Musical Inspired by Bollywood Classic “Mughal-E-Azam” Tours the U.S.

Directed by Feroz Abbas Khan, the musical first premiered in Mumbai, India in October 2016, and received glowing reviews from critics and figures in the entertainment industry in India.

Musical Inspired by Bollywood Classic “Mughal-E-Azam” Tours the U.S.

The iconic story of Prince Saleem and Anarkali is reaching new audiences as the musical “Mughal-E-Azam,” inspired by the 1960 Bollywood classic film of the same name, tours the United States. Directed by Feroz Abbas Khan, the musical first premiered in Mumbai, India in October 2016, and received glowing reviews from critics and figures in the entertainment industry in India. In 2017, it also won seven BroadwayWorld India Awards including Best Play, Best Director, and Best Costume Design. 

The 1960 film was inspired by a play called “Anarkali,” written in 1922 by Imtiaz Ali Taj. It was directed by K. Asif and produced by Shapoorji Pallonji. The original Mughal-E-Azam was released in black and white, but was re-released in color in 2004, which prompted Abbas Khan’s pursuit of the stage rights to adapt the film as a musical. He obtained the rights from the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, and collaborated with Deepesh Salgia, the current CEO and director of the group, for the production of the play. 

The original Mughal-E-Azam is known for its resplendent set pieces and costumes for each of its characters, and the stage adaptation was crafted to live up to that same level of extravagance to represent the court and forts of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The story details the tragic romance between the Mughal Prince Salim, who returned from war after 14 years away, and Anarkali, the beautiful dancer. They fall deeply in love, but Akbar, Salim’s father, disapproves of the couple, as Anarkali is of a lower rank in the court, and is informed of their affair by another dancer, Bahar, who seeks Salim’s affection. Anarkali is imprisoned, and the war Salim wages for anarkali’s freedom pushes the empire to the brink of collapse. The 1960 film was in production for 14 years and even went through a complete change of cast. It cost more to produce than any previous Indian motion picture. The soundtrack featured the iconic voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi. It is considered to be a milestone of Indian cinema. 

The musical was in production for ten months, and is touted as India’s first large-scale Broadway-style musical. Abbas Khan kept the original soundtrack from the film, with music by iconic film composer Naushad, but added musical interludes for each set piece change. The musical features vocals by the performers, although without live instrumentation, including the iconic song “Jab Pyar Kiya To Darna Kiya” (When There is Love, There is no Fear). 

The musical has multi-day stops in the U.S. and Canada, and will be in Seattle, Vancouver, San Jose, Phoenix, and Los Angeles next. 

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