Director: Akhbar Khan
Producer: Akhbar Khan
Cast: Kabir Bedi, Zulfi Sayed, Arbaaz Khan, Manisha Koirala, Pooja Batra, Arbaaz Ali, Kim Sharma, Sonya Jehan.
TAJ MAHAL begins with an ageing Shahjahan [Kabir Bedi] being held captive by his son Aurangzeb [Arbaaz Khan]. After killing his brother Dara Shikoh [Vaquar Sheikh] and his other brother, Aurangzeb not only keeps his father in captivity, but also house-arrests his elder sister Jahan Ara [Manisha Koirala]. 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/Shahjahan [Zulfi Syed] and Arjumand/Mumtaz Mahal [Sonya Jehan], in a jungle. But Shahjahan's step-mother Noorjehan [Pooja Batra] has her own agenda: She wants Shahjahan to marry her daughter from her earlier marriage, Ladli Begum [Kim Sharma].
Against all odds Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal marry. However Mumtaz Mahal doesn't live longer and 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 of love, Taj Mahal.
Akbar Khan does a great job in not only attempting a historical film, but also making a colossal film on one of the seven wonders of the world, Taj Mahal. The film makes a sweeping impact and most importantly, has soul. Akbar Khan's interpretation of the story is simple and elegant and far more engaging than those attempted in the past. However the loose editing takes a toll on the film. The film slows down post interval and a few songs and sequences ought to have been edited in order to keep up with the pace of events.
Music by Naushad is another setback for the film. Non of the songs make a mesmerising impact and are below ordinary. Cinematography [R.M. Rao] is awe-inspiring. The film not only bears an extravagant look, the expenses are visible on the screen as well. Action scenes [Sham Kaushal] are well composed.
Performance wise Zulfi Syed does a great job and enacts the role of the young and middle-aged Shajahan with amazing understanding. Arbaaz Khan is excellent as the conniving Aurangzeb. Pooja Batra is a revelation. Playing a calculating and scheming woman to the core, the actress is sure to make a number of film-makers sit up and take note of her talent. Kabir Bedi is, like always, dependable. Sonya Jehan looks beautiful and enacts her part well. Manisha Koirala is graceful in a brief, but strong role. Arbaaz Ali is effective, although he looks too young to be Zulfi's father. Kim Sharma is alright. Rest of the cast lend able support.
On the whole Taj Mahal is a well made film however due to the subject of the film, there will be less takers. If you are interested in history then this is one film which is worth a dekho.