Movie Blog

12/22/2005

Movie Review: Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal Movie Review

Akbar Khan has made this Mughal love story ‘Taj Mahal - An Eternal Love Story’ out of sheer love and passion and has chosen to narrate the story in a simple and uncluttered fashion. The final outcome is very impressive.

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Zulfikar Syed…….Portrayed as young Shah Jahan
Sonya Jehan………Arjumand aka Mumtaz, love of Shah Jahan

Arbaaz Ali……….Emperor Jehangir
Pooja Batra……….Noor jehan, wife of Jehangir
Kim Sharma……..Ladli Begum, daughter of Noor jahan from her previous marriage
Kabir Bedi……….old Shah Jahan
Arbaaz Khan……..Aurangzeb, son of Shah Jahan
Manisha Koirala….Jahan Ara, daughter of Shah Jahan

Story:

The film takes the viewers back in the 17th century, when the royal family of the Mughals was ruling India. It opens with a battle for the throne between Aurangzeb and his three brothers Dara, Suja and Murad. Aurangzeb (Arbaaz Khan) defeats all and ascends the throne after imprisoning father Shah Jahan (Kabir Bedi) and elder sister Jahan Ara (Manisha Koirala) in a fort. Shah Jahan old, frail and dispassionate looks at the mausoleum, the Taj Mahal, he made for the love of his wife, where his beloved wife is buried. A sight of the Taj Mahal reminds him of his youth, his past; when he was the Prince of India and how he fell in love….

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Shah Jehan was known as Prince Khurram (Zulfikar Sayed) when he was about 19 years old. Khurram was Emperor Jehangir (Arbaaz Ali) favourite son whom Jehangir wanted to be the future Emperor of India and his wife Noor Jehan (Pooja Batra) was well aware of this fact. Noor Jehan was earlier married to someone else, but when her first husband had died, Jehangir married her. Ladli Begum (Kim Sharma) was Noor Jehan’s daughter from her first husband. Noor Jehan was a shrewd lady, who wanted the best for herself and her daughter and that is why she wanted Ladli Begum to get married to Khurram, so that she become the Empress of the Mughal Dynasty. But destiny had other plans…

Khurram had a passion for hunting and one day while hunting in a jungle, he meet Arjumand Bano. Theirs was a love at first sight as Khurram gets attracted to Arjumand Bano’s innocence and beauty while Arjumand get impressed of Khurram’s great personality. Arjumand Bano was Asaf Khan’s (Aly Khan) daughter who was Empress Noor Jehan’s brother. They again meet in the Meena Bazaar, where finally both of them declared their love for each other. Ladli Begum comes to know about their love, but she keeps on wooing Prince Khurram. Noor Jehan sees this love as a hindrance to her plans of making her daughter the future Empress of India and she succeeds in turning, Emperor Jehangir against his own son Khurram….

Noor Jehan sends her secret lover and the warrior Mahabat Khan (Milind Gunaji) to fight Khurram and to get Arjumand Bano killed. Therefore a war takes place, in which forces were also sent by Emperor Jehangir against Khurram. When Khurram meet Jehangir, he declares that Arjumand Bano was superior to him than the Mughal Dynasty. These turn relations even more bitter between the father and the son. But Arjumand Bano, who was a peace-loving person agreed to forget Khurram and ask him to marry Kandahari Begum (Negar Khan), an Iranian Princess, who was chosen by Emperor Jehangir for Khurram. Khurram due to Arjumand’s insistence got married to Kandahari Begum. On the other hand, Ladli Begum got married to Khurram’s brother. After Emperor Jehangir died, Khurram became Prince Shah Jehan and became the ruler of the Mughal dynasty. He finally get married to the love of his life, Arjumand Bano, who became Mumtaz Mahal, from then onwards they both lived happily but not for long enough….

An unfortunate event took place. Khurram has to leave for war and Aarjumand is pregnant but she goes with him as she used to accompany Shah Jehan in all his battles. Khurram tries to return back to the camp from the battle but takes long time to reach as he forgets his way and Mumtaz Mahal dies while giving birth to her nineteenth child. During her last breath, Mumtaz Mahal asked Shah Jehan to construct her tomb in a beautiful mausoleum, which would be so beautiful, that it could express their love for each other to everyone who would visit the mausoleum. Mumtaz’s death was the greatest tragedy for Shah Jehan he becomes a completely reformed person. He starts off to fulfill his wife’s last wish and makes Taj Mahal as beautiful as Mumtaz Mahal which went on to become the Seventh Wonder Of The World….

In future his sons and daughter grow up. Sons have a greed for their father powers; they keep him in a room from where he can easily see Taj Mahal. He sees his sons fighting against each other to become the Emperors of India and the Mughal Dynasty. Everywhere around him there is violence and warfare. Beheading of slaves and even brothers is no big deal for anyone. In the end of the movie Khurram dies while looking at Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal that took an astonishing 22 years to be made show Shah Jahan as the biggest lover of all times. On his death, his body was laid down next to his love hence resulting in the culmination of their love after death.

Akbar Khan has tried to recreate the Mughal era through opulent sets, royal costumes and jewellery. But the movie is more than just a mere costume drama. You get to see some good performances though the cast is not very famous. Kabir Bedi’s sophistication befit the old emperor, Zulfikar Sayed too impresses as his prince Khurram. While Pooja Batra puts in an impressive show as Noor Jahan, Kim Sharma as Ludli Begam merely reads out her lines. The best part belongs to Soniya Jehan, the beautiful Mumtaz Mahal. She exudes a natural charm and carries the film on her shoulders. One almost pities Arbaaz Khan as Aurangzeb. Akbar Khan as a director has once again emerged victorious in his attempt. He has spent a lot in creating the grandeur and the aura for the content.

Cinematography by R M Rao is superb and Sham Kaushal has choreographed some excellent duel on the screen in recent history. The sequences right from the battle scenes at the start of the film, to the events that lead to the house arrest of Shahjahan and Jahan Ara, to Shahjahan reliving the memorable moments from his life, to the games Noor Jehan plays to retain the throne, to Shahjahan’s demise, all are captured very well. Anan Singh gets full marks in costume designing and Tejas Jogani does wonders in jewelry department. The writing [Fatima Meer, Akbar Khan] is consistent throughout. Dialogues are natural. Even though the dialogues are in chaste Urdu at times, it isn’t difficult to grasp the meaning thanks to the simplicity of the scenes.

If Akbar Khan has failed anywhere it is in the cast and the music of the film. The films made on historic lines run on winning music but Naushad with the help of Uttam Singh has failed in reliving the kind of music that he gave in films like ‘Mughal-E-Azam’. Not even a single song remains in the memory of viewers after they come out after spending three hours in theatre. Of the lot, there’s just one song that might stay with the viewers memory ‘Mumtaz Tujhe Dekha Jab Taj Mahal Dekha’. Another song ‘Ajnabi Thehro Zara’ is passable. ‘Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story’ also lacks star attraction. Had Akbar Khan given more thought to star cast too, then the result would have been very phenomenal. However, the fact remains that whatever cast he assembled has given the best performance. The film needs chopping at some places to make it crispier and shorter.

Rating: 3/5

Taj Mahal - the story of Shahjahan’s love, Noor Jahan’s intrigue and Aurangzeb’s greed - is worth watching.

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