How often do you get to see a Broadway-like spectacle in India? Besides Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, none of the plays in India have managed to match international standards. Feroz Abbas Khan, a theatre veteran seized this opportunity and decided to adapt K. Asif’s classic film, Mughal-E-Azam, into a play. Produced by the NCPA and Shapoorji Pallonji, Mughal-E-Azam is easily the grandest ever play to be showcased in the country.
The story as you know is based on Prince Salim and courtesan Anarkali’s love story. The couple is madly in love and wants to get married, but Emperor Akbar refuses to accept a servant as his daughter-in-law. To prevent the wedding from taking place, the ruler of the Mughal empire even captures Anarkali and fights a war against his own son. You know the outcome if you have watched the film.
Feroz Abbas Khan worked on Mughal-E-Azam as he wanted to challenge himself after spending so many years in the field of theatre. Well, he has delivered and how! Even if you try to nitpick, there is not a single flaw in the play. At the start of the performance, we were informed that the actors would be singing live on stage, and that was reiterated during the interval as many curious members of the audience had their doubts. The dialogues were a mix of Urdu and Hindi and if you aren’t fluent in the language, they are tough to decipher. Kudos to the team for putting up two gigantic screens which display the dialogues in English. Though it may get a bit distracting to look at the screen and the stage at the same time, it will help you understand the dialogues better.
The highlight of Mughal-E-Azam is the dance sequences. While the voices of the lead actors are melodious, it's the elaborate dances that got the audience clapping on more than one occasion. In a particular sequence, the only sound in the auditorium was that of ghungroos. It went on for about two minutes and the entire crowd started cheering. Even as Priyanka Barve – who plays Anarkali – crooned the evergreen song Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya, people screamed "Once more!" Well, only if….
Barve stole the show as Anarkali as she got to sing four songs. Besides her, Pratibha Singh as Bahar and Dhanveer Singh as Prince Salim were impressive. Nissar Khan and Sonal Jha play Emperor Akbar and Jodha Bai respectively, and the duo gave impactful performances. When the cast and crew were called on stage after the play, the audience simply couldn’t stop applauding. It showed how much they loved the play, even though most of them had seen it before. The shows for Mughal-E-Azam were sold out even in its fourth season, and now the play will travel to different parts of the country. So, keep a tab on the events to know when it is taking place in your city.