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Cold and beautiful



TOO OPULENT: Taj Mahal

More than Rs 100 crores have gone into Akbar Khan's `Taj Mahal - An Eternal Love Story' say the advertisements for the movie. And that is the crux of the matter. Because although this movie has taken years to reach the big screen (it was started in 2001) as the director lovingly pieced it together, the most outstanding feature is its blinding opulence.

Although, there are a few pleasant surprises. For instance, Zulfikar Syed who plays the young Shah Jahan or Prince Khurram, as he was formerly known.

As for Sonia Jahan, she looks perfect for the role of the breathtakingly beautiful Arjumand who later becomes Mumtaz Mahal, the muse for Shah Jahan's poetry in marble. But her performance itself is rather stony, except during the sing-off against her rival for Khurram's love Ladli Begum (Kim Sharma) that is beautifully choreographed.

Effective scene

Kabir Bedi plays the old Shah Jahan. With his commanding voice and regal presence, he narrates the story of how he fell in love with Arjumand she's in the forest, frolicking with deer when he comes thundering up on his mighty steed. It is perhaps one of the most effective scenes in the film. The film itself fails its purpose as a salute to a timeless love. Because Taj Mahal, the movie, is more ornamental than emotional. Even the violent struggles for power fail to move you.

The film, like all epic tales, drags a bit and would have been better if it was shorter by an hour. The music though is quite pleasant but if you aren't particularly tolerant of stories with several characters, complicated names, Kim Sharma, lovers who express themselves in song quite often and plenty of bling, then this one's not for you.

SUSAN MUTHALALY

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