Taj: Divided by Blood tells the story of Mughal Emperor Akbar whose bid to choose an heir to the throne sets into motion betrayals, schemes, and the spilling of blood around him. The series is now streaming on ZEE5 Global.
Mughal Emperor Akbar has now grown old. When his own brother rebels against his rule, he decides that from now on, the heir to the throne will be chosen on the basis of merit and not birth.
His decision creates tension between his three sons — Salim, Murad, and Daniyal — who must now compete for the throne. None of them is ready yet to succeed him.
While Murad is a brute and a warmonger, Daniyal cares more about religion than politics. His eldest son, Salim, is infamous for his debauched lifestyle. Salim ends up falling in love with his father’s hidden concubine, who has been in captivity for years.
Apart from the three sons, Akbar’s council and even his wives get involved in the struggle for the throne. They pick the side most favorable to them, which results in schemes, betrayals, and battles.
The conclusion of this family conflict will affect the whole Mughal empire. How far will each of them go for the throne and the title of the emperor?
Naseeruddin Shah plays the role of an old Akbar, and he looks the part. There is a sense of fatigue around his character that is felt in Shah’s performance; he seems like a king who was once powerful and whose mistakes are catching up to him in his old age.
Aashim Gulati seems to be the perfect Salim — often inebriated and yet caring. Gulati looks great on-screen and through his performance, he adds something unique of his own to Salim’s character.
Aditi Rao Hydari could have been great as Anarkali, but the script depends excessively on her glances to portray her vulnerability and tenderness, not leaving much scope for her acting.
Rahul Bose, an otherwise talented actor, is unconvincing as Mirza Hakim. His accent, dialogue delivery, and depiction of emotions make him look out of place. While initially, Jodha’s character does not fit Sandhya Mridul, it eventually grows on the audience.
Taaha Shah as Murad shows potential but gets limited by the script that is bent on seeing him as a growling brute and nothing more.
Shubham Kumar Mehra as Daniyal truly looks like a boy who cannot even harm a fly. He then smoothly transitions into a vengeful prince, capable of mercilessly killing anybody.
Akbar has been the subject of many films and movies, but unlike them, this show adds complexity to Akbar’s character. He is neither an entirely kind ruler nor is he entirely cruel; he is what rulers with an empire like that usually are, and this makes him human.
The sets, the costumes, and the overall depiction of the Mughal dynasty are beautiful. It is clear that the makers have spent enough to make this show as grand as its subject matter.
In a time when history is being rewritten over and over again, this fictional show depicts some of Akbar’s important policies and his views on religion to give the audience some context of his reign and understand the kind of ruler he was.
Furthermore, the show gives a glimpse of the dilemmas of Akbar’s trusted officials instead of depicting them as blindly loyal officials. The scenes that show the burden of Man Singh’s choice and the death of his son are interesting and touching.
The makers of the show took a proven formula and applied it to the Indian setting, but the result is not as promising as expected. It ends up looking like a replica of Western dramas, never truly adapting to this setting. For instance, Anarkali looks like a doll, beautiful according to Western standards.
Additionally, she does not seem human even in her actions. It is not just the king who reduces her to a speechless and beautiful object; the script does it as well. The show could have benefited from giving some time to the characterization.
Anarkali and Salim’s love story is important to the plot, yet it barely gets any time. They fall in love just by exchanging glances. Their love seems shallow, not at all like the undying love it is supposed to be, and its tragic end fails to move the audience.
The show never gets truly exciting. There is enough graphic violence in the show, but the war scenes lack thrill. Just like the show itself, they seem repetitive and dragged out.
There were high expectations from Taj: Divided by Blood, but unfortunately, it does not stand up to them. While the show gets some things right, it fails to keep the audience excited, as the script seems as exhausted as its old Akbar.
Taj: Divided by Blood
Director: Ron Scalpello
Date Created: 2023-03-03 21:31