Yesterday night my daughter was unusually quiet and I managed finally to watch the new indian DVD I bought weeks ago together with her :-)
I have discovered Jodhaa Akbar only a now, one year and a half after it was launched. It is difficult for a working mum to be up to date with cultural events ;-) Nevertheless allow me to communicate here some of the thoughts that were wandering around in my mind after watching the film and reading quickly over the discussions that it had provoked.
First of all, I did not understand the film as a historical document. I don't care whether Jodhaa was her real name, if she was Akbar's wife or not nor if she existed at all. What I saw was an appealing love story with clear references to contemporary issues. If the director states that 70 % of the story is his personal imagination and fantasy, we should believe him, even if the setting is very well researched and historically convincing.
Akbar, the Muslim emperor famed for his tolerant attitude towards other religions, marries Rajput princess Jodhaa in order to strengthen his political bonds with the Rajputs. What was planned as a marriage of alliance between two different cultures slowly develops to a deep lovestory of two individuals who discover and learn to love each other through mutual respect. Brutal war, bloodshed and treason on both sides form the background of a very modern solution for intercultural, interreligious and intersexual agression. The message is very clear: The only one way out from the conflicts in a multiethnical and multirelegious societey are a slow and deliberate approach between individuals that try to "conquer the other's heart", as Jodhaa states at the turning point of the film. But this is not at all easy, because both sides have to regard at each other as equal partner; this imposes a secular view of religious traditions and role models.
Ashutosh Gowariker's programmme for a successful Hindi-Muslim relationship is not a political wedding (which took place in India 1947 and turned out to be particularly violent), but it has to become a prosperous marriage. Therefor religion has to be banned from the political stage and finds space in a postmodern individual faith, that all the other members of the project have to respect in his otherness and own beauty.
On the personal level we see a transformation of two individuals growing in the process of approaching the other, and it's not romance where they find unity, but through heavy conflicts, ingeniously depicted in a highly sensual sword fight between princess and emperor.
Altogether I see Jodhaa-Akbar as a wise, clear-sighted film with many interesting aspects, additional to its outstanding aesthetic qualities!
Read a very inspiring review here.