Umrao Jaan (2006 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||J. P. Dutta|
|Produced by||J. P. Dutta|
|Written by||Sridhar Raghavan|
|Screenplay by||Neeraj Vora|
|Music by||Anu Malik|
|Edited by||Aarti Bajaj|
|Distributed by||Ramesh Sippy Entertainment|
Umrao Jaan (Urdu: امراؤ جان, Hindi: उमराव जान) is a Bollywood film about the famous courtesan of the title. Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai stars in the lead roles. The film is directed by J. P. Dutta and also stars Shabana Azmi, Sunil Shetty, Divya Dutta, Himani Shivpuri and Kulbhushan Kharbanda.
In 1840, a girl named Amiran (Bansree Mandhani) is kidnapped from her home in Faizabad by Dilawar Khan (Vishwajeet Pradhan) who had been sent to jail based upon the evidence presented by Amiran's father. To take his revenge, he kidnaps Amiran and sells her to a brothel in Lucknow run by Khannum Jaan (Shabana Azmi). Bua Hussaini (Himani Shivpuri) and Maulvi Sahib (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) adopt Amiran and treat her as their own daughter. In the company of Khurshid (Ayesha Jhulka), Bismillah (Divya Dutta), and one of the courtesan's sons, Gauhar Mirza (Puru Raajkumar), Amiran learns the art of being a courtesan, or tawaif.
The girl turns into an elegant, poetic beauty by the name of Umrao Jaan (Aishwarya Rai). Umrao's beauty and poetry is enough to catch the eye of Nawab Sultan (Abhishek Bachchan). The two begin a passionate romance but, when his father hears of their relationship, he disowns Nawab Sultan from his life, wealth and property. The penniless Nawab goes to stay in the house of his uncle, who is a judge in Ghari, to sort himself out; Umrao is left desolate without him and prays every day for his return.
In the Nawab's absence, Umrao catches the eye of Faiz Ali (Sunil Shetty). Though she rejects his romantic advances, he determinedly pursues her and eventually asks her to accompany him to his home in Daulatabad. Umrao accepts, but only after she learns that they will be travelling through Ghari. Along the way, the whole party is arrested after a confrontation between Faiz Ali's men and a group of state soldiers. Faiz Ali is revealed to be a dacoit whom the soldiers have pursued for years. Nawab Sultan hears that Umrao and Faiz Ali are in Ghari and goes to meet Faiz Ali in prison. Faiz Ali, who then realises that Umrao only accompanied him so that she could meet Nawab, manipulates the information concerning his time with Umrao and implies to the Nawab that they had a sexual relationship. The Nawab confronts Umrao and, feeling that she betrayed him, shuns her and sends her back to Lucknow. Heartbroken, Umrao returns to her old life, but fate has other plans for her.
In a drunken state, her childhood friend Gauhar Mirza (Puru Raajkumar), who has always been in love with her, becomes frustrated at her for rejecting his advances and rapes her. Soon after, the British attack the city and she is forced to leave Lucknow. She and the refugees separate after she decides to go to Faizabad, her childhood home. There, she learns that her father is long dead. She meets her mother and brother, but they refuse to accept her because of her profession. Umrao, rejected by her family and her lover, leaves to return to Lucknow. Then, fate plays another joke on her: On her way out of the city, she encounters Dilawar Khan, the man who kidnapped her and sold her to the brothel when she was a child. Poor, wretched, homeless and injured, the man begs her for money, not recognising who she is; she gives him her gold bangles and prays to God for his forgiveness. Ostracized by all and having forgiven those who destroyed her life, Umrao lives out the rest of her days in Lucknow with her poetry and ill fate.
- Abhishek Bachchan as Nawab
- Aishwarya Rai as Amiran (Umrao Jaan)
- Shabana Azmi as Khanum Jaan
- Sunil Shetty as Faiz Ali
- Divya Dutta as Bismillah
- Himani Shivpuri as Bua Hussaini
- Puru Raaj Kumar as Gauhar Mirza
- Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Maulvi Sahib
- Ayesha Jhulka as Khurshid
- Bikram Saluja as Ashraf (Nawab Sultan's friend)
- Parikshat Sahni as Umrao's father
- Maya Alagh as Umrao's mother
- Vishwajeet Pradhan as Dilawar Khan (Amiran's abductor)
- Javed Khan as Peer Baksh (Dilawar Khan's accomplice)
- Bansree Madhani as Amiran (the young Umrao)
- Alexandre boisvert as sultan khan
According to Dutta the film is based on the script written by his father O. P. Dutta, which in turn was adapted from the classic Urdu novel Umrao Jan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. The film was shot on location including some palaces from Jaipur. Saroj Khan was selected to choreograph the dances, but backed out owing to disagreements with director J. P. Dutta. She was replaced by Vaibhavi Merchant.
Several of the roles were changed during pre-production. Priyanka Chopra was considered to play the part of Umrao Jaan, but could not allot the ninety consecutive dates required for shooting due to her role in Bluffmaster. Arshad Warsi was to star in the film as Gauhar Mirza, but dropped out soon after as he chose to appear in Lage Raho Munna Bhai. Puru Raajkumar replaced Warsi. Shabana Azmi, who plays the role of Khannum Jaan, is the daughter of Shaukat Azmi, who played the same role in the 1981 version.
- "Ek Tute Huye Dil Ki" – Alka Yagnik
- "A Foreword" – by Javed Akhtar
- "Salaam" – Alka Yagnik
- "Pehle Pehel" – Alka Yagnik
- "Jhute Ilzaam" – Alka Yagnik
- "Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Na Kijo" – Richa Sharma
- "Main Na Mil Saku" – Alka Yagnik
- "Bekhka Diya Humein" – Alka Yagnik & Sonu Nigam
- "Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Na Kijo" (child version) – Anmol Malik
The film performed poorly at the box office, grossing only Rs. 64,900,000. The film received mostly negative reviews from critics. Many of them reacting unfavourably to J. P. Dutta's direction and the film's three-hour running time, and several critics panned it while comparing it to the acclaimed 1981 version by Muzaffar Ali.
BBC film critic Poonam Joshi concluded, "J. P. Dutta's film is an Ash-fest that adds little to the legacy of Umrao Jaan." She praised Shabana Azmi's performance as "exemplary" and wrote about Rai, "While only Aishwarya could emulate the grace and poise of Rekha, she doesn't quite capture the intensity of Umrao's abiding melancholy", later commenting that "her incandescent beauty and artistry... does indeed keep the audience watching, though not necessarily emotionally engaged." Describing Rai's performance, Nikhat Kazmi wrote, "she's riveting in places, diligent throughout and tries so hard to recreate a lost world of grandeur that your heart almost goes out to her." while Rediff gave two and half rating out of five and wrote "there is Aishwarya the star, queen and saving grace of Umrao Jaan. She enthralls with her gorgeousness, the precision in her dance movements, elegance in her gestures and sincerity in her willingness to become Umrao Jaan Ada".
Susan Muthalaly from The Hindu wrote, "Umrao Jaan remains a spectacle that does nothing for you, personally." She wrote about Rai, "You'd think that since she's playing someone so close to her real life, there would be real feeling in the performance. But remember, this is a realistic performance, so Aishwarya stays true to her real life character and shows no genuine emotion for most of the film. She dances like a dream, but her range of emotions is limited." Another review in The Hindu said, "Umrao Jaan of 2006 would be at best remembered as a poor man's remake of the classic or a love story with a period flavour."
The Tribune concluded that "Umrao Jaan fails to impress" and while referring to Rai's performance wrote, "She is no match to Rekha". Seena Menon of Deccan Herald said, "Unfortunately, watching 19th-century Lucknow in the 2006 version of Umrao Jaan gives you nothing but a feeling akin to staring at a glass model of the original."
Kathakali Jana from Hindustan Times wrote, "Though comparing the film with the 1981 magnum opus is not fair, what does one do with a baggage of incredible weight? One simply remembers it again and decides to go back to it once more." Similarly, Jana wrote about Rai that she "looks lovely when she smiles. She looks lovelier when she cries. Dutta's screenplay – which runs into 180 excruciating minutes – allows her to do both in good measure. But where is the celebrated 19th century tawaif of Lucknow whose untold sufferings could do nothing to strip her of her dignity?"
Ziya Us Salam wrote for the same newspaper in a more positive review, "At its soul, body, even content, this Umrao Jaan is as beautiful as its leading lady (Rai), the one who once had the world at her feet." Gullu Singh, another reviewer for Rediff, praised the film for being more loyal to the novel."
Worldwide, the film has grossed $1,371,723, including $485,000 at the US box office.
The music of the film received a lukewarm response, with some praising Alka Yagnik's vocal performance in the album while others criticised picking a singer untested in traditional compositions. Yet many critics felt that Anu Malik did not do due justice to the Umrao Jaan expectations due to a weak classical performance. Furthermore, purists felt that a singer with a stronger classical backbone such as Kavita Krishnamurthy was necessary to do justice to the re-interpretation of Khayyam and Asha Bhonsle magnum opus.
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- Kazmi, Nikhat (4 November 2006). "Umrao Jaan". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- "A lot of Ash, but not enough Umrao". Rediff. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
- Muthalaly, Susan (10 November 2006). "Beauty without emotions – Umrao Jaan". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Biswas, Niloshree (17 November 2006). "Classic becomes mundane". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- D.P. (5 November 2006). "Umrao Jaan fails to impress". The Tribune. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Menon, Seena (5 November 2006). "Umrao Jaan". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Jana, Kathakali (3 November 2006). "REVIEW: Umrao Jaan lacks the ada". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Us Salam, Ziya (5 November 2006). "Umrao Jaan lives on, and on, and on...". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Singh, Gullu (3 November 2006). "A more loyal Umrao Jaan". Rediff. Retrieved 9 April 2011.