The production also inherits the 1960 film's classic soundtrack by Naushad and Shakeel Badayuni's lyrics
In what is an ambitious venture for the Indian stage, K. Asif’s magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam is now a stage musical directed by Feroz Abbas Khan. Presented by the original producers of the 1960 film — real-estate magnates Shaporjee-Pallonji — in association with the National Centre of the Performing Arts, the first public shows were held last week at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre. The play has inherited Naushad’s classic soundtrack and Shakeel Badayuni’s lyrics, with their wonderfully redolent songs sung live on stage to a pre-recorded orchestral and choral score. The high-flown Urdu dialogues from the original also persist, still falling wonderfully on the ears, even if comprehension isn’t entirely a given any more. For that, a watered-down English translation is projected on screens on either side of the stage. Khan’s version is rich in period flavour and spectacle, while grappling with the difficulties of staging a screen musical of such legendary proportions.