MughalThe 1960 Madhubala and Dilip Kumar film is in theaters today in the US. It has been restored to its technicolor glory, and one of the best examples of “Mughal nostalgia/historical extravaganza” for the lack of a better word. Umrao Jaan and Razia Sultan was probably the dying gasp of that genre. Though Umrao Jaan should technically be considered the last gasp, since it had memorable songs, a defining feature of these films. I suppose making films replete with Urdu poetry and idealized visions of “Mughal” culture wouldn’t be possible today. Who wants the Hindutva goons to go on a rampage on your set for being “anti-Indian”? The historical/nostalgia films seem to be currently situated in Bengal, what with Devdas and Chokher Bali (though not so much). I wonder if we’ll start seeing “nationalistically correct” extravaganzas with stories set in Baji Rao or Shivaji’s court. Films like Lagaan don’t really fit the bill, they don’t have the right tone of melancholy that these films require.

Update: We saw it. Its excellent! the colorization really works, (I was wrong about it being originally in technicolor, just portions of it were in color). Not everything has been colorized in the frame. Eschewing realism, the restoration leans towards expression, a good choice for a film where the aesthetic is one of tableau vivant, with characters striking stylized poses and declaiming elaborate and literary dialogue. Unfortunately, some songs have been cut from this version, bringing the three and a half version to three hours.