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Translated as The Greatest of the Mughals, Mughal-E-Azam is the classic 1960 Indian period epic film directed by K. Asif, that showcases the Indian cinema of its era in an unprecedented manner. 

The Cast & Story: It is a retelling of a popular Indian tale and featured Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Durga Khote in pivotal roles. The story loosely followed an episode in the life of the Mughal Prince Salim (who went on to become Emperor Jahangir), specifically his love for a court dancer Anarkali, which is disapproved of by his father, emperor Akbar, and envied upon by a superior dancer who wishes to be a queen. Both Salim and Anarkali refuse to part with each other, leading to a war between father and son which the latter loses. Salim’s life is spared in exchange for Anarkali’s, who is saved due to a past incident.

The Making: The development of Mughal-e-Azam began in 1944 when Asif read a play which was set in the reign of Emperor Akbar. The film underwent a troubled production, facing a number of problems and halts due to communal tensions and financial uncertainty, almost to the point of bankruptcy. Upon completion, Mughal-e-Azam became the most expensive Indian film, to the extent that the filming of a single sequence cost more than the entire budget of a typical film. The film was also dubbed in Tamil as Akbar   but its commercial failure resulted in the abandoning of a planned English dubbing.

Creating History: Mughal-e-Azam witnessed the widest cinematic release for an Indian film at that time, and ticket sales often featured day-long queues and rioting in certain places. Upon release, the film created box office records in India, becoming the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time, a record it held for 15 years. The film’s color version was released in November 2004 and also became a commercial success despite facing competition from other major films. Contemporary critics have unanimously praised the film, commenting on its cinematic quality, grandeur, cinematography and attention to detail. The film went on to win numerous accolades, notably one National Film Award and three Filmfare awards, and was also India’s official submission for the Academy Awards.  (Source: Wikipedia)

The Memorable Urdu Dialogues: Combining a rich tapestry of puns phrases and romantic exchanges the remarkable dialogue (based on the screenplay by director K. Asif and Aman) was written by the immensely talented Urdu writers Amanullah Khan Ehsan Razvi Kamal Amrohi and Vajahat Mirza. The Immortal Dialogue of K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam is a unique book for lovers of Urdu and cinephiles alike. It features the original dialogue of this classic film in Urdu as well as Hindi and Roman scripts, accompanied by an English translation by Nasreen Munni Kabir and Suhail Akhtar. With a foreword by the celebrated Urdu writer/poet Javed Akhtar the book also features lavish photographs from the colourised version of the movie. (Source: Preface of The Immortal Dialogue of K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam)

Language Not a Barrier: Interesting to consider is how the communication between K. Asif (the director) and  Shapoorji (the producer) must have been, given that K. Asif spoke Hindi/ Urdu while Shapoorji could only speak Bambaiyya Hindi with a Parsi accent. Yet together they made one of the greatest works of cinema art in post-independence India. They worked together, not just for a few days or a few months but for nine years. Language ceases to be a barrier when the heart and mind decide to communicate.

The Sound of Mughal-e-Azam: Mughal-e-Azam’s dialogue has such power and distinction that any Indian film-lover can guess a single line-if quoted -of this splendid text. Shapoorji who could hardly speak good Hindi or Urdu, became so fond of the dialogue that even years after the release of the film, he would recite the lines repeatedly. The words so excited him and the fine nuances of the language no longer escaped him.

When asked by Akbar to stop his affair with Anarkali, Salim answers: Taqdeeren badal jaati hain,zamaana badal jaata hai,mulkon ki tareekh badal jaati hain,shahenshaah badal jaate hain – magar is badalti hui duniya mein mohabbat jis insaan ka daaman thaam leti hai,woh insaan naheen badalta.(Destinies change.Times change.The history of nations change.Emperors change.But in this ever-changing world,a person whose hand has been held by love – that person never changes.)

Akbar (in a resigned tone): Magar tumhen badalna hoga,Salim,tumhen badalna hoga. (But you will have to change,Salim,you will have to change.)

Here is a clip that showcases some dialogues from this cinematic landmark :


And below is the song that became the signature of the film – Jab Pyar Kiya Toh Darna


Urduwallahs celebrate 100 Years of Indian Cinema