Mughal e Azam – Movie review By A. Naqshbandi
Mughal e Azam is perfect entertainment, artfully done. Everything about it oozes class: from the professional cast to the spectacular sets (I think at the time it was the most expensive Indian film ever), the matchless acting and great plot.
The plot is based on the famous Urdu play Anarkali by Imtiaz Ali Taj, one of Urdu literature’s classics, which is in itself based on the legendary story of the love affair between Anarkali–one of Akbar’s courtesans and Shehzadah Salim (Emperor Jehangir) and the jealousy of Bahar–another courtesan–who too loves Salim (though her love is unrequited).
This film has the greatest actors of Hindustani cinema in it: Prithviraj Kapoor (father of the legendary Raj Kapoor) giving an astonishing performance as Akbar e Azam! Dilip..is Dilip (actually Yusuf Khan), the king of tragedy, and here is his best performance. But the star of the movie has to be the elegant Madhubala (aka Begum Mumtaz Jahan Delhvi)–never did she look so hauntingly beautiful as when playing the doomed Anarkali! Ethereal beauty! Perfect casting too by K Asif.
What elevates this movie though is not only the painstaking attention to detail (I still haven’t seen an Indian movie which comes near it in this department) –for the scene when Queen Jodabai tears the pearl curtain (jali) a real pearl curtain was made using real jewels at the cost of over a lac rupees in the sixties!) but the exquisite dialogue–pure, refined, sweet, poetic, beautiful, classical Urdu-heavily Persianised (apparently there was a joke doing the rounds once in those days about this film being in Farsi according to Dr. Rachel Dwyer whom I took a class on Indian cinema with at SOAS) and the stunning songs and music. Each song is a masterpiece and the music direction by Naushad–wah! Perhaps the greatest of them all is the immortalised Jab Pyaar Kiya Tau Darna Kya.
Anyway this film demands to be seen again and again and never loses it freshness. It is heartbreaking to see the peak Indian cinema can reach with such films (and, e.g., Pakeezah) and then compare them to the crap dished out today!
Here is a sample of Urdu dialogue from the movie (transcribed by me). The scene is the one where Emperor Akbar orders Anarkali to give up loving Salim and make him think that she never did love him if she wants her freedom from prison.
Sadaa kaar: hukm huwa hai ke Anarkali divan-e-khaas mein haazir ho!
AKbar-e-Azam: humein yakin hai ke qaidkhanay ke khawfnaak andheroN ne teri aarzoo’on mein woh chamak baqi na rakkhee hogi jo kabhi thi!
Anarkali: Qaidkhanay ke andhere kaneez ki aarzoo’on ki roshni se kam thay!
AK: andhere aur baRhaa diya jaayeinge!
An: aarzu’ein aur baRh jaayeingee!
AK; Aur baRhti huwee aarzu’on ko kuchal diya jaayega!
An: aur zill e ilahi ka insaaf?
Ak: Hum ik lafz sun-na nahin chahitay! Akbar ka insaaf uska hukm hai! Tujhe Salim ko bhoolna hoga!
An: Bhoolna hoga?
Ak: Yaqeenan! Aur sirf itna hi nahin! Usse yeh bhi yaqeen dilana hoga ke tujhe us se kabhi muhabbat nahin thi!
An: Jo zabaan unke saamne muhabbat ka iqraar tak na kar saki ho woh inkaar kaisay karegee?
tujhe Salim paR ZAHIR KARNA HOGA KE TERI MUHABBAT JHOOTI THI. ik kaneez ne hindustan ke malika banne ki aarzu ki aur muhabbat ka khoobsurat bahana dhoond liya!
An: yeh sach nahin hai! Khuda gawah hai yeh sach nahin hai! Yeh sach nahin hai…
Ak: Lekin tujhe sabit karna hoga ke YEHI sach hai!
An: Parwardigar mujhe itni himmat atta farmaa ke main sahib e aalam se baywafai kar sakoon. kaneez zill e ilaahi ka hukm bajaa laane ki koshish karegi!
Ak: Koshish nahin taameel hogi! Isse azaad kardiya jaaye!!
Subhan Allah! Wah! Sheer magic.
And how’s this for romantic dialogue (in a scene between Prince Saleem (S) and Anarkali (A))? :-
S: Salim ki pehlu mein Anarkali Hindustan ki malika hogi.
A: Paon ki khaak ko sar ka taaj na banaiye..
S: woh ban chuka Anarkali! Main dekh raha hoon Akbar e Azam ka Hindustan tumhare ikhtiyaar mein hoga.
A: Khuda ke liye!
S: Hindustan kay insaanon ki taqdeerein tumhare gisu’on ki khalqay mein ghir jaayeingee Anarkali. Aur tum phir jidhar muR kar dekho gi hazaron taqdirein kaampti rehengee, mustaqbil larazte rehenge!