Movie befitting a Shehaeshah! Ashthosh Gowariker has delivered this jewel by simplifying the elaborate complexities in the royal love story. In his unique way of movie making, he has taken care of all the nuances to give it the most authentic feel without overdoing any bit of it. The couple were betrothed only for political reasons but thereafter cupid sets to work and Ashutosh Gowariker portrays very well.
Like Lagaan, this period film, starts with Amitabh's baritone setting the story in motion with 15th century India's map on screen. After Baadshah Humayun's untimely death, Prince Jalaluddin had to accept the weight of ruling Hindustan on his early teens. Bairam Khan, the fiercely loyal general of Mughals, set his eyes on expanding the Mugahl Empire for Jalal. Hrithik (born to play Akbar), lights up the screen as the teenage prince becomes the Shehenshah.
The youthful Jalal intends to take his own decisions after a battle with the Rajputana Kings who refuse to surrender their kingdom. Bairam Khan is sent on 'exile' to Mecca and the vanquished Rajput king spared to rule his kingdom under Jalauddin. Its been a long time in Indian cinema that we saw war sequences so elaborately set. The number of people marshalled to recreate the Mughal force was a treat to watch. Another Rajput king, Raja Bharmal, played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda, visits Jalal and proposes him to marry his daughter to save his kingdom from his nephew Sujamal's conspiracy.
The taming of a wild elephant scene by Jalaluddin is fantastic and one of the many 'not to be missed scenes' in the movie. It was very well shot and depicted the bravery Mughal Emperors possessed. Very unlike the usual Bollywood, the hero did not have 'extraordinary abilities' to jump as high as an elephant but used his mental ability to jump atop the animal.
When fate gets Jalaluddin and Jodha betrothed, the political drama ceases and gives way to the romance which blossoms in an unconventional way. Jalal, being a just Emperor gives his wife the honour she deserves and also allows her to follow her religion inside Agra fort. This leads to vehement opposition from one particular Mullah/preist in Akbar's court whom he later sends to Mecca (was it Akbar's hobby? :)). The love blossoms within the walls of Agra Fort though it pricks the eye of many including Jalal's foster mother, Maham Anga, played villianously to the core by Ila Arun.
The movie ends with a hand-duel between Sharifuddin, Jalal's vile conspirator brother-in-law. Though, the villian is shown to be more muscular and well sculpted, Akbar's dialogue sets his intentions straight even before the fight begins - 'Hindustan ko mein galat haathon mein nahin jaane de sakta'.
A.R.Rehman cannot stop making good music relevant to the theme. Though the music is not catchy from the moment you listen to the songs in the movie, you will have it on your tongue sooner than you think. The Sufi song Khwaja Mere Khwaja, is shown without slightest pretense of being what it is not (a regular movie song). The Sufi singers wear the authentic clothes complete with upturned flower pot like hats and sing as if they were the real Sufi singers of 15th century(or so it makes viewers feel). 'Kehne ko jahsn-e-bahaara hai..' is another cherry in the cake baked by Rehman. The lyrics are well written too. The entire kingdom hails Jalal and confers him the title 'Akbar' with the song 'Azeem-o-shaan shhenshah', which is the catchiest song of the movie. It is complete with aerial shots of dance sequences (a la Replublic Day parade by different states of India).
The pure urdu and chaste hindi used in the movie is not very easy to understand for everyone but does adds to the charm of the love story. Hritik looks as handsome as ever and Aishwarya is unparalleled in beauty on screen. This might be the one of the best performances of the duo.
I am unsure if Ashutosh Gowariker has taken any historical liberty and modified facts but the movie is an entertainer. See it for Hritik, See it for Aish, see it for Mr.Gowariker's direction and see it for the love story -see it for yourself.
If 5 stars is the scale you prefer, I would give it a 3/3.5 undoubtedly.