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16th century on stage

art-and-culture Updated: Apr 30, 2010 23:51 IST
Aasheesh Sharma
Aasheesh Sharma
Hindustan Times
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The dialogue is exaggerated and the sets extravagant. Mourning his departed empress, Shah Jehan, Mumtaz Mahal’s Sartaj, orders the building of ‘a monument so beautiful it would force every heart to beat in romance.’ The audience applauds and the legend of the Taj is reinforced.

From the progressive lyrics of Sahir Ludhianvi to comic moments in sci-fi flick Mars Attacks, the Monument of Love has inspired some interesting popular culture. Now, a musical, performed every evening in the Taj’s backyard for the last 18 months, is coming to the city. Mohabbat, the Taj, promises ornate costumes, a riot of colour and over-the-top lines.

The set will be a replica of the Taj says producer Ashok Jain. “We’ve made a larger-than-life musical with ghazals, dances and mujras.” Jain had tourists in mind when he conceptualised it. “Through translation software and headphones, tourists enjoy 80 minutes of romance, 16th-century style, in their own tongue,” he says.

So impressed was Salma Ansari, Vice President Hamid Ansari’s wife, with the musical that she persuaded Jain to bring it to Delhi. “The Taj’s appeal prevails over the argument that it denotes wasteful spending. ”

Now only if Sahir, too, had understood and not penned these iconic lines about the Taj: Ek Shahenshah ne daulat ka sahara lekar, hum gharibon ki mohabbat ka udaya hai mazaq. (An emperor on the strength of wealth has played with us a cruel joke.)

At Kamani Auditorium, May 5 at 7 pm. For invitations, call 9999984165