Reviewer's Summary - Pitiful
Year: November 3, 2006 in the U.S.
Actors: Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Suniel Shetty, Puru Raj Kumar, Arshad Warsi
Story: Mirza Hadi Ruswa
Music: Anu Malik
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Let's face it upfront - Aishwarya Rai is an appallingly bad actress inflicted upon Bollywood fans with the sole objective of tormenting them.
Rekha was a class act in the old Umrao Jaan. In the new Umrao Jaan, Aishwarya Rai is a crass act.
Ms.Rai's passionless performance left us numb and distressed at the never-ending triumph of form over substance in Bollywood. Except in the scene where Umrao Jaan's lover Nawab Sultan (Abhishek Bachchan) questions her fidelity to him, Aishwarya Rai fails to win us over.
Frame after frame, Aishwarya Rai is a disappointment as the courtesan Umrao Jaan. As dazzled as we are by this luminous beauty, we are discouraged with her performance in movie after movie.
But to pin the entire blame for the Umrao Jaan fiasco on Ms.Rai's shapely shoulders would be unfair. There are plenty of other villains who ought to share in the blame - her co-stars, music director Anu Malik, O.P.Dutta's weak dialogs and not least of all the movie's director J.P.Dutta.
Compared to the 1981 version of Umrao Jaan, the remake is a horror show cobbled together by a cast of seeming amateurs.
Besides Rekha's solid performance, music was the other major draw of the old Umrao Jaan. Pedestrian music is a fatal flaw in the new Umrao Jaan.
None of the songs in the remake come anywhere near the magic of songs such as In Aankhon Ki Masti or Di Cheeze Kya Hai in the earlier version of the movie.
Khayyam's captivating music leaves Anu Malik's efforts in the new Umrao Jaan completely in the dust.
While the remake deviates little from the old story line, it lacks the fine little flourishes of the 1981 version.
An young girl from Faizabad is kidnapped by her father's enemy and sold into a Lucknow brothel, where she gets a new life and a new name - Umrao Jaan.
The girl grows up into Lucknow's preeminent singer and dancer but experiences only pain and rejection from those close to her.
Barring Shabana Azmi, who plays with elan the Madam of the brothel that Umrao is sold into as a child, all the other actors are able to muster only effete performances.
Abhishek Bachchan is absolutely no patch on Farooque Shaikh, who played Nawab Sultan with an understated elegance in the old Umrao Jaan.
Both Puru Raj Kumar, who plays Gohar Mirza (Naseeruddin Shah played this role in the older Umrao Jaan), and Suniel Shetty cast as the dacoit Faiz Ali (Raj Babbar in the original) come across as unschooled novices.
For a film that's supposedly set in the 19th century - certainly, a less frenetic era - the actors in the new Umrao Jaan seem to move about at a disconcertingly hurried pace.
Surely, Bollywood directors such as J.P.Dutta have reached the dregs when they churn out ghastly remakes of 25-year-old classics like Umrao Jaan.- Copyright SearchIndia.com.