September 24, 2021

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Voice Of India

60 Years of Mughal-e-Azam: Iconic Bollywood film screenplay enters Oscars library

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The cinema classic celebrates its 60th anniversary this week with director K Asif’s son Akbar Asif presenting the screenplay of the film to the Oscars library in Hollywood.

Mughal-e-Azam is a larger-than-life epic that can easily be considered an important chapter for cinema-lovers. The magnum opus, directed by K Asif, is still a captivating watch, 60 years since its release in 1960.

Gifted actors such as Prithiviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala became synonymous with their onscreen personas – Akbar, Salim and Anarkali.

Salim and Anarkali, who play star-crossed lovers, in this feature film, also became the flag-bearers of unfinished love stories, or tragic romances in Bollywood, so to speak.

The chemistry between the then-real-life couple, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala unravelled beautifully on-screen through Salim and Anarkali.

Although Mughal-e-Azam revolves around the love story of Salim and Anarkali, maintains its focus on Emperor Akbar. The film even being named after the strong historical character.

The film’s screenplay is based on the play called Anarkali written by Imtiaz Ali ‘Taj’, in 1922 and rewritten in 1931. The intriguing story takes place in Lahore and is woven around the growing love between a servant girl and the crown prince.

The offended emperor puts an end to this love story by ordering Anarkali to be buried alive in four walls (of a dungeon). This end scene was, however, changed in the film as the reviews from the preview came back negative hinting at the thought at should Anarkali indeed be buried alive, it would make the emperor the ultimate villain in film history.

At the time of its release in 1960, the film had an all-India release in 150 theatres simultaneously. A digitally-colourised version of the epic re-released in theatres in 2004, bringing out the beautiful colours of the places it was shot in, especially the classic song of a rebel in love, Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya, and the shots of Sheesh Mahal.

The cinema classic celebrates its 60th anniversary this week with director K Asif’s son Akbar Asif presenting the screenplay of the film to the Oscars library in Hollywood.

Akbar Asif, the UK-based son of the late director, said he presented the screenplay to the Academy Awards to mark the big anniversary of his father’s historical epic.

Three versions of the legendary screenplay – in Hindi, Roman text and English translation – are now available at the Margaret Herrick Library, a world-renowned reference and research collection of the Academy devoted to the history and development of the motion picture as an art form and an industry.

“The journey of Mughal-e-Azam started with words from the greatest writing team ever assembled in Hindi cinema and I thought the best way to honour them was to permanently preserve their screenplay in the world’s most renowned film library,” said Akbar Asif, a businessman based in London.

“I hope future generations can learn and get inspired by the work of my late father and his incredible team of writers. I want to humbly thank the Academy Awards for accepting the screenplay,” he said.

The screenplay of the film, which hit the screens in India on August 5, 1960, was crafted by a team comprising Aman, Kamal Amrohi, Wajahat Mirza, Ehsan Rizvi as well as director K. Asif.

In 2013, to mark the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema, it was declared the greatest Bollywood film ever made. In 2016, an official live musical based on the film made history as one of the biggest theatre productions ever staged anywhere in the world.

Filmmakers can submit their films to the Oscars library by filling up a form. Movies released in Los Angeles are automatically invited to be a part of the library.

— with PTI inputs