Director: K. Asif
Stars: Prithviraj Kapoor, Madhubala, Dilip Kumar
Plot: Set in the 16th century AD, the movie brings to life the tale of the doomed love affair between the Mughal Crown Prince Saleem and the beautiful, ill-fated court dancer, whose fervor and intensity perpetrates a war between the prince and his father the great Mughal Emperor Akbar, and threatens to bring an empire to its knees.
It took 16 years for the movie to be complete.
The song "Pyar Kiya To Darna Kiya" has an unusual history to it: it cost Rs. 10 million at a time when a film would be made for less than a million; it was written and re-written 105 times by the lyricist, Shakeel Badayuni, before the music director, Naushad, could approve of it; it was shot in the renowned Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors); and in those days of sound recording, editing and mixing, as there was no way to provide the reverberation of sound, Naushad had playback singer Lata Mangeshkar sing the song in a studio bathroom.
When the first shooting schedule began in 1946, K. Asif cast Chandra Mohan, D.K. Sapru, and Nargis for the roles of Akbar, Salim and Anarkali, respectively.
K. Asif wanted to remake the whole film in colour, but when the distributors lost patience settled for having two songs and the film's 30-minute climax shot in Technicolor, with the rest of the film (85%) black-and-white. However, in November 2004, the whole movie was restored and colorized in a year-long process by the IAAA (Indian Academy of Arts and Animation) and re-released.
For the battle sequence, 2,000 camels, 4,000 horses and 8,000 troops were used, many of them soldiers on loan from the Indian Army. This was arranged through special permission through the Indian Ministry of Defence-a rare occurrence today. The soldiers came from the Jaipur regiment of the Indian army.
The heavy chains Madhubala wore in the film were authentic, not the lightweight models worn in those days. It was her greatest ordeal in the film and she was bedridden for days, nursing the bruises caused by wearing those chains.
Prithviraj Kapoor would look into a mirror as tall as himself before each shot. When K. Asif asked him why he did so, he replied, "I do so to get under the skin of the character."
This was one of only two films K. Asif completed. When he died in 1971, he left behind two unfinished films, Sasta Khoon Mahenga Paani and Love and God, the latter released by K.C. Bokadia in 1986.
The statue of Lord Krishna used in the film was made of pure gold.
Before principal photography began in 1953, Suraiya was offered the coveted role of Anarkali. 20-year-old Madhubala, who longed for a significant role, won the part.
'Mughal-e-Azam' (1957) was a trilingual - with all scenes shot thrice in Hindi, Tamil and English. When the Tamil one flopped miserably, the English language one was aborted.
The colour version of the film was the first Indian movie to be released in Pakistan after Indian movies were banned there after the 1965 war.
K Asif was bent on having Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali to provide the singing voice of Tansen in the film. Ustadji declined and was asked to name his price by the director. He asked for Rs 25,000 - a small fortune at the time - to put K Asif off. Not only did K Asif agree to the price quoted, he also paid Ustadji an advance fee. In the film, Ustadji sings two songs - Prem Jogan Ban Ke and Shubh Din Aayo Raj Dulara.
When bookings for the film opened, there was chaos and near-riots at Mumbai's famous Maratha Mandir. Fans reportedly waited in queue for days, with family members ferrying them food from home. The police had to intervene when the crowd, reportedly a 100,000 strong, became too unruly. The tickets were dockets containing photographs and trivia about the film and are now considered collector's items.
Another reason why the film piqued interest was because of Dilip Kumar and Madhubala's love story. The duo were engaged but called it off due to some differences. In his autobiography, the veteran was quoted saying that the director was trying to mend the situation for Madhubala when things soured between them. The iconic feather scene between the two has its own story. In his autobiography, Kumar further stated that the two were not even talking to each other while shooting that scene but worked as two professional artists. He recalled the late actress as someone who was vivacious and who could draw the star out of his shyness and reticence effortlessly.