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Zubeidaa (2001)

Zubeidaa, an aspiring Muslim actress, marries a Hindu prince to become his second wife. Her tumultuous relationship with her husband, and her inner demons lead her to a decision which has fatal consequences for them all.



(original story and screenplay), (dialogue) (as Javed Siddique)
3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Zubeida
... Mandira Devi
... Raja Vijendra Singh (as Manoj Bajpai)
... Riyaz Masud (as Rajit Kapur)
... Fayyazi (as Surekha Sikri-Rege)
... Suleiman Seth
... Mammo
... Dance Master Hiralal
... Rose Davenport
... Girivar Singh
Smriti Mishra ... Sardari Begum
S.M. Zaheer ... Sajid Masud
... Nandlal Seth
... Young Riyaz


The film begins with Riyaz (Rajat Kapoor), Zubeida's son setting out to research her life, and to meet the people who knew her. The story is thus told in the form of memories/reminiscences. Zubeida is a Muslim actress, who's career aspirations are thwarted by her film-producer father (Puri) who looks down upon a woman in acting. He arranges her marriage to her friend's son, but that breaks up after the birth of her son. Zubeida is now back at her parent's home, sad and depressed. Rose (Lilette Dubey) her father's mistress tries to cheer-up Zubeida by taking her out. On one of these outings, Zubeida meets Prince Vijayendra (Victor) Singh of Fatehpur (Bajpai). Quite taken with her, the Prince woos and marries her. Zubeida, now the 2nd wife of a Hindu prince, leaves her son behind with her mother (Sikri) and comes to live at Fatehpur. Here she meets the much older Mandira Devi (Rekha) the Prince's first wife, learns about the etiquette of being a Rani, and of the duties her husband has ... Written by Amodini

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Story of a Princess


Unrated | See all certifications »




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Release Date:

19 January 2001 (India)  »

Also Known As:

Роковая любовь  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Bollywood Brass Band did a instrumental version of "Main Albeli" for the album Rahmania. See more »


The events of the movie are happening in the 1950s, around the time of decolonization, yet the prince Victor appears to be flying a 1982 model of Cessna 172. See more »


Follows Mammo (1994) See more »


Hai Na
Lyrics by Javed Akhtar
Music by A.R. Rahman
Performed by Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik
See more »

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User Reviews

REALLY good movie. Worth seeing. Painstakingly made.
20 February 2001 | by See all my reviews

I saw this movie with minimal expectations. Except that Shyam Benegal is known to make 'art' movies.

I left with a most wonderful feeling. Shyam Benegal has bridged the gap between serious movies and the pot boilers produced by Bollywood. I don't expect this movie to be a hit. But here are the things I found fascination in the movie (in no particular order):

i) The character of Zubeida as played by Karisma Kapoor was perfect! If it was the intention of the director to show her as a very happy-go-lucky girl that does not want to be confined by anyone or anything - she has portrayed it superbly. Of course, she DOES come across as being selfish, as not being willing to share the limelight (or her love for that matter) with another. But - that is what she IS!

ii) The story was very melancholic. Interspersed with moments of laughter. But the melancholy prevails thru till the last frame.

iii) Cinematography has a dream like quality (when in flashback mode) along with a matter of fact presence today. I especially liked the sepia tones of yester year juxtaposed with the more real life tones of the present day.

iv) The direction itself is (as usual) flawless. I thought there was a mistake once or twice - but upon rewinding I saw (to my relief) that I was very much mistaken. The only part not so convincing is the plane crash itself. If only Indian movie makers would not mind doing the real thing :-) In particular, I feel the reason Karisma seems to be so perfect in this role, is the director. That is NOT to detract from her performancs! But just having Shyam Benegal as a director raises you to the next level - that you probably never knew existed.

v) The camera work is poetic. Whether in the past or in the present, it seems to caress each of the central characters. Whether it is Amrish Puri or Rose in the past or Rajit Kapur and the palace in the present, the camera seems to linger longingly on each of them. Especially in the present, when the camera seems to wish the place back to life the way it was.

vi) Manoj Bajpai's casting (Victor). This, as expected, is one of the most controversial castings ever done. Manoj's portrayals in movies so far have been anything BUT regal. However, it is MY feeling that he did a commendable job of airing royalty. I thought he was cast perfectly. However, his younger brother seems to be more regal than him. In the one scene in the present, he does look like a former maharaja.

vii) Rekha as the Queen (Mandira Devi). Now THIS was a big no-no in my view. She looked so much older than him! However, if history has to be portrayed correctly, what other choice do we have?

viii) Lilette Dubey (Rose). This is ONE woman you can see as having done her role complete justice. She floats thru it and you are left wondering whether you should be loving her or hating her.

ix) Karisma Kapoor (Zubeidaa). I don't mean to belittle her by talking about her so late in the review. She was perfect for the role. She has done the role perfectly. You love to love the vivacious girl in her. You struggle along with her as she tries to adjust to being a queen - failing miserably. You want to dance with her - when she commits the crime of dancing along with the visiting commoners. You fall in love along with her. She deserves to win the Filmfare award for best actress for 2001. She has proved that she is not a mere bimbette (as Dimple has ably demonstrated the transition from bikini clad gal to fine actress) and is probably the only one of the current Kapoor generation worthy of her great grandfather's name.

I rate this movie a 9 out of 10.

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