As the film clocked 63 years today, K Asif’s grandson Javed Siddiqui has shared some interesting anecdotes with ETimes about the time when Mughal-e-Azam was released in theatres and how he had witnessed the frenzy among the audience.
“It was 5th August 1960. I was new to Bombay and was working in a newspaper. I got to know that the film was releasing in Maratha Mandir which was also a new theatre at that time. My editor told me to cover that event. Our office was in Byculla and Maratha Mandir was quite nearby so I happily went there,” Siddiqui recalled.
He continued, “What I saw was that there was no chance to move ahead from the Club Back road. The whole area was so jampacked that you couldn’t even muscle your way out from the crowd. The same was the case on the other side till Lamington Road and Saat Rasta. There were rumours that all the stars had come to Maratha Mandir and the film’s print was going to arrive on an elephant. It was a completely new thing. There was a Navy band playing and the entire surrounding area was lit up.”
“I tried to at least reach the road from where the juloos was going to pass. Suddenly, there were shouts of the juloos arriving and in a few moments I didn’t know where were my spectacles, shoes, etc. When I composed myself I got to know that the police had started to thwart people away. So, I came back and filed news with some spice,” he added.
In these 63 years, Siddiqui said that he got to know about Mughal-e-Azam and K Asif. He met a lot of people who knew K Asif and the film up close. He feels fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to talk to Wajahat Mirza who was the dialogue writer of the film.
“I think writers should watch Mughal-e-Azam repeatedly because it is writers’ bible. I have learned a lot from it, especially how to say something more impactful in fewer words,” he added.
Siddiqui then went on to share what Dilip Kumar had shared with him about K Asif. He talked about the incident when K Asif had gone to narrate the story to Prithviraj Kapoor and Meena Kumari and how both of them felt that it was their film.
“Dilip Kumar used to fondly talk about K Asif. He narrated one incident that shows that not only he was appreciative of poets, but he himself was also a very good story narrator. When he narrated the script to Prithviraj Kapoor, the actor was very excited to play the titular role and he agreed. K Asif said that he wanted to cast Meena Kumari to cast in the film. She used to stay at Janki Kutir in those days. So, Naushad, Prithviraj Kapoor, and K Asif went to meet Meena Kumari. K Asif explained the role of Anarkali and the whole story to Meena Kumari. After the two-hour narration, when they stepped out, Prithviraj Kapoor asked K Asif, ‘What am I doing in the film?’ Just imagine how brilliant a narrator he must have been. When he narrated the story to Kapoor he thought the film was his, and when he narrated to Kumari she felt that it was her film,” Siddiqui concluded.