“Mughal-E-Azam”: An Honest Evaluation

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When K. Asif’s silver screen classic is adapted to a musical play, expectations are certainly high. Feroz Abbas Khan’s directorial venture, “Mughal-E-Azam” lives up in style. This grand spectacle is currently on display at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi.

Though it took 7 years to make the movie, the play was put together in a record 2.5 months, perhaps the quickest ever for a show of this caliber. The phenomenal live singing and masterful dancing, with consistently maintained energy levels, keep the audience enthralled. It’s a fitting tribute to the original masterpiece.

In my opinion, the true strength of the show is its impeccable timing. The sets are transformed seamlessly; costume changes are flawless; and the dancers move from scene to scene, with a seemingly impossible fluidity. I’ve watched the show twice with nary a change in these factors.

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The cast and crew at the curtain call

Anarkali, played by Neha Sargam has an exemplary singing voice. Though I feel the other Anarkali, Priyanka Barve (whom I’d seen last time) has a stronger acting ability and stage persona. Sonal Jha as Jodha Bai and Aashima Mahajan as Bahar, perform well. Nissar Khan as Akbar is impressive but falls short in comparison to the great Prithviraj Kapoor, from the original film. Salim played by Dhanveer Singh disappoints at first, as he lacks a strong voice for the character; but significantly improves with time.

However, the real stars are the classically trained kathak dancers. Their ability to breathe life into scenes and faultless movements are breathtaking. The most impressive scenes include the evergreen “Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya”, the stunning qawaali of “Teri Mehfil Mein”, and the war scene where the fighting is vividly portrayed through dance. The brilliant choreographer Mayuri Upadhyaya and her team must be applauded.

Manish Malhotra has outdone himself on the costumes. Each piece stands out for its aesthetic brilliance and its subtle imagery. In fact, every scene is a visual treat. The digitally enhanced sets designed by Neil Patel, the projections by John Narun and the lighting by David Lander are key contributors. Piyush Kanojia recreates the magic of the original melodies, with a dramatic background score. Director Feroz Abbas Khan has done an extraordinary job. The team of ‘Rapid Waters Pvt. Ltd’ (Namrata Ahmed and Suparna Chakravarti) has put the Production together wonderfully. Namrata is my cousin and I’m so proud of her talent and hard work!

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It’s a great family activity- my parents relived their love for the original film, and I discovered my love for it!

If I had to pick a flaw, it would be the venue’s infrastructure. Half the toilets don’t function. The concession stand doesn’t open till two minutes before the play begins, and is quite disorganized. No food is allowed inside the hall, making the situation more chaotic!

The tickets are expensive, but for good reason. In the recent edition of the Broadway World India Awards, the show swept seven trophies including Best Play, Best Direction, Best Choreography and Best Costumes.

I highly recommend watching this memorable spectacle, on till the 11th of February. This is the last time it will be performed in Delhi, as it’s now set to go international. Fans of the movie will enjoy reliving the decadence of the original, and a first-time audience will enjoy the general resplendence.

Important Information:

There are 2 shows on weekends at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 pm. One show at 7:00 p.m. on weekdays. The play is on till February 11, 2018

Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes, including the interval

Tickets prices: Range from INR 500 to INR 10,000

Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Gate no. 19, Pragati Vihar, Lodhi Road, Delhi

Book your tickets on BookMyShow here

Play rating: 4.5/5 stars

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