India's costliest film fails miserably at the box office, grosses only Rs 31 crore; Director abandons filmmaking
In the long history of Indian cinema, there have been over two dozen films that have been the ‘most expensive’ at one point or the other. The sad part is that a majority of these films did not quite do wonders at the box office. With the notable exceptions of cult hits like Mother India, Sholay, and Devdas, many others were huge disasters. And surprisingly, it’s not Adipurush or Shaan that is the ‘biggest flop’ out of these. It is another film, whose failure caused the director to quit cinema altogether.
The 2005 release Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story was a retelling of the story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Directed by Akbar Khan, the film was mounted on a massive budget of Rs 50 crore, which helped it surpass Devdas and The Hero as the most expensive Indian film at the time. The budget was spent in the lavish sets, large battle sequences and huge star cast, including Kabir Bedi, Sonya Jehan, Manisha Koirala, Arbaaz Khan, Vaquar Shaikh, Rahil Azam, and Pooja Batra. The film was even released in Pakistan and had music by the legendary composer Naushad, his last work before his death.
How Taj Mahal became a huge box office failure
Taj Mahal did good business in Pakistan and a few overseas territories. Its overseas collection was over $2 million (Rs 10 crore). But due to its inflated budget, the figure was not up to the mark. In India, the film was a massive failure, earning only Rs 21 crore. In comparison, The Hero earned Rs 35 crore in India and Devdas had made over Rs 50 crore. Despite this, the films had barely managed to recover their costs. With a mere Rs 21 crore India haul (and Rs 31 crore global), Taj Mahal fell way off mark.
How Taj Mahal’s failure led Akbar Khan to quit filmmaking
Akbar Khan, the younger brother of Feroz Khan and Sanjay, started out as an actor in the 70s and 80s before turning to direction with the 1983 release Haadsaa. He then directed some episodes of two TV shows – Akbar The Great and The Sword of Tipu Sultan. Taj Mahal was only his second film as a director and first directorial project in 14 years. Sadly, because of the film’s failure, it proved to be his last too. The director quir filmmaking and never made a film or TV show again.