Jodha Akbar, with cost estimated at Rs. 400 million and featuring country’s two biggest stars, was finally premiered all over India this Friday. Its release was postponed twice. However, it did not see acceptance for release from the very state this historic tale is based on: Rajasthan. It was banned from screening in the scheduled 30 cinema halls in Rajasthan, nine of which are in the pink city.
Rajputs are voicing their discomfort on the distortion of facts and history. “Jodhaa was Akbar’s bahu not begum. Historical documents, including Akbarnama and Jehangir’s memoirs, say it was not Akbar but Jehangir who got married to the House of Jodhpur. So the princess was later called Jodhabai,” says historian Satish Chandra, author of NCERT History books.
How did this happen then? What does the director have to say? Director Ashutosh Gowariker of Lagaan (2001) fame defended his portrayal: “I have referred to books like A History of Jaipur by Jadunath Sarkar, Kachhvahon Ka Itihaas by Jagdish Gehlot and other works by KL Khurana and Hari Shankar Sharma. All call Akbar’s wife with various names like Harkha, Man Mati, Shai Bai etc.”
“I agree there is a confusion regarding the name,” he said. He also added, “I consulted the Royal family of Jaipur that gave me the nod to use the name Jodha.”
But patron Lokendra Kalvi told a news conference in Jaipur today that the screening will not be allowed till Gowarikar tenders a public apology to Rajputs and revises the script removing the “distorted historical fact” regarding Jodhaabai. However, he will withdraw his agitation if a selected group of historians in Jaipur preview the film and approve. The preview was scheduled for today.
Meanwhile protests are spreading countrywide. Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and even Dellhi followed suit.
Director Ashutosh Gowariker says, “The marriage of Mughal emperor Akbar with princess Hira Kunwari has fascinated India for 450 years, and we want to show how the couple broke cultural and religious barriers. How the two resolved cultural differences and shared a perfect arranged marriage is fascinating.”
Tanishq has worked hard on its second film venture. Two hundred craftsmen worked for 600 days to mold 400 kg of gold and precious jewels to recreate the ensembles of Mughal era.
Neeta Lulla, of Devdas fame, is one of the best costume designers of Indian film industry. It took her 6 tedious but not tough months to complete Jodhaa Akbar. She says, “Jodhaa Akbar has come together really well and Ashutosh made the whole task of producing a period film seem so easy that I could work on 20 Jodhaa Akbars.” Neeta has worked with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan before (she has even designed her wedding costumes), but this is her first time with Hrithik Roshan.
If Jodhaa Akbar fails at the box office, all the epic saga ventures lined in Bollywood will be aborted which include two by Ram Santoshi.
Desi Pundit shares his views and exclaims, “All that Glitters is Jodhaa Akbar”!
Will Jodhaa Akbar see it through? Or will Ashutosh Gowariker’s dream of surpassing Mughal-E- Azam remain unfulfilled?