Distorting History?

Jodhaa Akbar

The manner in which history is being written and rewritten, according to the convenience of the establishment, one day the world might very well know Indira Gandhi as Mahatma Gandhi’s daughter! This may seem like a bit of an exaggeration at the moment, but it certainly is not an impossibility. .

Ages back, the myth of Anarkali frog-spawned across Bollywood with the birth of epics such as ‘Mughal-E-Azam’. And now, another movie is a week’s release away, one which focuses on the emperor, Akbar, and his alleged wife or daughter-in-law, Jodhaabai. Excuse me, for being confused but so is the director of the movie, ‘Jodhaa Akbar’!

Jodhaa Akbar’ is a sixteenth century love story, revolving around a marriage of alliance, one that gave birth to true love between a great Mughal emperor, Akbar, and a Rajput princess, Jodhaa. Political success knew no bounds for Emperor Akbar (played by Hrithik Roshan in the film).Through a shrewd blend of diplomacy, intimidation and brute force, Akbar won the allegiance of the Rajputs, the strongest of the Hindu castes. However, little did he know that when he married Jodhaa (enacted by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the same), a fiery Rajput princess, in order to strengthen further his relations with the Rajputs, he would in turn, be embarking upon a new journey – the journey of true love. The daughter of King Bharmal of Amer, Jodhaa resented being reduced to a mere political pawn in this marriage of alliance, and Akbar’s biggest challenge now did not merely lie in winning battles, but in winning the love of Jodhaa – a love hidden deep below resentment and extreme prejudice. Jodhaa-Akbar is their untold love story. Untold history, would be a better tagline I suppose!

Jodhaa Akbar’ is a film that allegedly distorts historical facts under the garb of magnificent production, elaborate sets and an award-winning director brand. The title of the film which suggests the relation between the two protagonists, is in itself lined with faults. Director Ashutosh Gowarikar displays careless tampering and violation of Indian history by showcasing Jodhaa as Akbar’s wife, rather than as his daughter-in-law. According to the Rajput Sabha head, Narendra Singh Rajawat, Jodhabai was the daughter of Motaraja Udai Singh of Marwar and was married to Akbar’s son, Salim, alias Jehangir. Mughal king, Shahjahan, was her son. This seemed to be the last straw in aggravating the sentiments of the Rajput community. The question then arises, who was Akbar’s wife? As stated by historian Mohammad Amin- “Akbar forged alliances with Rajput families and he married the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber, who was later titled Maryam Rahmani or the Mother of Rulers of the Universe. But there is no evidence to say that she was called Jodhaabai.

Although, Ashutosh Gowarikar has himself claimed that there is some confusion regarding the name of Akbar’s Rajput wife, he defends his cause by stating that “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; I consulted the Royal family of Jaipur that gave me the nod to use the name Jodhaa.” I’d hate to remind him that it was the Rajputs who voiced their sentiments against the film and banned it in Rajasthan! Yet, another facet of the virtual truth has been given by Prof Shirin Moosvi, historian, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). He says that there is no mention of Jodhaabai in ‘Akbarnama‘, nor in any other Mughal documents from that period.

Histories are known to contain mysteries. Yet, factual details cannot be manipulated according to one’s needs. This eagerly-awaited movie, is not only hyped to be a ‘worth-spending-every-penny’ entertainer but is also bound to open newer avenues into history and the knowledge behind it, for its audience. After viewing this film, the masses might blindly believe the history that is portrayed in the fim, despite its factual validity. Thus, it becomes even more important for films that encroach into history, to be well-researched.

Although, ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ has been given the green signal by the Censor Board, with a U/A certificate and without any cuts, the Board has asked Gowariker to put a disclaimer on the various names of Jodhaabai, and asked him to retain only the name Jodhaabai. The director has since inserted a disclaimer in English. However, he has been asked to insert one in Hindi, as well. The issue, thus, stands resolved and as far as the concern for its acceptance is concerned… well only time can answer that. Scheduled to release on February 15, we must now simply wait and watch!

Tania Gupta[Image Courtesy: http://www.nowrunning.com/news/news.aspx?it=13759 ]