I use the word 'epic' in stupid internet slang a lot because I'm an idiot. But it's every now and then that I discover the true meaning of epic, and no, it's not by picking up Kalevala or the Iliad, but this time, by sitting down in the enormous warmth of Manchester's Trafford Centre to watch Ashutosh Gowariker's historical epic Jodhaa-Akbar.
The film is long enough to make sure you really do feel like you're living in the world of the legendary Mughal ruler Akbar. The main character is naturally glorified in order to make him a true Bollywood hero; in the same way Mangal Pandey is credited with the 1847 uprising in The Rising, or the same way history is ignored in Asoka. Of course, the polemic will happen and has happened, but I personally decide to shrug and move along. I know the facts, I know the arguments; now let me enjoy the movie.
Even if Jodha never existed, it's a lovely tale within this epic. I saw zilch of Hrithik-Aishwarya chemistry in Dhoom 2, but in here, they were really something (even if Hrithik is again doing most of the work). I enjoyed the course of the relationship, and the few key scenes (especially the one picturized above) they had were simply terrific and loaded with hotness.
Aishwarya's acting is sufficient, and sadly that's the only word I can use to describe it. She captures Jodha's determinism but is hardly amazing. With Hrithik I'm slightly more at odds. He makes an incredibly intense romantic hero. He also has the presence of a Mughal ruler. On the other hand, I've never been in love with his more dramatic acting. Combined with the constant dramatic sound effects, it lends to a certain over-the-topness that becomes more amusing than believable.
The long movie is not without slow moments but thankfully avoids being the dragged out film Swades was. On the other hand, who can complain when the movie is this pretty? The visuals make you feel at home in your seat, even though I also had moments when I was wondering what time it was, and how I would probably faint, not thanks to Hrithik but to starvation, before the credits roll.
But back to epicness. My friend and I discussed during interval how the movie was so epicly dramatic that it sometimes felt like the air was too heavy to breathe. Dun dun dunnn! More positive aspects of Jodha-Akbar's epicness are the crowd scenes, the sets, the battles. While they in no way rival those of Lord of the Rings, on the Indian scale they are very impressive. Plus, elephants. You simply cannot go wrong with some elephants.
While I didn't love Jodhaa-Akbar, it was quite the ride, and definitely one of those films Bollywood fans at large should make sure to watch. I will also offer tons of sympathy to everybody who, like me when I'm not travelling the globe, will not be able to see this on the big screen.