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Book Review: Mughal-E-Azam Revisited

Dream is not that what one can enjoy in sleep, dream is that which keeps one awake to make that a reality. K Asif took sixteen years to realize his dream - Mughal-E-Azam. Professor Anil Zankar has revisited and re-explored this film through a book titled 'Mughal E Azam: Legend as Epic.

The language of the book is simple; narrative is speedy and elegant like a brook flowing through rough and hilly terrain. The writer has a great command over the language and subject matter and for this, the book easily catches the attention of the readers. At the same time, the book is very serious and thought-provoking for the in-depth analysis and explanation. Usually, most of our film-critic or the reviewers’ principal area of analysis covers the story of the film as if they are writing a critique of a story. But Anil Zankar’s writing is concerned with the film only. After the reading of the book, any reader will feel that he has watched one more screening of the film and this time he is watching a film with a scholar guide. This reading experience is like crossing over a dark tunnel with a trustworthy guide who is telling us lots of stories during the journey and at the end of the tunnel, the reader has experienced the light and that light has brought another sphere of understanding. One can easily feel the vibration of unimaginable passion and sky-high ambition of the filmmaker K Asif with the powerful and emotionally charged words of Anil Zankar.

No doubt, the book is well written, but this will not justify the approach of the author. The structure of the book is well planned and meticulously designed too. The book was designed in such a pattern so that the persons involved with the craft of film making may acquire some inputs on film making and film-buffs may enrich their aesthetic sense of film making out from the book. The author has explained the planning of the film, the preparation, the language of the dialogues, mise-en-scene, cinematography, music and other elements in such a lively language that the film appears live with all the inherent beauty in front of the reader. The reader can easily discover the mystery of the beauty that was created by K Asif. While describing the film, the author sincerely explains the film in the light of the traditional Indian cultural ethos and also the epic quality of the film as an artwork that represents the tradition of Indian art and civilization. This analysis reflects Anil Zankar’s knowledge, understanding and original thinking of films, his clear conception on the various theories of Film Aesthetic and different processes of film making.

The chapter ‘Mise En Scene’ can be easily pointed out as his brilliant command over the medium and excellent narrative skill of interpreting a visual art in written words. He easily travels among the aesthetic and techniques of film making and artistic emotion and creative excitement of a filmmaker.

Though Mughal E Azam contains some historical errors, yet the film is regarded as an important work because it has not tried to present the historical facts, but ‘the spirit of this greater land’. In the chapter ‘Historicity and Factious Reality in the screen’, the author explains the historical aspects of the film in the light of psychological and cultural realism. He believes ‘the understanding and representation of history that historians have differed remarkably from the understanding and representation of history’ and ‘Asif is communicating to the popular imagination’.

Author Anil Zankar has mentioned the film as ‘Legend’ and compared this Legend with an

Epic. An epic reflects the time and space on a wide canvas. The author explains those poignant points in the chapter ‘The Epic Quality of Mughal E Azam’ with the depth of a scholar and simplicity of a teacher.

Mughal –E-Azam : Legend as Epic


Published by Harper Collins Publishers India

First Publication in India 2013

Price Rs 250/= only


About the Author

Anil Zankar is a renowned filmmaker, writer, and professor with over 35 years of experience. Recipient of two national awards, for a script and a book, he has made 21 short films on social issues and institutions, bio-pics, and corporate themes. An alumnus of FTII, he is now a professor at the institute and a visiting faculty at several others.

About Utpal Datta

Utpal Datta is a National Award-winning Film Critic, as well as an author, photographer, and film director. He is also the festival director of a popular Chalachitram National Film Festival. He is also a recipient of several other awards and recognitions, including RAPA for Radio Production, the Moonlight Media Award for Cultural Journalism, the Jyotirupa Media Award for Film Criticism, and many others.


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