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Jodha Akbar

Jodha Akbar 43: Round and round the mulberry bus

sashashyam IF-Sizzlerz
sashashyam
sashashyam

Joined: 04 January 2012
Posts: 13368

Posted: 16 August 2013 at 2:36am | IP Logged

Folks,

No, I have not lost it in choosing this nursery song for my title! If you think about last evening's episode, it is  in fact a perfect fit. Let us see what we have:

1 ) Jalal telling Jodha, for the umpteenth time, that he will make her life hell, taaki woh sada us khauff mein jiye ki woh kab kaunsi nayi chaal chalega. It is another matter that neither is he, nor are we,  at all clear as to what precisely he can do to fulfil these ferocious threats,when all he can think up, at the end of the day, is having her defeated in  a chess game with Ruqaiya. It does not even occur to him that Jodha  might not play chess at all, and might thus refuse, with justification,  to enter this competition. Jab baat Jodha ki aati hai, toh Shahenshah-e-Hind ki doorandeshi kahin gaayab ho jaati hai!

2)  Jodha complaining repeatedly to all and sundry- Lord Krishna, Motibai and herself – that Jalal is bahut bure,  that only his ahankar  and  his hat  matter to him; that he has held back her parents so that he can make her smile in public aur ekaant mein rulayenge.  This litany of her miseries, which sounds remarkably like a pupil's resentful complaints against an unfair tutor, rather than accusations against a person for whom she has only ghruna (the sar  option being now ruled out as he is her suhaag) , are repeated  thru the episode.

3) Jalal repeatedly assuring Ruqaiya, for want  of any other confidante  (the mysteriously missing Abdul  would, even if he had been there,  hardly have been a suitable substitute) that Jodha ko sazaa zaroor milegi, aur woh use tadpa tadpake sazaa dega. That foolish woman stoking his resentment against Jodha without realizing that in doing  so, she is also stoking his  obsession with  the new begum.

So, by the end of the episode, one is sure that these three would repeat the same lines even if they were awakened at 3 am from a deep sleep. So would we, alas!Wink

But the real heart (no, not dil!)  of the episode lies  not in these OTT passages, but elsewhere.

Jalal: It was there when Jalal picked up a green mirchi from a bowl full of them (what on earth for? This  is Mughal Agra, not Bangkok, where such  a bowlful is de rigueur for Thai guests) and bit into it, to the consternation of Ruqaiya. As he relates the story of the emperor who was made immune to poison by being fed a  little of it every day from his childhood,  and ends with Aadat daal raha hoon….Jodha ke zeher ki aadat daal raha hoon, the sudden bitterness in his voice sears the screen.

My thoughts went back to that other scene in one of  the very early episodes, where Jalal, meeting his mother Hamida Banu, reveals how deep is his sense of being abandoned by her as a baby, and  the corrosive bitterness that has never left him for the whole of his life.

And I realized anew how right Sangeeta was when she wrote yesterday on my thread :  I think also the spice thing further enrages Jalal as it opens up that wound of abandonment/not being cared for, b/c after all food is nourishment and a source of comfort. That he wanted her to feed him, I think on a deeper level, he wants her to care about him; and feeding someone is one way to do that. So, that he thinks she mirched it up is not just an insult for him, but another rejection. 

This is a wound that runs deep and festers, unknown even to him. But the chilli incident rubs it  raw again. What he hears Jodha say to Motibai (as she assumes, though it is Jalal standing there) rubs it even rawer.

After listening to her disparaging,  and singularly unfortunate and  misleading comments about the incident– He could not take even slightly hot food, then why did he make me  cook for him?  He could not handle the Amer ki mirchi, and main to Amer ki beti hoon (the implication, that he could not handle her  either,  was unmistakable) – not even the most sympathetic onlooker would have  believed her earlier  denial about the mirchi. Certainly not Jalal.

When he tells her that she has burnt not just his tongue but his zehen, the anger is but a mask for  the unacknowledged  hurt. As he rages at her in ever increasing fury, what he is really saying is  I did everything you wanted of me and more. How then did you do this to me? Why did you do it?

If he really hated her as he claims all the time, there would have been only vengeful anger, none of the bitterness of Jodha ke zeher ki aadat daal raha hoon. The hurt  comes from what he wants from  her, though he does not even know as yet that he does so. What I wrote some time back, my Shahi Shaadi 5:Storms brewing thread,  seems to be coming true already.

What I am waiting for is to see when it dawns on him that what he wants is not her. Not  the possession of her, legally or  physically even, for if he sought the latter, she, as a dutiful, wedded wife, will not refuse her husband that intimacy no matter how much he frightens her (Not right, but it does not vitiate the argument) . What he will want is for her to want him, in the sense of caring for him, even if the idea of love is very long in coming.

Now he can, soon enough, command her dutiful obedience in all acceptable things
(I was a bit off here, but never mind!) , but not her respect and her caring. This will gnaw at him, and we shall  see how he handles that entirely unfamiliar situation. ….No one can protect him from that sense of deprivation that will eat away at him from within. It is going to be very interesting.

That sense of deprivation is there already, and it is clearly  eating away at Jalal. And Ruqaiya's taunts about Jodha having made  him suffer a shikast  are like twisting  a knife in that wound. Everything he does thereafter -  the tiresomely repetitive threats to Jodha,  telling Ruqaiya about his seeking revenge on Jodha.  setting Ruqaiya up to defeat Jodha at chess and thus humiliate her in front of the whole  court –   is all part of a desperate attempt to somehow drown that inner desolation  in triumphant hate.

Jodha:  There is something new afoot with her as well.

On the surface, it is difficult to understand what precisely frightens her so  much – and for all  her untimely assertions  to Jalal earlier that day, she is really afraid of him, and not just because  of what he might reveal to her parents.

Looked at logically, the worst he can do is the latter. Now since he has promised not to do so, has attached no other conditions to that promise but the hamaam caper, and is a man of his word, she can be pretty sure that he will not spill the beans. There is another reason for her to believe this: once  he drops the charade of a happy marriage, he would have lost the one hold he has over her, and she would escape his control. He would never want that, so it would be in his interest to maintain the secret.

As for his ferocious but unspecified threats, she can easily see that he cannot really do anything to her  in practical terms, short of sending her back to Amer, and he shows no signs of wanting to do that, for the same reason as above, that she would then escape him.

So then, all Jodha has to do is to pretend to be a happy newlywed in front of  her parents, listen to Jalal's daily dose of dire threats with one ear,  and carry on as before.

But this is not what she does. She is in a flood of tears at the beginning, worried about her mistake in showing krodh  in front of him  after the chilli fiasco – and she  is not the crying sort - and later,  her complaints to  (supposedly) Motibai about Jalal are more plaintive and despairing than angry.

When she realises that it is Jalal who was  behind her  (what can one say of this young lady's olfactory sense, when she cannot smell  the difference, at 3 feet,  between Jalal's undoubtedly top of the range itr and Motibai's mamuli scent, if at all she has one? ), she does not slip into her veerangana mode. Instead, she proceeds to show him all  her weaknesses, and for the first time ever, openly complains to him about  the way in which he is treating her, and about the peedha  he is causing her.

I was zapped by this last;  where is her habitual  spine-stiffening pride, which  would never let her show him that he can make her miserable?  This is not the old Jodha. In fact it is almost like  a hurt wife accusing  a harsh husband of ill-treatment. And when he, now convinced (with considerable justification, as noted above) that she was lying when she had denied all  responsibility for the chilli disaster, goes off into his standard threatening spiel  and leaves in a huff, Jodha's woebegone face, and the haunted expression in her eyes,  hint at something new, for there is in them none of the rage one would expect.

His professed hatred for her is beginning   to affect her badly, and make her miserable and weepy. This is curious and revealing, for this hatred  was precisely what  she claimed to want,  and she should have been relieved and happy about it.

There  is another odd, revealing  little moment that points in the same direction. At the end of that charming interlude with young Rahim, after he announces that he is the Shahenshah ka beta, his mother tells Jodha that she is the Shahenshah's Begum Salima Sultan. For a long moment , Jodha's eyes hold an indefinable,  troubled  expression. Is it  a sudden  sense of isolation, of exclusion from what she assumes that this  pleasant lady, another spouse of their husband,  who moreveor has  a son from him (Jodha would assume that Rahim is Jalal's son),  enjoys?  She gets hold of herself soon enough, and salutes Salima very graciously as her senior, but as the two leave, that troubled expression is  back in her eyes.  The carefree, headstrong princess is beginning to grow up, to feel  things that she has never felt before.

The journey that will end in a lovers' meeting has begun, all unknowingly, for her as well.

Phew! I think I could easily set up as the resident IF psychologist!!

Joke of the day: Adham Khan cosying up to his own wife under the drink-fuelled illusion that she is Motibai. I wonder when he woke up, with a king size hangover, to realist that it was only his lawful  other after all! I wish they had showed us his face then!Wink

Shyamala B.Cowsik

NB: This is not relevant to this post, but rather to the Thought of the Day in my last one. In response to a comment on that thread, I  had put down my take on whether Jalal had gained a lot when he gave the paanch hazari Mansubedari to Raja Bharmal, and whether Bharmal had lost a lot by accepting  it.  This is reproduced below, who might be interested in these politico-military aspects. The others can heave a sigh of relief at this point, and quit!

"I  do not see how and why Jalal  can be said to be devilish in this context. He is astute and wily, that is all. So were all the emperors  of India, beginning  from Chandragupta Maurya, and elsewhere as well; it  was dangerous to get in their way. Nobility  has never had much to do with the needs of an empire, not even under Marcus Aurelius.

As for  what Jalal  gained from giving Bharmal the Mansubedari, it should not be overestimated, for  one has to take into account  that getting Amer on his side does not solve the problem of Rajputana for Jalal, far from it.

Amer is a minor kingdom,   as Mahaam Anga points out, and as Dadisa notes, it is surrounded by bigger, more powerful kingdoms who covet it and might have conquered it at any time. These kingdoms have not as yet been coopted by Agra, not to speak of the ferociously independent Mewar of Maharana Udai Singh and his successor, Maharana Pratap.

So Jalal does not gain very much from the alliance with Amer, except for starting off a trend, both of the roti-beti ka rishta with the Mughals, which was soon extended to Jodhpur, Jaipur and many others, both for Akbar and for Salim, and of the politico-military alliance with the Mughals which made the Rajputs fight Akbar's battles for him in the farflung corners of the empire.

In fact, Amer's biggest contribution to the Mughal Empire was Mansingh, who was  a pillar of strength and loyalty for Akbar right till the end.

Nor does Amer lose anything except some nominal independence, and as the Dadisa points out, that might have been lost at any time to one of its predatory Rajput neighbours.Now  Amer is safe from all of them, and Bharmal can sleep in peace.


In fact it is Jalal who should be concerned, for when he sends Bharmal or his sons into battle against other Rajputs, the odds are that they will all be taken hostage again, only this time it is Jalal who will have to pay their ransom or go to war to liberate them! I never saw such a bunch of deadbeats as the Amer royals, whence the Thought for the Day in my post..

Again, when it is said that  that Jalal had extracted a much higher price from Bharmal than he would have paid   had Jalal just conquered his land by force, one has  to take into account that if Sharifuddin or Adham Khan had been left to wage a mukammal jung against Amer, there would not have been much left of Amer to salvage. So the kind of security Bharmal gained, from the Mughals as well as from his covetous Rajput neighbours, was not to be sneezed at!

Jalal pays an high price for the Amer alliance as it is an icebreaker with the Rajputs, like the  first strawberries of the season, which are always expensive. Plus of course he wants Jodha. There was nothing underhand about it, and he kept his end of all his bargains all his life, and so did Jahangir. So in  a way it was win-win, or else it would never have lasted so long.

As to  the idea that  Jodha persuaded  Akbar "to do right by her land" , whether that means  just Amer or Rajputana as a whole,  the historical fact is that Jodha, his first Rajput queen, had  only limited influence over Akbar's policy towards Rajputana. This was shown when he took Chittor in 1568, after  a very  long and difficult  siege, and he had every one of the defenders killed, to make an example of Chittor. This practice was quite common, including  all over Europe, right up to and including the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, The example seems to have worked, for Ranthambhore surrendered very quickly the same year, and it was only then that Akbar had finally tamed Rajputana.

Even in this  serial, the positive, just,  and at times even gentle aspects of Jalal's character are already there pre-Jodha – witness his chastising Adham Khan for his misdeeds in Malwa, his reaction to Raja Takhatmal's arguments, his attitude towards Mansingh even as he is at loggerheads with Mansingh's buasa, and even his charming playfulness with his little saalis.  Jodha will undoubtedly enhance and focus these qualities  in due course, but  th basics are already there for her to work on, she does not have to create them.

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