The pre-requisite of a historical biopic is that there should be a quaint flavour. In Zee TV’s Jodha Akbar (Balaji Telefilms) there may be ancient palaces and historic battles being re-created but the antique touch seems to be just on the exterior. This soul of the serial lacks the archaic touch. Agreed that Producer Ekta Kapoor’s team has travelled the lengths and breaths of India and has researched extensively for this biopic but somehow the vast historical research hasn’t been fused in with the fictional element with subtle artistry.
The serial had an opening which did not really seem to have any connection with the historic theme of the show. Why were the opening shots of idols of various Hindi Gods and Goddesses in a contemporary set up? Jodha (Paridhi Sharma) in the series is shown as a princess in the ancient city of Amer.
The shift to the contemporary tourist spot of Akbar Ka Makbara was relevant though as the intention was to show that the spirits of Jodha and Emperor Akbar (Rajat Tokas) are still alive four hundred years after their demise, which we did like.
The map of India which was laid out with places marked in Urdu was quite innovative but the mainstream viewers who are unfamiliar with the Urdu alphabet and familiar with the Devanagari alphabet will not be able to decipher it.
We did like the topic chosen as the prime focus of the show- of the courageous and ruthless Emperor Akbar being transformed to a kind and benevolent king and a better ruler with great appreciation for art, culture and love for his people by his dear wife Jodha.
Many of us have already seen Ashutosh Gowariker’s movie Jodha Akbar starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. Had this serial trodden down the same route, those who have already watched the movie may have had no interest whatsoever in watching the TV series. The serial re-tells the same story in a totally different way which is its USP.
Ekta seems to be spoon feeding her viewers in the biopic. The omniscient narrator over-explains thereby killing suspense. Why should the narrator mouth the reasons behind the happenings and what is going on in people’s minds? Maybe the same could have been implicitly conveyed through dialogues. Also the first episode ended with a seemingly cruel grin playing on Akbar’s lips. Did that had to be done to indicate that Akbar is pitiless? Why does Ekta have to be so explicit? Doesn’t art lie in concealing art?
The battle scenes were done well. The scenes in the Rajput palace were also fairly good with relaxing and less somber scenes which included chirpy girl talk. The striking contrast between Akbar and Jodha’s worlds were thereby beautifully conveyed.
Coming to the performances, all actors have put in sincere hard work but it seems that they could have been given better directions. Of course, Jodha is shown as a vivacious and chirpy princess who defies norms which she considers irrelevant, but somehow the dignified grandeur in her doesn’t come out all that well in the process. Whereas in Sony Entertainment Television’s Maharana Pratap, Rajshree Thakur and Aashka Goradia play majestic queens very gracefully. Aishwarya Rai too had blended the gracefulness of a queen and the strength and sweetness of a woman quite well in the movie.
The story and dialogues are satisfactory but could have been even better. Once again, the ancient feel isn’t coming out vividly through the dialogues.
Cinematography in television historicals is improving with passing day. We quite liked the various kinds of scenes starting from the battle to the palace sequences being shot against various colours and hues of the moody sky at different times of the day.
The costumes, jewellery and makeup are good but somehow seem to lack the finesse of the way the same has been done on Maharana Pratap. In the latter show, this has executed with better artistry which makes the kings and queens look very graceful. The art direction in Jodha Akbar is grand and good but could have been better.
The songs played in the serial where somewhat jarring and too modern. The sound effects of the battle scenes were satisfactory.
To sum up… Jodha Akbar has opened on an average note and needs sprucing up. We do hope that the love saga is explored with subtle artistry.