Vol. 5 Num 533 Sat. November 26, 2005  

Taj Mahal shimmers...
Attempting a historical film in these times is as rare as having thunder showers in January. Akbar Khan not only attempts a historical work, but makes a colossal film on one of the seven wonders of the world, Taj Mahal. Naturally, the expectations are as monumental as the subject matter.

Akbar Khan's interpretation of the story is far more engaging than those attempted in the past. Taj Mahal has gloss, sequences that make a sweeping impact and most importantly, soul.

Taj Mahal begins with an ageing Shahjahan (Kabir Bedi) being held captive by his son Aurangzeb (Arbaaz Khan). After killing his elder brother Dara Shikoh (Vaquar Sheikh) and his other brother, Aurangzeb not only keeps his father in captivity, but also confines his elder sister Jahan Ara (Manisha Koirala) to house arrest. In the sunset of his life, Shahjahan begins to narrate his legendary tale to daughter Jahan Ara.

It's love at first sight for the two youngsters, Prince Khurram AKA Shahjahan (Zulfi Syed) and Arjumand AKA Mumtaz Mahal (Sonya Jehan), in a jungle. But Shahjahan's stepmother Noorjehan (Pooja Batra) has her own agenda: She wants Shahjahan to marry her daughter from her earlier marriage, Ladli Begum (Kim Sharma).

Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal's romance and subsequent marriage isn't without its share of hiccups. While breathing her last, Mumtaz Mahal takes a promise from her beloved to build an edifice in memory of their love. And thus begins work on a monument that continues to attract millions of people even today.

Khan narrates the story in the most simplistic fashion. Generally, with so many characters involved as also the fact that the generation of today may not be fully aware of the intricacies of the subject, it could be a daunting task to compress the facts in two-and-a-half-hours and in a manner the average moviegoer could decipher. It is a great feather in his cap that he has succeeded in this challenging job.

Compiled by Cultural Correspondent
Sonya Jehan and Zulfi Syed in Taj Mahal