When Prithviraj Kapoor walked barefoot in the scorching sun for Mughal-e-Azam

Prithviraj Kapoor’s towering personality and his dominant presence on the silver screen were enigmatic and left a strong impression on the audience. The veteran theater actor was very picky about his film roles and this resulted in memorable roles where he gave his all. One of the most famous roles of his career was the role of Emperor Akbar in K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam And for that, Kapoor immersed himself in the character.

In a 2010 interview with The Indian Express, Shammi Kapoor shared that his father Prithviraj Kapoor’s “powerful presence” and “thundering performance” made him perfect for Akbar. Shammi shared that when his father was shooting for the film, he was often present on the sets of K Asif’s legendary film.

Shammi Kapoor recalled, “My father got into the skin of the character completely depending on the script and the director. He would have been on the sets, sipping tea and smoking, dressed normally, and Asif sahab. lovingly ask her to get ready for his shot.He would enter the make-up room saying, ‘Prithviraj Kapoor is leaving now’ (Prithviraj Kapoor is leaving now). When ready, he would come out saying, ‘Akbar is coming now’ (Akbar is coming now).”

Prithviraj Kapoor did not compromise on the authenticity of the scene while filming in the desert. (Photo: Express Archives)

He then shared that for the battle scenes, Prithviraj Kapoor wore real iron armor in the scorching heat of Rajasthan. The opening scene of the film, which featured Emperor Akbar walking barefoot as he prayed for an heir, was shot in the scorching sun in a desert and Kapoor had blisters on his feet, but He did not compromise on the authenticity of the shot. “In the battle scenes, he wore genuine iron armor without complaint which was so heavy. During the sequence when Akbar went to Ajmer Sharif to pray for his son, my father actually walked barefoot in the desert sun, And their soles were full of blisters,” he said.

While Mughal-e-Azam is often remembered for love story of salim and anarkali, Shammi believed that the hero of the film was Akbar and thus, the title of the film was Mughal-e-Azam. “Contrary to popular belief that the film was a love story of Salim and Anarkali, Mughal-e-Azam was about this event in the life of Emperor Akbar, and that is why K Asif did not title the film as Salim-Anarkali. My father Prithvirajji was the hero of the film Mughal-e-Azam.”

Sharing another anecdote from the iconic “Jab Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya”, Shammi Kapoor said that in the sequence, Emperor Akbar must have been enraged by the rage reflected in his eyes and director Asif took his time to get him there. Gave. He said, ‘Badshah’s eyes turn red with anger during Madhubala’s different song Jab Pyar Kiya. My father did that sequence without glycerin. I remember Asif sahab asking him to take his time and saw my father in that mood and his eyes turned red.

Prithviraj Kapoor’s performance as Akbar set a benchmark for period film performance in Hindi cinema and is still considered one of the best iterations of Ek Samrat we have seen on celluloid.

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