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Mughal-E Azam’s Horses & Elephants And Director Asif’s Risky, Huge Cash Advance

There are any number of behind-the-scenes stories when the great historical epic Mughal-e-Azam was being shot in the late fifties. The film, starring greats like Prithviraj Kapoor, Madhubala, Durga Khote and Dilip Kumar, broke all box office records in 1960 and is considered a milestone in Indian cinema. Well known director K Asif was shooting a scene for the movie somewhere in the deserts of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. The scene required hundreds of horses and scores of elephants. Hearing this requirement, a local animal supplier (for films) approached Asif and said he could supply any number of horses and elephants for the shoot. It would cost around Rs 20,000 but he needed an advance of Rs 10,000. The advance money was a big amount in the fifties. But, without batting an eyelid, Asif turned to his production manager and said, “Give him 10,000 rupees.” When the man left, a worried production manager said, “Asif sab, suppose this man is a cheat and he does not come back, your money is gone!” Asif laughed and said, “Arrey…woh dus hazaar rupaiah ley gaya hai, kismat to nahi le gaya!” He told him, don’t worry he will come; and the man did turn dutifully as promised with horses and elephants.