Taj: Divided By Blood(Zee5, 10 Episodes)
Rating: * ½
If I were a Mughal emperor—which unfortunately I am not—I would sue the makers of this ten-tiered tinsley tormenting schlock for defamation. The entire bauble-and-babble exercise is devoted to showing the Mughal invaders as a bunch of over-sexed, under-intellectualized despoilers with nary a redeeming quality in their libidinous personality.
To make it worse, the Mughals are all played by a bunch of certifiable hams, each trying to outdo the other in the school of freakonomics. Even the mighty Naseeruddin Shah joins in the collective effort to fry a epic hamlet(an omelette made of ham). His Akbar is a blend of buffoon and lecher.
His sons are no better. Murad as played by Tanha Shah scowls so much I feared more for his jowl than the Mughal sultanat.
“You must exercise some selfrestraint,” Murad is counseled by the wise ones in theMughal court . These wise ones , a pitiable minority, include Akbar’s wise counsellor Birbal and the evil and cunning Wazir Abdul Fazal , played by decent actors Subodh Bhave and Pankaj Saraswat who struggle to infuse decorum into a show that’s hellbent on shooting itself in its feet.
Not that there were guns during those Mughal days, unless you want to find a pun in the gun.
While Murad scowls, Salim as played by Ashim Gulati looks like Aditya Roy Kapoor on a bad-‘heir’ day. Suffice it to say he is no Dilip Kumar. As for poor Akbar’s third son Danial(Shubham Kumar Mishra, struggling to show Daniyal’s struggles) ,he is portrayed as a traumatized queer struggling to come out of the closet…or armour,if you please. As Julie Andrews would ask, how do you solve a problem like Daniel?
If we are to be believe writer Christopher Butera and screenwriters William Borthwick and Simon Fanatuzzo, then Emperor Akbar and his son Salim used the lower part of their body as their thinking tools. Rushing inebriated into harems of squealing women(and sometimes men), these pathetic specimens of soldiership could barely stand on their feet unsupported, let alone fight those epic battles that we are told about, but seldom shown.
The women are no better. Akbar’s three wives played by Zarina Wahab, Sandhya Mridul and Padma Damodaran, plot and plan over what likes a never-ending shitty…sorry, kitty party. While Ms Damodaran flares her nostrils and curls her lips to show queenly vanity.Zarina Wahab maintains her peace in a passion-prey where everyone strains hard to be heard. Sandhya Mridul looks completely lost as Jodhabai.
I hope Durga Khote forgives Mridul. The same goes for those who have executed this incapacitated tribute to the spirit of bacchanalia and debauchery. Not to mention, incest: Akbar and his son Salim are both shown to be actively lusting after Anarkali.Mughal-e-awesome!
As for Aditi Rao Hyder’s Anarkali, Madhubala must be turning in her grave.