Inspired by true events, a prince falls in love with a court dancer and battles with his emperor father. Set in the 16th century AD, the movie brings to life the tale of the doomed love affair between the Mughal Crown Prince Saleem and the beautiful, ill-fated court dancer, whose fervor and intensity perpetrates a war between the prince and his father the great Mughal Emperor Akbar, and threatens to bring an empire to its knees.
Epic love story Mughal-e- Azam (1960) was a cinematic landmark in many ways. It was grand on every scale, spent years in the making, and presented incredible challenges in terms of shooting and lighting. It became a blockbuster hit, spending 15 years as the highest grossing Bollywood film.
Mughal-e-Azam was the most expensive film made in Bollywood at the time and remained so for decades. No expense was spared for the elaborate costumes, which were stitched in Delhi and embroidered in Surat. The jewellery was made in Hyderabad, the crowns in Kohlapur, the weapons in Rajastha and the shoes in Agra. 2000 camels, 4000 horses and 8000 extras – some of them actual soldiers on loan from the Indian Army – were used in the battle scenes. The film cost a whopping Rs 1.5 crores – almost Rs 40 crores today – to make.
The song Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya cost Rs 10 million to make. It reportedly required 105 re-writes before music director Naushad gave it his approval. The only way Naushad could get the reverberation he wanted was to have Lata Mangeshkar sing the song in a studio bathroom.
Cinematographer R D Mathur had to experiment with lighting to shoot the famous Sheesh Mahal setting of Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya. He tried painting the mirrors with wax to check the glare, which worked but also made the visuals dull. He then tried placing strips of cloth strategically to create bounced lighting. Madhubala’s heavy chains were authentic, not lightweight fakes. Already suffering from an unsuspected heart condition, the chains left her bruised and bedridden for days.
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.The tickets were dockets containing photographs and trivia about the film and are now considered collector’s items.
‘Mughal-E-Azam’ is a page from the golden history of the land of Emperor Akbar.
Director: K. Asif