Director: Franz Osten

Cast: Himansu Rai, Enakshi Rama Rau, Charu Roy

UK-Germany-India 1928 | Black & white | 105 | Romance

Avaliable on: DCP

This epic silent film is a ravishing, romantic tale of the story behind one of the world's most iconic structures: the Taj Mahal. Shiraz is based on the story of the 17th century Mughal ruler Shah Jahan, his queen and the building of the world's most beautiful monument to love, the Taj Mahal. Shot entirely on location in India, it features lavish costumes and gorgeous settings, including the extraordinary fort at Agra. This remarkable UK-Indian-German co-production was wholly Indian in conception: the brainchild of star and producer Himansu Rai, based on a play by Niranjan Pal and performed by an all-Indian cast. Rai himself plays humble potter Shiraz, who follows his childhood sweetheart Selima (Enakshi Rama Rau) when she is sold by slave traders to the future emperor (Charu Roy). Selima catches the eye of the prince, but finds a better rival in an ambitious favourite (Seeta Devi) from his harem. Shiraz, menawhile, is fated to design the queen's iconic mausoleum. The restoration by the BFI National Archive and Dragon Digital has significantly improved the picture quality of the film. A new score has been commissioned by the BFI from world-renowned sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar. (Bryony Dixon)