Saturday, November 4, 2006

Umrao Jaan

I didn't go to see Umrao jaan with the comparison issue in mind. Having said that to compare it to the Muzaffar Ali version (1981)would be blasphemous.
If Umrao jaan with Aishwariya Rai had any hopes of being half successful, they seem to have been cruelly dashed by Ms.Rai herself.

Where does one start? With her wooden unemotional dialogue delivery, her terrible diction, or the fact that that there are HIJRA'S (eunuchs) in Lucknow even today, who are far more feminine in their dancing than her. She has lost so much weight that she looks like a toothpick inserted into foil paper.
The chemistry between her and Abhishek is ZILCH, unless they were Laurel and Hardy in which case its hysterically funny.(Maybe they should have learned their lesson from KUCH NA KAHO!)
I cant remember when I laughed so much in a movie, or so loud.

Umrao Jaan( for those who do not watch indian movies) is an adaptation from a novel by Mirza Hadi Ruswa about the life of a famous courtesan in Lucknow. (Think: Memoirs of a Geisha).
Courtesan's or "TAWAIFS", as they are known, through their arts were part of a culture, where the upper class (Nawabs) went to hear poetry being recited, sung, and danced to by a beautiful woman. These dances were known as "MUJRA'S and the place was known as a KOTHA.
It begins in 1840, when a young girl (Ameeran) is kidnapped and sold off to a KOTHA. This belongs to Begum Khanum Jaan, and here Ameeran is rechristened as Umrao, and is taught the art of becoming a tawaif.The book then documents her life, her poetry and her unrequited love for the Nawab Sultan.

There was a version made in 1981 by the director Muzzafar Ali, and the actress who played Umrao Jaan then (REKHA), did such a phenomenal job, that she went on to win many Awards for her performance. The direction itself was rich, textured, layered and the characters fleshed out so to leave an indelible impression on ones mind.

The current adaptation may have chosen one of the most globally known faces, but as far as her histrionic abilities go there was never any question. She has none.

The only saving grace was undeniably Shabana Azmi, who's performance was reminiscent of the Brothel keeper in Mandi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the Maulvi, and Himani Shivpuri as the carers for Umrao.
The two courtesans (Divya Dutta, Ayesha Jhulka) chosen as Umrao Jaan's companions were such a dissapointment, but no doubt chosen for their equally bad diction and scratchy voices.
Surely such a renowned "KOTHA" belonging to Khanum could have done been better.

Very little homework seems to have been done historically on the film itself. As too often the jewellery is not authentic Lucknawi and ranges from Hyderabadi to Rajasthani styles. The sets too apart from her chambers ( and that too at times BLUE beyond belief) are heavy on the cardboard cutouts and styrofoam.
The music is not bad, but once again given the subject, needed more of a classical/ghazal flavour.

What a waste of time, of an otherwise good weekend.

13 comments:

  1. Don't like Aishwarya Rai anyway...would've trashed her performance... hehe...

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  2. ewww yeh I cant stand her either, but I thought Umrao jaan....WHAT WAS I THINKING????

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  3. I heard this remake was not up to par with the original. Most complaints about Rai. I don't think I'm gonna go watch this one. Maybe I'll watch Omkara a second time on dvd!

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  4. WOW!
    I saw OMKARA last night and the night before. Half and half!
    But MY GOLLY GOD!!! WHAT A MOVIE!!
    I was totally blown away by it. Saif is just delicious as the nasty Langda. Wish couldve seen thast on screen instead of theis crapload.
    Everytime she opened her mouth (Ash) you felt like root canal without novocaine.
    "KH" sound toh nikkalta hi nahi hai.Poor Umrao Jaan Ada apni kabbar mai tadap rahi hogi.

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  5. There was a drama made called umrao jaan ada. It was showing on I think geo or ary. I heard it was good. Perfect urdu is a must for this role. Unfortunately, I think ash cannot do justice in this department.

    Is there any one remake of an older movie that has become a hit? DON was totally dogshit. I feel sorry for the females who are die hard fans of shahrukh khan. He can't act/look/talk like a villain at all. Apart from the Big B, aamir khan, saif ali khan and sanjay dutt are very versatile actors. Recently, ajay devgan has also joined their ranks.

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  6. Plus, all the songs in Omkara were wonderful! The beedi song and O Saathi Re..

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  7. I think I might still watch it after all the bad reviews i'v heard. If I get any time that is. :-)

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  8. FUCK YOU BASTARED IF YOU DONT SAY SOMETHING GOOD FOR ANYBODY, SO YOU DON'T HAVE ANY RIGHTS TO SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT ANYBODY.
    NOW WE CAN JUDGE YOU ARE FROM CHEAP FAMILY, ASSHOLE YOUR FAMILY DOESNT TEACH YOU MANNERS AND HOW TO RESPECT OTHERS.

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  9. @heart of Ocean
    LMAO! HAHAHHAHAH!
    Tch tch. Tumhaari behan hai kya? Tumhaara gharaana toh Mashallah bohat ooncha hai!
    "WE"? Who is we?
    Oh Riiiight! You come from such a good family that the FILMI world is considered "GOOD FAMILY" for you .
    Miskeen.

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  10. o come on it cant all be that bad altough ash looks like a hoe lately.

    @ heart of ocean
    dude u are seriously demented
    Agar tum itni ach family say ho to mard kay bache bano aur email ya cell no. do

    Aur teri famili to jaise buhut achi hai na!
    Apne baap ka koi pata nahin aur doosroon ko galian de raha hai.
    Dhakkan.

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  11. *** STANDS UP AND APPLAUDS LOUDLY FOR KARACHIDUDE****

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  12. @ CLAYF
    Honna kya hai. Koi badtamizi say payysh aa raha tha, and Karchi Dude like the gentleman he is, came to defend me. :)

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