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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Jodha Akbar | Of Eternal Love and Platonic Friendship

Hi Friends,

This post deals with the question, whether Akbar had anything more than a platonic relationship with Salima Begum, which is vexing us all.

Akbar was neither a saint nor a monk. He had a harem (never mind the size) and naturally 'used' it, just like most kings of that era. But, even then, many people believe that he did not have marital relations with Salima Begum, whom he only married to protect her and Rahim from the machinations of Mahamanga and her ilk after the death of Bairam Khan. 

In the show, Jalal has been mostly shown to be a kind of monk who usually sleeps alone. Something inevitably happens to either make him go to Jodha or Ruq or as a result of his going to them. J This was not the case in the initial days when he used to spend most of his time with Ruqaiyya Begum.

I remember the first time Jalal was with Ruqaiyya but unable to sleep, thinking of Jodha. She had composed a poem for his to-be-born son and he was carried away by a wave of emotion by her selfless love for his baby. 

Bitter though it is, we have learnt to accept his relations with Ruq even after marriage with Jodha (though it is usually shown that he goes to Ruq on the rebound when he is angry with Jodha). 

Jalal and Salima - A Platonic Relationship

We have been shown since the beginning that Jalal shares only a deep, mutually respectful friendship with Salima and nothing more than that and that both of them consider Salima to be the amanat of Bairam Khan rather than the wife of Jalal. (For this reason alone, the argument that Salima too was Jalal's wife and could have a relationship with him falls flat.) 

Time and again Salima has stressed that she is happy with her memories of BK and wants JJ to be together with their pure love'. She has always shown that she considers Jodha to be her younger sister. 

Suddenly turning this platonic relationship on its head and conjuring a baby out of it like a magician produces a rabbit out of his hat is like punching us in the ribs without notice. I could have understood if it had been just a momentary lapse when Jalal was most in need of comfort - more emotional than physical. Even this is hard to chew because Jalal has seen worse moments in his life and has yet maintained a respectful distance from Salima. Salima too has acted the part of a friend and a counselor but never stepped beyond those limits and acted like a wife.
Once Hamida Bano had even wondered how Salima could be so free of jealousy of Jodha!
But if the relationship between Jalal and Salima continued for a number of years during which time Jalal made Jodha go through hell for no fault of hers, rampaged Chittor for no fault of the Rajvanshis, patched up with Jodha, atoned for Chittor and had Salim and Murad, then it's very difficult to accept.

Especially for the following reasons:
 1.     During the separation track, Jalal slept alone in Jodha's hojra. Neither did he seek "comfort" from Salima nor did she offer him her "support".
2.     During Ruq MC track, Jalal almost forced himself upon Salima in order to verify whether she was guilty of causing Ruq's MC and Salima dutifully submitted to him, as he was her lawful husband, and not out of love. Jalal could not bring himself to actually touch her because he regarded her as his foster father's widow.
3.     Salima supported Jodha's condition after the twins' demise and understood her dilemma before the CHittor war and explained the same to Ruq.
4.     When Jodha, busy looking after a baby Salim, asked Jalal if he had been to another wife, he replied earnestly that he could never do such a himakat.

In contrast esp to the last reason, there were these scenes that reiterated that Jalal was "seeing" other begums also even though he was in love with Jodha:
 1.     The first time Jodha confessed that she felt love for Jalal, she admitted that she knew he had to fulfill his relationships with his other wives but still she felt jealous to see him with another begum.
2.     At the time of the harem elections, Jalal teasingly asked her if she would be able to arrange his "nights" with other begums.
3.     During the SR, Jalal admitted he would have to fulfill his duty towards his other wives but she was like Radha to Kanha, and would always be his special love.
But nowhere did these scenes ever convey that Salima Begum was included among the other wives towards whom Jalal felt he had a duty to fulfill.  

Some Questions
  • Why did Salima continue to have the affair with Jalal instead of trying to make him see reason and understand that both he and Jodha were equally responsible for the twins' demise and it was wrong to pin the entire blame on Jodha alone? After all, she had that power to influence him.
  • Why did Jalal continue to seek comfort in a physical relationship (it could hardly have been love!) after feeling guilty that his amorous feelings had led to Hussein's death? I would think he would be turned off physical relations for a while.
  • How could he continue to blame Jodha's feelings for him when he himself had no control over his own impulses? At least Jodha had come to him out of love and he had initiated whatever had happened between them. But why was he going to Salima?
  • How is it possible for Jodha to accept Jalal and Salima after the way they ditched her for several years and still be on good terms with them? It's one thing to be stuck with a good-for-nothing husband out of social compulsions, quite another to behave as if nothing had been amiss between them in all this time.
  • Jodha most likely knew, as we saw in earlier episodes, that Jalal continued to please his other wives. Then why did she ask him petulantly about going to another wife? After so many years of marriage, wouldn't she have resigned herself to accepting other women in Jalal's life?
  • Why did Jalal lie that he could never go to another begum?

The Relationship that was Not Intended

I think the CVs never planned to include a relationship between Jalal and Salima. It was always supposed to be platonic.

Since the Internet usually names Salima or a concubine as Murad's mother, without any proof, they may have taken it as the truth and hoped the matter would end there and no one would ask who Murad's mother was. 

Side note: This is not true really. Murad was very much Jodha's son. See link. Jalal and Jodha may have given him to Salima for upbringing out of respect for her and following a Mughal custom of passing on the upbringing of royal heirs to important women in the harem. Another interesting point to note here is that both Jalal and Jodha loved Murad also equally. Akbar was heartbroken to learn of Murad's untimely and tragic death. But as per Ekta's NR, Murad is very much the neglected child who is peeved with Jalal for showering all his attention on Salim only.

Unfortunately for the CVs, everyone seems to want to know who Murad's mother is and why she has not been officially introduced till now when even Zilbahar has been given so much footage. They have been forced to admit that Salima must be Murad's mother. To prove this point, they have now thought of inventing a flashback story around it. 

But they cannot continue to show Salima as the chief support of Akbar. This would nullify their theme of an epic love story between Akbar and Jodha. So they have to now also invent a separation between Akbar and Salima following Murad's birth.

Love and Polygamy

A polygamous setup is a very difficult institution to understand and portray. And to show an epic love story in such a setup requires even more research skills, historical knowledge, sensitivity, and a clear vision of the broader picture to be conveyed by the entire show rather than going episode / track wise. The CVs have messed up big time in this and have repeatedly failed to bring out the nuances of the AkDha love story in spite of Jalal's other wives or how Akbar conducted his relations with his other wives in spite of being in love with Jodha. 

We, used as we are to a monogamous society, find it hard to understand how a wife could learn to live with other wives and remain devoted to her husband. We find it equally difficult to understand that a much-married man may be in love with just one woman among his harem even though he continued to fulfill his responsibilities towards his other wives. The CVs and the director are not helping us in understanding such an institution but rather using it as per their convenience to twist the story any which way. They have no idea of how to maintain consistency in relationships and characters. 

It would therefore be prudent for us too to follow the story episode-wise and not think back or ahead

Looking ahead to your views. Smile 

Last Post:  October 28 29 2014 Jodha Akbar | 361 362 - The Children of the Mughal Sultanate

This article has been posted under the  Jodha-Akbar section of  history_geek's BLOG.

history_geek has updated the historical information related to children of Akbar and Mariam-Uz-Zamani here.>
Children of Akbar and Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begum

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  1. Nice post dear...

    Yaar m done with this show... faltu badha rahe hai.. if they already show he was salima n ja then no need to sshow how he was born n all... its simply rediculous..

  2. Very good one, Radhika.Good analysis of relationship between Akbar n Salima. But I hv no idea if there is any flash back of this. If there is one then that shows how CVs hv erred, n now the explantion follows s-} What to say, It's better to be amused than getting angry.:)

  3. Nice post Radhika...

    I am surprised to see the extent of dramatization going on in the name of NR.
    Yesterday it was Daniyal who was present in Agra, though he should have been present in Amer with Bharmal's wife.
    Add to this , the blunder of showing Murad as son of Salima Begum..!!!.
    Indeed ridiculous..

    Hats off to you for penning down this awesome writeup.. :D

  4. Abhay,

    Ignorance is bliss. People who don't know history are making the show and people who don't know history are the ones who can watch it without throwing up. :)

    I would suggest watch it like a fictional show or just give up. You know they are following Wikinama - goof-ups is all we can expect. :)

  5. Along with Wikinama, this show is running with Ektanama..
    It was so shocking to see, Mughal Princes roaming in the streets of Agra, as if there were no caretakers for them in the palaces.

    Totally unrealistic. ;p

  6. If Jodha could go out of the palace at will to meet Sujamal and roam the jungle with Khyber, why can't you accept this? ;p

    Anyway the kids take after the reel JJ. Both are in the habit of going in the midst of people carefree. Jodha was just like this before her marriage. :)

  7. Exactly, Geeta! :)

    If you can't beat them, join them.

    Let's see what else is in store for us. The souls of poor Akbar and MUZ must be writhing in their graves. :(

  8. Rutuja

    I can understand. Most are giving up.

    The idea I guess is to totally destroy the characters of Akbar and MUZ. If MUZ was obliterated from history earlier, now she is being reduced to a non-entity. :(

  9. Yes, Protocols have never been followed in this show..Now if we expect this, then this would amount to complete dejection. ;p

  10. Nice post Radhika...
    I am shocked to see the extent of dramatization going on in the name of NR.
    Yesterday it was Daniyal who was present in Agra, though he should have been present in Amer with Bharmal's wife.
    Add to this , the blunder of showing Murad as son of Salima Begum..!!!
    Indeed ridiculous..

    Hats off to you for penning down this awesome writeup..

  11. Nice post Radhika...
    I am surprised to see the extent of dramatization going on in the name of NR.
    Yesterday it was Daniyal who was present in Agra, though he should have been present in Amer with Bharmal's wife.
    Add to this , the blunder of showing Murad as son of Salima Begum..!!!.
    Indeed ridiculous..

    Hats off to you for penning down this awesome writeup.. :D

  12. Wikinama,Ekthanama :D

  13. LOL, Niranjana!

    I am not watching now but I hear Ektanama has taken precedence over even Wikinama too. :) We can get to see such beautiful history as 'Anarkali being Man Bai's friend and a lovely filmi style triangle between Anarkali, Man Bai and Salim'. Which will slowly get extended to a quadrangle because Jagat Gosain is also 'a friend of Man Bai'.

    Waiting to see how Nur Jehan is linked to all these lovely ladies in Salim's life. :)

  14. Radhika and Niranjana,
    Anarkali is being as a friend of Man Bai and Jagat Gosain, as per what i heard. All these 3 are friends. *shocked*
    I don't know what wrong happened with the show.