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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Sanju baba in trouble again

Marriages are said to be made in heaven but an act of indiscretion or shall we say an unfortunate slip in compliance with law has lead to unmaking of a marriage of two stars of the earth. The much hyped marriage between Sanjay Dutt and his friend now known as Manyata (meaning recognition) appears to be unrecognizable as per law of the land. It has been discovered that the stars submitted false evidence in support of their proof of residence in Goa and thus the registration of the marriage is held up by the Registrar of marriages. The Govt functionaries who facilitated the submission of false certificates are facing disciplinary action for facilitating the an act of forgery.

It is not known as to what prompted the two film personalities to decide to get married at Goa . Perhaps Sanjay being ignorant of legal impediments and encouraged by some over enthusiastic goan lawyer friend unwittingly allowed himself to be caught in a legal wrangle of his own making. Having just temporarily managed to extricate himself from imprisonment in a criminal case relating to possession of unlicensed AK-47 gun and then getting it destroyed to conceal the evidence, he seems to be heading for another troubled phase in life due to the latest development. To add to his trouble now an ex husband of his lady love who claims to be not properly delinked from his marriage to her is also sending signals from his prison cell about illegality of the whole show.

If the marriage was planned in Goa to make it a secret affair or to escape the demanding ex husband, the move seems to have badly misfired. Media would always be happy if a marriage goes on rocks in comparison to a case where it is over peacefully and away from media glare.

Moreover in our country we have different standards for compliance with law for different social categories. While a politician living in Delhi can claim to be a resident of Assam for facilitating induction in the Parliament, and another one can remain a member of Parliament despite persistent controversies surrounding her nationality , others must not tinker with law. Remember, Delhi Police accused of gross negligence and fabrication of evidence in the Jessica Lal murder case went all the way to Goa for arresting socialite Bina Ramani on charge of giving a false address in her ration card !

It is sad to see Sanju Baba , son of such respected parents finding himself in such embarrassing situation while trying to seek a settled lifestyle, but February 2008 seems to be the month of falling satellites, having gone out of orbit due to calculation errors , perhaps a watchful astrologer could have forewarned the two stars.

Marginalise and Kill : The Politics of Raj

Sare jahan Se accha Hindostan hamara. Hum Bulbulein hain iski yeh gulsitan hamara. ( Our loveable Hindustan is above all others in the world. We are it’s singing birds and this is our garden) . This is how poet Iqbal described India before independence and partition. After independence from the British Raj, the Indian Constitution framed by politicians brought up with such liberal and romantic ideas gave us a free nation which bestowed on all citizens unfettered rights to freely move and settle in any part of the country.

Encouraged by this liberal constitution and newly found freedom the post independence era brought about a great intermingling of it’s people . Our great cities at one time took pride in being labeled as cosmopolitan in nature or sometimes being called a mini India. The south Indian Idly Dosa cuisine found it’s way to each north Indian eating joint and south India in turn felt proud to have a “ Shere Punjab” Hotel in every nook and corner of major metro cities. The Kathak dancers of Lucknow performed to fully packed auditoriums in Goa and the Hindi Cinema anchored at Mumbai established as a million dollar industry with the participation of Kapoor Khandans of Punjab. Considered as the heman of his times actor Dharmendra fell to the charms of South Indian belle Hema Malini and Masoor Ali Khan Nawab of a princely State in Punjab found solace in marriage with an actress of Bengali origin.

But the happiness and enjoyment of the newly born nation in creating a multidimensional social fabric was short-lived. The political leadership which in post independent India found itself overwhelmed with the task of nation building and in turn felt threatened for survival due to lack of imaginative problem solving capabilities reinvented the politics of divide and rule . The desperation and frustration, infact painted the obnoxious agenda with much sinister colours . The agenda got upgraded to marginalize and kill.

The new trend of political one-upmanship is leading to an astonishingly grim scenario . Firstly it was a war between north and south later on we narrowed down our boundaries and developed hatred for natives of all states other than our state . Majority of states now have some grouse with the neighboring state. Process of free flow of human beings across the state borders is considered as an invasion for financial exploitation. Each state has it’s own database to explain as to how business men and jobseekers from other states are choking the sons of soil in their states. Migration is considered as an act of crime to enjoy hard earned economic benefits of the other state. With every passing day the boundaries are shrinking further , now it is a question of culture being confined to cities.

So while Mumbaikars may enjoy their New Yea’s eve in Goa but the north indian taxi driver who ferried them across the border for enjoyments may get mashed up by Shiv Sainiks on return for not belonging to Mumbai ! In not too distant future a railway train running from one end of the country to other end may carry only dead bodies of passengers at the last stop because people of each state (or city?) would attempt to eliminate those passengers who are aliens i.e. from other states or cities.

Who said that the Raj is dead it has emerged in a new avtar.