Mughal-e-Azam is one of only two films directed by K. Asif; one of his unfinished projects was released posthumously as a tribute. It has also been used as a model for the perfect love story, requiring directors to ensure lovers overcome obstacles. Following her success in the film,Madhubala could have gone on to land further major roles, but she was advised not to overwork owing to her heart condition and had to withdraw from some productions that were already underway.
The Guardian in 2013 cited Mughal-e-Azam as a “landmark of cinema” despite its historical inaccuracies, and the BBC stated in 2005 that it is “widely considered one of Bollywood’s most iconic films”. Imtiaz Ali of The Times of India in 2010 called it the “most prototypical, high involvement, expensive, passionate piece of work that Hindi cinema has ever produced”, one that “set the standard for everything that will ever come after it”. It continues to be regarded by critics as the Indian equivalent of Gone with the Wind.
Filmmaker Subhash Ghai was quoted in 2010 as saying that a film like this could never be repeated: “Mughal-e-Azam is an all-time classic and has been the ultimate love story in Hindi cinema at all levels. So it will always remain alive for generations to come.” To commemorate the film’s anniversary, actor and producer Shah Rukh Khan had his company Red Chillies Entertainment produce a documentary video titled Mughal-E-Azam — A Tribute by a son to his father. Hosted by Khan, it includes interviews with Asif’s family and Bollywood stars. Artist M. F. Husain created a series of paintings for the video, in which he re-imagined some memorable scenes. Interested in preserving the film for future generations, Khan noted that his father was originally cast in the film but did not complete it. When asked if Mughal-e-Azam should be remade, he retorted: “It is the mother of all films; mothers cannot be remade”.