Mughal-e-Azam: A party fit for an emperor

Posted on June 19, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Foreign Relations, People, Society, TV, Movies & Theatre
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Adil Najam

Mughal-e-Azam–who many consider one of the greatest Indian films ever made–is coming to Pakistan. Recently re-mastered in color and re-released to a Silver Jubilee reception in India, the movie will get a huge reception in Pakistan where it will be showed as a fundraiser for the October 8, 2005 Earthquake.

According to a report in the Daily Times:

About 20 Indian [Bollywood] artists have confirmed their participation in a telethon transmission on the occasion of the release of the film, ‘Mughal-e-Azam.’ The film is being released to raise funds for the victims of October 8 earthquake.

A special flight of PIA, named ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ flight, will bring these Indian artists to Pakistan. Shilpa Shetty, Neha Dhopia, Sridevi, Bonny Kapoor, Jackey Shroff, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Urmila, Ameesha Patel, Salina Jaitley, Prem Chopra, Gulshan Grover, Rishi Kapoor and Rimi Sen are some of the artists expected to attend the telethon. During the flight, PTV will record interviews of the artists and their arrival will be covered live. An official dinner will be arranged in honour of the guests in Karachi on June 24 and the ticket to attend this dinner will be sold for Rs 40,000 (US$ 650). PTV will telecast its nine-hour telethon transmission from 10am to 7pm on June 25 without any break.

Pakistani stars and writers including Nadeem, Samina Pirzada, Reema, Zeba Bakhtiar, Javed Sheikh, Nayera Noor, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Haseena Moin, Tina Sani, Arshad Mahmood, Anwar Maqsood, Fahmida Riaz, Talat Hussain, Shahnaz Sheikh, Marina Khan, Rahat Kazmi, Fakher, Sania Saeed, Nouman Ejaz, Shahzad Roy, Hammayun Saeed, Mahar Hassan, Saqib Malik, Rashed Khawaja and Jamal Shah will be participating in the transmission. A special set depicting Mughal architecture has been built for the show at a cost of Rs three million. The income generated from this show will be donated to the President’s Relief Fund for earthquake victims.

Now that is what you call a party. Maybe too much of a party; but at least it is for a good cause. Lets hope that our Indian guests respect the spirit of the event, and even if they don’t that we hold our tempers. Another embarrassment like the Feroz Khan shout-out or the Pakistan President’s reaction to it would not be pretty for anyone.

Of course, Mughal-e-Azam was already released for preview in Pakistan on April 22 at the Gulistan Cinema in Lahore (to rather lukewarm reception) becoming the first Indian movie in 41 years to be released in Pakistan.

There is a certain historical justice in the film coming back to Pakistan. It began in 1944 with K. Asif wanting to make the biggest film even in Indian cinema and Shiraz Ali agreeing to finance it. However, Shiraz Ali decided to move to Pakistan in 1947 and it was not till 1951 that a new financier was found and not until 1960 that the film was finally released; and took the box-offices by storm.

On the movie itself, Mughal-e-Azam has always had legendary status for sub-continental movie buffs of a certain generation, for its music, its elaborate sets, its theatrical acting, and of course for its very regal dialogues–for example, Prithvi Raj as Emperor Akbar saying, “bakhuda hum mohabbat ke dushman nahin, apne usoolon ke ghulam hain” (By Almighty God, I am not an enemy of love; I am just a slave of my principles). The movie, of course, was before my time. However, having seen the B&W versions years ago, I saw the colorized version last year; and it did not disappoint.

By the way, for any movie buff, a visit to the movie’s website is very well worth a visit.

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9 responses to “Mughal-e-Azam: A party fit for an emperor”

  1. iFaqeer says:

    Altamash, your “Indian Hindus” comment I don’t want to touch; my wife and a lot of my closest relatives and some very dear friends are Indians who take ownership of the history very proudly–and they aren’t Hindu last time I checked.

    But the problem is not that the Indians take ownership of Mughal history and culture; it is that today, we, too often do not. Personally, I feel that Pakistan should step up to take up both ownership and responsibility as one of the successor states of the entity that was dissolved in 1858 to be replaced by the British Indian Empire and then India and Pakistan. But when was the last time you heard us wanting to help preserve Mughal historical monuments or stake our claim as the rightful home of the Kohinoor? What? No? That’s because we haven’t.

    Our puritans, given their druthers would either paint Ghalib and Iqbal as being of the same ideological bent as Maulana Maududi and Syed Koteb/Qutub and not the folks who wrote “Hum thumhai walee samajhthay gar na baadha-khaar hoetha” or that piece about Metaphysical Thought in Islam…

  2. iFaqeer says:

    Yusuf Khan Saahab hisself is not coming?

    BTW, look what I found in a Google search: 13613631

  3. Altamash Mir says:

    How beautifully Indian Hindus take ownership of these muslim mughal legends. When will we feel secure enough to take ownership of the thousands of years of history (pre 712AD) found in the lands around the Indus river or as I call it “The real India”…

  4. Adil Najam says:

    Thanks for reminding me of that song Babar. It is part of the Supreme Ishq series. Sung by Shabnam Majeed; but the real genius behind it is producer Shoaib Mansoor, formerly of PTV… he was also the genius behind the Vital Signs hit Dil Dil Pakistan years ago and the creator of the iconic PTV comedy show Fifty Fifty.

    Now that you have reminded me, I will soon put up the song and some information about it.

    P,S… in fact, that sone has teh word ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ in it.

  5. Adil Najam says:

    I think it is fair to say that not only the movie but the entire Anarkali legend is largely fictionalized, although the basis of the original story was on some truth. There are all sorts of other stories about this; including that Akbar himself was in love with Anarkali and that is why it blew up as big as it did (otherwise, the story goes, the Mughals were fairly loose with which and how many women they entertained in their entourage). The bit in the movie about Akbar letting Anarkali ‘go’ in the end was certainly an embellishment of the legend… after all, what would Anarkali be if not burried in the wall ;-)

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