Directed by K. Asif
Produced by K. Asif
Written by Aman
Kamal Amrohi
K. Asif
Wajahat Mirza
Ehsan Rizvi
Starring Prithviraj Kapoor
Dilip Kumar
Durga Khote
Music by Naushad
Cinematography R.D. Mathur
Editing by Dharamvir
Studio Sterling Investment Corp.
Release date(s) 5 August 1960
Running time 191 minutes
Country India
Language Urdu
Budget INR 1,50,00,000 ($3,000,000)[1]
Box office INR 5,50,00,000 ($11,500,000)

Mughal-E-Azam (Hindi: मुग़ल-ए आज़म, Urdu: مغلِ اعظم, English: The Greatest of the Mughals) is a 1960 Indian historical epic film[2] produced under the banner of Sterling Investment Corporation Pvt Ltd, and directed by K. Asif. With its unmatched production, K. Asif's magnum opus took nine years and $3 million to complete this movie. This was when a typical Bollywood film would cost around $200,000 only. The film created box office records in India when released and held the record for the highest grossing film ever until the 1975 film Sholay broke its unadjusted record.[3]

In 2004, Sterling Investment Corp Pvt Ltd released a restored color version of the film. This again was a huge success and the film successfully completed 25 weeks at the Box Office.

This is one of the biggest box office hits in Indian cinema. The film netted INR5.5 crore at the box office worldwide. Adjusted for inflation, this amounts to INR132.7 crore. This was one of only two films K. Asif completed. When he died in 1971, he left behind two unfinished films, Sasta Khoon Mahenga Paani and Love and God, the latter released by K. C. Bokadia in 1986.



The film re-tells a popular Indian tale, which was previously filmed as Loves of a Mughal Prince (1928) and Anarkali (1953). It is loosely based on an episode in the life of the Mughal Prince Salim, who went on to become the Emperor Jahangir. In the movie, the great conqueror Akbar (r. 1556 - 1605) (played by Prithviraj Kapoor) and his Rajput wife, Jodha Bai (played by Durga Khote) pray to have a son. Akbar himself offers rituals, so that he may have a successor. The news of the son's birth is brought to Emperor Akbar by Anarkali's mother, a maid. Overjoyed at his prayers being answered, the Emperor gives to the maid his ring and promises to grant her any one wish she asks.

The son, Salim, grows up to be a weak and pleasure-loving prince, played by Dilip Kumar. Salim falls in love with Anarkali (Madhubala), a court-dancer. He wants to marry her and arranges secret meetings between Anarkali and himself. However, the jealous Bahaar, a dancer of a higher rank, wants the crown of India and she attempts to make the prince love her so she may ascend to queenship. She exposes the love between the Salim and the dancer Anarkali. Salim pleads for Anarkali's hand, but his father objects and throws Anarkali into prison. Despite imprisonment, Anarkali refuses to reject Salim.

Salim rebels against his father, is defeated in battle, and is sentenced to death. Before his sentencing, Akbar's subjects spontaneously erupt into a gathering and plead before the Emperor to not kill his only son, and the Empire's only prince. Anarkali too pleads for Salim's life in exchange for her own, and is condemned to death by entombment alive. However, it is revealed to Akbar that he owed a favor to Anarkali's mother, since she informed him of the birth of his son. Anarkali's mother takes advantage of this, and begs for her daughter's life. The emperor relents, and arranges for Anarkali's secret escape into exile. Unfortunately, it is still announced that Anarkali was killed, and Salim is heartbroken.

Most tales of Salim and Anarkali end with the death of the latter, even though the movie version is slightly more optimistic. However, Salim is still left to believe that Anarkali is dead and the lovers are separated for the rest of their lives.




K. Asif first started work on the project in 1944, with financier, Shiraz Ali, owner of the famous Mahalaxmi Studio, Mumbai. He casted Chandramohan, Sapru and Nargis for the roles of Akbar, Salim and Anarkali, but the project was shelved because of political tension. Communal rioting stopped filming and shortly after the Partition of India in 1947, Shiraz Ali migrated to Pakistan, leaving Asif without a financier.[4] He finally found one in business tycoon Shapoorji Pallonji but it took Asif almost four years to get his film on the floor.

The film was started again in 1951 with an all new cast of Prithviraj Kapoor, Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, Durga Khote and Ajit. In this version, Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain says, "I was considered for the role of the young Salim. But the role was eventually played by Jalal Agha.".[5] Jhansi Ki Rani (1953), was the first color film in India and by 1957 color was creeping into Indian films. K Asif shot one reel in color which included the song Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya. Impressed by the results, he shot three more reels in color (towards the end of the film). Now, K. Asif wanted to remake the whole film in color, but the distributors lost patience, who were not willing to accept any further delay. Asif released the film with 15% in color and remaining 85% in Black & White. Asif dream to see the full film in color remained unfulfilled till 2004, when Sterling Investment Corp Pvt Ltd., got the film restored and colored and released a new version with great fanfare.[6]

This was the most expensive film ever made in Indian history up to that time, and for some time after. Tailors were brought from Delhi to stitch the costumes, specialists from Surat-Khambayat were employed for the embroidery, Hyderabadi goldsmiths made the jewellery, Kolhapuri craftsmen designed the crowns, Rajasthani ironsmiths crafted the weapons, and the elaborate footwear was ordered from Agra. For the battle sequence, 2000 camels, 4000 horses and 8000 troops were used, many of them soldiers on loan from the Indian Army. All together the film cost INR 1.5 crores (INR 38.29 crores in present terms).

The statue of Lord Krishna used in the film is made of pure gold. The heavy chains Madhubala wore in the film were authentic, not the lightweight models worn in those days. It was her greatest ordeal in the film and she was bedridden for days nursing the bruises caused by wearing those chains.


The song "Ae Mohabbat Zindabad" had singer Mohammed Rafi with a chorus of 100 singers. The song "Pyar Kiya To Darna Kiya" has an unusual history to it: it cost Rs. 1 million at a time when a film would be made for less than a million; it was written and re-written 105 times by the lyricist, Shakeel Badayuni, before the music director, Naushad, could approve of it; it was shot in the renowned Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors); and in those days of sound recording, editing and mixing, as there was no way to provide the reverberation of sound, Naushad had Lata Mangeshkar sing the song in a studio bathroom. Prithviraj Kapoor would look into a mirror as tall as himself before each shot. When Asif asked him why he did so, he replied, "I do so to get under the skin of the character."

Its most famous dance sequence takes place in the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) of the Lahore Fort, where Anarkali dances for the Mughal Emperor and his court, singing Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya, "I have loved, so what is there to fear?" This song was one of three sequences shot in Technicolor, while the rest of the movie was in black and white. The singing is, of course, playback singing by Lata Mangeshkar and lip-synched by Madhubala.

This song has more to it, than actually appears. It is said that the small engraved mirrors in the area where the song was shot, would sparkle under the camera's intense lights and made it impossible to shoot. Even consultants from Hollywood told Director K. Asif to give up on the idea provided the impossible task of shooting against such intense glare. Asif thought of an idea: all those small mirrors, roughly in thousands, would be covered in a very very thin covering of wax, so that they did not reflect any light and still you can see as clean as it can be without any blur. One version of the story states that Asif confined himself to the set for days on end in various standing, sitting and lying down positions until he could find that single spot where the problem was rectified and the immortal pyar kiya tau darna kya was filmed.

For the battle sequence, 2,000 camels, 4,000 horses and 8,000 troops were used, many of them soldiers on loan from the Indian Army. This was arranged through special permission through the Indian Ministry of Defence-a rare occurrence today. The soldiers came from the Jaipur regiment of the Indian army.

The movie was originally shot three times, once each for lips moving for Hindi, Tamil and English dialogs. The Tamil version of the movie did very poorly, so the dream of having Shakespearean actors from Britain doing the dubbing in English was dropped.

Additional crew included assistant director Rashid Abbasi, chief assistant director Khalid Akhtar, and art director M. K. Syed.


Soundtrack album by Naushad
Released 1960 (India)
Genre Film soundtrack
Label EMI Records
Producer Naushad
Naushad chronology
Ganga Jamuna

The well acclaimed and successful soundtrack was composed by renowned musician Naushad and lyrics penned by Shakeel Badayuni. Mughal-E-Azam's soundtrack was named by Planet Bollywood as the second best Bollywood soundtrack ever.[7] Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan did a very rare classical number, "Prem Jogan", that went on to become a classic.

Song Singer (s) Video
"Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya" Lata Mangeshkar [8]
"Bekas Pe Karam Keejeye" Lata Mangeshkar [9]
"Khuda Nigehbaan" Lata Mangeshkar [10]
"Mohabbat Ki Jhooti" Lata Mangeshkar [11]
"Mohe Panghat Pe" Lata Mangeshkar [12]
"Teri Mehfil Mein" Lata Mangeshkar, Shamshad Begum [13]
"Prem Jogan Ban Ke" Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan [14]
"Shubh Din Aayo Raj Dulara" Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan [15]
"Ae Mohabbat Zindabad" Mohammed Rafi [16]
"Humen Kash Tumse Mohabbat" Lata Mangeshkar [17]
"Ae Ishq Yeh Sab Duniyawale" Lata Mangeshkar[18] [19]
"Ye Dil Ki Lagi" Lata Mangeshkar[20] [21]


The film was finally released on 5 August 1960, and in 150 theatres all over the country simultaneously, which itself was a record in those days. It became an instant hit and collected a record revenue which remained unsurpassed till G.P. Sippy’s Sholay broke it 15 years later.[3] The film netted INR5.5 crore at the box office worldwide. Adjusted for inflation, this amounts to INR132.7 crore.[22]

Anupama Chopra included the film at the top of her list of "The 20 Best Hindi Films Ever Made", writing, "The romance between the prince and the dancing girl is the best Hindi film ever made. With its powerful performances, thunderous father-son drama and spectacular song and dance sequences, Mughal-e-Azam is the apotheosis of the Hindi film form."[23]

Outlook Magazine, in an edition of May 2008, wrote that one of the scenes inbetween Anarkali and Prince Salim, when he brushes her with a feather, is the most erotic scene in the history of Indian cinema.[24]


The film was also selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 33rd Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[27]

Colourization and re-release

In November 2004, the whole movie was restored and colorized in a year-long process undertaken by Sterling Investment Corp Pvt Ltd. ( a company part of Shapoorji Pallonji Group), the original financiers of the film. For this purpose, it hired the services of IAAA (Indian Academy of Arts and Animation), Acris Laboratories, Rajtaru Studios and other firms and re-released the film with huge marketing. This is the first full feature-length movie to be revived/colorized for a theatrical re-release in the history of world cinema. Some Hollywood movies have been colorized, but only for re-release on home video.

During the re-release the film ran for 25 weeks and probably there is no other example of any film running for 25 weeks in its re-release. And this was despite the film being released against Yash Chopra's Veer Zaara ( starring Shahrukh Khan & Preity Zinta) against Abbas Mustan's Aitraaz ( starring Akshay Kumar and Priyaka Chopra) and against Ram Gopal Verma's Naach ( starring Abhishek Bachchan and Antara Mali).

The film also opened the doors for release of Indian films in Pakistan. In 2006, Mughal-e-Azam opened the doors for release of Indian films in Pakistan which had banned such releases since 1956.[28]


  • The Immortal Dialogue of K. Asif’s Mughal-E-Azam, with a foreword by Javed Akhtar, by Nasreen Munni Kabir, Suhail Akhtar. October 2006. ISBN 9780195684964
  • Mughal-e-Azam : Ek Noor-Naqhat Bhari Daastaan, with a foreword by Salim Khan, by Sandeepa Padlia. January, 2006
  • Mughal-e-azam, by Shakil Warsi. Rupa & Company, 2009. ISBN 812911321X

See also


  1. ^ "Timeline 1960". Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  2. ^ "bollywood". Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Enduring appeal of Mughal-e-Azam by Jivraj Burman, The Tribune, 17 August 2008.
  4. ^ Kabir, N.M. & Akhtar, S. (2007). The Immortal Dialogue of K. Asif's Mughal-e-Azam. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Mughal-e-Azam: A work of art, 15 February 2003.
  6. ^ Talking telegram from Mughal-E-Azam Screen (magazine), 1 July 2005.
  7. ^ "100 Greatest Soundtracks Ever". 
  8. ^ "Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  9. ^ "Bekas Pe Karam Keejeye vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  10. ^ "Khuda Nigehbaan vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  11. ^ "Mohabbat Ki Jhooti vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  12. ^ "Mohe Panghat Pe vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  13. ^ "Tere Mehfil Mein vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  14. ^ "Prem Jogan Ban Ke vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  15. ^ "Shubh Din Aayo vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  16. ^ "Ae Mohabbat Zindabad vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  17. ^ "Humen Kash Tumse Mohabbat vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  18. ^ "Mughal-e-Azam Songs". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  19. ^ "Ae Ishq Yeh Sab Duniyawale vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  20. ^ "Mughal-e-Azam Songs". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  21. ^ "Ye Dil Ki Lagi vid". ShemarooEnt. 
  22. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  23. ^ Chopra, Anupama. "Top 20 Movie Reviews". NDTV. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  24. ^ Outlook (magazine). 13-19, May 2008. p. 54. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  25. ^ "8th National Film Awards". Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  26. ^ Awards IMDB.
  27. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  28. ^ Immortal-e-Azam, 12 November 2004.


External links

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