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Movie Review: Umrao Jaan

November 13, 2006 Leave a comment Go to comments

In one of the countless slow-death-for-viewers visuals, I got to hear “The crops have been reaped. Now the fields are being burnt for good luck next year!” That one gloriously revealing moment captures that strange and sublime ethos of pathos that coloured the life and times of Umrao – “a classic example of misfortune in her own words”. And I echoed the same feeling post the movie. Umrao Jaan – the worst painfully-long-paced movie ever watched… I cudn’t help cursing myself during and after the movie.

Umrao Jaan

The lucknow, I had known from movies n my own stay there, wasn’t even a bit vivid in its evocation of a crisis of cultural pathos. Initial thoughts of Ash compensating for all that was bad about the movie… also weren’t true! She also cudn’t save the movie… from my wrath 🙂 And this all the more made me realize that J P Dutta’s locational luminosity and visual vitality have always been questionable since his Border days…

Even though people find this version better than the 1978 version for its sense of imminent historicity, for a first time watcher, this movie falls far short of its expectations. Nevertheless, moving away from my critique, talking of the movie… it is an account of the life and times of the 19th century Lucknowi poetess… (a female version of devdas). Perched between a world of the kotha and the outer world of growing deceit and betrayal the story of little Ameeran’s journey from her quaint and happy family life to the lonely pride of the Kotha. This movie also has Khanum ‘madam’ as the pimp(ess) and Nawab Sultan (played by AB jr) as the regular visitor…

Then, there is that bonding with a surrogate-father and a couple of gurls in whose company, Umrao developed varied skills including poetry. Graduating in years, Umrao became a rage in Lucknow. A beauty that was stunning, a manner that was enticing and words that were soul stirring, made the name of Umrao Jaan mean sheer joy of watching and listening.

Stepping into youth, she had to seek the love of her life – Nawab Sultan – whose company she craved for. Somewhere deep inside her, she had a dream of a husband, a family and a home. She chased her dream from one end of the rainbow to the other. Then the usual villain angle comes in…. a dacoit falling for her and causing a misunderstanding with the Nawab…. as if this wasn’t enuf, the war of independences breaks lose!! As a triple icing on the cake, Umrao’s mom n bro disown her when she gets bak to them hoping to get bak to the Ameeran she once was. Eventually, Ameeran is forced to become Umrao Jaan again…..

Thumbs Down – am sure, itz an investment down the drain for all the producers involved in this movie!!!

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