I do not like epic films - except Asoka, for reasons I cannot quite explain, although I suspect they might have to do with its eerie, unreal quality, amazing music, and Shahrukh being noble and wet. I digress. I rented Mughal-e-Azam because it seemed like the kind of thing I should see in order to continue my Bollywood education. I don't respond well to insta-love and big decisions when they're couched in hand-to-forehead turn-away drama-o-rama. The more they crank out the conflict and obstacles, the less interested I am. Perhaps because the obstacles in real life, while perfectly dramatic, are often nuanced and subtle and unexpected, as opposed to punctuated by thunderclaps and edicts and armies. I know, I know, no one said the movies had to be like real life, and there are many decidedly unreal Bollywood conventions that I adore and respond to, but somehow my disbelief can't cover them.
I wish I could have seen it in black and white. I have read about the colorization proces, including the official website's justification of doing it (which has a pooh-pooh-to-you-for-questioning-us tone, in my opinion), but to me the results were mixed. Much of the time it seemed the colors really didn't go with each other, that they fought for visual peace. Other times I thought I was looking into a shoebox diorama - a lavish, lush, beautiful one, to be sure - with the actors on one plane, the archway behind them on another, and then the mountains on a third, with no flow in between layers.
The language, though. Wow. Lofty and powerful and rich, and I'm sure I missed huge amounts of it, reading in subtitles. Even though the dialogue mostly expressed ideas I don't believe in - "the only story of lovers is to pine, heave sighs, and choke to death" - it was a joy to read. Dismissive and curmudgeonly as I am about the plot, even I was enchanted by the words.
All this and elephants too! That's what I call a night (okay, three) at the movies.