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Umrao Jaan (1981)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 648 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 3 critic

In Faizabad, British India, Daroga Dilawar is sentenced to several years in prison after Amiran's dad testifies against him. After his discharge around 1840, he extracts his vengeance by ... See full summary »

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(novel) (as Mirza Hadi Ruswa) , (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Umrao Jaan (1981)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Farooq Shaikh ...
Nawab Sultan (as Farouque Shaikh)
...
...
Shaukat Azmi ...
Khanum Jaan (as Shaukat Kaifi)
Ishtiaque Khan Ghilzai ...
(as Khan Ghilzai)
Prema Narayan ...
Akbar Rashid
Gajanan Jagirdar ...
Dina Pathak ...
Rita Rani Kaul ...
Ramdei
Shaheen Sultan
Umme Farwa ...
Seema Sathyu
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Storyline

In Faizabad, British India, Daroga Dilawar is sentenced to several years in prison after Amiran's dad testifies against him. After his discharge around 1840, he extracts his vengeance by abducting Amiran and selling to a brothel madam. It is here Amiran will be re-named Umrao Jaan. Years later, Umrao has grown up and is an accomplished poetess as well as dancer extraordinary. She has many patrons, chief amongst them are Nawab Sultan and his father. The young Nawab is smitten by Umrao's beauty and her poems, but is finally forced to marry a girl of his mother's choice, leaving behind a heart-broken and devastated Umrao, who seeks solace in the arms of Faiz Ali and finally elopes with him, only to find out that he is a wanted bandit, and is shot down and killed by guards. Umrao re-locates to Lucknow where she establishes herself as a Poet and dancer, but is hunted down by brothel-keepers, Gohar Mirza and Husseini and brought back, where she is told that she must marry Gohar. Watch what ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Musical

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Details

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Release Date:

21 June 2005 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

Umrao Jaan, a kurtizán  »

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Connections

Featured in American Desi (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Kahe Ko Byahe Bides
Lyrics by Shahryar
Music by Khayyam
Sung by Jagjit Kaur
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User Reviews

 
Unusually well-made Urdu film
24 February 2002 | by (Trivandrum, Kerala, India) – See all my reviews

For many in India, this is a film famous for its haunting songs. To some, it was a film that brought an average, good-looking actress a dream role that fetched her a national best actress award.

"Umrao Jaan" did not create ripples among most critics when it was made because the story line revolving around a singer/dancer who sells her body was old hat for most Hindi/Urdu film-goers.

What made "Umrao Jaan" stand out? It was the director Muzaffar Ali's flash-in-the-pan directorial effort. His earlier film "Gaman" lends poor comparison to "Umrao Jaan." Ali was able to get superb performances from the ensemble of Bollywood actresses to whom subtlety is still a foreign concept. Rekha is quite restrained (wish she were more), so is Prema Narayan in this film. The effect is stunning. Some of the Indian actors could do so well, if only they were well directed!

But good direction does not come merely in dealing with actors. Each and every shot of cameraman Pravin Bhatt could have been mistaken for the work of Sven Nykvist in the early Bergman movies. The composition of each frame, taking three objects in perspective (faces, chandeliers, minarets, etc..) and juggling with the one, two, or three objects for composition within the frame brought a maturity to Indian cinematography rarely seen. This is a film to be enjoyed by sight and sound--not merely at the level of the story. This is probably why twenty years after it was made the film attracts audiences as it did before. It has stood the test of time. It was unfortunate that Indian critics by and large grouped it with commercial cinema churned out from Mumbai merely because of its song and dance component and its all too familiar theme for Indian audiences.

The screenplay was well written and mature in comparison to most Urdu/Hindi films. Melodrama was reigned in, yet music and song held sway. The melancholic thread in the film is developed right up to the dried leaves in the final scenes knitting together a very feminist tragedy by a male director. In many respects, this film was a major movie from India in the Eighties, on par with the efforts of some of the more notable directors like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

For Ali, this was his swansong--he never made a film that flashed his brilliance after this effort. Probably he knew he could not improve upon this effort....


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