Jab Jodhaa met Akbar

In every civilized society which cares for individual sentiments there is some law for protection of certain heritage sites and buildings since these are considered to be the collective property of the humanity and there is a recognition of the fact that every one has a right to share the unspoilt beauty of an architectural monument or a natural formation in an unaltered fashion. Unfortunately there is no legal protection in respect of an icon of history whose image cultivated over generations is mercilessly butchered by a buccaneering film producer unrepentantly and with the simple excuse that it is merely a work of fantasy and has no historical basis!

Aushutosh Gowrikar of Lagaan fame has done precisely that to the image of Jodha Bai a Rajput Queen of middle ages and the Mughal King Akbar who is remembered as one of the few benevolent despots who have given this country a symbol of administrative reforms and spirit of religious tolerance .

Having failed to meet success at the oscar nominations for his period film Lagan , Gowrikar has come out with a more calculated assault on the Oscar battlefield through Jodah Akbar romance which the film claims is not reported in history ( the name of the princess and her relation ship with Akbar is also doubted) but the expensive film with lavish squandering on objects of visual pleasure appears to be attempting to become a historical magnum opus. Nobody wishes to join the issue of historical credibility with Mr. Gowrikar but pray Mr. Gowrikar why did you thrust this plastic beauty of Indian screen to wipe out the memories of Jodha Bai so powerfully projected by the legendary Durga Khote. And your Akbar…although young , but can he ever be expected to adorn the throne occupied by powerful personae of Prithviraj Kapoor in Mughal-e-Azam which is etched in the memory of generations of cinegoers .

A good documentary for Rajasthan Tourism or chalu stuff for a good tear jerker TV serial to be watched by Saas Bahus in the afternoon , or a modern presentation of Vikram Betal stories is what you have produced Mr. Gowrikar with so much fanfare. Your bundle of mini stories of religious hysteria , Saas bahu tussle ,wimpish Rajpoot princes , plotting brother-in-law, fanatic ulemas and incognito visits of young emperor to see the status of his praja could have created a long running TV serial because each episode is a mini thriller but not the part of a story of any interesting substance. The only tears which come to the eyes of an intelligent cinegoer are due to strain of spending 200 minutes in the theatre for witnessing your mediocrity.

And there was a feeling of relief after coming out of the hall for one more reason. That was for the realization that the romantic excitement of Madhubala, Dilip Kumar pair in Mughl-e-Azam would remain beyond the reach of producers for all times and the movie would remain the true Moughal amongst the movies as tribute to the genius of it’s producer and Director.

Madam Ashwarya Rai may now try her luck with some other fake piece of history because this one again seems to have floundered like remake of Umrao Jaan…despite the hidden support of dad-in-law by way of unworthy praise of a dance sequence filmed on Hrithik Roshan. Cinegoers having seen the Mughal movies like Anarkali and Mughal-e-Azam will have to recall the emotional thrill of “Pyar kiya to darna kya “ dance number performed so tantalizingly by Madubala and the Quawalis of the films produced in sixties when they want to think of a piece of art which is highly entertaining and also intellectually satisfying , while the likes of Aishwarya and Aushotosh will fade away from the scene in no time.

And now last but not the least, the latest news  reports say that Mayawati Ji Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has chosen this occasion to garner some votes from Rajput community by placing a ban on the movie (just two days after the MP High Court quashed a ban of similar nature and under full realization that hers would also be a short lived ban). The scenario is a bit  comical in the sense that Akbar the great warrior of middle ages has come to the rescue of another damsel in distress in modern times by helping her recover some popularity in Rajput community .

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A Goodbye to Appu

When Delhi hosted the Asian Games in 1982 the mascot of the Games a baby elephant named Appu stayed back in Delhi to become a symbol of unending fun in form of the amusement park known as Appu Ghar. The mascot in form of a dancing elephant adorning the gateway to Appu Ghar provided a cheerful day of fun and frolic during 25 years of it’s existence to millions of children. Located in heart of the town and offering so many permutations and combination of joy rides and games it was a place you could head for any time on any day . Weekend outings came to acquire a special meaning specially for the middle class crowds which could have free run of the place at an affordable cost. A whole generation of Delhites grew up with the joy and thrill of the rides and games. Other options to the city’s entertainment package by way of water parks or the occassional visiting circuses or the Delhi Zoo remained way behind in the matter of popularity.

Now Appu has grown weak standing on one leg for so many years and a new world is emerging around it which is more professional and devoted to matters of corporate concern, so Appu bids good bye to Delhi and to those whose child hood memories would never be complete without recalling the excitement and thrill of Appu rides. In the age of computer games and multiplexes Appu the symbol of common man’s entertainment will perhaps move to some smaller town where child’s world is still not trampled upon by monstrous organs of modern society . Delhi richer by achievements of scientific progress and by growth of legal wisdom through the library which will take place of joy rides now has less time to care for the smile of the young child.

Wake up call for Goa Tourism

I saw a news item on a foreign tourist who has reported to the police about a case of sexual assault on her in Goa. The tourist was duped by a youth posing as motorcycle taxi operator in late hours and led to an isolated place for committing of this crime. The tourist who was looking for a lift around 10 PM has no idea about the place where she was taken and also failed to note down the number of the motorcycle on which the youth had given her a lift.

Goa has normally been considered as a very safe station for tourists and given the liberal culture of place and the large numbers in which tourist are seen roaming around the beaches and in the city during all parts of the year, the incident comes as an aberration. Normally the foreign offices of various countries give reasonable amount of guidance to their tourists about dos and don’ts in alien places but tourists are bound to ignore security instruction while trying to corner maximum enjoyment out of their stay in a place like Goa.

It is also worth remembering that while enjoying the exciting lifestyle of Goa a very large number of tourists crowd the hotspots in extremely provocative manner. The nightbazars of Goa which I have seen on a recent visit are like a foreign territory . During our visit there were only a handful of Indians in a crowd of hundreds of tourists indulging into drinking ,dancing ,eating and roaming around till late hours. A person seeing this scantily clad group of men and women with all the arrogance of the white man would be quick to form a very dim view about the status of civilization of these so called guests of the country and a semiliterate motorcycle driver may deviate from pattern of normal behaviour on being witness to such crude behaviour.

However nothing can justify a crime of this nature and prompt action against the accused would be the only solution to avert the possibility of recurrence of similar incidents in future. More so because Goa being solely dependant on tourism for the sustainability of it’s economy, can ill afford to loose even a fraction of tourists by such adverse publicity. Goa I remember has an active union of tour and travel operators. The union should try to ensure that the taxi operators are all registered with them after proper screening and all genuine operators should be given their logo and identification tag which a tourist could be able to ask for before taking a ride .

The Tourists also need to be cautious and alert in their own interest. Remember it was Goa which was once the killing field of the notorious bikini killer Charles Shobhraj.