New Delhi: Director Feroz Abbas Khan is bringing K Asif’s “Mughal-E-Azam” to the stage and he is confident that the inherent conflict and drama in the story will translate beautifully into a grand Broadway style musical.
The 1960 romance, starring Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Prithviraj Kapoor, is one of the most important films in India’s cinematic history.
Khan, known for directing critically acclaimed plays “Tumhari Amrita” and “Mahatma Vs Gandhi”, calls the stage adaptation of the movie his most ambitious and exciting project so far.
“Mughal-e-Azam was adapted from a play. It has a very theatrical structure. When I thought about doing a musical play on a a large scale the film came to my mind. It was made in 1960 but people are attracted to the story even today,” Khan told PTI in an interview.
The director says he has been careful in respecting K Asif’s vision while lending the stage adaptation modern sensibilities.
“It is a great challenge. One has to respect the memories of the people and yet we are in 2016. I am bringing modern sensibilities to the play. It is modern theatre.
“There will be live singing. Eight of the original songs from the movie will feature in the play. We are doing the stage adaptation as a tribute to Mr K Asif. It is his work, I am only translating it into play. I am inspired by his madness and passion. I have grown up loving the story.”
The play will be performed at the NCPA (National Centre For Performing Arts), where it will play daily from October 21 till first week of November for a limited engagement of two weeks followed by the staging at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi in November.
Khan, a theatre veteran, is known for his sensitive handling of stories and the success of “Tumhari Amrita”, starring Farooq Sheikh and Shabana Azmi, is a testament to that. For him, “Mughal-E-Azam” is a passion project.
“When you take on something new, you are always factoring in that it is going to be challenging. If you are going to take a simple play that would be fine but the fact that you are doing ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ puts a lot of pressure on you.
“I am going to do my best… This is a legacy and I am very respectful towards what I have with me.
He has roped in some of the biggest names such as costume
designer Manish Malhotra, award-winning lighting designer David Lander, Emmy award nominee projection designer John Narun, production designer Neil Patel and choreographer Mayuri Upadhya.
Shapoorji Pallonji who financed the film is presenting the play along with NCPA.
“I would have ordinarily not made it this big but it needed to be done on a scale that befits ‘Mughal-E-Azam’. I decided to bring in true collaborators and I have been very lucky in that respect.”
Khan says he normally works with a small crew but the play demanded a different kind of infrastructure.
“It is very heavy on set, technology and lighting. I have a team of 60 -70 people besides the supporting team. I have done this before in a Gujarati musical but this is the biggest.”
Khan, who has been associated with Prithvi theatre for a long time, is most comfortable with working in theatre though he has successfully ventured out into films “Gandhi My Father” and “Dekh Tamasha Dekh”. He also made a TV show “Main Kuchh Bhi Kar Sakati Hoon” on the theme of women empowerment.
Khan says theatre gives him a chance to explore and experiment like no other medium can.
“I am very happy with theatre. I have spent most of my life not just doing plays but also being a part of Prithvi theatre almost from its inception to even now…
“Theatre allows me the freedom to explore so many subjects and ideas…I need not worry about money.
“And since I am slightly more comfortable with the language of theatre, I can break a lot of rules here. The whole process of working in theatre is very enriching. I see a growth.