ZEE5’s web series Taj: Divided By Blood claims to depict the establishment of Mughal rule in India, drawing parallels with the Ottoman Janissaries. However, the show’s focus on wine, opium, love, and incest deviates from historical accuracy and is disappointing to viewers.
The Plot: A Poor Rendition of Mughal History
Taj: Divided By Blood presents a distorted view of Mughal history, with Akbar as an aging emperor struggling to resolve domestic conflicts among his wives and sons. The show’s portrayal of incestuous relationships within the Mughal family is particularly egregious.
The acting is subpar, with only Taha Shah Basussha delivering a commendable performance as Prince Murad. The show’s writers also failed in their research, presenting a flawed depiction of Akbar’s attempts to establish his new religion, Din-i-Ilahi.
Overall, Taj: Divided By Blood falls short of providing an accurate depiction of Mughal history and is not worth the watch.
An Attempt at Sensationalism: Deviating from Historical Accuracy
While the Ottoman Janissaries served the empire with “Empire Before Brood” as a way of life, Taj: Divided By Blood’s depiction of the Mughals is a poor attempt at sensationalism. The show’s focus on incestuous relationships and scenes of wine and opium consumption are unnecessary and detract from the already flawed portrayal of Mughal history.
The show fails to accurately depict the grandeur of the Mughal empire and its rich cultural heritage, instead relying on cheap thrills to keep viewers engaged. Ultimately, Taj: Divided By Blood is a disappointing and inaccurate depiction of Mughal history.
Taj: Divided By Blood Web Series Key Details
- Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Aditi Rao Hydari, Aashim Gulati, Taha Shah Badussha, Shubham Kumar Mehra, and ensemble.
- Creator: Abhimanyu Singh and William Borthwick.
- Director: Ron Scalpello.
- Streaming On: Zee5.
- Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
- Runtime: 10 Episodes Around 45 Minutes Each.
Taj: Divided by Blood Review: What’s the deal with this show?
In a made-up world, Anarkali is locked up by Jalaluddin Akbar with a juicy secret. Meanwhile, his three sons are at an age where he must choose an heir from amongst them. But, of course, the eldest one, Salim, falls head over heels for the mystic Anarkali, and the political climate of Hindustan only adds to the messiness of it all.
Now, adding imagination to historical figures who may or may not have existed is risky business. History has always been written by men, for men, which means women rarely got a chance to shine. So, it’s not surprising that we still debate the existence of legendary figures like Jodha, Anarkali, or even Queen Padmaavati. Making visual content that imagines their lives and times is a daunting task, but it’s been attempted before by greats like K. Asif, Kamal Amrohi, and more recently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ashutosh Gowarikar.
Taj: Divided By Blood takes on the story of Salim and Anarkali, two of the most iconic ill-fated lovers from Indian history, and reimagines their tale that ended in such tragedy. It wants to be the distant cousin of K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam, both before and after the cult classic.
Directed by Ron Scalpello, with writing credits going to William Borthwick, Simon Fantauzzo, and story by Christopher Butera, and dialogue by Ajay Singh, the show tries to map out the times it is set in. It weaves together multiple side narratives, hoping to bind them into one coherent story.
Director’s Take On The Web Series
The show starts off with a promising premise, laying out a tantalizing map that makes you want to follow the story closely. Unfortunately, the execution leaves much to be desired. There are some distinct points that stand out, like the mention of Maharana Pratap and his valour, the secrets of Akbar’s court, and a fictional plot where Anarkali was imprisoned even before meeting Salim.
It all seems very promising, but unfortunately, it’s like having all the right ingredients without a skilled chef to bring it all together.
Taj: Divided by Blood Review: Star Performance
Let’s talk about the good stuff – Aashim Gulati really gave it his all as Salim. He had some tough scenes to tackle and he did a pretty decent job.
Aditi Rao Hydari looked absolutely dreamy as Anarkali, but unfortunately, the script didn’t give her much to work with beyond her looks. And don’t even get me started on Taha Shah Badussha’s character, Murad – it was like watching a daily soap opera.
But the real disappointment for me was Naseeruddin Shah. I mean, the man can make even the dullest characters work in his favor, but in this show, he just seemed bored half the time. And I never thought I’d say this, but he actually felt like a misfit in some parts.
Everything Wrong About Taj: Divided By Blood Web Series
Now, here’s where things get really frustrating – the show had all the right ingredients, but the execution was just off. For one thing, it’s clear that the people behind the show weren’t from the same landscape as the story. There’s no continuity in how the world looks or feels, and even the costumes feel inconsistent at times. And the whole from-the-top gaze makes it hard to connect with the characters.
There are so many interesting storylines here – a woman imprisoned for decades, a gay man contending to be the king, a doomed love story – but the show doesn’t focus on any of them closely enough. And for a story that’s supposed to revolve around Salim and Anarkali’s love, there’s surprisingly little of them in the first six episodes.
And finally, for a show with so much music and rhythm, there’s a surprising lack of poetry. The sets look like they were designed for the scene and not lived in, and the dialect coach clearly wasn’t paying attention because everyone’s accents are all over the place.
So yeah, Taj: Divided by Blood is a foreign gaze into an alien landscape, and not in a good way. It’s a shame because there was potential here, but the execution just wasn’t up to par.
Taj: Divided By Blood streams on ZEE5.