A magical, masterful classic
completes 50 glorious years.And, like
good wine, only gets better with age.
The shimmering, incandescing,
glorious Mughal-E-Azam is an
unforgettable milestone in the
history of Indian cinema. It took 10
long years to make, crowned the
career of one of India’s most
beautiful women, and tragically
underlined the broken love story of
its lead pair, Madhubala and Dilip
Kumar. Towards the second half of
the film, the two had even stopped
talking to each other.
This eternal tale of romance is
studded with incredible songs,
superlative photography and
Awork of art is the only phrase to describe this historical whose grand palaces-and-fountains look has an epic sweep
and whose heart-wrenching core of
romance has the tenderness of a
Not surprisingly, Mughal-e-Azam
has become a must-see classic, an
ineluctable part of Hindi film lore.
The film boasts a cache of riches:
High drama exquisitely verbalized
through dialogues that can be
shimmeringly ornate yet have the
edge of a medieval sword; magnificent music (lyricist Shakeel
Badayuni’s best work); powerful
performances. And the otherworldly beauty of Madhubala at the
centre of this phantasmagoria.
It took a possessed K Asif a decade and many
million rupees to make Mughal-e-Azam.
Early in this part color film, the camera trails
behind a beleaguered Emperor Akbar (Prithviraj
Kapoor) on an arduous pilgrimage on foot, seeking an heir to the Mughal dynasty. He is rewarded with a son Salim. When the pampered prince
shows a propensity for wine and women, the
emperor banishes young Salim to the battlefield
to enable him to become a capable king.
In a leitmotif that runs through the film,
Akbar places consideration for his kingdom
before paternal love.
Salim (Dilip Kumar) grows up and returns a
strapping warrior. His hands have been soiled
with blood; his heart still responds to pure beauty. He is spellbound by a ‘live’ statue created by
an anti-establishment sculptor (Kumar). That
statue is Nadira (Madhubala), a commoner with
decidedly uncommon beauty.
Impressed by Nadira’s raas during the birth
celebrations of Lord Krishna, Akbar bestows the
title of Anarkali on her and appoints her the
Salim goes further and appoints her queen of his heart.
With the connivance of chirpy go-between Suraiya, the
embers of Salim and Anarkali’s romance begin subdued
but eventually consume both. The flames of their passion
reduce a jealous minor royal Bahar (Nigar Sultana) to ash.
Bahar’s eyes, which sparkle like diamonds but are cold,
hover on both the prince and the crown jewels and she
leaves no stone unturned to sour things. She says while
secretly trying out the crown: Tajunkekareebnahinhota
jinke kareeb khauf hota hain (The crown is not accessible
to those who are accessible to fear).
Bahar informs Akbar about Salim’s nocturnal
Famous songs from Mughal-e-Azam
Shubh Din Aayo
Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
Mohe Panghat Pe
phenomenal acting from not just its
Teri Mehfil Mein Qismat
Lata Mangeshkar, Shamshad
lead actors but also the peripheral
Ae Ishq Yeh Sab Duniyawale
Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
At one point, Director K Asif
Mohabbat Ki Jhoothi Kahani Lata Mangeshkar
decided not to complete the film, but
Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya
when this passionate gem went on to
Bekas Pe Karam Keejiye
finally release on August 5,1960, it
was clear it would create movie
Jab Raat Hai Aisi Matwali
history. Dinesh Raheja on the
Anarkali. K Asif’s mastery over the medium is evident in the tense sequence where Akbar thunders into Salim’s chambers and catches him with Anarkali. The director refrains from employing lines here. Anarkali faints in Salim’s arms. In doing so, she breaks his string of pearls. The sound shat- ters the ominous silence. This has a far more devastating effect than any heated exchange. Infuriated, Akbar has Anarkali thrown into a dungeon only to have her defiantly proclaim Jab Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya to a crowded darbar when released. Akbar goes red in the face. But nothing can change the besotted Salim’s mind: Neither sentiment (his mother Jodhabai tries to sway him), nor reason (Akbar appeals to Salim’s sense of duty), nor trea- son (Akbar wages and wins a war magnificent Mughal-e-Azam ; M10 Masterpiece Theater Masterpiece Theater