indian cinema heritage foundation

Anarkali (1953)

  • Release Date1953
  • GenreHistory, Musical, Romance
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time148 mins
  • Length4701.84 meters
  • Number of Reels17
  • Gauge35mm
  • Censor RatingU
  • Censor Certificate NumberU-7419/53-MUM
  • Certificate Date08/01/1953
  • Shooting LocationThe Bombay Studios Limited, Goregaon

The romance of Salim and Anarkali is the story of an immortal love which grew in the wilderness-flourished in spite of all impediments and was finally hallowed in the eyes of God and man. Anarkali was like the beautiful flower that grows in the wilderness. Fate made her the beloved of Salim-a prince of royal blood and their apparent to Akbar the great. Salim, the perfect lover that he was, kept his royal identity hidden from her and loved her as a common man. Their happiness was complete but short-lived. The exigencies of state forced Salim to join Manshingh in invasion of Kabul, and as ill luck would have it he could not even see his beloved before going away.

Thus they separated, Salim to weather the storms of a different campaign an Anarkali to meet a cruel fate. Her caravan was looted. She was carried beyond the borders of India to be sold as a slave, thinking all the while that she was separated from her beloved for ever. But here again fate decreed otherwise: Salim happened to pass by as she was being auctioned, and he bought her, keeping himself in disguise. The poignancy of this reunion was enhanced by its short duration; even as Anarkali lay sleeping in Salim's arms, Mansingh forcibly took him away under arrest and once again Anarkali was left face to face with a bleak future. But fate works in mysterious ways. Salim got wounded in the battle and was brought dying to the capital. Anarkali broken, bedraggled and all but dead, happened to the singing a plaintive love song by the side of the palace, at a time when Akbar had despaired of his son's life. The music of Anarkali's song worked like a charm on the dying prince and the emperor seeing the faint flicker of life on his son's face, had the singer called in. Here for the first time she came to know who her lover was, and with this knowledge came the realization that she had lost her lover at the very moment she had found him.

Grateful to this girl beyond measure, the emperor asked Anarkali to stay on. Heartbroken though she was over what she thought to be her lover's deceit, she stayed for some time, and before she could finally leave, Salim, casting all caution to the winds met her and cleared the misunderstanding. But Gulnar, one of the maids madly in love with Salim, got on to the young lovers' tracks. While Salim and Anarkali continued to make love on the brink of an abyss, the abyss suddenly swallowed her up: through Gulnar's machinations Anarkali was caught making love to Salim, an she was imprisoned.

Hotheaded and impetuous as he was, Salim rose in rebellion against the emperor and forcibly released his beloved, but Akbar's might soon put down his son's revolt. Both Salim and Anarkali were tried, found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.

What prevented the execution of crown prince Salim? What was Anarkali's fate in the end?

Let the silver screen tell you...