"Kya Mughal e Azam bana rahey ho...pagal ho???"
This is often heard when someone is seen indulging in a crazy extravagant affair. The reason indeed is that a film like Mughal e Azam is perhaps impossible to make. As yet nothing like it has been repeated in the history of Bollywood.
Recently, on August 5 to be precise, "Mughal e Azam" completed fifty years of its release. It is no wonder that memories of the making and the glory of its success came rushing back to those who were associated with this magnum opus, which took the master maker late K. Asif about fifteen years to complete.
When a film as huge as "Mughal e Azam" is made it is indeed history. From the intricacy that went into making it an unparalelled genius feat to the arrangement that went into its premier show, all of it can be listed as lessons in making and executing a masterpiece. The invitations that went out were like the "Ruquanama" wrote in the Mughal Era. The war scenes involved 8000 extras including real Indian Army soldiers, 4000 horses and 2000 camels.
Tailors were especially brought from Delhi to stitch the costumes and specialists from Surat-Khambayat were employed for the embroidery. Goldsmiths from Hyderabad designed the period jewellery. Kolhapuri craftsmen designed the crowns adorned by the actors while Rajasthani ironsmiths crafted the weapons and the elaborate footwear was ordered from Agra.
A Lord Krishna idol in one scene was actually made out of real gold. Also, the jewellery that Rani Jodhabhai (played by the aristocratic Durga Khote) wore, was designed in the authentic Rajasthani style of that era. Such was the magnitude of the film fifty years ago.
Naushad made Lata Mangeshkar sing the immortal "Jab pyar kiya to darna kya..." in a bathroom to create the required reverberating effect...and the master-of-romantic poetry Shakeel Badayuni wrote about 105 drafts of this song before it was okayed by Naushad...no wonder it has been a timeless clssic ever since!
A beautiful piece sung by Badey Ghulam Ali Khan in the background of Salim romancing Anarkali cost Rs.25000/-, while the set of Sheesh Mahal is supposed to have cost fifteen lakh. The film at that time was worth a whopping.1.5 crore.
It is said that three days before its release people had lined up for tickets and tickets costing less than Rs.3/- were sold for upto Rs.100/-!!! Dilip Kumar himself could not see the entire film for the first three-four days...and then he bought a ticket for Rs.100/- to watch the film!!!!
Shammi Kapoor describes the film as "mind blowing" while Alka Yagnik is memsmerised by "Mohabbat ki jhooti kahani pe..."
It is supposed to be the craziest of love stories ever told. Four writers, among them late Kamal Amrohi and Zeenat Aman's late father, who worked on the dialogues and screenplay, and what a remarakable work they all did. As a friend recollects,
"My father was in Lucknow that time and he visited Delhi to watch the movie with friends. Prithviraj Kapoor essayed the role in a way that people started thinking of Akbar like Mughal e Azam's Akbar. What a movie ..what a role and what a wonderous urdu pronunciation..."
Subhash Ghai's words sum up the sentiment. He says: "Classics just happen, they are not designed".
But of course one has to work tirelessly and very hard to create one, that stands the test of time for so many years, and indeed stands so much class apart that it cannot be touched for at least another fifty years to come..."Ae Muhabbat tu zindabaad"!!!