The descendants of K. Asif, the man behind Indian epic Mughal-e-Azam, have realised their dream
Abid Hyatt, the great-nephew of the late movie mogul K. Asif, was sure that when the colourised version of Mughal-e-Azam was released it would overtake all other releases at the turnstiles. It did just that on its original release date of August 5, 1960.
He had declared, "Mughal-e-Azam has all the ingredients of a commercial blockbuster: action, emotion, music, high drama and above all terrific performances.
There is no reason why today's youth will not be attracted to the film. It will be a path-breaking film in the present times of domestic entertainment.
Mughal-e-Azam must be seen in cinema halls to enjoy and experience the out-of-the-world sound effects."
"The film is timeless," continued Hyatt, "like all other classics. It is like revisiting history. It is like viewing a mega movie like Ben Hur in the Indian context and tradition. Mughal-e-Azam is the greatest Indian film ever made and it will remain so forever.
"Mughal-e-Azam belongs to an altogether different genre. The subject itself is timeless and artists like Prithiviraj Kapoor, Madhubala and Dilip Kumar besides Nigar Sultana and Durga Khote can easily push the contemporary stars to the shadows."
In addition, Mughal-e-Azam has original musical compositions by the living legend Naushad and the original music is popular even today.
Akbar Asif, K. Asif's son, is a reputed business tycoon and a billionaire with varied interests. He has managed to convince international star Al Pacino to attend the London premiere of the film to be held soon at the Royal Albert Hall.
Asif recently met the Scarface actor and told him about the technical wizardry involved in the colouring and remastering of the original print.
Pacino evinced interest in the film, especially following newspaper reports that the film had broken new technological paths.
Some time ago in Mumbai, London-based Asif honoured the technicians who had worked on the restoration of the epic, at a gala function at the JW Marriott hotel.
Chief guest Aamir Khan presented a cheque for Rs. 11.1 million (Dh8.8 million) to project director Deepesh Salgia of Sterling Investments Private Limited.
The amount is to be distributed amongst the 100-odd technicians who worked on the restoration.
Akbar Asif flew in Dubai-based Abid Hyatt, who is Asif's nephew, to supervise the event.
In absentia, Akbar Asif also disclosed plans to make movies with major stars in India under the joint banner of Kavitha Films and Haya Films.
He also announced the instituting of a charitable trust for the welfare of the families of the technicians who worked on the original Mughal-e-Azam, as a tribute to his father.
Hyatt says, "It was my grandfather K. Asif's dream to complete the film in colour. He had shot only one song and some climax scenes - almost 20 per cent - in colour and was astounded by the results. He wanted to convert the entire film to colour, but the distributors were too impatient.
"That dream of my father remained unfulfilled till my uncle Akbar Asif and the original world rights controllers Shapoorji Pallonji decided to make it a reality. It took over 100 technicians and innumerable man-days to complete the task."
Cross border request
Asif said that he recently met Pakistani President General Parvez Musharraf. He gifted a re-mastered and colourised 35mm print of his father's epic to General Musharraf who was in London to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Asif impressed upon the president the need to release Mughal-e-Azam in Pakistan. He also emphasised the urgency in lifting the ban on the screening of Indian films in Pakistan. With no legitimate sources of Indian films in Pakistan, piracy is rife.
If the ban is lifted film pundits believe that Mughal-e-Azam's takings will cross the Rs. 1 billion (Dh80 million) mark.
Asif adds, "I am doing this for the love of Indian film industry, which is passing through a very low phase. This territory will open new revenue for Indian producers and both industries will flourish in a big way.
"Whatever may the business of the film, I want to dedicate the film to the people of Pakistan and whatsoever the collection may be, will be distributed to the underprivileged children of Pakistan."