• Sunday, July 14, 2024


Mughal-E-Azam to Manhattan: Feroz Abbas Khan on taking grand musical to the US

The musical, based on K Asif’s 1960 film, has held more than 200 shows across six countries.

Feroz Abbas Khan (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

By: Mohnish Singh

For theatre director Feroz Abbas Khan, taking the grand ‘Mughal-E-Azam: The Musical’ to the land of Broadway, the US, has been the biggest challenge of his career.

One of the grandest Indian musicals, on its maiden American tour, will be showing at the heart of Broadway theatre at New York’s legendary Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, presenting a unique challenge to Khan – “showcasing our best alongside the best in the world”.

“India’s cinematic and dramatic traditions, from where ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ emerged, have always had matchless grandeur, musical and artistic depth. Not to mention a unique vocabulary. This production celebrates all of this and also India’s syncretic culture, and the beauty of its arts, crafts, and architecture while retelling a majestic love story with enormous universal appeal.

“We are excited to showcase our best alongside the best in the world. We are well aware of the expectations and the comparisons that may be made. This is perhaps the biggest challenge of my career, but I am looking forward to it,” Khan told PTI in an interview.

The musical, based on K Asif’s 1960 film, has held more than 200 shows across six countries, including the UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, and Qatar since its premiere in October 2016.

The production has continuously adopted the changing technologies and tastes in music and design, however, its soul remains intact as Khan believes “classics have to be handled with care and respect”.

“So with ‘Mughal E Azam- The Musical,’ the attempt has been to keep the core of the story intact and use the technology unobtrusively and only in the service of storytelling. As for the production, it has only grown better over the years,” he said.

Among the updates, the director said, celebrity fashion designer Manish Malhotra has reimagined the costumes and they are more vibrant and stunning than ever before.

“K Asif’s ‘Mughal E Azam’ has stood the test of time for over 60 years, and audiences have been enthralled with its musical version. There is absolutely no need to tamper with something so beautiful,” the 64-year-old said.

Starting from May 26 in Atlanta, the epic tale of love, directed by Khan and produced by Shapoorji Pallonji Group, will travel to 13 cities across the US and Canada for the first time since it was adapted for stage in 2016, presenting the production team with some intense logistical complexities.

The lead cast for the musical includes Nissar Khan, Priyanka Barve, Neha Sargam, and Shahab Ali. The production staff is led by projection designer John Narun, set designer Neil Patel, lightning designer David Lander, choreographer Mayuri Upadhyay and art director Sarosh Patel.

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