Tripti Joshi (Editor)

Umrao Jaan (1981 film)

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
2 Ratings
Rate This

Rate This

Director  Muzaffar Ali
Music director  Mohammed Zahur Khayyam
Language  Urdu
8/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama, Musical
Adapted from  Umrao Jaan Ada
A poster of the 1981 film "Umrao Jaan" featuring an illustration of Rekha

Writer  Muzaffar Ali, Javed Siddiqui, Shama Zaidi
Release date  1981 (1981)India (India)
Based on  Urdu novel Umrao Jaan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa
Songs  Dil Cheez Kya Hai
Cast  Rekha (Amiran), Farooq Shaikh (Nawab Sultan), Naseeruddin Shah (Gohar Mirza), Raj Babbar (Faiz Ali)

Umrao Jaan is a 1981 Bollywood film directed by Muzaffar Ali. Based on the 1905 Urdu novel Umrao Jaan Ada, the film tells the story of a Lucknow courtesan and her rise to fame.


A poster of the 1981 film "Umrao Jaan" featuring Rekha

Justju Jis Ki Thi Umrao Jaan - 1981


A poster of the 1981 film Umrao Jaan featuring Rekha in a fierce look with her hand touching her head

In the year 1840, a girl named Amiran is kidnapped from her family in Faizabad and sold to Khanum Jaan, the madam of a brothel in Lucknow who teaches young courtesans. Renamed Umrao Jaan, Amiran turns into a cultured woman trained to captivate men of wealth and taste.

Farooq Shaikh and Rekha in an oval frame in a poster of the 1981 film Umrao Jaan

Umrao catches the eye of Nawab Sultan and the two fall in love, but the relationship comes to an end when Nawab reveals he must marry in order to please his family. Umrao then becomes infatuated with bandit chieftain Faiz Ali, who woos and wins her heart. She elopes with him, but is forced to return to Lucknow after Ali is killed by local police.

A portrait of Rekha in a frame

Sometime later, British soldiers attack Lucknow and the residents are forced to flee. Umrao's party of refugees stops in a small village, which Umrao recognizes as Faizabad. The residents fail to recognize her, however, and ask her to dance for their pleasure.

Rekha singing while wearing a beige dress, a veil, and some accessories in a scene from the 1981 film "Umrao Jaan"

Afterwards, she reunites with her family, who believed her to be dead. Her mother is happy to welcome Umrao back, but her brother forbids it and orders Umrao to never return. She returns to Lucknow to find the brothel looted and deserted.


Rekha as Umrao Jaan smiling and wearing a yellow veil with some hair ornaments

  • Rekha as Amiran / Umrao Jaan
  • Seema Sathyu as Young Amiran
  • Farooq Shaikh as Nawab Sultan
  • Naseeruddin Shah as Gohar Mirza
  • Raj Babbar as Faiz Ali
  • Gajanan Jagirdar as Maulvi
  • Shaukat Kaifi as Khanum Jaan
  • Umme Farwa as Young Amiran
  • Dina Pathak as Husseini
  • Prema Narayan as Bismillah
  • Bharat Bhushan as Khan Saheb
  • Mukri as Parnan Aziz
  • Satish Shah as Daroga Dilawar
  • Crew

    Rekha sitting on the ground with a fierce look while wearing a beige dress and a veil in a poster of the 1981 film "Umrao Jaan"

  • Art Direction: Muzaffar Ali, Bansi Chandragupta, Manzoor
  • Choreography: Gopi Krishna for the song " Dil Cheez Kya Hai ", Kumudini Lakhia
  • Costume Design: Subhashini Ali
  • Critical reception

    Rekha was praised for her acting, but the box office returns were just average. The supporting characters were played by Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Shaikh, Raj Babbar and Bharat Bhushan. Critics responded favourably to the carefully done historical setting.

    The soundtrack was composed by Khayyam and the lyrics were penned by Shahryar. Several songs from the film, sung by Asha Bhosle, are considered classics of filmi music: "Dil cheez kya hai", "Justuju Jiski Thi", "In aankhon ki masti", and "Yeh kya jagah hai doston".

    2006 remake by J.P. Dutta

    A remake of Umrao Jaan was released on 3 November 2006. It is directed by J.P. Dutta and stars Aishwarya Rai as Umrao Jaan, Sunil Shetty as Faiz Ali, Puru Raaj Kumar as Gauhar Mirza and Abhishek Bachchan as Nawab Sultan. Shabana Azmi portrays Madam Khanum Jaan (notably, Azmi's own mother, Shaukat Kaifi, portrayed Madam Khanum Jaan in the original version of the film). The music is composed by Anu Malik and the lyrics are penned by Javed Akhtar.

    Vanya Mishra danced to the song at Miss World 2012. Very important detail


    Umrao Jaan (1981 film) Wikipedia
    Umrao Jaan (1981 film) IMDb Umrao Jaan (1981 film)