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Daastan- e-MUGHAL-e-AZAM

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan singing for Naushad in Mughal-e-Azam.The splendour of the film sets is in full glow !! This film was a creation of pure passion and tenacity of K. Asif, nothing else. 
Film took 10 years to complete. There were financial constraints between the director and the producer Pallon ji, which would crop up from time to time but would be sorted out too. 
K. Asif married twice during the making of this film, second time to Nigar Sultana (who played the role of Bahaar in the film and third  time to the sister of Dilip Kumar, a factor which made Dilip Kumar so angry that he refused to attend its premiere. His first marriage was with Sithara Devi, a famous dancer. 
K. Asif was honest to the core. The legend goes that one day when he was going out of house, Nigar his wife would say, ‘Mian! give some money as there was nothing in the house to cook food for the evening. He said he would see. One of his friends who was with him saw a huge bundle of notes. He said why you didn’t give some money to your wife. Asif would say this money belongs to the producer which would be spent for film’s purpose. When Pallon ji’s son would say to his father not to give money any further and even suggested to burn the print of the film so as to finish the problem forever, Pallon ji would say that Asif was spendthrift but he was very honest. He was like his son, producer would say. Asif called him seth. Asif would call Prithviraj Kapoor as diwan saab; Dilip Kumar as Yusuf and Madhu to Madhubala. 
Bade Ghulam Ali Khan charged Rs 25,000 each for two songs to sing at a time when Lata and Rafi would sing a song for Rs 500. Asif won’t compromise. Filmfare deliberately humiliated this film by not giving any award for best music to Naushad, best lyrics to Shakeel Badauni, best female singer to Lata, best actor to Prithviraj Kapoor and best actress to Madhubala for no fault of their own. 
Shankar-Jaikishan bribed the Filmfare jury and got award for an ordinary score like 'Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai' but that didn’t make any difference in the huge success of the music of Mughal-e-Azam given by Naushad !! Madhubala’s physical condition only worsened as the shooting of this film progressed as Asif would demand acting from his actors almost round the clock. She had a hole in the heart. She Was not supposed to carry any weight. But Asif would ask her to walk with handcuffs/ other prison gear of 40/50 kilo weight. But Madhubala would never refuse; a professional to the core. 
Madhubala and Dilip kumar were in love from almost 1950 till 1955. One can see the great chemistry on the screen too. But once Madhubala refused to marry him, Dilip Kumar was hostile to her. Those  cold vibes can also be seen from almost interval till the end of the film (1955-1960).
Mughal-e-Azam’s art direction remains unbeatable till date. Strangely Filmfare didn’t give best award to Mughal-e-Azam for this. Tragedy is that Biren Naag, the art director for Choudhavi Ka Chand requested Asif, the director of Mughal-e-Azam  whether he could borrow some art material like pillars and other things from Mughal-e-Azam’s set. Asif obliged. Filmfare gave best art direction award to Biren Naag !!
Naushad taught lata Urdu diction through a teacher for singing  for 8 months so as to sing film’s 8 songs flawlessly as in the beginning Asif didn’t like her Urdu diction and had advised Naushad to call Noorjahan for singing. But he refused as Naushad had earlier taken a vow in 1940s that as female voice in his films only lata would sing till he would live. He kept his word intact for 50 years ! 
Durga Khote would hold her ‘ghaghra’ to walk as it became 8 kilo heavy due to gold and silver material used in that. Unless she held, it could fall.
Asif requested Nawab of Hyderabad to send his real pearls and diamonds so as he could show them throwing on the floor to get the real sound of the pearls. Nawab obliged. Pearls which Durga Khote throws in happiness as her son Salim was coming are real ones. Only real ones could create stunning sound when these hit the floor !! 
Madhubala’s father was a nuisance and would remain on the set all the time. To  get the great love scene between hero and heroine effectively, where the peacock’s feather is used by Dilip Kumar gently touching Madhubala‘s face; Asif gave huge money to Sultan Ahmed; his assistant director to take away her father and play rummy with him and keep losing till the shot was okeyed. Exactly that was done. 
It is the only film made in India which can come anywhere near Cleopatra or Lawrence of Arabia type films in its vision, acting, set designing, music and art direction. Sholay was highly overrated in all these respects. You must see Mughal-e-Azam once in every year and feel proud that India made such a marvel !!
(Collection by Pappula Surendranath, High Court Advocate, Hyderabad)

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