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Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Film traces lives of India's Moghuls
The emperor's descendants have been living in anonymity

A documentary film depicting the lives of the descendants of India's last Moghul emperor has been released in India.

This is the first time that the emperor's descendants, who had been living in complete anonymity, decided to disclose their identity.

The film-maker, Arijit Gupta, says his film is an attempt to make the people aware of the struggles of this surviving Moghul family.

The Moghuls ruled India for more than 300 years starting from 1526.

The film entitled, "The Living Moghuls", is based on the family history of 80-year-old Begum Laila Umahani, the fourth generation direct descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar and his first wife, Ashraf Mahal.

Forgotten past

The palaces have receded into a forgotten past and the Moghuls of today live in a rented house in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, far away from their ancestral home of Delhi.

The half-an-hour documentary film traces the family history of the Moghuls after the exile of Bahadur Shah Zafar to Burma in 1857 by the British.

Arijit Gupta told the BBC that he met Begum Laila Umahani five years ago and after detailed research shot the film early this year.

"My film is a story of the three missing generations after Bahadur Shah Zafar,- the period which saw the disappearance of the Moghuls from the historical centre stage to complete anonymity."

The film has one English narrative and several interviews of the descendants of Bahadur Shah Zafar in Urdu, which are sub-titled.

The film has been shot in Delhi, Hyderabad and Agra.

Being 'mocked'

The film narrates how after Bahadur Shah Zafar's exile to Burma in 1857, Mirza Quaiush, who was his only son, managed to escape from the British army and fled to Kathmandu in Nepal.

However, Quaiush secretly came back to India and was given shelter in Rajasthan by its ruler.

Quaiush's son - Mirza Abdullah - also migrated from one place to another and finally went to Hyderabad, where his son Mirza Pyare was born.

Begum Laila Umhani, the daughter of Mirza Pyare was also born in Hyderabad.

Speaking to the BBC, Begum Laila Umahani - said she had not disclosed her identity because some people made a mockery out of it.

"In the film, I narrate how our lives changed, my childhood memories and how we lost everything we owned," she said. Her two sons - Ziauddin Tucy is a retired government employee and Masiuddin Tucy is a food consultant.

One of the shots in the film show how this family now has to stand in queue to get a ticket and enter Red Fort - built by one of their predecessors.

See also:

24 Jul 02 | Country profiles
30 Jan 99 | Entertainment
07 Aug 02 | Arts
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