Emperor of the Mughals | Chicago Reader

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In 1960, when it was released after more than a decade in production, this historical epic was the most expensive Indian film ever made. It's set at the height of the Mughal dynasty, around 1600, when the emperor, hoping to reform his dissolute son, ships the boy off for military service. Fourteen years later the son returns a successful officer, but after he falls in love with a slave girl, the outraged emperor conspires to keep them apart. Director K. Asif excels at portraying imperial power: one shot centers the emperor with an elephant directly behind him, and others use palace architecture to enhance the characters' stature. Several elaborate musical numbers are sensitively mounted, yet the conclusion has too many twists, and the pair of color segments, while stunningly opulent, make the black and white seem like a limitation. In Hindi with subtitles, though some key songs are untranslated. 197 min.

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