MUMBAI — K. Asif’s 1960 extravaganza “Mughal-E-Azam,” starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala, which was the most expensive film made at the time, is still considered one of the greatest Indian motion pictures ever and remains one of the biggest hits of all time, and is now going to be a musical play.
Acclaimed director Feroz Abbas Khan, known for his award-winning film “Gandhi, My Father” and successful plays like “Tumhari Amrita,” “Salesman Ramlal” and “Mahatma Vs Gandhi,” will soon helm “Mughal-E-Azam,” a Broadway-style musical play, which will be a tribute to the original film and is being produced on a grand scale.
It will be performed at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai daily from Oct. 21 until Nov. 1, followed by a staging at the end of November for another two weeks into December at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi.
The musical play will not only be made on a grand scale, but will also feature eight songs from the film to be performed as part of the narrative. Naushad had scored music while the lyrics were by Shakeel Badayuni. Needless to say, this project will be a grand musical theatrical production witnessed in India and is expected to set a new benchmark for Indian theater.
Says Khan: “The title ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ is apt, because the film was inspired by a play named 'Anarkali,' which K. Asif saw and from which he borrowed passages. It's a dramatic father-son story with the nation at stake. In its writing skills and mounting, it was close to perfection with great dialogues and emotional story-telling, complemented by eye-catching visuals and a terrific score.”
The musical has another connection with the original cult classic — it will be co-produced by none other than Shapoorji Pallonji, the 150-year-old business conglomerate that had funded Asif’s “Mughal-E-Azam” with a budget of $3 million in 1960, making it the most expensive film made at the time.
Apart from Khan, other names attached to this ambitious project are costume designer Manish Malhotra, award-winning lighting designer David Lander, Emmy award nominee projection designer John Narun, production designer Neil Patel and choreographer Mayuri Upadhyay.