5th K Asif Chambal film fest marks the centenary celebrations of Mughal-e-Azam director

Film critic Ajit Rai said, “The story of Anarkali is not mentioned in history but K Asif presented the fictional story in such a way that everyone believed it to be true”

Film Critic Ajit Rai
Film Critic Ajit Rai
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Murtaza Ali Khan

Recently the 5th edition of K Asif Chambal International Film Festival was organized in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh—the hometown of the legendary director of Mughal-e-Azam, K. Asif. The event marked the birth centenary celebrations of K. Asif who was born in Etawah on 14 June 1922. Festival Founder Shah Alam, whose group Azam Ka Cinema also organizes festivals in places like Ayodhya, Chauri Chaura, Kargil, Auraiya, Wardha, etc, is a young activist and documentary filmmaker hailing from Basti, Uttar Pradesh. He has been working tirelessly to bring the youth closer to shared heritage of freedom fighters of 1857 as well as the revolutionaries of the 1920s. For the last many years, Alam and his group have been closely working with the local communities of Uttar Pradesh’s Chambal region which till date remains one of the most under-developed and administratively ignored regions of the country.

During a panel discussion at Islamia Inter College, K. Asif’s alma mater, the noted Indian film critic Ajit Rai said, “Mughal-e-Azam is a love poem on celluloid that spreads the message of love. The story of Anarkali is not mentioned in history but K. Asif presented the fictional story and characters in such a way that everyone believed it to be true.” He also reminded that the film has a timeless quality and is revered the world over. “Each incident in the film is brought to the screen in such a way that the emotions and the feelings can be felt by the people sitting in the cinema hall regardless of their cultural backgrounds or the languages they speak,” added Rai who has been regularly covering leading international film festivals at Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Moscow, London, Oslo, and Cairo, among others over the last several years. He has also served as the editor of Doordarshan's magazine "Drishyantar" and the National Theater School magazine "Rang Prasang".

On the occasion, Fazal Yusuf Khan, one of K. Asif's living relatives, proposed that a memorial should be built in Etawah in the late filmmaker’s honor, which was agreed by all the people present there. Supporting this proposal, veteran journalist, filmmaker and former executive director of Rajya Sabha TV, Rajesh Badal also suggested setting up of a film institute in the name of K. Asif in Etawah. “There a great need of a good film institute in Central India and so why not raise voice for it so that the central and state governments should work for it. Etawah should be developed into a major film center from where many more filmmakers following the great legacy of K. Asif will emerge in the coming years,” asserted Badal.

Badal also shared an interesting incident related to Asif. “When the film Mughal-e-Azam was being made, director K. Asif told the film's producer Shapoorji Pallonji that he needed real pearls for the shoot as he wanted to hear the sound that comes from the falling of real pearls. Shapoorji was not ready for this because of the high expenses. The relationship between the two suffered because of it and the conversation also stopped. Then came the festival of Eid and Shapoorji took gold and silver coins in a big plate and gifted it to Asif. The filmmaker used it to buy the original pearls for the film and the shooting of Mughal-e-Azam finally resumed,” recounted Badal.


Presiding over the panel, senior journalist Dr. Rakesh Pathak said that K. Asif has given the message of Hindu-Muslim unity and love to the world through his film. He proposed that a complete book and documentary film covering all aspects of his life should be made. Furqan Ahmed, the former chairman of the municipality, and manager of Islamia Inter College, Mohd. Altaf Advocate, were also present on the occasion. The festival organizing committee also included the President of Press Club Etawah, Dinesh Shakya, Principal of Islamia Inter College, Gufran Ahmed, Dr. Ripudaman Singh Yadav, Dr. Kamal Kumar Kushwaha, Kuldeep Kumar Buddhist, Rudra Pratap, Mohit Yadav, Sheelendra Singh, Dr. Hemant Yadav, Virendra Singh Sengar, Durgesh Chaudhary, Ram Sundar Yadav, and Master Vinod Singh, among others.

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