A historical romance set in the Mughal Empire. Selima (Enakshi) is a princess-foundling raised by a potter and loved by her brother, Shiraz (Rai). She is abducted and sold as a slave to ... See full summary »
A historical romance set in the Mughal Empire. Selima (Enakshi) is a princess-foundling raised by a potter and loved by her brother, Shiraz (Rai). She is abducted and sold as a slave to Prince Khurram, later Emperor Shah Jehan (Roy), who falls for her, to the chagrin of the wily Dalia (Seeta Devi). When Selima is caught is Shiraz, the young man is condemned to be trampled to death by an elephant. A pendant reveals Selima's royal status and she saves her brother, marries the prince and becomes Empress Mumtaz Mahal while Dalia is banned for her machinations against Selima. When Selima dies (1629), the emperor builds her a monument to the design of the now old and blind Shiraz, the Taj Mahal. The film contains a number of passionate kissing scenes. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Late silent film shot in India is a fascinating oddity.
Not a great movie, with none of the flamboyant technique characteristic of the last great silents - THE WIND, ASPHALT, SUNRISE - but the mix of German expats., British scripting and Indian subject matter filmed on location, remains an intriguing novelty.
The plot, with the scheming highborn lady (`Father, to become Princess and later empress of India I would dare anything') introducing an old flame into the women's quarter to discredit the heir's true love, is simple stuff which seems to belong to a period of film making from years earlier. Playing is at least restrained.
The film's major appeal is in placing it's action against attractive genuine Indian buildings and the occasional vista. There's a bit of suspense from the likelihood that a real elephant will stomp the admirer. The hint of exotic sadism which runs through these European visions of The Mysterious East - `Kismet' or films like DAS INDISCHE GRABMAL and EMERALD OF THE EAST - is clear, as with demanding that the model maker's already blind eyes be put out.
The ending with the Empress' two devoted admirers sitting in front of the Taj Mahal is telling.
This one survives in a particularly sharp, well graduated copy - one of the best circulating, even if it isn't tinted. A pity the Sydney Film Festival, after bringing it half way round the planet, ran it too fast but the Tunji Beier - Linsley Pollak score they put with it was excellent.
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