‘Mughal-e-Azam’ cherishes cultural memories of generations
DUBAI – January 9, 2019: The classic story of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ (The Great Mughal) has been living in the hearts of Indians for generations. People were so engaged and captivated by the story as everyone found a part of themselves in it. The epic love story from the great Indian history was captured onto celluloid as a partially coloured film in the black-and-white era, turning to be a landmark Bollywood cinema.
‘Mughal-e-Azam’ is the story of a great love affair between Mughal Prince Salim (who went on to become Emperor Jahangir) and beautiful court dancer Anarkali. Salim’s father, Emperor Akbar, disapproves the relationship, which leads to a war between the father and son.
This epic love story comes alive in Dubai this weekend in the form of a Broadway-style Musical, scheduled to showcase at Dubai Opera on January 10, 2019 (8 pm); and January 11 & 12 (3.30 pm and 8 pm).
The original film, directed by K Asif in 1960, was restored and released in colour with Dolby sound in 2004. ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ as a film is amongst the top grossers of Indian cinema and so is the present Musical play, based on the film, thanks to its stellar star-cast, epic-scale production quality and never-before-seen sets. The film is widely considered to be a milestone of its genre, earning praise from critics for its grandeur and attention to detail. The film was the first black-and-white Hindi film to be digitally coloured, and the first in any language to be given a theatrical re-release.
Treasuring this memory, one name keeps sustaining with all incarnations of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ at different times — Shapoorji Pallonji. The multibillion-dollar business conglomerate with major interests in construction and infra-development sectors took up the role of protagonist in the plot behind the evolution of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ as the most celebrated Indian cultural brand — from a classic Bollywood movie of the black-and-white era to its digital colourisation after four decades, and to the present Broadway-style musical production, which is the first of its kind in the history of Indian arts and culture.
Shapoorji Pallonji funded production of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ in all the three phases. The Group’s association with Mughal-e-Azam, whether in the original film or its colourised version or the stage musical, was never as a business investment, but was towards promotion of Indian art and culture. So even the stage musical, while the presentation is very contemporary, Kathak dance does not lose its originality nor the classical music or the costumes.
The Musical extravaganza will be showcased from January 10 to 12, 2019 at Dubai Opera for international audience living in this part of the world. The Musical, directed by noted Indian playwright Feroz Abbas Khan, is a spectacular production retelling the beautiful love story of the classic movie with its dialogues, music and songs, which are part of the cultural memories of many generations.
Mr. MD Saini, Managing Director & CEO of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, remarks that if there’s one Bollywood film that’s been given a renewed life and new relevance time and again, it’s Mughal-e-Azam.
“Indian cinema is the world’s largest film industry in terms of film production and Bollywood is its largest film producer, with more than 350 Hindi films being produced annually as of 2018. Beginning its journey in 1960 as a black-and-white film, K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam, as the most expensive films of that time, was funded by Shapoorji Pallonji Group. Decades later the third generation Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry again funded this film for restoring the film in color. It went on to become a landmark in cinema, thanks to a stellar star cast, epic-scale production quality and never-before-seen sets,” he pointed out.
“Everyone at Shapoorji Pallonji Group strongly believes that its successful legacy of 153 years is purely because of its commitment to its work. While the group’s core business is construction and real estate but even a non-core activity like Mughal-e-Azam reflects our basic ethos of commitment,” Mr. Saini reiterated.
“After the enormous success of this Musical play in May 2018, Shapoorji Pallonji feels pleasure bringing it again at Dubai Opera. I personally have seen this musical play with my family multiple times and have planned to watch again. I am sure you all will enjoy this,” he said.
Mughal-e-Azam: The Musical captures essence of the evergreen movie through larger-than-life-set designs, intricate costumes and elaborate choreography. The stage production has all the dramatic elements one wants from a musical — thunderous dialogues, melodious songs and mesmerizing dance sequences. It brings the richness of the Mughal era to movie and theater lovers.
From costumes to language and from music to architecture, everything in this 16th century story depicts the artistic and cultural richness arrived as a result of Indo-Arab cultural convergence. The 16th century India saw the confluence of cultures from the Arab world, Turkey, Mangolia, Iran with the local Indian culture.
According to the director Feroz Abbas Khan, the Musical gives life to so many characters, music and sets, making it an extravagant experience. “We have weaved together a rich, colourful tapestry of ideas that touches upon class-wars and love in the face of rebellion. It is a wonderful experience sharing the greatness of K Asif’s movie with today’s generation.”
Deepesh Salgia, Head of Creative and Strategic Vision for ‘The Musical’ project, commented, “This international production has received rave reviews for reflecting true Asian values from audiences across all cities that it has travelled — Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.”
Jasper Hope, Chief Executive, Dubai Opera, said, “We are glad to host this spectacular production of Mughal-e-Azam. Dubai audiences will be able to enjoy as a real treat for the start of the year with wonderful Bollywood love story brought to life. Promoted by Dubai Shopping Festival, the event is part of the Dubai Calendar.”
Touted as the biggest theatrical production from India, the Musical involving live singing with dance sequences brings back the Mughal era for today’s generation to witness its grandeur. The play has swept the Broadway World Awards, bagging awards in seven categories including Best Play and Best Director.