Variety

Mughal-e-Azam: Celebrating theatre’s soul and cinema’s scale

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on March 09, 2018 Published on March 09, 2018

A still from Mughal-e-Azam: The Musical

A still from Mughal-e-Azam: The Musical

Feroz Abbas Khan’s musical play comes alive in Ahmedabad

After enthralling packed audiences in Mumbai and Delhi, Mughal-e-Azam: The Musical, a Broadway-style musical of the eponymous Bollywood classic, it was Ahmedabad’s turn to soak in the splendour of lights, colour and sound.

On Thursday, the musical’s 113th show was presented by Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the producers of the original 1960 period drama.

The SP Group has nurtured the ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ brand since the scripting of the Prithviraj Kapoor-Dilip Kumar-Madhubala starrer movie, which is based on the legendary courtship of Mughal prince Salim and court dancer Anarkali, a relationship that Emperor Akbar disapproves of. The movie, which was originally directed by K Asif and presented in black-and-white, was transformed into colour movie with Dolby-Digital sound in 2004.

The SP Group first presented the musical in Mumbai in October 2016, and intends to take the production to cities including Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru and some smaller locations, too.

“Musical plays bring in the dynamism that is often lacking in a traditional play. With technology, we can provide an experience of a live cinematic performance. This musical has the soul of theatre and the scale of a cinema. We are getting an overwhelming response and now plan to take it to more cities,” said Deepesh Salgia, Head, Creative and Strategic Vision, for the musical.

It will also be showcased in Dubai and Singapore during the year, he added.

Mughal-e-Azam’s popularity remains intact even among the new generation as it involves key elements of story-telling and entertainment — music, costumes and dance, a timeless romance, and an epic conflict. This is what prompted the producers to splurge on the production of a musical play.

Directed by noted film director Feroz Abbas Khan, the musical has costumes by celebrated designer Manish Malhotra. The seven songs from the original movie are choreographed by Mayuri Upadhya, and has Broadway stalwart David Lander’s designing the lighting.

“The movie was the most expensive of its time. We are raising the bar for musical plays in India. In the business of art, the success parameter is not merely ROI (return on investment) but the impact it is able to create on the audience. So far, we have been successful,” said Salgia.

Commenting on the musical’s appeal to the young audiences, Salgia said the average age of the audience for the play has come down from 55 years a year ago, to 40 years now. “This shows that we are drawing audience from each age-group and segments. There are limited formats for live entertainment, which includes sports, musical concerts and drama. A musical play gives a unique energy of watching something live in a mass,” he said, adding that for Shapoorji Pallonji, Mughal-E-Azam remains a premium brand synonymous with the values of the Group.

Published on March 09, 2018
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