Stage set for 'Mughal-e-Azam' musical

New Delhi:  The classic love story of Mughal Prince Salim and Anarkali, a court dancer, will be presented on the stage in Mumbai next month and later in the national capital. And filmmaker-stage director Feroz Abbas Khan, who is bringing the stage version of K. Asifs magnum opus "Mughal-e-Azam", couldn't be more excited to present the technically "very sophisticated" production to the audience.

Khan, popular for plays like "Tumhari Amrita" and "Saalgirah", had thought about adapting the 1960 film "Mughal-e-Azam" long time ago, but certain limitations held him back from materialising his dream.

"We just announced that the musical will premiere in Mumbai on October 21, but I had thought of doing it many years ago. But I took that thought out of my mind as there weren't enough resources for this kind of production. So, it would always be at the level of wishful thinking. When I had a conversation with the National Centre for the Performing Arts, they were very excited about it," Khan said over the phone from Mumbai.

The next step was to approach the people who had the rights - the film's producers.

"So, we went to Shapoorji Pallonji and asked them for rights. They decided to be our partner. When they got together, it got slightly easy for me," he said.

Talking about the scale and the budget of the production, he said: "It would be a very huge budget. Manish Malhotra is doing the costumes. He is a dream. The choreography is by Mayuri Upadhya who traverses all the genres. We have classically trained kathak dancers sourced from all over the country. We even got an outstanding technical support from New York."

Will any known faces play the loved characters?

"No. This is a live musical. So, you need actors who can sing. Besides, the rehearsals are extended over a long period of time. So, the point of using a film star doesn't work for a production of this kind. We are giving you 'Mughal-e-Azam', but in a new medium... a theatrical experience."

Since the film has gained a cult status over the years, is he expecting a huge audience?

"The audience base would be much bigger than it normally is. A musical play is a popular genre. But it doesn't mean theatre doesn't have an audience. We have a huge audience and it's growing every day. But yes, the base of the audience for this play will be much bigger as it's a very known subject. 

"It's a love story and music that people have loved and grown up listening to. This play will certainly go longer and further than any other play," Khan said about the musical that will play till November 1 in Mumbai. It will later travel to Delhi in November.

"In Delhi, it will be shown from November 25 till December 4 at the Siri Fort Auditorium. There is a lot excitement for it and I am very happy," he said.

He hopes to take the play to different parts of the globe.

"Right now, it is just two cities. But we do plan to go to other parts of the country and ultimately go global. It is technically, a very sophisticated production," he shared.

Any other film adaptations?

"Not at all. I've got another play ('Maseeha Tonight') after that. Besides, not all films can be made into plays. I am sure there are some other films that can be made, but I haven't thought about it," said Khan, who had helmed Akshaye Khanna-starrer "Gandhi, My Father".

What about making more films?

"I have written something... not a complete script. I am also engaged in entertainment education ('Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon' series) for behaviour change in terms of women empowerment and for family planning. So, I need to balance all that. But hopefully, by the end of 2017, I would be making a film," said Khan.