India as a nation does find victory in its obsession with its past. Well I guess all nations are obsessed with their history. But there is something deeply intriguing about our rich and vibrant history that keeps making us go back to it. Jodha Akbar, a newbie on Indian television is a testimony to our never-ending fascination with glorious sagas.
Jodha Akbar satisfies all criteria of a period show. The sets are extravagant and lavish, the costumes are opulent, the characters are larger than life and there is a marvelous love story scripted in the 16th century backing it.
The plot would be clear to most of us after having witnessed an equally splendid version of the story in Ashutosh Gowariker’s film by the same name. There are striking similarities to the film on various instances, but the show however has the luxury to dwell on details. The plot is about a political marriage between India’s most successful emperor and a ‘refusing to be demure and docile’ princess and about the love story that follows the initial contempt, rebelliousness and hatred. There is more to the show though than just the love story. It reflects the underlying politics of the Mughal era, the obsession with power, the erring of the greatest rulers, the overbearing need to establish supremacy, and obviously the deceit and treachery running as undercurrents between all relationships.
The lead characters played by Rajat Tokas( of Prithviraj Chauhan fame) and Paridhi Sharma are doing a decent job. Tokas, now, is almost an expert at playing grand period characters and is almost convincing as the shrewd and sharp ruler. The viewers would like to see some spunk in Paridhi Sharma’s character, such that she fully stands up to the glory of her male counterpart. Actor Ashwani Kalsekar returns as Maham Anga, Akbar’s foster mother, and is currently one of the strongest characters of the show. The rest of the cast like Chetan Hansraj playing Maham Anga’s son Aadam Khan and Lavina Tandon as Begum Rukaiya support the plot well.
There are instances however where there are traces of unrealism in the characters, yet why would 16th century characters seem real to a 21st century audience? Being an Ekta Kapoor production, it naturally comes with an overdose of drama, controversies and conspiracies. There are too many episodes dedicated to highlighting brewing conspiracies inside Akbar’s harem, between Maham Angam, Rukaiya Begum and Jodha. It would help if the show concentrated more on the real saga and less on conspiring plots. These instances leave the viewer wondering about the authenticity of the incidents. The disclaimer at the beginning at the show thus rightly warns the viewer to not blindly believe this to be a true account of history.
It would help, if the viewer wouldn’t get judgmental about every little happening of the show and just sit back and enjoy the dripping sumptuousness. There is nothing new to learn here that hasn’t been learnt already through various other media. But a host of good actors, a developing chemistry between the leads and a love story in the backdrop is enough to keep us Indian viewers hanging there for a while. One only hopes that the show doesn’t overdo the clichés.
By Shuchi Sinha