Taj replica in light and sound show woos admirers

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Agra, Aug 31 (UNI) Seeing the Taj Mahal by moonlight was long considered the ultimate for the romantically inclined till security considerations made it next to impossible. However, people will now have the option of viewing a marble replica of the monument on stage during a sound and light show.

The show, titled 'Mohabbat the Taj', was unveiled Friday evening at the 585-seat Sanskritik Natyashala in Kalakriti Cultural and Convention Centre here. It is a new initiative from the Ashok Oswal Group, a business house that deals with tourism promotion.

According to the organisers, two shows will be held daily at 1900 hours and 2100 hours. It features the world's largest replica of Taj Mahal, measuring 12 X 12 ft and built with semiprecious Makrana marble. It rises up on a lotus shaped platform with the help of a hydraulic lift. Laser beams dancing all over the monument add to the ethereal experience.

Ashok Kumar Jain, Managing Director of the Group, said, ''The city is one of the leading tourist centres of the country. Despite large number of tourists visiting the place, it has remained like a 'transit point' and most of the tourists, after visiting the Taj and other monuments here, go back to Delhi or Jaipur for their stay.

Moreover, they were not getting their due, with all kinds of restrictions on movement and photography.

''This show will not only promote tourism but will enhance other employment and business activities in this area. World class technology has been used in the programme, first of its kind in Agra. It may be enjoyed in eight different languages including Hindi and English, the viewers can select any one of their choice," he added.

After much hard work for seven years of carving and shaping the replica by about 30 craftsmen and designers, the model was unveiled as part of a glitzy stage show for select invitees. The regular show will start from tomorrow.

Master sculptor Hafeez Zahrat, who brought the dream into reality, said, ''Getting the original marble from Makrana was really a tough task. However, with Mr Jain's determination to complete his dream project, every problem was overcome.'' The replica was made in Taj Ganj near Taj Mahal, he added.

The memorable love story of Emperor Shahjahan and his Mumtaz Mahal, along with depiction of rich Indian culture of 16th century, was depicted by a team of 60 artistes, who were selected after rigorous auditions that were held for about two-three weeks all over the country including Delhi and Mumbai.

The show has been directed by Mohan Singh Rathod and songs rendered by top-class singers Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy, among others.

"I felt really great while performing the role of the most beautiful woman. Since it was my first chance, I did a lot of hard work which was only possible with the help and support of my teacher and other artistes,'' Sanchita Choudhary, who essayed the role of the Queen said.

''Since the language used was tough Urdu, my dialogues were dubbed,'' the girl from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, added.

Raja Guru, who played Shahjahan, said, ''To get into the character, we had to visit Taj Mahal a number of times and study about the Emperor's life. Moreover, talking to our writer Dalip Sherwani about what he felt while writing the play and the director, Mr Rathod, made the work simpler.'' Raja, originally from Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, has done his theatre studies from Manigram High School, an extension of National School of Drama, New Delhi.

He has earlier worked with Mr Rathod in a movie and performed in plays under Alok Chatterjee, in the school faculty.

''Mr Rathod is my Godfather. Nothing was easy. But he taught us like a father and with that the toughest scenes were also made easy,'' the hero of the show added.

''The show was very impressive and was full of emotions and intensity. It will definitely be liked by other people around the world and will surely gain popularity within a short period of time,'' said Isidoro Meton, a tourist from Spain.

''The best part was that in spite of the fact that we don't know Hindi, we were able to understand feelings and emotions the characters expressed during the show,'' added Nuria Lago from Germany.

UNI GL NK RN1636

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