Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Umrao Jaan - the original and the 'best' one

If Sanjay Bhansaali had to make a movie without long saaris, long drama and long actors, then it would be Umrao Jaan of 1981. I'm referring to his genious of mixing art and aesthetics with cinema minus the above factors.

I'm firstly thankful to that anonymous seeder who uploaded the movie in crystal clear quality so that I could stare at Rekha's jewels,silk,chiffon,georgette,long hair and ofcourse the wonderful decorative mehfil. Also all credit goes to Subhashini Ali, the costume designer for the movie.

Yes,the movie is all about aesthetics. Rekha's beauty, the courtyards, the costumes, jewellery: everything delights you.So much so, that it takes away your focus from the story.

Whats it all about

The story is simple. In the period of 1840,a girl is kidnapped and sold to a  famous brothel in Lucknow (all brothels are famous,who am I kidding?!)She grows upto be a famous(again!) courtesan falls in love with a visitor Nawab and they fall in love. But zimedaariyaan and majbooriyan makes Nawab marry elsewhere and this is where the drama unfolds.

Rekha's best performance ever,she portrays a range of aspects in just one character : as the lover to Farooq,the girl who is eager to learn shayari,the suffering woman in rejection, the seductress, the innocence when wooed by Naseeruddin Shah, the lost woman when wooed by Raj Babbar,the dancer ,the shayari and ofcourse adayein when singing the popular evergreen songs of the movie. She carries the movie thruoghout. There is metaphorically no Farooq Shiekh,no Shah and definitely no Babbar.

One cannot forget the evergreen lines - ' Dil cheez kya hai aap meri jaan lijiye...' . Every song in the movie depicts the situation and the actor's emotions well. There isn't more than necessary tears but there is sorrow,there isn't more drama of proclaiming love but there is the sensitivity. The emotions are controlled and maybe the viewer is left to ponder on it.

Surprise factor 

While watching the movie I wondered were the people of Lucknow at that period, controlled in their emotions? Or is just a particular clan or race or group? Nevertheless the movie is different from the 1980s Bollywood we have grown up with.

Thus for the brilliance of the movie making of Muzaffar Ali and music by Khayyam, I could not help but portray them too for this fantastic piece of poem on celluloid.

 Muzaffar Ali 



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