Umrao Jaan (2006) Movie Review *Xclusive*

Umrao Jaan

Not J P Dutta’s cup of tea.
Thats what I felt after watching for not more than first 45 minutes of the movie. Sorry, Dutta sir, but you have faltered big time, even bigger than your last endevour L.O.C. – Kargil. Although its remake season (Devdas, DON, Sholay,…) but the choice of the story and much more its execution should have been adapted to present context. Unfortunately, Umrao Jaan lacks the both.

Cast: Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Suniel Shetty


When watching a remake, you always tend to compare with the original. It was hard not to compare while watching new DON, surprisingly with Umrao Jaan I didn’t even have to try. To compare so much flawed version with the legend would be very much injustice towards the original. If you have watched an old Umrao Jaan (Rekha), then you will immediately realise that the story is pretty same, nothing new has been added.



In the early days of the British rule of India, a young girl is taken away from her family, and sold into brothel.
The Madam of the brothel (Shabana Azmi) in which the young girl now resides, sees the exquisite beauty in her, and begins training her in the art of a high class courtesan. Hoping that one day she will entertain the rich and famous of India. The young girl learns to read, write, dance, and sing.

The girl grows up to become Umrao Jaan (Aishwarya Rai), a cultured woman who is aptly trained in captivating the hearts of wealthy men. And this is exactly what she does, to a rich Nawab (Abhishek Bachchan), who is mesmerised by her inner and outer beauty. The two fall in love, but heartache beckons for Umrao Jaan, as the Nawab gets married to someone else.

On the rebound of rejection, Umrao Jaan meets a dashing bandit, who wins her heart. He takes her away from the brothel in the hope of marrying her, but tragedy strikes, and the bandit is killed by the police. Umrao Jaan is now alone and has no choice but to return to the brothel and back to her old job.

By now the British invasion of India is in full flow and an attack on Lucknow takes place. Umrao Jaan is forced to flee and ends up in a small village that she recalls as her childhood home. The residents of the village ask Umrao Jaan to sing and dance, and she duly obliges.

She meets her mother and her younger brother, both of whom thought she had died. Umrao’s mother is delighted to have her daughter return home, but her brother forbids it, as her vocation is an embarrassment to their family name.

One of the major flaw in this new Umrao Jaan is that the sotry moves in such a sluggish pace, that you tend to take one or two nap breaks. The narration of story is so slow that it tests your patiance and frequent songs will just take you to the top of your limit. After inital 30-35 minutes of background story, the movie story takes downhill until it reaches intermission. You hope for better fare post interval, but apart from few scences, there is nothing that could even be called noteworthy.

Even to avid moviegeors and Aish-Abhi fans this movie will come as major dissappointment. The best scenes in the film do not include Aishwarya Rai, as they are with the young Ameeren and her family. These are a real treat to watch and one hopes that more of these were shown. Abhishek Bachchan has been completely miscasted. Dutta probably casted him because of the whole hype of his romance with Aishwarya Rai, hoping that it could be a way to plug the film, but that is a major negative point. One can’t see Abhishek in the role of the Nawab. He tries his best but sometimes it’s just laughable just to see him on-screen in something like this. He has chemistry with Aishwarya which is definitely visible on-screen, and that is the only joy to watch.

The biggest culprit in the movie is its direction. The movie doesn’t seem to be created by such a legendary director who had made movies like Yateem and Border. Not once does Dutta show his genius hand; it seems he has sleep-walked through the whole direction of this film.

The music does suits the look and feel of the movie, but its improper placement just makes the narritive more sluggish. This movie could have given Anu Malik the boost that he needed in his dusking career, but it doesn’ help him much.

On whole, Umrao Jaan is a movie with

Lavish sets, golden age attire, award winning cast/crew and a novel story – unfortunately its poorly executed

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