Mughal-e-Azam , the magnum opus produced by K Asif remains an all-time favourite for viewers of good cinema across the world including me even after five decades.
Critics have tried to decode the epic which immortalised the power of love like it never had been done on screen. Each character of the film, including the artiste who sings ‘Hai Mohabbat Zindabad’ knowing fully well he was annoying the emperor played so ruthlessly by Prithviraj Kapoor.
Each of the 12 songs of the film has been picturized so well that it brings out both the innocence and the defiance of the lovers who know that their love story is star-crossed.
But for me the most enduring memories of the film which was as much a hit in its coloured version in 2004 as its black and white version released in 1960, are its powerful dialogues.
Who can forget the epic confrontation between Jodha Bai and her rebel son Salim where she declares “ Khudaar Mughlon ki aabroo itni halki nahi ki ek naacheez laundi ke barabar tul jaye. Aur humara Hindustan tumhara dil nahi ki laundi jiski malika bane” to which he replies in style “Toh mera bhi dil koi aap ka Hindustan nahi jispe aap hukumat karein.”
For me, that is the ultimate statement defying authority, filial relations and the class barriers with a gay abandon rarely expected in the 1960.
Having recently watched the Sanjay Leela Bhansali product of love ‘Bajirao Mastani’ which can easily be put on the same pedestal as far as grandeur is concerned. I felt that after many years a film could at last stand at par or even higher than Mughal-e-Azam, as far as emotions and dialogues are concerned.
The two films warrant comparison because both are period films that are not bound or limited by time for the sheer power of their emotional appeal. In fact this film is more complicated because it has a triangle Bajirao (Ranveer), his love angle Mastani (Deepika Padukone) and a wife (Priyanka).
But the high point of Bajirao, according to me that raises the bar higher than anything seen earlier are its dialogues.
Just look how grandly Ranveer reacts when he is asked to leave Mastani, “Bajirao ne Mastani se mohabbat ki hai … ayyashi nahi”
And is Mastani any less classy than Anarkali, “Ishq … joh toofani dariya se bagavat kar jaaye woh ishq … bhare darbar mein joh duniya se ladh jaaye woh ishq … joh mehboob ko dekhe toh khuda ko bhool jaaye woh ishq.”
“Pyar kiya to darna kya” is the only song comes anywhere near this exposition.
And for me what sets Bajirao notches higher than Mughal-e-Azam as I mentioned earlier, is the third angle projected by Bajirao’s wife played so effortlessly by Priyanka Chopra, who is setting one record in excellence after another.
When she confronts her husband about his new found love who is living in the same palace as her Ranveer is callously indifferent but she pours scorn on all the hype around their relationship when she tells him,”Aap humse hamari zindagi maang lete hum aapko khushi khushi de dete … par aapne toh humse hamara guroor cheen liya.”
Wow, can any wife be more eloquent than that?
My firm belief after watching Priyanka and Deepika together is that had Priyanka been given a few more scenes in Bajirao she would have finished Deepika, as they say in typical ‘filmy’ language.
By Amitabh Srivastava