Enticed by Madhu Jain’s averment that Prithviraj Kapoor had great legs, I stayed behind after the Kapoors book launch and watched 10-15 minutes of the 1939 Sikandar, which was being screened at the same venue. Excellent fun. Greek people talking in shudh Hindi with, for whatever reason, French subtitles occupying the lower third of the screen. The exchanges between Alexander and his “guru” Aristotle were marvelous. “Agar tum duniya ko jeetna chahte ho, toh tumhe aurat se door rehna hoga,” (“If you wish to conquer the world, you will have to stay away from women”) said Aristotle – who I suspect was gay – to his dashing young ward. Prithviraj scowled handsomely and declaimed various things which I didn’t fully understand.
Aristotle wore a shimmering velvety robe and scampered up and down stairways in a manner that belied his age. He tricked Sikandar’s young lady friend Rukhsana into treating him like a horse and then told the young emperor, “If she can fool an old and wise man like me, imagine what she can do to you.” Or words to that effect. Point proved. Woman dispensed with. World now ripe for conquering.
Must obtain DVD and watch at length. By the way, one of the interesting things mentioned in the book is that in the 1940s some history textbooks carried photos of Prithviraj K playing Sikandar in the chapter on Alexander the Great – much to the mortification of Shammi and Shashi, who were in school at the time. Twenty years later, stills from Mughal-e-Azam were carried in chapters on Akbar.