3.5 Very Good

Umrao Jaan

To begin with, i must mention here that i hav not seen the 1981 Rekha starrer Umrao Jaan. So my calculation of the movie is bound to be in contrast with those who have seen the earlier adaptation.
Firstly i would say that i very much disagree with Taran Adarsh for his review, though not completely. The movie is a great cinematc experience, experience that has both its ups and downs.
The movie begins beautifully in the Faizabad with Ruswa getting to hear Amiran's Story by
Umrao Jaan Ada. Amiran's childhood in the region to her being sold in Lukhnow is beautifully portrayed. The part is really commendable. Her first experience in a brothel (kotha) with Khannum and Bua is elderly at one time, cruel at other and human at some.
She tries to run from the place only to be with her parents and brother once again unknowingly that the reality of her new place is something that must have been her foremost reason to escape from the place. But being a child of a Jamadaar for whoom the biggest luxury of life has only bee the Pataashe given to her by her father, she treats the ghungroo and the beautiful mujra costumes as a bleesing for a new and best life she could have never even dreamt of having at her home. The harsh reality is welcomed by her as her new toys.
She grows up beautifully, poetically and gracefully with only dream to have people see her dance, listen her sing, unfold her hair and praise her all the time. And when she gets the oppertunity to give her first performance, that too amidst a big gathering in Awadh, she turns Umrao "Jaan" from Umrao, Amiran only surfacing in her in bits of moments.
She fells for Nawab Sultan on their continues meetings every night and she starts dreaming of a new home and family. But like destiny had decided to elude her from happiness every time it showed rays or signs for the same, Sultan is disowned by his father and throw out of family property and wealth. And with Khannum Sahib acting as a real business women of the Likhnow Kotha and getting rid of Sultan from his Jaan's life.
Sultan promises to come back and asks his Jaan to wait for her. But the Kotha had to continue its business. So Umrao was now asked to please Nawab Faiz Ali who was actually a Dacoit.
Faiz buys her for the night but could not own the Heartless body of Umrao. He pledges that one day he will surely "own" Umaro Jaan's love.
The destiny seemingly hines somehow for Umrao and she gets to khow the whereabouts of her Sultan.
She insists on going with Faiz for a month only to be able to get back to her Sultan on route. Before she gets to meet Sultan,she gets to know the Dacoit Faiz was in reality. But this also makes her happy as she was being taken to place of Sultan only.
Before meeting Umrao, Sultan meets up Faiz and Faiz exagerrates his time with Umrao, not only to make him unhappy and jeleous but also to take his revenge from Umrao for cheating on him.
Sultan now disowns Umrao and sends her back to the same kotha which he once himself had made Umrao believe that he would free her and decides to marry someone else.
Umrao is taken back to Lukhnow and gets to know of the demise of Maulvi Saab. not just this, the Britishers have now enterd the province and they need to find another shelter along with all others at the Kotha to save their life.
All except Khannum leave for Nepal. But enroute, Umrao decides to go back to Faizabad. She rents a place and gets back to what Umrao Jaan was made for- Mujras and Men.
The place only tastes dirt amidst the ongoing Freedom Struggle. But one day, a man approache her to dance in a wedding function in the Faizabad area. She enquires him about his family and get to know his father's death and also his brother still folling the 'legacy' of being a Jamaadar.
She goes to the place and gets choked with the memories of Amiran as she resurfaces what being Amiran was like. But as if her happiness had offended destiny, her mother and brother disowned her for being Umaro Jaan. they considered it as a blot in the family 'honour' to have a member like her.
Later she is mocked in the wedding for her truth. But her Soulful rendition of her pain makes all present their, shameful of their thinking and of their words.
The Story is now known to Ruswa and he gets loss of words to even show sympathy with Amiran (not Umrao Jaan this time). Amiran gives the final rendition of her life to Ruswa in a soul-stirring and heart-wrenching nazam.
J.P.Dutta as the captain of the team plays a great role in making it a true and honest adaptaion by a person really passionate about the movie.
I do agree with Taran that before the interval the movie drags somewhat, especially in the Romantic scenes between Umrao and Sultan. But the songs constantly add pace to the movie.
Taran you need to understand that during the time of Awadh and the kotha culture, even when the same customer came daily for the night, the man was first bound to be welcomed with a Mujra. That was the riwaz. Dont confuse it with the mordern day buying and sellings of prostitutes for money and enjoying sex.
Aishwarya gives a remarkable perforfance as Amiran and as Umrao Jaan. The best part of her portrayal is the heaviness that she brings in a normally soft voice. It surely scores her maximum marks, not to mention her eyes and her dance. She carries the movie on her shoulders along with the director, O.P.Dutta, Anu Malik, Javed Akhter, Vaibhavi and not to mention Shabana Azmi. This lady is simply supperb. Only a powerhouse talent like her could have carried the role of Khannun so convincingly.
Now I also want to read the book by Ruswa and watch the Rekha Starrer.
But before that happens, I will give JP and his entire cast and crew 3.5 points out of 5.
Hats off to the movie.
I will definately be going to watch this movie again too.