Umrao Jaan is a Bollywood film about the famous courtesan of the title. Aishwarya Rai stars in the lead role. The film is directed by J.P. Dutta and also stars Shabana Azmi, Sunil Shetty, Abhishek Bachchan, Divya Dutta, Himani Shivpuri and Kulbhushan Kharbanda.
In 1840, a young girl named Amiran [Bansree Mandhani] is kidnapped from her home in Faizabad by Dilawar Khan [Vishwajeet Pradhan] who had been sent to jail based upon the evidence presented by Amirans father. To take his revenge, he kidnaps Amiran and sells her to a brothel in Lucknow run by Khannum Jaan [Shabana Azmi]. Bua Hussaini [Himani Shivpuri] and Maulvi Sahib [Kulbhushan Kharbanda] adopt Amiran and treat her as their own daughter. In the company of Khurshid [Ayesha Jhulka], Bismillah [Divya Dutta], and one of the courtesans sons, Gauhar Mirza [Puru Raajkumar], Amiran learns the art of being a courtesan, or tawaif.
The young girl turns into an elegant, poetic beauty by the name of Umrao Jaan [Aishwarya Rai]. Umraos beauty and poetry is enough to catch the eye of Nawab Sultan [Abhishek Bachchan]. The two begin a passionate romance, but when his father hears of their relationship he disowns Nawab Sultan from his life, wealth and property. The penniless Nawab goes to stay in the house of his uncle, who is a judge in Ghari, to sort himself out; Umrao is left desolate without him and prays every day for his return.
In the Nawabs absence, Umrao catches the eye of Faiz Ali [Sunil Shetty]. Though she rejects his romantic advances, he determinedly pursues her and eventually asks her to accompany him to his home in Daulatabad. Umrao accepts, but only after she learns that they will be traveling through Ghari. Along the way, the whole party is arrested after a confrontation between Faiz Alis men and a group of state soldiers. Faiz Ali is revealed to be a dacoit whom the soldiers have pursued for years. Nawab Sultan hears that Umrao and Faiz Ali are in Ghari and goes to meet Faiz Ali in prison. Faiz Ali, who then realizes that Umrao only accompanied him so that she could meet Nawab, manipulates the information concerning his time with Umrao and implies to the Nawab that they had a sexual relationship. The Nawab confronts Umrao and feeling that she betrayed him, shuns her and sends her back to Lucknow. Heartbroken, Umrao returns to her old life, but fate has other plans for her.
In a drunken state, her childhood friend Gauhar Mirza, who has always been in love with her, becomes frustrated at her for rejecting his advances and rapes her. Soon after, the British attack the city and she is forced to leave Lucknow. She and the refugees separate after she decides to go to Faizabad, her childhood home. There, she learns that her father is long dead. She meets her mother and brother, but they refuse to accept her because of her profession. Umrao, rejected by her family and her lover, leaves to return to Lucknow. Then, fate plays another joke on her: on her way out of the city, she encounters Dilawar Khan, the man who kidnapped her and sold her to the brothel when she was a child. Poor, wretched, homeless and injured, the man begs her for money, not recognizing who she is; she gives him her gold bangles and it is implied that forgives him. Ostracized by all and having forgiven those who destroyed her life, Umrao lives out the rest of her days in Lucknow with her poetry and ill fate.
According to Dutta the film is based on the script written by his father O. P. Dutta, which in turn was adapted from the classic Urdu novel Umrao Jan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. The film was shot on location including some palaces from Jaipur. Saroj Khan was selected to choreograph the dances, but backed out owing to disagreements with director J. P. Dutta. She was replaced by Vaibhavi Merchant.
Several of the roles were changed during pre-production. Priyanka Chopra was considered to play the part of Umrao Jaan, but could not allot the ninety consecutive dates required for shooting due to her role in Bluffmaster. Arshad Warsi was to star in the film as Gauhar Mirza, but dropped out soon after as he chose to appear in Lage Raho Munna Bhai. Puru Raajkumar replaced Warsi. Shabana Azmi, who plays the role of Khannum Jaan, is the daughter of Shaukat Azmi, who played the same role in the 1981 version.
The music is by Anu Malik and the lyrics by Javed Akhtar. The track listing is as follows:
# "Ek Tute Huye Dil Ki" - Alka Yagnik
# "A Foreword" - by Javed Akhtar
# "Salaam" - Alka Yagnik
# "Pehle Pehel" - Alka Yagnik
# "Jhute Ilzaam" - Alka Yagnik
# "Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Na Kijo" - Richa Sharma
# "Main Na Mil Saku" - Alka Yagnik
# "Bekhka Diya Humein" - Alka Yagnik & Sonu Nigam
# "Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Na Kijo" [child version] - Anmol Malik
# "Pooch Rahe Hai" - Alka Yagnik
The film performed poorly at the box office, grossing only Rs.64,900,000. The film received mainly negative reviews from critics, many of them reacting unfavourably to J. P. Duttas direction and the films three hour running time. Despite the unfavourable reviews for the film, BBC film critic Poonam Joshi praised Shabana Azmis performance as "exemplary" while the Hindustan Times called her performance "the highlight of this film".
Worldwide, the film has grossed $1,371,723, including $485,000 at the US box office.
Source : Umrao Jaan Wiki Page