'Jodhaa Akbar' opens in record 115 US theatres amid boycott call


By Parveen Chopra

New York, Feb 14 (IANS) Bollywood movie "Jodhaa Akbar" is releasing in a record 115 theatres in the US Friday, but some Indian American groups have called for its boycott. They have also asked the Indian government to ban the film.

The period romance directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, of Oscar nominated "Lagaan" fame, has come under fire from some groups in India. A group in Rajasthan, the Rajput Karni Sena, has claimed that Jodhaabai was not Akbar's wife but that of his son Jehangir.

The protesting groups in the US, along with NRI groups in other countries, have picked up from there and said in a press release that the film's "concocted story is an odious, false, unjust and irreverent portrayal of a Hindu Rajput princess and a Muslim Mughal ruler".

They have also alleged the historical distortions in "Jodhaa Akbar", starring Hrithik Roshan as Akbar and Aishwarya Rai as Jodhaa, to be "extremely insensitive and it hurts the sentiments of millions of people who love the culture, history and traditions of India".

The protesting groups in the US include Global Institute for Truth & Awareness, Independent NRI Forum, Indian American Intellectuals Forum, Rajput Association of North America and Save Temples, USA.

Gowariker, who is said to have read Akbarnama and consulted historian Irfan Habib before making "Jodhaa Akbar", has defended his creation.

Significantly, K. Asif's epic "Mughal-e-Azam", which is etched in Indians' memory, presented Akbar and Jodhaabai as husband and wife, though it was centred on Jehangir and Anarkali's ill-fated love story.

The New York Times ran a report Sunday by Indian journalist Anupama Chopra on the $10-million "Jodhaa Akbar", and said the magnum opus would help Aishwarya and Hrithik's reported moves towards Hollywood.