In addition to Khan, the event also saw Deepesh Salgia (director, Shapoorji Pallonji Group), choreographer Mayuri Upadhya, fashion designer Manish Malhotra, and Farrahnaz Irani (NCPA) in attendance.
Retelling the iconic love story of Salim-Madhubala in the form of a musical is one fascinating attempt to rekindle the classic love saga that lures the audience back into the Mughal epoch. The play was sold out for four successive seasons in Mumbai and now the makers are in Delhi to charm the audiences by their work.
Speaking of his vision, the theatrical director Khan said, “I wanted to do something that was totally against the grain. I wanted to share this great piece of cinema as a huge theatre experience. For audiences in Delhi we are setting it up on an even bigger scale than Mumbai.”
This has proved to be one risky project for him which, as the director confesses, could have turned his career upside down.He told the media that he encountered many people asking him to retreat to his old ways as no one can touch Mughal-e-Azam and that he was making the biggest mistake of his life. “I experienced the fear of monumental failure but I told myself that I was doing this with greatest respect to the original and this is a tribute to the masterpiece created by K. Asif. So respecting the memories and making sure that this translates into the theatre production that could be appreciated or at least match its level, I did this. I had true collaborators who made it possible for the play to come this far. I am utterly grateful to them and this is the victory of my team.”
Salgia, one of the producers of the play, added, “We are converting a weight lifting stadium into the stage. All the props are being brought in a convoy of trucks from Mumbai. We will ensure to give a memorable experience to the Delhi audiences.”
Despite the huge challenges in setting up suitable infrastructure, the team ensured that Mughal-e-Azam be performed in the city of its origin. “Mughal-e-Azam’s journey would be incomplete without Delhi being a part of it. It would have been unfair if the world had experienced Mughal-e-Azam without the heart of the Mughal Sultanate experiencing it,” he added.
“I experienced the fear of monumental failure but I told myself that I was doing this with greatest respect to the original and this is a tribute to the masterpiece created by K. Asif. So it was about respecting the memories and making sure that this translates into the theatre production.”
Manish Malhotra, who broke records by making 600-plus costumes for the play, said, “It was the first time I was making costumes for a play. The experience has been challenging because unlike films the demand of all the costumes on the first day of the play was important. But I must say that it has proved to be quite enriching for me. The costumes reflect the traditions and tehzeeb (manners) of the Delhi Sultanate. The fabrics, textures and the embroidery showcase the grandeur of the Mughal era and I have tried to stay true to the times.”
Mayuri Upadhyay, opening up on her experience of choreographing the play said, “I started with auditioning the dancers. We auditioned over 250 dancers in five different cities. The main challenge was to make the dancers sing and dance at the same time. I am sure people will appreciate the work. My main motive was to bring justice to the play.”
Kumar Razdan, representative of Bookmyshow, said, “It is the first time in India that a theatrical musical is being made which is so magnificent and was a total sell-out from day one. First season itself received a huge response as all the tickets were sold within hours of going online. It is being appreciated by all. Be it media, celebrities, corporate or masses. We are proud to be associated with the biggest theatre production that India has ever produced.”
The heart of the play lies in the song “Jab Pyar Kia To Darna Kya”. It just sways you back to the nostalgic era of Anarkali and Salim. The cast includes Nissar Khan, Priyanka Barve, Neha Sargam, Sunil Kumar Palwal, Dhanveer Singh and many more. The makers have beautifully orchestrated the whole thing in such a way that it is going to leave the audience awestruck for sure. The entire production spectrum—starting from lighting, music, characters, dancers, costumes, the stage—everything is captivating and succeeds in making this a must-watch play.