Directed by K.Asif over ten (yes TEN!) long years, this film is a true saga in every sense. Once colour films became really popular, Asif wanted to re-shoot the complete film in colour. His distributors wouldn’t hear of it, so a consensus of sorts,albeit weird, was reached. Only two songs and a 30 minute climax were shot in technicolour, and the rest was left black and white! Imagine the audience’s surprise when Madhubala suddenly jumps out in vibrant hues…And hey, did I mention that the song “Ae Mohabbat Zindabad” sung by Rafi Saab had a chorus of 100 singers? Can you think how difficult it must be to get a 100 people to sing TOGETHER?! I was floored!
Prithviraj Kapoor who played Akbar, used to stand in front of the mirror and practice his dialogue so that he could get into the character’s mind. Method acting of those times, one could say.
A word on how ridiculously expensive the film was, even for its times. On the other hand, it goes to show what a perfectionist K. Asif was. So here it is – even by comparison with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas, this is to date one of the most expensive films ever made. Tailors from Delhi for the costumes, jewellers from Hyderabad, craftsmen for crowns from Kolhapur, ironsmiths from Rajasthan for weapons and footwear from Agra. And oh, that’s not all. A HUGE army had to be formed, so 2000 camels, 4000 horses and 8000 troops were also hired for the battle scenes. Altogether, the cost of the film is <wait for it…> 1.5 whopping crores! Translated to present day cash that is around 39 crores. That’s aaaall.
And guess what? (This is really funny because my father is in the army) Many of the soldiers were taken on loan from the then Indian Army 😀 which by the way, rarely happens now.
Talk about a grand scale! Mughal-e-Azam definitely wins the prize!