Arts & Culture, Features

Aga Khan Museum’s Bollywood Classics Series

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This upcoming summer the Aga Khan Museum will be extending the typical performing arts season well into the summer with their Bollywood Classics Series. Attendees will experience the history of Bollywood cinema at four separate screening spanning May through August, two held in the 340 seat domed auditorium and two in Aga Khan Park outside the Ismaili Centre. The cultural celebrations will kick off May 22 with the record breaking film Mughal-e-Azam. One of the last productions from the Golden Age of Bollywood and the film most often cited as the prototype for the genre’s contemporary films, Mughal-e-Azam’s 1960 theatrical release broke box office records and was the highest grossing Bollywood film for 15 years after its premiere.
A still from Umrao Jaan

A still from Muzaffar Ali's Umrao Jaan (1981).

The films follow in chronological order with the epitome of the 1970’s dramatic romanticism, Pakeezah. With the distinct 70's theme of romance and the 90’s return to comedies and family friendly film, the 1980’s were more so about making that transition than finding its own theme. To represent this mostly indefinable time in Indian cinema, the Aga Khan will be screening 1981’s Umrao Jaan, the story of a high end prostitute finding and losing love during British colonialism in India. The final and most contemporary film, 2008’s Jodhaa Akbar, will be screened August 13. A return to Bollywood’s glamour and decadence, Jodhaa Akbar is set in the 16th century and reimagines the political, religious, and romantic life of Emperor Akbar. As Canadian cinemas rarely feature Bollywood blockbusters (let alone these time-honoured classics), this is the perfect introduction for any newcomers to the genre and is a way for Bollywood’s fans to see their favourite films in a new light. By Lindsay Cooper

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