16 September 2013 | Spondonman
Working On A Building Of Love
I'd kept this one unwatched for many years in the hope a better quality copy would turn up, but I've had no luck as yet so finally saw it tonight. It was shot in Eastman Colour, which here has more or less washed away leaving a dizzying array of colours, hues and shades to struggle through, together with a film that has gone a long way down the road to decomposition. What it actually seems to do for me though is help with the period authenticity – judging from the ghostly grainy print it appears to have been filmed in the 17th century! Would that make it even more of a classic?
Complicated fairly dreary true tale of political warring within the ruling Mughal Empire dynasty, a few years on from and sub- Mughal-E-Azam – the only constant in the tale is Khurram/Shah Jahan and Arjuman/Mumtaz Mahal's deep love for each other. After years of political bickering, infighting and jockeying for the best position they finally became Emperor and Empress. Later still Mumtaz died giving birth and Shah Jahan went into deep mourning and planning a huge tomb for her, the Taj Mahal, to be built just outside of their home city of Agra. And the film devotes the whole of the last few minutes of its two and a half hours to the Taj's splendours once the almost interminable politics has ceased. Bina Rai as Mumtaz strikes so many iconic or puzzling over-demure poses it's no wonder the stolid Shah Jahan played by Pradeep Kumar was driven mad with his love for her – the film unsurprisingly doesn't relate that she died during the birth of their fourteenth child in nineteen years of marriage! They made a handsome couple and made everyone else look ordinary. The sets looked cheap but were very effective, especially when viewed through the gauze of Time. There's some lovely and varied songs by Roshan and Sahir, but a special mention for the oft-repeated Joh Wada Kiya, beautifully sung by Rafi and Lata. This is one of my Lata favourites, she displayed such wonderful voice control and subtle modulation, even when she moved away from the microphone and with an added echo – no one has come near her after all these years.
DVD Buyer Beware (especially T-Series)! But I admit I still enjoyed it with all its quality issues, next time hopefully I'll have a good copy.