Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jodhaa Akbar

Ashutosh Gowariker, India, 2007 (8.1*)
Update: this just won 11 International Indian Film Awards, 2nd most ever, including picture, director, music, costumes, editing; it's now won 39 awards worldwide (link to its page at Wikipedia)

This has to be India’s Gone with the Wind (only better), an epic 16th century historical tale with beautifully ornate palaces, jewels, costumes – it even effectively mixes in some haunting and entrancing musical numbers (but not many). My favorites were a wedding night song and dance performed by whirling dervishes of the Sufi sect (trance inspiring!), and a beautiful romantic ballad from the second half when the lovers are alone (sensual yet very understated). Some of the dances have camera shots from overhead like a Busby Berkeley musical (only with 300 dancers instead of 30), performing ornate moving mandalas in bright colored costumes.

The stars are both very beautiful, the role of the Muslim Mughal Emperor is Hrithik Roshan (a strong, muscled warrior-king and swordsman), and his reluctant (and Hindu) Rajput Queen named Jodhaa is the breath-taking beauty Aishwarya Rai, in her finest here as a well-jeweled queen; this cements the argument that she is the most beautiful woman in the world (see photo), and she can also sing and dance (see Bride and Prejudice)

The story is multi-cultural and about the religious freedom and unification attempted by Akbar (a title of honor), who allows his Queen to build a Hindu shrine to Kali and maintain her religion. The story is fictionalized regarding the romance, turning it into a fairy tale love story, but the history is generally accurate about the unification of Hindustan. About an hour too long at 3.5 hours (Netflix inaccurately shows 450 minutes, or 7.5 hrs, yikes), with the better drama all in the second half (the first seems rushed and sketchy), and some of the martial arts are a bit slow and clumsy, rated down for these criticisms.

Note: Indian history buffs say that Jodhaa eventually converted to Islam to be totally acceptable to Akbar’s subjects.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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