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Mughal-e-Azam Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Tuesday, November 16, 2004 • Hindi ]
Mughal-e-Azam Review
Prithviraj Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Durga Khote, Ajit
K. Asif

Flawless, seamless, timeless...What do we say about a film that immortalised each one of its cast members and technicians?

"Mughal-e-Azam" is to the pseudo-historical what the Taj Mahal is to Agra. Its imposing grandeur, breathtaking beauty and, most important of all, its emotional energy remain undimmed by the tides of time.

Forty-four years after it was first released, "Mughal-e-Azam" comes to us in a colour version. To some diehard purists, the tampered aesthetics of Asif's original - and undoubtedly unmatchable vision - and the conversion of the texture would appear as perfidy.

But, please, let's look at the larger picture. We only have to see the young members of the audience who were born 20-25 years after the film was released, respond to the sheer scope and spectrum of the epic, to Madhubala's screen presence and Lata Mangeshkar's voice to know how essential it is to allow ensuing generations immediate access into our all-time classics.

The colour-revised version of "Mughal-e-Azam" is a path-breaking and far-reaching experiment with creative continuation. To transform the skin tones and ambience in the fabulous original and indelible black-and-white into glimmering colour is a task that boggles the mind.

The technicians seem to be equal to the task. The garish portions in the colour version, including a purple chandelier in "Pyar kiya to darna kya", are what Asif shot in his exuberant epic vision.

Most of what has been colour-revised is done with extreme aesthetic care. And apart from golden jewellery that glitters a trifle too much, or a bandi (jacket), which seems like a sartorial travesty, the colour version of "Mughal-e-Azam" is a triumph of the spirit.

Every frame exudes the aroma of priceless nostalgia, every drop that flows into the narrative ocean secretes a rejuvenating life-force.

My slight problem as a cineaste is with the editing. To cut the film down to the market-friendly three-hour size, some of Lata's most invaluable jewels like "Mohabbat ki jhoothi kahani pe roye", "Beqas be karam kijiye", "Ae ishq yeh sab duniyawale" and "Humein kash tumse mohabbat na hoti" have been chopped off.

How can we have "Mughal-e-Azam" without Madhubala tormented, enchained and singing "Beqas pe karam kijiye"?

To colour a creator's vision is one thing. To amputate it is quite another. Having said that, let's raise our hands to toast one of the most enduring landmarks of Hindi cinema whose appeal and impact remain unabated.

Rather, with every generation, the verbal sparring between Emperor Akbar (Prithviraj Kapoor) and his adamant son Salim (Dilip Kumar) acquires renewed poetic intensity, thanks in no small measure to the dialogues which fall in a tumult of pride, honour and self-identity into Asif's epic design.

What hits us once again in this re-reviewing of an imperishable classic is the contemporary quality of the narrative. The opulence of the sets, the regal bearing of the characters, their splendid yet subdued expressions and articulations refuse to become a slave to passing fads fancies and trends.

From the first frame to last, the intensity of the lovers' passion infects the audience.

The indomitable qualities in the storytelling are too many and too intense to be discussed at length. What hits us is the magical chemistry between Madhubala and Dilip Kumar in the celebrated love sequences.

She's constantly and quietly coy, coquettish, frail and hypnotic.

Dilip Kumar's understated expressions of romantic passion are to this day, exemplary and u

Rating: 0 / 5.0

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