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Umrao JaanUmrao Jaan : Movie Preview
24th Oct 2006  23.00 IST
By Aparajita Ghosh  

Aishwarya Rai, one of the most beautiful women in the world, goes behind the veil to play the role of the courtesan and poetess Umrao Jaan.

After a string of patriotic movies, filmmaker J.P. Dutta directs this period drama set in Lucknow of 19th century. The movie is based on the book 'Umrao Jaan Ada' by Mirza Hadi Ruswa, who was a teacher in mathematics, science, philosophy and Persian.

'Umrao Jaan' tells a touching tale of a woman who was abducted as a child and sold to a kotha in Lucknow where she grew to be a beautiful courtesan with refined skills in poetry and singing. But behind her beautiful exterior, Umrao Jaan remained a lonely woman with many unfulfilled desires.

Check out the movie's slideshow (story in pictures) at Umrao Jaan .

Besides Aishwarya Rai , the film stars Abhishek Bachchan , Shabana Azmi , Sunil Shetty , Puru Raj Kumar , Divya Dutta , Himani Shivpuri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda , Ayesha Jhulka and Bikram Saluja .

Aishwarya Rai
Amiran, an eight-year-old daughter of a lower middle class family, is kidnapped by an ex-convict Dilawar Khan and sold into flesh trade of Lucknow. This is an act of vengeance by Dilawar who spent nearly ten years in jail because Amiran's father gave evidence against him.

A frightened Amiran ends up at a kotha owned by the astute Khanum Sahib.

Shabana Azmi as Khanum Sahib
Khanum is the high priestess of a high-class kotha, frequented by aristocrats and cultured Nawabs of Lucknow. To the world she is a perfect courtesan. A woman of impeccable manners, she is the embodiment of etiquettes, charm and sophistication. When needed, she can be caustic or charming, commanding or cajoling, shrewd or compassionate.

Khanum Sahib gives Amiran a new identity, a new name, Umrao Jaan. Under Khanum's guidance, Umrao grows to be an aesthete woman with a refined taste in arts. She gets her education from Maulvi Sahib. Khan Sahib initiates her into the world of music, while the great Kathak Acharya teaches her dance. Umrao Jaan develops various other skills, including poetry, in the company of Bismillah, Khurshid and Gauhar Mirza (Puru Raj Kumar).

With her dance prowess, literary genius, charming persona and inimitable style, Umrao Jaan goes on to become the pride of Lucknow. But deep inside she remains a simple woman who desires a simple life with a man who loves her.

Abhishek Bachchan as Nawab Sultan
Nawab Sultan is a pathan with an appreciative eye for beauty and with a heart of an intense lover. Given his penchant for good poetry it is not long before he finds himself drawn towards Umrao Jaan. Her awe-inspiring persona and her soulful renditions of poetry create an indelible impact on Nawab Sultan.

There is an instant attraction between Nawab and Umrao Jaan. In his eyes she sees her own desires reflected. In Umrao's heart he senses the echo of his own passion.

Brought together by fate, will the two be able to unite in an era in which Nawabs have to observe a strict social decorum of do's and don'ts.

Sunil Shetty as Faiz Ali
Faiz Ali is an outlaw and a dreaded dacoit. But behind his tough exterior lies a man with a mellow heart. And his heart beats for the enchanting Umrao Jaan. Weary of his reckless existence, he often finds solace in the comforting company of Umrao.

'Umrao Jaan' is the story of a woman's unrequited love. Like any other woman, this courtesan too has a dream of a husband, a family and a home. Will her dream ever be fulfilled? Or will she meet the same fate as many other courtesans?

J P Dutta
J.P. Dutta, the film's director, producer, writer and editor, says 'Umrao Jaan' is not a remake of Muzaffar Ali's movie from 1981. Dutta's 'Umrao Jaan' is rather based on a script written by his father OP Dutta many years ago.

The movie's costumes have been designed by Abu Jani, Sandeep Khosla and Anna Singh. To design Ash's elegant outfits in the movie, the designers created new colour palettes after studying the paintings from the 19th century Avadh. Ash's outfits were very heavy because of overuse of gota, embroidery and semi-precious stones. She also wears real jewellery in the film.

Abhishek's costume
Abhishek Bachchan will be seen wearing embroidered sherwanis and a head gear known as safa. He will also be seen in angarkhas especially made with heavy fabric from Jaipur.

'Umrao Jaan' is one of the awaited films of the year. It has music by Anu Malik, art direction by Bijon Dasgupta, choreography by Vaibhavi Merchant and cinematography by Ayananka Bose.

It is set to release on November 3, 2006.

Umrao Jaan
Aishwarya Rai
Abhishek Bachchan
Shabana Azmi
Sunil Shetty
Puru Raj Kumar
Divya Dutta
Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Ayesha Jhulka
Bikram Saluja

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