While every critic worth his salt was busy proclaiming Dabangg to be the biggest thing to happen in Indian cinema, especially single theatres, here I was, heading to watch the coloured version of Mughal-E-Azam. I must confess that I never was able to watch this film despite catching up on every classic engraved on the history of Indian cinema. Reason: I thought it had too much of melodrama, which has been used and abused time and again by our filmmakers.
For instance, the moment Jodha Baai (Durga Khote) closes her eyes while prince Salim (Dilip Kumar) arrives, you are reminded of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas, where Devdas’ mother (Smita Jaikar) goes berserk on hearing the arrival of Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan). The moment Salim confronts his father Akbar (Prithviraj Kapoor), you are reminded of the mighty Shakti moments of Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. The moment you see Salim kissing Anarkali’s (Madhubala) lips behind a flocculent feather, one can’t help being reminded of countless gags we’ve been watching on TV and recent films post Dil Chahta hai (remember, ‘Woh ladki hai kahan?’). Furthermore, the war scenes seemed too outdated for someone who worshipsTroyand Gladiator. Nevertheless, I made up my mind to watch Mughal-E-Azam with the comparisons notwithstanding.
The first half an hour of the film was enough to make one feel guilty for applauding at dialogues of Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, hailing Rajat Arora as one of the best writer ever born inIndiaafter Salim-Javed. Those dialogues seemed so shallow, when Madhubala receives thorns from Dilip Kumar after a Qawwali session, while her rival Bahar (Nigar Sultana) receives rose petals. Madhubala, with an illuminating smile, accepts her gift from the prince saying: Jaahe Naseeb, kaanto ko murjaane ka khauf nahin hota. There are more of such wow moments like when Jodhabai tells Salim: “Hamara Hindustan koi tumhara dil nahin hai jispar ek laundi hukumat kare,” to which Salim responds: “Toh mera dil bhi aapkaHindustannahin hai, jo aap uspar hukumat kare.” Kudos to Aman, Kamal Amrohi, Wajahat Mirza and Ehsan Rizvi – the writers of the film.
Although the theatre had ten odd people, nobody could resist applauding to the scene. Ditto for the songs especially, ‘Pyar kiya to darna kya’ and ‘Mohabbat zindabad’. For the trivia buffs, I’d suggest you to buy an original DVD of the film. I assure you it’d be worth it, especially watching it with your parents and grandparents. I bet they’d have much more stories to narrate about the film than the trivia you can ever surf on google or wikipedia. The only flipside of watching this film: It might become difficult to applaud to the dialogues of Dagangg or Once Upon a Time In Mumbai. After all, by then the bars would’ve already been raised.