Friday, 22 October 2010
Four years later, the enthusiasm to meet the director remains unmitigated. I just finished watching Muzaffar Ali's 1981 masterpiece. Given my crazy schedule of work (and its hardly helping that the Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week starts tomorrow) I've not had any time to see my beloved golden oldies. Driven up the wall and my head spinning like a Ferris wheel, I just had to rejuvenate with a film. And, I chose Umrao Jaan for the sheer belief that this one film should fill the gap that had resulted due to my hectic travel schedule and the work that will keep me on my toes for the coming weeks.
But, Muzaffar Ali will be facing a different set of questions when I meet him now. His poetic film on the doomed courtesan Umrao has me far from satisfied. Why is it that I feel justice was not done to the novel Umrao Jaan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa? Why am I not mesmerised by the exploration of the Awadhi lifestyle depicted in the film? Am I the only one to feel the patchiness of the script? Why do I want Umrao Jaan to be recreated by the mastery of Gulzar (this man surely knew how to mold any plain story into a mindblowing experience)?
Now for the storytelling (pardon me for being ruthless). Ali fails to place the different events into a smooth line. The narrative is jumpy, with plenty of jagged edges. For example, the annexation of Awadh is shown pretty suddenly, without any build-up. Similarly, Umrao's moving from place to place is a tad unclear. Also, how come the other girl who met the same fate as young Amiran (Seema Sathyu) becomes lucky enough to marry Nawab Sultan?