#46 #Scriptors100BestFilms #MughalEAzam

A lot happened between 1944 and 1960. The whole topography of Indian subcontinent changed. Lines were made on paper with ink and on land with blood. Some was lost and some was divided. Hindus and Muslim took sides, and formed countries. Rest all which happened was called as Mughal e Azam. Ben Hur of Asian Continent, Mughal e Azam was one film that took birth in the most turbulent time of Indian Politics. It seems so ironical that Mughal e Azam went on to become one of the most vibrant love story set in blood colored politics covered under one religion that was for all, Din e llahi. Message was loud and clear,

‘Pyaar ki aandhi ruk na sakegi, Nafrat ki deewaron se,
Khoon e Mohabbat ho na sakega, Khanjar se talwaaron se’

Love is the biggest power in the world, bigger than any Emperor, there will come a time in which love will rule, it will be crowned, just like Anarkali was crowned by the majestic ‘Mughal e Azam’ or ‘Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar’. As big as grandeur of the movie, The film’s conception began in 1944 but it took many years before the film was actually shot. It went through a series of changes. Firstly, the financier had backed out. Secondly, the cast went through several changes and the cost of production for one song was reportedly more than the entire budget of other films that were made at that time. It finally released in 1960 and is said to have broken all records at the box office. The film had the widest release in India, something unprecedented before and people would queue up all day just to buy tickets. Further to reports, it became the highest grossing Bollywood film of that time, a position it retained consistently for 15 consecutive years (Yes, not 15 days or Months). The grand movie was branded and promoted just the how Akbar promoted his inter-religious sect Din e Illahi with grandeur on Horses and Elephants across the country. People knew even before the movie released that this historical story would be part of the history. Then in that era the trivia on making of movie was printed on ticket booklets.Today people may aspire to make a grand movie, no one will dare to make Mughal e Azam again, one of those movies that can never be remade.

Mughal-e-Azam was a trilingual – with all scenes shot thrice in Hindi, Tamil and English. When the Tamil one flopped miserably, the English language one was aborted. The movie was originally shot three times, once each for lips moving for Hindi, Tamil and English dialogs.In 2004, it was announced that after extensive search, no copies of the English version are available. Mughal e Azam was made with no reservations made on the cost of the film. Real gold statue of Krishna was made for the song ‘Mohe panghat pe nand lal’.
Tailors were brought from Delhi to stitch the costumes, specialists from Surat-Khambayat were employed for the embroidery, Hyderabad goldsmiths made the jewellery, Kohalpur craftsmen designed the crowns, Rajasthan ironsmiths crafted the weapons, and the elaborate footwear was ordered from Agra. For the battle sequence, 2000 camels, 4000 horses and 8000 troops were used, many of them soldiers on loan from the Indian army. Art director A. K. Sayyad recreated the replica of the Sheesh Mahal and it took him two years to build it from scratch.The song ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’ cost Rs 10 million to make, in those days a full movie could have been made under that cost. With the advent of Jhansi Ki Rani in 1951, colour films became a revolution. K. Asif wanted to remake the whole film in colour, but when the distributors lost patience settled for having two songs and the film’s 30-minute climax shot in Technicolor, with the rest of the film (85%) black-and-white.

When the first shooting schedule began in 1946, Asif had cast ChandraMohan, DK Sapru, and Nargis for the roles of Akbar, Salim and Anarkali, respectively. The film was shelved for five years when Chandramohan died, halfway through shooting, and then recast with Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala. It is said however Before principal photography began in 1953, Suraiya was offered the coveted role of Anarkali. 20-year-old Madhubala, who longed for a significant role, won the part.

Music of this movie was as grand as the epic movie. It is indeed the most lavish musical scores of Indian Cinema. It reportedly required 105 re-writes before music director Naushad gave it his approval for Pyar kiya to Darna Kya. Looking at the set and amount of mirrors, Naushad wanted to give the song realistic voice accoustic. The only way Naushad could get the reverberation he wanted was to have Lata Mangeshkar sing the song in a studio bathroom. K Another story says that Asif was bent on having Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali to provide the singing voice of Tansen in the film. Ustadji declined and was asked to name his price by the director. He asked for Rs 25,000 – a small fortune at the time – to put K Asif off. Not only did K Asif agree to the price quoted, he also paid Ustadji an advance fee. In the film, Ustadji sings two songs – Prem Jogan Ban Ke and Shubh Din Aayo Raj Dulara.The team was so big that, The song “Ae Mohabbat Zindabad” had Mohammad Rafi sing with a backup chorus of 100 singers and over 200 musicians.

Kamal Amrohi, Aman, Ahsaan Rizvi and Wajaahat Mirza take the golden credits for writing some of the iconic dialogues of Indian Cinema. While Kamaal Amrohi was contributing to final drafts of  Mughal e Azam, he was also producing Pakeezah, his own film. When he the color feel of the ‘Pyaar Kiya To’, it is said that director not only scrapped the b/w version, but also decided to make an all color movie. K Asif and Aman’s screenplay is till date one of the finest and flawless screenplay of Indian Cinema. The whole team worked towards making a great film, inspite of differences between Asif and Kapoor, Kapoor and Dilip, and Madhubala and Dilip after their nasty breakup.

This movie though truly belonged to Madhubala, who suffered from illness and still managed to pull of one of the classic performances of Indian cinema. Inspite of rumors of love and breakup of Madhubala and Dilip and thier differences, she delivered her classic performances a little better than perfect. Their were times when gold jewellery bruised her body and iron chains pulled her feeble body towards her own end, her performance shone like Kohinoor and will keep shining till the end of eternity. In spite of being nominated for a Filmfare Award under the best actress category, Madhubala did not walk away with the award. (It was given to Bina Rai for Ghunghat.)

What was shocking and rather surprising was that Dilip Kumar and Prthiviraj Kapoor were not even nominated for their performance. Even Naushad was nominated for a Filmfare under the music category (He lost out to Shanker Jaikishen for Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai.)

This is the most iconic and landmark films in the history of Hindi cinema, Mughal-E-Azam set the standards high. Starring Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Prithviraj Kapoor, this epic is known for its direction, music, sets, costumes and also for the lead pair: Madhubala and Dilip Kumar.When bookings for the film opened, there was chaos and near-riots at Mumbai’s famous Maratha Mandir. Fans reportedly waited in queue for days, with family members ferrying them food from home. The police had to intervene when the crowd, reportedly a 100,000 strong, became too unruly.

This is the first full feature-length movie to be coloured and re-released in theatres in the history of cinema. Some English films have been coloured but only released in the home video format.This movie is beyond boundaries, as I had started this note on the idea of love beyond boundaries. The colour version of the film was the first Indian movie to be released in Pakistan after Indian movies were banned there after the 1965 war. Yes it was Mughal E Azam that once again united India and Pakistan culturally as Filmistaan.

Yohaann Bhaargava
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Yohaann Bhaargava

Head - Business Development at SCRIPTORS
Movie Buff. Yohaann is a film critic with Jagran Prakashan Limited. He has been associated with Print and TV media as a branding professional. Presently he is a screenwriter trying to bring in some good scripts up for Bollywood. At Scriptors he works as a writer and handles business development.
Yohaann Bhaargava
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