Tuesday, March 6, 2012
A.R.Rahman plucks the Harp strings intermittently, for the pinch of dilemma, hesitance, doubt and tension in Jalaluddin when he enters the room with a curious face, and shrunk eye brows. Jalaluddin is unable to guess Jodhaa’s mood. Jodhaa presses her toes against the bed, displaying an initial sign of rigidity and resistance. Without noticing it, Jalal removes his crown, keeps it aside and with some help from strings that play a soothing prelude sits on the bed. The sweet prelude paves way to a gorgeous melody that sweeps in its entirety on strings and eases Jalal. The bass registers of Cello section kicks in a staccato for Jalal’s dilemma to, or, not to, touch her.
When he does touch her hand, flourishing strings glorify the sense of first touch, but Jodhaa’s hand recedes. Mistaking her resistance for shyness, Jalal and Rahman proceed further. While Jalal attempts another touch, Rahman uses a mellifluous flute. Jodhaa recedes again. Ignoring the sign, Jalal takes his next step and leans forward to touch Jodhaa’s shoulders and so does Rahman, who culminates the layers of flute, strings and Harp into a lush, orchestral music. Just when Jalaluddin moves his hand closer to her shoulder, he realizes and so does Rahman, that Jodhaa is not interested. Jalal halts his action and Rahman stops his music.
All the flamboyance and sweetness sprinkled in the air by the music, vapours down to a monotonic bass line, lingering just to sustain the tension in the moment.
Love at First Sight
An exquisite cry of devotion is distantly heard when Adam Khan, Saadar Adaasi and others in the court are questioning Jalaluddin’s marriage with a Hindu Rajput Princess. Jalaluddin, hypnotized by the devotion and passion in the voice, follows the voice, and that leads him to Jodhaa’s Pooja room. Jalaluddin has not seen Jodhaa’s face yet. Jodhaa is sitting before the Idol of a Hindu deity and singing a Bhajan. Jodhaa’s face is still not visible from the direction in which Jalal enters the room. Mesmerized by her singing and devotion, Jalal walks around her and looks down. Rahman pauses for this one-in-a-million moment of magic on celluloid, when Jodhaa’s and Jalal’s eyes meet and lock for the first time. Those few seconds of silence is a real master stroke. The instant awe and speechlessness of Jalal in the moment of seeing his wife’s beauty for the first time could not have been conveyed any better. The pause allows the beauty of Jodhaa to sink-in in Jalal’s mind.
Rahman plays a stirring string section after the pause, speaking for staggered Jalal, whose inexpressible feelings are imploding within. The strings slowly fade into the main love theme. Plucks of Harp sound in sync with mind flaps of Jalal, who is standing there, without being able to understand what he feels inside; “Is this love?” - He seems to be asking himself. The strings begin to play the main melody of the theme when Jodhaa gets up and shows him the Pooja Aarti plate, and cello staccatos are perfectly in sync with the slight humour in the way Jalal stands curiously clueless of what he should do, in spite of Jodhaa gesturing him towards the plate with her eyes. Jodhaa takes the plate closer and asks him to apply Vermillion mark on her forehead for which Rahman plucks the staccatos again.
Jodhaa says ‘Sindhoor’ and the pleasing flute accompanies to Jalal’s relief as he now knows what to do and the lush, orchestral music closes in for the completeness of the moment, when Jalal applies Sindhoor on Jodhaa’s forehead. This is one of those scenes, in which every single note of music used by the composer reciprocates every frame conceived and captured by the filmmaker, elevating the emotions and eternally etching the moment in the minds of the audience.
In yet another private moment of Jodhaa and Akbar, which leads them to the ultimatum of In Lamhon ki song, Jodhaa wants to show something to Jalal; she has been learning calligraphy and she has written something to show her husband. Not so surprisingly, Rahman brings in the love theme in the very beginning of this episode. Jalal asks Jodhaa herself to read whatever she has written, and precisely when she says that a wife cannot spell out a husband’s name, a stirring string section – the one that was used when Jalal first saw Jodhaa eye-to-eye, begins to play here again. Repeating that strings piece is perfect here, because, then, it was the first time Jodhaa opened up her face for Jalal to see, and now, for the first time Jodhaa is opening up her heart to Jalal. The strings and Jodhaa’s love moist Akbar’s eyes, and when Jodhaa begins to spell the name “Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar”, the love theme appears in its full glory for one last time in the film.
I initially wanted to post “Rigidly Rahmantic” and “Maestro’s Malleable Motifs” as a single post with “Ilaiyaraaja Vs A.R.Rahman” as title, but decided not to in the last moment, for obvious reasons.