"Take movies, music, poetry out of life & its gone!"

Mughal-E-Azam: Legend as Epic - By Anil Zankar (Book Review By Bobby Sing)


Mighal-E-Azam - Book ReviewWriting a small book of just 190 pages on one of the (or probably the) greatest epics of Indian cinema which took 15 years to complete is certainly not an easy assignment to do without any doubt. But the task indeed has been done quite gracefully by film-maker and author Anil Zankar in his book published by Harper Collins in a small paperback form titled Mughal-e-Azam: Legend as Epic.
An informative read about the film which truly represents the grandeur of Indian cinema, the book actually talks about the magnificent creation as a team effort by giving a balanced emphasis on its technical departments along with the direction. And the truth remains that such kind of legendary work is possible through the combined efforts of an exceptionally talented team only led by a highly creative & visionary mind unarguably. Taking you back into the years of its conception the writer not only introduces you to the film’s big hearted producer Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry who backed the film sportingly despite all its reshoot and delay in the making. But also enlightens the viewer about the hidden human side of its passionate director K. Asif (KareemuddinAsif),who refused to adapt any lavish lifestyle post the films huge success.
The creative genius didn’t leave his two bed room flat for any bungalow and when asked to buy a plot of land he replied, “I am here to make films, not bungalows.” Also such was his passion for perfection that he made only one film before Mughal-e-Azam which was PHOOL in 1945, plus just another incomplete film post this magnificent classic titled LOVE & GOD, before his untimely demise in 1971. The film got later released in 1986 (reportedly in its incomplete form only).
Actually the best feature of the book is that it can easily be referred to the young friends of the present generation as a short but comprehensive document on Indian Cinema’s most memorable, cherished, talked about and lavish production till date which achieved excellence in its every department through an exceptional team effort beyond comparison.
It opens with a small introduction and then a scene by scene description of the script or story progression followed by the individual study of its every main character in the first two chapters. The third one interestingly talks about is elegant language used in its powerful dialogues with several references. And then we have the fourth chapter giving the reader a detailed step by step, script to screen adaptation of a major scene wherein Anarkali (Madhubala) is brought in front of Emperor Akbar, straight from her prison cell tied in heavy chains.
However the most important chapters of the book with many great inside stories, anecdotes and unknown facts are the next two, wherein the 5th insightfully talks about its famous costly sets, artistic props, gorgeous costumes plus the amazing cinematography. And the 6th one is exclusively devoted to its exceptional music (most deservingly) and all musically inclined readers would love to read these pages mentioning the names of many respected stalwarts and their major contribution in the film’s mesmerizing soundtrack.
With its last segment describing the historical references and the idea of love in the film, the book ends on a perfect note. But honestly its the 5th & 6th chapter only, which remain the most interesting ones including many amusing trivia such as the description of the amazing inputs of its cinematographer R.D. Mathur, the film’s remarkable contrast of black & white and coloured sections, the visionary instance of Akbar’s costly shoes which were not even in the frame, the use of 8000 Indian soldiers for its battle scenes, its every Raag in the background music chosen as per the day timings of its scenes and most interestingly the fact that the film was actually an adaptation of the play titled ANARKALI written by Imtiyaz Ali ‘Taj’ from Lahore (with many major deviations incorporated).
Besides it has some rare pictures shared in the centre pages and its quite commendable to note that the writer Anil Zankar dedicates the book, “To the writers and technical artists of the Indian film industry, whose contributions do not always get the recognition that they richly deserve”. And that should clearly indicate why it is a worth reading one for every lover of Indian Cinema of any age or generation living in any part of world all over.
Mughal-E-Azam: Legend as Epic – By Anil Zankar
Published by Harper-Collins India (2013) – Pages 200 (Including Acknowledgments)

Tags : Mughal-E-Azam: Legend as Epic By Anil Zankar, Book Review By Bobby Sing, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Vintage Books on Hindi Cinema
03 Mar 2014 / Comment ( 2 )
Gandhi Vadlapatla

Many authors have written about two most popular movies "Mughal-E-Azam" and "Sholay".Your book review is interesting. Feel like buying the book right now and finish reading in one go. I\'ve seen this movie (Color & B/W) umpteen times in theatre.
Nice write up Sir ji.

Bobby Sing

Hi V. Gandhi,
Thanks for writing in and praising the sincere effort. Yes many have written on "Mughal-E-Azam", but there are two recent releases on the film which I am writing about here. One is this current one released in the short pocket form and the other is a normal size hardbound detailed book about which I will be posting soon.
So keep visiting and writing in.

Leave A Comment
E-mail (will not be published)
Website (Optional)
Enter shown code