing for himself that it is empty,  he looks despairingly at Motibai as if she could unlock the key to the puzzle that is Jodha. The way he looked back at Moti,   as he says to himself that he knows where  Jodha  is,  was the worst of all.
It needs to be understood that this  is not a question of his suspecting Jodha  of an affair. He does not, at least as of now, and rightly so. The question is not of her morals, but of propriety, of the honour of the Shahenshah and the Mughal sultanate. It is also a question, the only one that Jalal clings to even in his private thoughts, of Jodha's personal security.
I  cannot imagine any man, even in this century, not to speak of a 16th century alpha male emperor, who is so afraid that  this wife of his would  throw  him over as a friend  (for Jalal is too scared to try to move an inch further than that even now, and with just that dosti, he seems to thinks that he is on the doorstep of Elysium !),  that he does not lift a finger to stop her  from going again and again, at the dead of night and all alone, not just out of the palace but into the jungle next to the river,  to meet an unknown man and confabulate with him  behind the closed doors of a hut.
It is not just pure folly, it is insane.
What if Jodha had been attacked and carried off by bandits wanting to loot her of her shahi zevar? She goes out looking like a glittering Christmas tree half hidden by a blanket, and her gold nose ring, almost as big as a cartwheel, would attract thieves from a mile away.  
NB:One would think, seeing the way both Jodha and Sujamal carry on,  that 16th century Mughal Agra was  a revival of the Tretayuga Ramarajya -which was defined as a place where a lone woman laden with jewellery could wander about the streets in the middle of the night in complete safety.
What if Jodha had been stopped by a patrol when she was with Sujamal? The ensuing scandal would  have reduced te honour of  the Mughal imperial family to shreds. When Jalal  rescued  Jodha from committing suicide, he gave a big Jodha-style bhashan about the paramount need for him to preserve the honour of the Mughal sultanate. Where has all that gone now?

Instead of putting a stop to  her midnight gallivantings by ordering the guards to bar anyone, without exception, from leaving the palace, Jalal goes about bleating that she might or might not have  gone to meet the mystery man yet again, interspersed with  laments that she should trust him and tell him the truth.
To put it plainly,  Jalal  has clearly lost it.
He had lost it, if  to  a lesser degree,  even earlier.  It is not a question of suspecting your own shadow. It is more a question of incessant curiosity and eternal vigilance. They are  both be the necessary attributes of a successful ruler. When Jalal  saw the writing on the temple leaf that he had picked up in Jodha's hoojra,  like any normal man, he should have been curious about it, especially as there was so much  of it and  very clearly visible at that. Even on the crushed leaf, Mahaam could read all of it, as could  Jodha a bit later. He would have asked his wife what was written there, even if he assumed that it was just  a prayer. He would have expected her to explain what it was, and that would have been, he would have assumed, the end of it.

Next, if Jalal  had taken even the most fleeting look at Jodha's face as he was holding the leaf platter, he would have known at once that something was seriously wrong and that she was hiding something and was mortally afraid that he would find out about it. Doubt, even if it was merely that she was endangering herself with unnecessary secrecy, would have set it at once.

Why, if my Sasha had looked like that when I was clearing out his cupboard, I would have smelt a rat at once!

But when it comes to Jodha, Jalal is like Gandhiji's three monkeys. Both when that  is justified, and when it is not.
Helpless desperation: Let us come back to Friday last. I watched, with growing dismay,  the abject helplessness in his face as Mahaam was pushing him, inch by subtle, camouflaged inch - with endless repetitions that Begum Jodha could do no wrong as she was paaksaaf, nek neeyat -  into suspecting that very Jodha. The desperation with which he was resisting it,  again inch by inch.
His refusal to confront Jodha  because he would then be seen as suspecting her yet again was meaningless. He can object to her  midnight trysts purely on the grounds  of her own safety, and of propriety and the  honour of the Mughal imperial family. Which respectable  family would allow the women of the house to do what Jodha is doing? How  did Bharmal react on learning about her nighttime boatride with Suryabhan? He wanted to strangle her.
When Jalal finally offers Mahaam the excuse that  Jodha  might have been meeting Sujamal, he adds that she would have been afraid to tell him so because Hum Sujamal ko apna gunehgar maante hain.  Not  gunehgar hai. And this is  the  man who has attacked and captured Mewat, a Mughal territory, and killed two of Jalal's close relatives.
What did  Bharmal, and Jodha herself,  think of Sujamal after he attacked Amer? How does Jalal now define an enemy when he is related to Jodha Begum?  Remember, he does not know that Sujamal has saved his life, so that factor does not enter into it at all. It is just his obsessive fear of offending Jodha, plain and simple.
It was unbelievable, the total lack of any clear thinking on Jalal's part, not to speak of  the absence of  the kind of swift, decisive action needed to nip all this dangerous stuff in the bud.  He is a puppet of his obsession with staying in Jodha's good  books, and that clouds all else in what passes for his mind these days.
What kind of emperor is this, who aspires to rule all of Hindustan? When I was an IFS probationer at the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, our riding instructor used to scold the poor performers (I was not one of those; I loved riding!)  Agar ek ghoda nahin sambhal sakte.  to district  kya sambhaloge?  One could say the same for this Jalal, Agar ek begum nahin sambhal sakte, to pura Hindustan kaise sambhaloge?
Mental paralysis: I watched Rajat's bravura take on crippling weakness as Jalal sought to defend his non-action vis a vis Jodha. The twisting and turning to escape the net of questions that  Mahaam was, slowly but surely, closing around him. The naked fear in the pathetic eyes, like those of a trapped deer. The thrashing about for any explanation that would  be consistent with Jodha's innocence.  And  my heart sank, or rather it plummeted into my non-existent shoes ( I am always barefoot inside the house).

Rajat was splendid as the clueless, depressed, haunted Jalal, who cannot bear the very idea that he has not been able to make Jodha trust him - see how here too he makes out that the fault is really his, not hers? .

Who repeats endlessly to himself that his restless misery is due to his fear that she might be in danger (from a man whom she permits  to hold her comfortingly by the shoulders, and with whom she goes willingly inside a remote hut in the dead of night?? ).

Who repeats endlessly to himself that he cannot run the risk of accusing her wrongly one more time (but he does not need to accuse her at all, he only needs to halt her reckless shenanigans).

Who repeats endlessly to himself  that she can do nothing wrong and he is sure of that (but she can be, and is, exceedingly thoughtless and foolish).

While all the while, seething inside him, is the terrible fear, the fear he refuses to acknowledge,  that she is perhaps doing just that.Mahaam has made sure of that when she tells him  that if  he does not get a proper explanation from Jodha, Shak aapke dilodimaag mein baith jayega..
If he would only face that fear up front and centre, and ask Jodha  point blank, NOT whether she is cheating on him with another man, but  WHY she is risking her honour and his, and that of the Mughal sultanate, to meet a strange man outside the palace, alone and in the middle of the night.
If only he would ask her  why she does not trust him, her husband, enough to confide in him, despite his having  tried, again and again and again, to reassure her of his understanding and to persuade her to do so.
If he had done this,  the suppurating ulcer of latent suspicion would be lanced. The unacknowledged, but still very much present poison would flow out and the ulcer would be healed. And Jodha too would be freed from the crushing burden of guilt that is weighing her down.
But he does not , and instead, when the last straw  breaks the camel's back, there  comes Jalal's savage outburst (in the promo)  to a terrified Jodha.  
NB:Whether this uncontrolled outburst is going to lead to her fleeing Agra and entering the vanaprasthashrama decades ahead of time remains to be seen. If indeed she does take refuge  in the forest, we can be sure that when Jalal goes after her, apologises profusely for her acts of omission,  and brings her back, it will not be before she has founded a Nirdosh Pashu  Pakshi Raksha Kendra in the forest and got Jalal to fund it.
Jodha:  Contrary to what some might expect, I  have hardly any complaints against Jodha. She is what she is. As I once described her, Jodha is like  a brisk, gurgling stream flowing over a bed of pebbles. The water is pure and  clear and you can see right thru to the bottom. What you see is what you get. There are no treacherous eddies, no underwater currents  to drag you in. But there is also much less gravitas, less depth, less subtlety. It babbles on, this brook, unconscious and  uncomprehending of any world but its own simple, and simplistic, one.

So it follows that Jodha is totally lacking in comprehension of what a deep,  turbulent ocean like Jalal can be like, with raging storms beneath the surface, and even an occasional tsunami. She cannot read his moods, cannot hear the words he does not say, as most wives can with  her husbands, using the fabled feminine instinct.It is the same now.
Let us go a bit back and take  the shamsheer riyaaz/tulsi aarti scene. Jalal came across very strongly in that scene, especially the raw anger in his eyes when he stares at Jodha over his shamsheer till her eyes drop.  Then the deliberation with which he washes his face and hands before he turns back to her with that unsettling question about her looking tired.

Even the least perceptive of women would have known at once that something had gone badly wrong overnight, seeing this drastic change from the dost who sought to share her worries and to ease them, the one who set the caged birds free because that was what she would like, to this remote new Jalal with the sharp probing questions and the weary disillusionment  with which he refers to constant betrayal by those closest to him.

The only  conclusion possible was that her guilty secret was out. But Jodha's face looks blank, and I doubt if any of the above penetrated into her cerebral processes.

It is only after the Diwan-e-Harem scene,  where Jalal goes  from the  smouldering  sarcasm with which he asks Jodha Batayiye, kaunsa naya kanoon lagoo karna hai, harem ka kaunsa rivaaz badalna hai?,    to the narrow-eyed anger as he looks up at her from under lowered brows, to the cutting dismissiveness when he says that he had always told her that Ruqaiya handled the harem the best, that  it seems to finally dawn even  on  Jodha, accustomed of late to  his constantly praising her in abundance for her hunars,  that something is amiss with the Shahenshah and her own equation with him.
Contrary to some views elsewhere in the forum, I do not think Jalal's overt anger here is due to his disappointment at Jodha Begum having let him down by failing to exploit her management talents to the full. It is because of the reason she offers for dropping out - her (sudden) personal problems. That, for Jalal, is like a red rag to a bull, as it is shorthand for her involvement with the Mystery Man  in the hut.
To continue, I  found the way in which Jodha's  turns up later in  Jalal's rooms,  to ask him why he seems distant and unconcerned by her harem tyaag  decision, rather cute. Even more so the way  in which she immediately stands  up when he says he had not asked her to sit down. The whole thing was exactly like an abashed schoolgirl in front of the headmistress.
I do not blame her for not having told him about it in advance, not to speak of consulting him, for what convincing excuse could she offer him? She would have been cornered in an instant. So  she avoids him beforehand and  blurts out her decision cold turkey.
But I did find her badly wanting in her reaction to Jalal's infinitely touching parting remarks: Kaash aap  hamein sach keh paatin.. kaash kam se kam koshish to ki hoti,,Hum samajhte aapki baat.. coupled with the weary disappointment and visible pain in his eyes as he looks at her before turning away.
Any woman with an iota of perceptiveness would have known how badly he was hurting. She would never have let this incredibly trusting, caring and supportive husband go away without reassuring and comforting him. She would have assured him at once that that she wanted to tell him everything, but was bound by a vachan she could not break, That she needed just a little more time,and then he would be the first, the only one to know all. Till then, she would implore him to trust her. What a difference that would have made!
But Jodha sees nothing except that he is not normal towards her. She can perceive nothing of the inner turmoil he is going through,  the helpless despair he feels,  because of her prevarications, her lack of openness,  and her silence. Nothing at all.
It was exactly the same as when  she went to him, radiant and brimming over with gratitude, to thank him  for all that he had done to protect her honour and her good name in the false pregnancy affair.  Then too she had no clue as to the anguish at Bakshi Banu's treachery that was raging inside Jalal. 
Nothing much seems to have changed in Jodha in this respect. It is evidently going to take a while before anything does.
Mahaam: For me, she was the Star of the Week. Watching her  weave her nefarious  webs with silken efficiency was like rolling scrumptious dark chocolate under one's tongue. She had two spectacular scenes with Jalal, and Ashwini/Mahaam   was tops in both.
In the first one, the subtle tonalities of her voice, the fake reticence and hesitation,  the praise of Jodha's paakhizagi,  the feigned regret at having to alert Jalal to what was going on behind his back - it was all so perfect ki  dil khush ho gayaa.

A superlative bit of emoting. Not for a moment did  she slip out of her role: even if Jalal had been staring at her face unblinkingly from beginning to end, he would have spotted nothing wrong.That is what is meant when they say that a secret agent has to stay in character throughout. She betrays her real feelings only for a split second at the very end, when Jalal has turned his back to her.

When she mentions the message written  in chandan  on the leaf,  as a clinching point, she guards against a likely question from Jalal as to why she did not come to him at once with that information. She wanted to be sure if anything was wrong, she says, and to make sure Jodha would be safe, she had personally followed her to the temple.
But Mahaam must have been in despair after that session, and even more so after they both sighted Sujamal with Jodha that night. For even after listening to Mahaam's masterly kaan bharofying, Jalal unhesitatingly gives Jodha the  benefit of the doubt,  and believes that firstly, she  can do nothing really wrong, and secondly, and this was wonderful, that she will tell him about it when the time  was right.
So, being the master tactician that she is, by the time she corners him for the second  session, Mahaam has refined her technique.  She repeats that Jodha Begum is paaksaaf aur nek neeyat even more frequently and emphatically than Salima Begum would have done.  Fortified behind this wall of  fake faith in Jodha, she  draws Jalal into a chakravyuh of unanswerable questions, each posed with what seems to be infinite regret.
She pins him down into the net that she draws ever tighter, nixing his hope that it was Sujamal after all by citing the fake intelligence report she has planted in advance in his mind.  By the end of the session, he is exhausted and  defeated, and that shows in his eyes.
And yet, not just Jalal, but no dispassionate outside observer could have found even a single  remark, or a word, in all that Mahaam says, that could be interpreted as being hostile towards Jodha.  Mahaam is truly one of  her kind, and her Renaissance counterparts in Europe of a couple of centuries earlier - Catherine de Medicis and Lucrezia de Borgia - would have applauded her.
Those who want her to be disposed off in short order in the most painful manner possible know not what they are asking for. Without Mahaam, we would all  be in imminent danger of contracting diabetes.
Moti: She behaves more  like Jodha's sister than her maid,  even in front of Jalal. Her impertinence in standing there like a lamp post and letting the Shahenshah bend and pick  that temple leaf  up from the floor was hardly surprising. That is the way she behaves these days. The old Jalal would have paralysed her with a look and sent her scurrying out of the room. This one just stops short of asking her permission to speak with Jodha Begum. But if Moti had tried any such stunts with Bharmal, she would have copped it  good and proper.
Sujamal: A ham  of the  worst kind. His exchange with the suspicious daroga at the temple would have been laughable even in a high school play. As for the suhaag ki raksha  stuff, enough has been written about it already. It is pure   poppycock, as illogical and senseless as can be. What if Jalal were to lead the campaign to retake Mewat? Would Sujamal protect him against his own Rajvanshi army?
Yes, he does not know that Abul Mali's co-conspirator, who was meeting him  near that poisoned well, is Sharifuddin,  because he cannot see his face from his perch on high. But he should, at a pinch, have been able to recognise  Sharifuddin's  voice, for after all he spent so much time with him preparing to conquer Amer!
NB: During that scene, I was amusing myself by imagining Sujamal tumbling out of the tree right on top of Abul Mali, like Alibaba's unfortunate neighbour. Alas, no such thing happened!
And why the devil does Sujamal get Jodha to promise to keep their meeting(s) a secret? What if  someone had spotted her and  told Jalal? Moreover, where was the need for him to call her to meet him is such a desolate spot near the river, just to tell her that he had nothing to tell her and they should not meet any longer? It is plain nuts.
Finally, how does he propose to find out who the ghar ka bhedi   out to get Jalal is, by hanging around near the Ambe Maa mandir looking like a suspiciously well fed fakir/bhikari?Does he imagine that someone is going to write the name on the temple notice board?
Well, there is no point fretting about these trifles in a script as full of hole as Swiss cheese.
But even so, the Friday precap seems very odd. It appeared to be after  Jalal's outburst, and what I presume is Jodha's continued vachan badhdhata,  for their dresses are the same as in the promo. But Jalal's lines about beinteha mohabbat sound misplaced. But then when have such considerations prevailed in Jodha Akbar?
Well, folks, that is au revoir for the next 2 weeks at least. Till we meet again, do not fret over the  onscreen goings on, and have as much fun as you can.
Shyamala B.Cowsik
 

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by zuzana on 2014-03-23, 21:44

Shyamalaji..what a brilliant post! Loved every word of it...I have lost interest in the show...you gave me the reason..what a pathetic writing by the creatives..what blasphemy ..ruining historical characters.

Jalal is acting like any other serial hubby nowhere near badshah...and Jodha like you pointed out is so shallow. Agree with you she doesnt have any of those feminine instincts nor the wifely understanding. She doesnt have a clue what Jalal feels for her...she hasnt reminisced nor given a thought of the day Jalal approached her with romantic interest...she dismissed or ignored it..how to call her a Princess...they are supposed to be super sharp!!

Its sad but they have lost the plot and the characters.


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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by sashashyam on 2014-03-23, 23:57

Thanks a lot, Zuzana. I have been having, and still have, some bad eye  trouble, so I did not want to do this post, but the kids in IF who frequent my threads insisted, so I did it after all. I was horrified when I saw how long it had become!I do not know how much longer we can stick with this mess of a historical. Let us see.Shyamala B.Cowsikzuzana wrote:Shyamalaji..what a brilliant post! Loved every word of it...I have lost interest in the show...you gave me the reason..what a pathetic writing by the creatives..what blasphemy ..ruining historical characters.

Jalal is acting like any other serial hubby nowhere near badshah...and Jodha like you pointed out is so shallow. Agree with you she doesnt have any of those feminine instincts nor the wifely understanding. She doesnt have a clue what Jalal feels for her...she hasnt reminisced nor given a thought of the day Jalal approached her with romantic interest...she dismissed or ignored it..how to call her a Princess...they are supposed to be super sharp!!

Its sad but they have lost the plot and the characters.


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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by clarissasham on 2014-03-24, 00:33

Superb post aunty

Agree with each word

We the viewers are loosing such a precious show only because of the callous attitude from writers

What a horrible mess

Without any proper reason .

Jalal lost it fully and Jodha is standing like a pillar sans any emotions

Feeling huge gap between the progress they had made in their relation so far

Yeah how the hell she gets to go away from palace every night

Or

Why the hell she has to go everyday to meet him to play gulli danda like in childhood

OK he met him once to convey message

Why everyday

M just confused like the makers

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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by --sumana13-- on 2014-03-24, 01:18

Awesome post Shyamala ..
Was missing you so much .. Many other new members logged in just to ask us your whereabouts you know !!

So glad to see your post .. A big hug to you .....
 long hug 

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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by sashashyam on 2014-03-24, 08:49

My dear Sumana,  I am more touched than I can say to learn that so many of you were missing me. I am really sorry to have dropped off the radar, but I could not help it. I have now been having a very tenacious eye infection, a sort of vicious viral conjunctivitis with  secondary complications, for nearly 2 months. I am not allowed to work at the laptop for more than a short while, and indeed I cannot. My eyes get sore and then I begin to have trouble reading.Moreover, Jodha Akbar irritated me so much that I did not want to comment on it at all. But so many of the kids who haunt my IF threads were so insistent, and then again, I did not want to miss the magic 200 number, so I did this in instalments between Friday night and Sunday afternoon. I was myself horrified to see that it has crossed 6 pages in Georgia 11 font.  but I am equally delighted that so many of you lasted thru it and liked it so much.Thank you again, and if  it is possible, do tell those sweet enough to enquire about me to take a  look at this marathon effort. Warm regards.Shyamala--sumana13-- wrote:Awesome post Shyamala ..
Was missing you so much .. Many other new members logged in just to ask us your whereabouts you know !!

So glad to see your post .. A big hug to you .....
 long hug 

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by sashashyam on 2014-03-24, 08:50

Thank you so much, my dear Clarissa. I am glad we are on exactly the same page on these matters.Do also take a look at my response above to Sumana. Shyamala Auntyclarissasham wrote:Superb post aunty

Agree with each word

We the viewers are loosing such a precious show only because of the callous attitude from writers

What a horrible mess

Without any proper reason .

Jalal lost it fully and Jodha is standing like a pillar sans any emotions

Feeling huge gap between the progress they had made in their relation so far

Yeah how the hell she gets to go away from palace every night

Or

Why the hell she has to go everyday to meet him to play gulli danda like in childhood

OK he met him once to convey message

Why everyday

M just confused like the makers  

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by JAISMINE on 2014-03-25, 12:44

lurrrved ur post Shyamala aunty.. hpee ....you put your views across soo well,that even the greatest AKDHA fan won't be able to disagree!!!!

this show shud b named Jallal..Jodha aur uni bewakoofiya...n jallu condition is truly pathetic!!!!!

PS:get well soon, Thumbsup

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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

Post by sashashyam on 2014-03-25, 12:52

Thank you, my dear. It is becoming more depressing by the day. You will also enjoy  my next about Episode 201, a brief one this time, which is exclusive to Dhwani as I have not posted it as a separate thread in the IF. It  is called An Abundance of Folly!There is a funny little game in it that I would like you ladies to play with me. Do take a look!Shyamala AuntyJAISMINE wrote:lurrrved ur post Shyamala aunty.. hpee ....you put your views across soo well,that even the greatest AKDHA fan won't be able to disagree!!!!

this show shud b named Jallal..Jodha aur uni bewakoofiya...n jallu condition is truly pathetic!!!!!

PS:get well soon, Thumbsup

sashashyam
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Re: Jodha Akbar 200: In the slough of despond

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