Mughal-e-Azam (The Emperor of the Mughals) is a 1960 Indian epic historical drama film.
Emperor Akbar (Prithviraj Kapoor), who does not have a male heir, undertakes a pilgrimage to a shrine to pray that his wife Jodhabai (Durga Khote) give birth to a son. Later, a maid brings the emperor news of his son's birth. Overjoyed at his prayers being answered Akbar gives the maid his ring, and promises to grant her anything she desires.
The son, Prince Salim, grows up to be spoiled, flippant, and self-indulgent. His father sends him off to war, to teach him courage and discipline. Fourteen years later Salim returns as a distinguished soldier (Dilip Kumar) and falls in love with court-dancer Nadira, whom the emperor has renamed Anarkali (Madhubala), meaning pomegranate blossom. The relationship is discovered by the jealous Bahar (Nigar Sultana), a dancer of a higher rank, who wants the prince to love her so that she may one day become queen. Unsuccessful in winning Salim's love, she exposes his forbidden relationship with Anarkali. Salim pleads to marry Anarkali, but his father refuses, and imprisons her. Despite her treatment, Anarkali refuses to reject Salim, as Akbar demands.
Salim rebels and amasses an army to confront Akbar and rescue Anarkali. Defeated in battle, Salim is sentenced to death by his father, but is told that the sentence will be revoked if Anarkali, now in hiding, is handed over to die in his place. Anarkali gives herself up to save the prince's life, and is condemned to death by being entombed alive. Before her sentence is carried out, she begs to have a few hours with Salim as his make-believe wife. Her request is granted, as she has agreed to drug Salim so that he cannot interfere with her entombment. As Anarkali is being walled up, Akbar is reminded that he still owes her mother a favour, as it was she who brought him news of Salim's birth. Anarkali's mother pleads for her daughter's life. The emperor has a change of opinion, but although he wants to release Anarkali he cannot, because of his duty to his country. He therefore arranges for her secret escape into exile with her mother, but demands that the pair are to live in obscurity, and that Salim is never to know that Anarkali is still alive.