Someone has said that the Taj Mahal is a tear on the cheek of time. Full of emotion and timeless too is the film #Shiraz(1929), based on a legend about its building and directed by #FranzOsten and produced by Himansu Rai.
In 1924, #HimanshuRai was a wealthy young law graduate and theatre enthusiast in London when he had the idea of approaching the Munich-based Emelka Film Company to help him make a film on the life of Buddha based on Light of Asia, the long poem by Victorian poet Edwin Arnold. At the time, Franz Osten was the chief director at Emelka, which was founded by his brother Peter Ostermeyr and had been making films since 1910 -11. This first production, released in 1925, set the pattern for the two subsequent co-productions made for the legendary German studio Ufa.
Based on a play by #NiranjanPal and scripted by #WBurton, Shiraz is a truly beautiful work of filmic atmosphere and emotion. Here is the synopsis (with minor changes) from my book Light of Asia: Indian Silent Cinema , 1912–1934:
“Hassan, a potter living in the Persian desert finds Selima, a princess , and raises her along with his son Shiraz. Under his benign gaze they mature into young sweethearts, played by Enakshi Rama Rao and Himansu Rai.
The beautiful Selima is abducted by slave traders and sold to the Mughal prince Khurram ( Charu Roy) who falls in love with her. This upsets the plans of the wily court lady Dalia (Seeta Devi) who dreams of becoming the Empress herself. She arranges a secret meeting between the lovelorn Shiraz and Selima. The two are seen by Khurram and he condemns Shiraz to be trampled by an elephant.
But Dalia’s plot is exposed and Shiraz reveals the locket which signifies Selima’s royal descent. Selima and Khurram marry, leaving Shiraz to keep a ceaseless vigil outside the palace gates. Selima is given the title Mumtaz Mahal when Khurram succeeds to the throne as Emperor Shah Jahan.
When the Empress dies eighteen years later, Shah Jahan orders that a monument is built in her memory such as the world has never seen.The design chosen by the Emperor is that of Shiraz who is now blind but has rendered his ‘memories into stone’. “
This fictional account of the story behind the Taj Mahal is, like many other films about the Mughals, based purely on legend and popular myths. The most famous among these are Sohrab Modi’s Pukar (1939) and K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam (1960). But what Shiraz lacks in historical accuracy is more than compensated by its numerous qualities. Emil Schunemann’s camerawork fully exploits the Mughal style architecture and opulent costumes in lustrous images that evoke the grandeur of the period. Virtually every shot of the film is a cinematographic tour de force shimmering with gorgeous light and textures.
Courtesy- Suresh Chabria for thereel.scroll.