April 2008

Vol 7 - No. 10
 

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Entertainment | April 2008

 


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'Jodhaa Akbar': The Magnum Opus

Is it too long?    Grossed over Rs 120 Crores    Freedom of Expression Triumphs

Director Ashutosh Gowariker's  'Jodhaa Akbar', the magnum opus, 3 hours 20 minutes long, has captured the imagination of audiences’ worldwide. Released over 25 countries on February 15, the movie has been dubbed into Tamil and Telegu and subtitled into English, Dutch, and Arabic. 

The story weaves around the romance between Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar and Rajput princess Jodha Bai. 

The film is a standing monumental testament to Oscar nominated director Ashutosh Gowariker’s vision and commitment. To complement Ashutosh Gowariker’s efforts are power-packed performances by Hrithik and Aishwarya.  

Talking about the film’s box office response, Director of UTV Motion Pictures and co-producer of the film Siddharth Roy Kapur said, “The response ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ has received not only in India but worldwide by both critics and viewers is worth all the hard work. ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ is an epic not merely by virtue of the timeless story it tells, but also because of the tremendous tribulations its creation entailed.  

In India alone, the film released in nearly 1000 screens of which 400 were through digital cinemas. The scale of its release makes ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ the biggest ever release for an Indian film till date, according to company sources.  

 

Some exhibitors thought the movie was too long.

"Decades ago, scenes and footage were added to a film as it progressed towards that now-fugitive goal of a silver jubilee. But today's average viewer has no patience to watch a film that exceeds two hours," added a film critic.

As the director (of Lagaan and Swadesh fame), refused to shorten his film, the exhibitors in the smaller centres, like Patna, have taken matters into their own hands, and edited out vital sequences amounting to a good 30 minutes of playing time, including Hrithik Roshan's elephant fight and Aishwarya Rai's culinary conflict with Ila Arun.

This was done apparently to accommodate the mandatory four shows that had been denied in the film to start with. However, the film's Bihar distributor is none too pleased with the local exhibitor's editorial skills.  

"I was myself shocked to see some of the key scenes gone from 'Jodhaa Akbar'. I don't think any exhibitor has the right to act above the creative rights of a film's director and producer," the distributor said.  

This is not the first time it has been done. The distributor recalled, "Earlier, a good 45-60 minutes were forced out of J.P. Dutta'a 'LoC' when the director had categorically instructed exhibitors not to cut his film. If you don't wish to run a long film, please don't screen the film. But please don't act god over the film's fate."    

Siddharth Roy Kapoor, marketing and distribution head of UTV Motion Pictures, is unfazed by the extra-constitutional editing of their premium product.  

"It's hard to monitor what happens at the smaller centres. But we're not the least daunted. We at the UTV are certainly not going to dictate a film's length to a director just to fit into the screening timings. Ashutosh Gowariker is making another film for UTV and he's welcome to make it as long or short as he wants to," Kapoor said.  

 

‘Jodhaa Akbar’ made history by grossing Rs 740 million (Rs 74 crores) worldwide in 10 days.  

Jodha Akbar has the distinction of being one among the highest grossing Hindi movies ever in its opening weekend with 25 core plus netting in India and 35 crore plus abroad.  

It has swept box office collections netting over Rs 120 crore worldwide since one month of its release. The epic has made 90 crores in India and the rest, abroad. With these box office figures it has become truly the first real blockbuster of 2008.

In India, the movie grossed Rs 527 million (Rs 52.70 crores), despite not having a release in Rajasthan, which UTV considers as one of the key markets for a film of this genre.  

In the US, it grossed $2,500,000 million (Rs 10 crores), in UK the collections stand at $1,400,000 (Rs 5.60 crores), in the Gulf the film garnered $800,000 (Rs 3.2 crores), in Australia $286,906 (Rs 1.15 crores) and $380,000 (Rs 1.5 crores) in the rest of the world.  

In the US market, the film was one of the highest grossers of all time in just 10 days, whereas in the UK, it was amongst the Top 10 in the first 10 days for an Indian film. In the Gulf, it was amongst the Top 5 in the first 10 days for an Indian film. On the other hand, in Australia, it emerged as the second highest grosser of all time in Australia, as per figures made available by UMP.  

 

There were demands for banning the movie in India.

The movie had faced bans in several Indian states due to opposition by various communal groups who wished to fan sentiments against the story line of the romance between a Muslim emperor and his Hindu wife. But ultimately the freedom of expression triumphed.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh had on February 22 suspended the screening of the Hrithik Roshan-Aishwarya Rai starrer, a week after its release, fearing that it may cause a law and order problem in the state as a particular community was against the film's content. 

UTV Motion Pictures won a case against the ban in the state's high court on February 26. 

"As of now we will start showing the film from tonight in the state. It was indeed unfortunate that we were forced to go to the court," Ronnie Screwvala, CEO of UTV, told reporters at a press conference, on February 27. 

"We haven't made any changes in the film. The censor board didn't find anything objectionable in the content and cleared the film. Once the censor clears the film, we don't think we have to make any corrections in it." 

"We were pressurised by exhibitors who were keen to release the film. In fact, they threatened to go on a strike if they weren't allowed to screen the film. It's unfortunate that we had to go to the court for our basic rights," Screwvala said. 

Rajasthan is the other state where the movie was banned. The Karni Sena has been spearheading a campaign in the state against the movie for quite sometime.

He also urged the Rajput community in Rajasthan to come and see the film.

The community alleged that Gowariker has presented Jodha Bai as Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar's wife, which is factually incorrect. 

According to them, Jodha Bai was not the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber as shown in the film, but the daughter of Motaraja Udai Singh of Marwar. And she was married to Akbar's son Salim alias Jehangir. 

"From day one we are requesting these people to come and see the film and then form an opinion. Ashutosh has done enough TV shows explaining that there isn't anything objectionable in the film."

 

Here are some of the views being circulated and posted on the internet groups:

P Sandeep at [indiathinkersnet] writes:

It is indeed sad to read the demand the ban on Jodha Akbar.

Forget the fact that this interferes with creative freedom.

The greater issue is an imposition of a single - by no means uncontested or non-controversial - view of history as the only permissible and legitimate view.

The agenda to prevent debates is frightening.

Also the sub text that no Muslim ruler can be portrayed as having any positive qualities.

The reference to only later years should lead us to suppress Asoka and Harshvardhan too.

Rebecca Kurian at [indiathinkersnet] writes:

Doesn't the word "movie" mean anything to anybody any more? Jodha-Akbar is not an account of history for students, for goodness' sakes! It is a movie..Creativity doesn't always represent actual facts. Again, in our esteeemed country and in the minds of some people, "facts" can mean various versions.. We cannot judge every movie for its factual content when it is not a documentary.

Just because the Rajput kings didn't have unity and sold one another for power, influence or money, how does that have any connection with the politicians of today? Are we using "facts" when we judge anything like what happened in Gujarat after the Godhra incident? Where are the facts when thousands of dalits are being massacred for various reasons and on flimsy grounds? Where are facts and truth when innocent people remain in prisons because of their lack of political power and money?

How can anybody demand the banning of a MOVIE just because in their minds, Muslims should not be portrayed as anything but terrorists? What a pity that this great nation has people who cannot even watch movies which are the result of imagination, facts, dreams, even hope, without being so prejudiced!. ..

We must not forget that anything that makes money is what most filmproducers look for. I might understand the argument of the professor if this was supposed to be a documentary. This isn't. It is just a film with a good cast and stunning clothes and jewellery!! Plus, it is a beautiful story if we can watch it without being so critical.. I haven't yet seen the movie but I am sure lots of people would love it, just like they love movies like "kuch kuch hota hai"!!!! Human beings are not always looking for facts and reality in movies.. For many, it is an escape from the grim realities of life. I am sure Jodha-Akbar fits very well into that category..

Prof R K Gupta at [indiathinkersnet] writes:

Two things came out very clear to me.

1.Tempering with historical facts which themselves are controversial( reference wikipedia)as on date

2.The movie is audacious which plays down the Rajput kingdoms and their valour and glorifies the character of Jalalluddin Mohammed alias Akbar as being a secularist,hindu protector and kind king.He was none of these.He only realised very late in his life about futility of wars.

His contribution to arts,literature, architecture and his support to Hindu and Muslim wisemen and artists although is worth appreciation.

The manner in which muslim invaders are glorified in juxtaposition with Rajput warriors is clear appeasement of muslim community and showing islamic invaders in too high a noble position which is not correct.The movie gives imprerssion that Akbar was a monogamous and noble person who sacrificed so much for so called Rajput princess Jodha.This is ridiculous.

It also shows that Raputs were stabbing each other for lust of power.But that isn true for even today's politicians even in democracy.Where is democracy in India?

Gowrikar should have made a stinging movie on scoundrels ruling this country since last 60 years and how they manipulate, harm people.

The courtesans of Akbar who were cowards and self seeking faltterers gave him name of Akbar ( the Great) an arabian word. He was simply an imperialist and greedy and ruthless monarch as all kings are.Be they Rajputs or Muslims or Christians.

Such type of commercial ventures should not be taken up for making profit and just for heck of making movies.

Although Rajputs as a community have a weak case for demanding ban,but it is in any case justified on the basis of overall distortion of realities that existed at that time.

I think Government of India should ban this movie throughout the country.

 

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