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Hindu Princess at Krishna Shrine in Jodhaa Akbar film
While discussing how much I liked the Korean TV mini-series Dae Jang Geum with some of my friends, they answered with a recommendation to watch Jodhaa Akbar – a Hindi film about the Muslim Emperor Akbar and his marriage to a Hindu princess during his reign in India in the 16th century.

The film opened in Feb. 2008 and is directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the director of Lagaan, a Bollywood musical which received an Academy Award nomination. Gowariker created this latest film on a grand scale. He spent several years researching it, then a couple of years in pre-production before finally filming. There are musical scenes with 1,000 dancers and 100 horses, 55 camels and more than 80 elephants were used in the production of the movie. It took 4-5 hours to dress the extras in costume.

I was especially interested to see the film because my meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy wrote a book about Emperor Akbar and many times I have watched and acted in short play productions based on stories from Akbar’s life. The book entitled, The Moghul Emperors, is available full-text online at SriChinmoyLibrary.com.

Granted, even though Gowariker did extensive research for this historical period piece, he admits that 70 percent of the film is all imagination. The love story portrayed between Emperor Akbar and Jodhaa, one of his Hindu wives feels mostly cliche. However, the scale of the movie and the visual splendour more than compensate. As a spiritual seeker, I particularly liked the themes of the movie that emphasized religious tolerance.

This YouTube clip shows my favorite scene of the film when Akbar watches Sufi dervishes dance and joins them. The music in the film is fantastic. This song performed by the Sufis in the film is about the saint Kwaje.* A. R. Rahman, the composer of the scores in the movie has sold hundreds of millions recordings making him one of the top selling composers in the world. Richard Corliss wrote about him in Time Magazine, “Rahman doesn’t even write what’s thought of as world music. He writes a world of music — so broad and deep, so instantly likable and lastingly satisfying, it is the whole world.”
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/3dG2FK3_NfQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Be sure not to miss this Bollywood epic that the New York Times called, “Filmmaking on the grand scale of Cecil B. DeMille, with romance, stirring battles, a cast of thousands and enough elephants and gold to sink the Titanic.”

*Lyrics and unofficial translation:
Khwajaji, khwaja (O saint khwaja)
Khwajaji, khwaja, khwaja ji (O saint khwaja) ; (O saint khwaja)
Ya gharib nawaz (The one who cherishes/soothes the poor)
Ya moinuddin, ya khwaja ji (O moinuddin chisti), (O khwaja saint)
Khwaja mere khwaja (O saint khwaja)
Dil mein sama ja (Reside in my heart)
Shaho ka shah tu (You are the king of kings)
Ali ka dulara (Ali’s beloved)

Khwaja mere khwaja dil mein sama ja (O saint khwaja); (Reside in my heart)
Beqaso ki taqdeer, tune hai sawari (The destiny of the ones in despair, you have changed for the better)
Khwaja mere khwaja (O saint khwaja)

Tere darbar mein khwaja (At your door, o khwaja)
Door toh hai dekha (Ive seen it from far)
Sar jhuka te hai auliya (Your confidents/protectors/confessors bow down to you)
Tu hai Hindalwali khwaja (You are the hindalwali Khwaja)
Rutba hai pyara (Your status is glorious/great)
Chahne se tujhko khwaja ji mustafa ko paya (By wishing/worshipping you Khwaja, I have found muhammed [the chosen one])
Khwaja mere khwaja (O saint khwaja)

Dil mein sama ja (Reside in my heart)
Shaho ka shah tu (You are the king of kings)
Ali ka dulara (Ali’s beloved)
Mere peer ka sadka (The alms of my old age)
Hai mere peer ka sadka (It is the charity of my old age)
Tera daaman hai thama (That I have come in your refuge)
Tali har bala humari (All my problems/crisis have been averted)
Chaya hai khumar tera (Your trance is all over me)
Jitna bhi rashk kare beshak (No matter how much one may envy(rashk) be jealous)