Curiosity builds over Aishwarya Rai and ‘Umrao Jaan’

By Arpana, Indo-Asian News ServiceimageNew Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) As the release date of J.P. Dutta’s “Umrao Jaan” nears, TV channels, newspapers and magazines seem to be falling over each other to present the first images of Aishwarya Rai from the film.

“We are inundated by calls from all the newspapers and channels for Aishwarya’s pictures from ‘Umrao Jaan’,” said a source from Dutta’s camp.

Dutta has kept Aishwarya’s new avatar under wraps.

“So far Aishwarya has played a modern woman in films except in ‘Devdas’ where people liked her a lot. They are waiting to see her as the courtesan Umrao Jaan. People in the trade are positive about the film because of Dutta,” said Delhi-based distributor Sanjay Mehta.

“Aishwarya is not known as a bankable actor. People think of her as wooden. She can’t emote. But Dutta is not only a good director, he is also a good technician. He knows how to extract work from his artist. We are confident that Aishwarya must have played the role convincingly,” he added.

Mehta couldn’t be more right — Dutta had put Aishwarya under rigorous training so she could play the role made famous by Rekha in the original.

“People are also curious to see Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan’s chemistry on screen,” added Mehta.

The obvious question is whether Aishwarya can ever match up to Rekha?

Said Dutta: “Aishwarya has given her best to the film.”

Dutta has gone into meticulous detail in costumes, jewellery and the look of the period film in terms of buildings and indoors too. He has used real jewellery for Aishwarya, Abhishek and other members of the main cast.

He has relied heavily on Mirza Mohammed Haadi Ruswa’s novel “Umrao Jaan” to add authenticity.

“He gave the minutest details to Anna Singh and his wife Bindiya. They have carried out his vision exactly the way Dutta wanted it to be,” said an insider.

In 1981, Muzaffar Ali directed the first screen adaptation of Ruswa’s book. It was a masterpiece and Rekha’s performance as an emotionally unfulfilled courtesan was appreciated with a National Award.

“Umrao Jaan”, which marks Dutta’s comeback after his damp squib “LOC Kargil”, is said to be his first women-centric film.

Dutta defends himself and says he has always given a lot of dignity to women in his films be it Smita Patil in “Ghulami”, Dimple in “Batwara”, Meenakshi Sheshadri in “Kshatriya” or Kareena Kapoor in “Refugee” — all were strong, dynamic women.

“All my films have been on weapons, war and patriotism, so, a lot of people feel I make male oriented films.”

“Umrao Jaan” made on a budget of Rs.200 million was shot mainly in Jaipur. It also stars Shabana Azmi, Suniel Shetty, Arshad Warsi and Kulbhushan Kharbanda.

If Asha Bhonsle was the voice of Rekha, Alka Yagnik will sing for Aishwarya Rai. Javed Akhtar has penned the songs for this classic tale and Anu Malik has composed it. Malik’s daughter Anmol is learnt to have lent her voice to a young Aishwarya in the film.

What do you think of Umrao Jaan the movie? Comment below!

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