M for Mughal-E-Azam.Now let me define you the title,Azam means the bloody best.Thus this 1960 Indian Hindi feature film showcases the saga of the mighty Mughal Emperor Akbar and his complex relationship with his estranged son Prince Salim.The ultimate magnum opus from Bollywood,the film was shot for over 12 years…(1948-1960)..you can call it madness or the creation of a mastermind K.Asif.The screenplay centres around the Imperial loyalty,traditions…and how a love affair between a royal Prince and a dancer girl can challenge the courtly affairs for ever.
The film begins with the reign of Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar,a true blue secular ruler…the protector of the people and the rockbed of law & justice.It follows the birth of royal prince,his exile in Rajputana,the growth of a valiant warrior and subsequent love affairs with Anarkali.The mighty Prithviraj Kapoor with his handlebar moustache gave the screen Akbar ,a different dimension.The tragedy king Dilip Kumar was perfect for the estranged Salim…lastly the evergreen Madhubala was born to portray the nautch girl Anarkali
. The film was boasting with larger than life set designs,elaborate costumes,immortal song and dance sequences….thrilling script and powerpacked performances from the artists.But what made this film,the greatest of all time was the treatment from K.Asif…in one word Epic.Shot on a lavish budget and with pathbreaking technology of that era..yeah much ahead than Hollywood films of that era.For example the multiple reflection of the dancing Anarkali reflected on the glass ceiling of Sheesh Mahal,unseen during that era.K.Asif did not leave any stone unturned,he brought real pearls to showcase the welcome scene of Prince Salim.Bade Ghulam Ali Khan agreed to do playback as the historical Tansen…only because of K.Asif’s multiple request ..and a whoofing sum.Naushad’s music and Lata Mangeshkar’s voice gave the discograpghy an epical feel.Pandit Birju Maharaj himself choreographed the Kathhak steps of Madhubala.
The film boasts some heavy duty weapons,periodical locomotives…many Indian army men served as the foot soldiers .The film was shot in black and white,during the Sheesh Mahal sequence of Pyar kiya toh Darna kya..it changed to Eastman Colour…people in the theatre used to clap in joy.Asif fused the fictional story of Anarkali along with the historical aura of Akbar’s family….resulting in the making of Mughal-E-Azam.
Highlights 1 .Akbar a Muslim Emperor rocking the cradle of a golden BalGopal(Krishna) ..true blue secularism. 2.The song duel…”Teri Mehfil mein kismat aazma ke hum bhi dekhenge”. 3.The war scenes between son and father. 4.The warrior like setting during the song sequence of Mohd Rafi’s “Zindabad…mohabbat Zindabad”. 5. The anger in the bloodshot eyes of Prithviraj Kapoor when Anarkali declares her love during “Pyar kiya toh Darna kiya”. 6.The horn of dilemma situation for JodhaBai(Durga Ghote)…when she had to choose between her husband and son. 7.The vow..the fulfillment of promise by Akbar in the end.. 8.The romance between the lead pairs…and the usage of white feather over Madhubala’s face ….so sexy.. …. …..A film…for a lifetime…bigger than life itself.
Trivia:1. Mughal-E-Azam is the first film ever to be digitally colourised and released worldwide. 2.Akbar aka Prithviraj kapoor came riding over an Elephant during the premeire show.