Umrao Jaan - Review
By Nauman Hannani (Singapore)
J P Dutta’s film is not Umrao Jan but Aishwarya-Jan. It is very depressing that a great performance by Aish (Aishwarya Rai) couldn’t stop the fans from disappointment. The reason is simple neither Aish nor J P Dutta are from Avadh, they simply do not know “what they need to achieve”. In summary the film is a great movie on any “Tawaif” but it is not a movie on Umrao Jaan.
Aish probably gave her life performance in the film but she is simply does not look like an Umrao Jan from 19th Century’s Lucknow. She misses Tawaif’s Ada grossly. Her body language (which is generally best in bollywood) and her pronunciation don’t present a “Tawaif” from 19th century in Avadh”. For example, she continuously said Khudda as kudda in the whole film and has many more other pronunciations mistakes. If she can loose weight for Dhoom2, she should put some weight for Umrao Jaan. Girls use to be more bulky in 19th century as it was considered as beauty and J P Dutta Sahib should know it.
Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s novel’s basic theme was “a great intellectual” can flourish even at brothel in 19th century’s Lucknow , simply because even brothel in 19th century’s Lucknow were extremely educated and mannered and also a “Tawaif “may have noble views & principals. J P Dutta has touched both but very casually as he is too involved in romance, love scenes, songs and showing Aish from different angles. Aish’s major problem is that her director focus’s mainly on her visuals but forgets the rest of the film, which was happen in the first part of the Umrao Jaan.
Even a director like J P Dutta has flaws like in songs, the actor (musician) was playing Sarangi but there is no Sarangi in the song’s music. He involves too much in details, expensive costumes, sets and forgets the fact that a director must correctly “dream” about the film first so he knows what he should need to achieve by his direction. The dialogues are great but executions and pronunciations are very poor. Photography is outstanding, particularly timing of the filming but it could further improve by more outdoor shooting at historical places, like in Fanaa. The film is simply too “indoor” -. Lucknow was not shown properly by Shatrang ki Bazziyan, Battair ki Laddiyan and Mewe ki Hawiyan.
Abhishek is good for giving “Pathaan touch” but Lucknow’s softness is missing. Shabana Azmi is excellent, she is the only one beside Himani Shivpuri & Kulbhushan Kharbanda, who knows, what they need to deliver. Puru Raaj Kumar and the rest are casual and achieve no praises.
The most disappointing part in the film is the music. Even Javed Sahib’s great poetry can not save the outcome of the songs. The music is simply too repetitive except “Agle Janam” which is a great song. Although, Aish has delivered excellent dances but Choreography by Vaibhavi Merchant is disappointing. Mujras is not about the Kathak but about taal , steps & eyes contact. The sets for Mujars are too small, J P Sahib should learn from Pakiza about Mujra’s sets. In 19th century Nawab never sits together with Tawaif in Mujra, neither did they dance together on the floor. This is absolutely rubbish.
J P Dutta Sahib falls in love with subject but he grossly misunderstood it.