The Mughal history is exciting, containing drama that can be more than enough for binge-watching. Luckily, India has witnessed several films made on the Mughal premise.
Anarkali (1953), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), and Noorjehan (1967) are just to name a few. With the evolution of OTT platforms, it was only a matter of time before the epic reign made it to a web series.
Taj: Divided by Blood is a new Hindi show from India, now streaming on Zee5. It has ten episodes stretching to a duration of over six hours.
Before I review the historical drama, here are the details about its cast and plot.
What is the story of Taj: Divided by Blood?
Akbar has to choose his successor and the contenders include his three sons, Salim, Murad, and Daniyal. But the road to the throne is not easy. It goes through love, betrayal, and deceit.
Based on the royal Mughal Kingdom that spanned centuries, Taj: Divided by Blood focuses on family feuds and personality traits to dramatize a startling period of Modern Indian History.
The show has been directed by Ronald Scalpello and comes with an ensemble of actors, including names like Naseeruddin Shah (Akbar), Dharmendra (Salim Chisti), Aditi Rao Hydari (Anarkali), Aashim Gulati (Salim), Rahul Bose (Mirza Hakim), Taha Shah Badussha (Murad), Shubham Kumar Mehra (Daniyal), Subodh Bhave (Birbal), and others.
It is not officially based on any book or published paper. Instead, historical events have been dramatized to make them screen-worthy.
What works for Taj: Divided by Blood?
Usually, when history is tainted in films, it doesn’t look satisfactory. However, Taj: Divided by Blood makes sure to keep the soul intact. The makers never go overboard to make it palatable.
They stick to the initial blueprint at hand from where a fictional narrative is established. Don’t watch the show for absolute certitude. Stream it for enjoyment and you’ll like it.
Mughal history has several versions and Taj: Divided by Blood picks the most interesting one to build a storyline. There are ample twists to hook you to the screen.
Even the family drama doesn’t seem exaggerated, considering the Indian style of consumption. Moreover, war sequences are not many, but whatever the makers have served, they feel pretty good.
Ronald Scalpello’s directorial execution is on the bright side. He has been able to avoid artificial emotions in a series that would have become void otherwise.
Furthermore, the writing shines positively. It is finely drawn which is visible in the grand scheme of things.
Thanks to the pen, Taj: Divided by Blood remains emotionally strong. Salim-Anarkali’s love story enters your heart softly. As the show progresses, it strikes a chord and makes the couple relevant after centuries.
How are the performances?
Naseeruddin Shah as Akbar bolsters his acting legacy. There couldn’t have been a better role for him in Taj: Divided by Blood. With superfine expressions, he adds the old-age vulnerability into Akbar.
He is naturally feeble, and Shah seems to have gulped down Akbar’s traits. Not for a moment does he leave the character. Be it the walk, vocal intonations, or facial markups, Naseeruddin Shah is phenomenal with everything.
Aashim Gulati plays Salim, and if it wasn’t for Shah, I would have mentioned him on top. The young actor is a surprise package. His outstanding illustration includes different shades of an iconic individual.
Gulati is a passionate lover, an astute drinker, and also a valiant fighter. He brings variations into his act, making it unforgettable. You would keep Taj: Divided by Blood in your thoughts because of Aashim Gulati’s ingenious performance.
Aditi Rao Hydari is the legendary Anarkali in the series. Soft, elegant, and beautifully graceful, she pays a perfect ode to the caged queen. Hydari has been in the Indian film industry for years but this was, by far, her career-best presentation.
The intricacies she brings to the fore are not to be forgotten for a long time. I have pointed out on many occasions how actors talk through their eyes when they don’t have enough dialogues to play with.
Aditi does the same. Her agile facial maneuvers put enough intensity that no spoken word is needed to accentuate the scene.
Rahul Bose portrays Mirza Hakim in Taj: Divided by Blood. A cruel rebel, he infuses all the energy with vigor into his part.
Taha Shah Badussha depicts Murad. Talk about ferociousness, the actor is unstoppable on the screen. His thunderous mien does justice to the assignment. You’d love his skills without prejudice.
Shubham Kumar Mehra displays Daniyal in the show. There’s gradual stairway amelioration in how he develops himself. From a quiet, soft, and fragile individual, he transforms into a staunchly shrewd character.
The rest of the cast is equally good in Taj: Divided by Blood. I wish I could talk about all of them in my review.
*The following section contains SPOILERS.*
What’s off about Taj: Divided by Blood?
A reason why one might not like the series on the Mughals is if they confuse facts with fiction. I couldn’t figure out a specific issue with the show.
Should you watch Taj: Divided by Blood?
Yes, you can confidently go for it. Pace, drama, and intensity, Taj: Divided by Blood ticks almost all the boxes.
Is Taj: Divided by Blood real or fictional?
The series has been dramatized to a good extent but that doesn’t mean it is a complete wipeout.
Will there be Taj: Divided by Blood season 2?
Going by the end of the first season, there will be another outing of the show. However, I am unaware of any official confirmation of the same.
Taj: Divided by Blood ending explained.
Shah Murad is cunningly murdered by Abul Fazl. Anarkali is killed by Daniyal. And Birbal is done away on the orders of Daniyal. Everyone near Akbar has a motive to make him weak, from Man Singh to Badayuni.
However, Salim is alive as shown in the final scene of the show. He wants revenge. The second season will see his return to Agra with a motive to dethrone Akbar and clear Daniyal from the scene.