Bollywood colours in the classics

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The Independent Online

The latest Bollywood movies may be all the rage in the UK but in India this week the talk is all about a film that was made more than 40 years ago. One of the classics of Indian cinema is set to return tomorrow - and for the first time, it will be in colour.

The latest Bollywood movies may be all the rage in the UK but in India this week the talk is all about a film that was made more than 40 years ago. One of the classics of Indian cinema is set to return tomorrow - and for the first time, it will be in colour.

To its admirers, Mughal-e-Azam , the story of a doomed love affair between a prince and commoner, is the greatest Indian film ever made. It has been said to contain one of the most erotic scenes in Indian cinema. Indian reviewers still rhapsodise over the performances of Dilip Kumar and Madhubala. Originally made in black and white, director K Asif's masterpiece is being re-released on Friday in a new colourised version.

The distribution rights for the 44-year-old film's re-release in Bombay alone have sold for 22.5m rupees (£270,000) - a new record.

There is a long history of film-making in India, and old favourites are fairly often shown in cinemas. But this is the first time a black and white Indian film has ever been colourised.

The making of Mughal-e-Azam is a legend in itself. It took more than 10 years to film - so long that a new male star had to be found when the original choice died before the film was completed. In an era when most Indian films were made for less than $200,000 (£110,000), it cost more than $3m, making it the most expensive Indian film ever made at the time.

In an India that is still bitterly polarised over religion it will be interesting to see how a film that depicts religious tolerance and harmony under a Muslim emperor is received.

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