Jodha Akbar (2008) is a film following the story of the Indian Mughal emperor Akbar and his wife Jodha. The film is set in Emperor Akbar’s reign lasting from 1556-1605. Akbar was known for his leadership in religious tolerance. Although Akbar was a Muslim ruler, Jodha was a devout Hindu.
While watching the film, I found that the overall film was truly entertaining and pleasant to watch as a viewer. Ashutosh Gowariker, a well-known and respected Indian Film director, directed Jodha Akbar. The aesthetic and cinematic choices Gowariker made throughout the film are a clear attempt to attract the audiences’ eye to the story of this great Mughal emperor.
The film uses color to draw the attention of the viewer as well as to express meaning in the story. Interchanging monochromatic schemes and full elaborate color stories showcase the differences from the masses and the rulers. For example, in the final scene of the movie Akbar and Jodha are shown speaking directly and firmly to Akbar’s council about his stance on religious tolerance. In order to show the importance of Akbar’s say in this matter, the council is shown in uniform white attire while Akbar and Jodha stand strong in full color.
Religious interests are an important aspect of the film Jodha Akbar, and are key themes throughout the entire film. Akbar and Jodha’s marriage causes tensions in the council because of their religious differences. Not only were these tensions felt for outsiders of the marriage, but their separate religions also affected those closest to Akbar including Jodha. Jodha was distraught to find out that she was marrying a Muslim man and not a Hindu. And betrayal occurred when Jodha and Akbar became close to one another. Akbar’s wet nurse from infancy, who became a trusted mother figure in Akbar’s life, set up Jodha to seem as if she was using Akbar and involved with another man.
Another cinematic decision that was made throughout the film was the use of camera angles. Throughout the film, Gowariker uses a camera shot from above so that the audience is able to see the actions from overhead and can see more activity than if the camera angle was from below. This technique is used many times, but a few scenes that stand out are in the opening battle scene when the two sides are charging at eachother, in the scene following Akbar and Jodha’s marriage when Akbar joins the Sufis in a song and dance honoring Allah. Although camera angles can be used to show the power of a particular person, Gowariker did not show Akbar from below (which would express power and intimidation). Gowariker’s angles for Akbar were often at eye level. This cinematic decision allowed for the film to show Akbar as a leader who was humble and on the same level as his people.
Although the film is a historical epic about two real people in Indian history, the film shows a bias towards the greatness of Emperor Akbar and his ruling. Jodha Akbar has received critisim on the grounds of diluting history by only showing the good of Akbar. However, the filmmakers express in the opening credits that the film Jodha Akbar is only one interpretation of the emperor and his wife, and many other stories could be expressed since they lived long ago.
The story of Jodha and her husband Akbar in this medium was extremely compelling. The song and dance numbers within the film appear in moments of intense emotions, which allow the viewer to stay engaged in the film and story. The colors and camera angles express to the viewer meaning as well as heightening the overall aesthetics of the film.