The 2008 Bollywood film, Jodhaa Akbar, portrays a story about an alliance between the third Mughal emperor of India, Akbar and a Hindu Rajput princess Jodhaa. However, the film shows more than a mere love story between the two nobles, but rather it subtly touches on the virtues of pluralism and tolerance, both of which embody modern day India. As stated by Shahnavaz Khan, “It is as much about India’s present as it is about the past.” Her statement supports the theory that political goals and history can have a great effect on people in modern life. By portraying him in a more positive light through his noble qualities as well as making him more relatable to the mainstream population, this film remembers Akbar. He is a leader recognized as a symbol of pluralism and religious tolerance, both of which still exist today as integral parts of India’s society and politics.
Akbar was one of the most influential and perceptive rulers of his time. He spent a tremendous amount of time promoting himself as a political, spiritual and judicial leader in India. Akbar’s goal was to maintain an organized government, establish a new capital and make alliances to generate a long lasting legacy of the imperial system. For instance, his goal to maintain an organized government is seen in the movie at the court when he makes important decisions about the taxes and welfare of his kingdom. His charismatic nature developed and kept the alliances between Hindus and Muslims. His willingness to do anything for the safety of his subjects and his open-mindedness in court helped him realize his goal of becoming a great ruler. All of his actions to create strategies to rise in power and act as an authoritative figure made him a powerful leader of the Mughal Empire.
One way that the film uses sixteenth-century history is to promote awareness of the importance of nationalism and religious tolerance. Despite the fact that Muslims were in control during pre-colonial times, Hindu nationalism is profoundly expressed in the movie (Khan). For example, Akbar experiences a miracle recovery after Jodhaa prays to the Hindu deity, Krishna in the movie. The purpose of the light in the palace was to show that Krishna was the one responsible for this miracle, which places importance on Hinduism. Even though there were many Muslims who also prayed for their emperor’s health, greater significance is placed on Jodhaa’s role of praying for her husband. This is typical of a Bollywood movie where the focus remains on an actress regardless of the situation, especially if the husband is hurt.
In India today, religious secularism is an integral part of the country and is even stated in its constitution, promising equal treatment and tolerance of all religions. However, the film narrows the focus of Akbar’s tolerance to the relationship between Hindus and Muslims. For example, his marriage to the Rajputana princess shows his acceptance of other religions. Another example entails Akbar’s communication...