Begum Jaan Movie Review

Begum Jaan Movie Poster
Begum Jaan Movie Poster
Vishal Verma By Vishal Verma | 18 Mar 2017 15:43:50.3200000 IST

Composer Anu Malik and the Bhatts have together enthralled us music lovers with some memorable, magical gems, especially during the eighties and nineties. One also remembers J.P. Dutta's Aishwarya Rai starrer, UMRAO JAAN where he composed music of the bygone (pre Independence) era with elan and its only befitting that he has been chosen for BEGUM JAAN which is set in quite the same era and has a backdrop of a strong female protagonist who heads a brothel. So let's check out the music.


The playlist starts with 'Prem Mein Tohre', an superb mujra/ 'ghazal' made more special due to Asha Bhosle's resplendent rendition which brings back the old world charm. Kausar Munir's lyrics are absolutely delightful, very much in sync with the story and keeping with the times. The lovely Hindustani background music arrangements like harmonium, sitar, tabla brings alive the brothel settings.

Famous classical singer, Kavita Seth reprises 'Prem Mein Tohre', and she impresses with a natural, very emotive rendition, classy and this one is more sufi in fusion with folk style.

It's only befitting that two of the most talented and world famous artists from India and across the border, Sonu Nigam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan render, 'Aazaadiyan', a song that describes the emotions of the people as they leave their homes during partition. And together Sonu and Rahat bring tears to the eyes with a rendition that is beyond describable. Kausar Munir too deserves applause for hard hitting lyrics that leave goose bumps and so does Anu for lading the song with apt musical arrangements. A song which should indeed promoted harmony between the two counties.

'O Re Kaharo' is situational composition that sounds more like a sad 'bidaai' and brings together Kalpana Potwary and Altamash Faridi on track. Kalpana's full throated and highly emotive vocals lend that necessary element (both joy and sorrow, contrasting emotions) needed to make the 'bidaai' number work its way into the hearts of music lovers. And Altamash Faridi too is amazing with a brief rendition. Kausar Munir once again deserves applause for brilliantly penned lyrics. Anu's orchestrations too are opulent.

The playlist ends on a joyous, celebratory note with a classical 'Holi' song titled 'Holi Khelein' and Anu creates a semi- classical Braj (Mathura-Vrindavan area of UP) holi song with fusion of some modern western thrown in. The neo nightingale Shreya enchants with her rendition and Anmol Malik too supports Shreya with a superlative outing. Kausar Munir's lyrics bring forth the world famous 'braj/ brijbhoomi holi where Lord Krishna is said to have celebrated holi with the brijbalas. The song should translate well on screen and act as a in the high tension, gripping drama about partition and its vagaries.

To conclude, one can just say- Kudos to Anu, Kausar and the whole team for a musical outing, that is not just in keeping with the narrative and plot but also entertaining and classy. Quite like DUM LAGA KE HAISHA, Anu does not fall prey to lending commercial value but keeps his focus on providing music that will be appreciated by class audience (who are the target here). In fact Anu brings back memories of his BORDER days here with his brilliance. All the four songs, 'Prem Mein Tohre' (both Asha and Kavita), 'Aazaadiyan', 'O Re Kaharo' and 'Holi Khelien' are class and will surely aid proceedings and add 'chaar chand' to the film which is scheduled to release this Friday.

Music Review Rating Chart :-
Excellent - 4.5 & above
Very Good - 4
Good - 3.5
Average/Passable - 3
Pathetic - 2.5 & below

Ooh la.. la.. ooh la la laa. yeh kya kar daala.. A plot that could have been a powerful eye opening metaphor on 'mata' (read women) and 'bharat mata' turns into a disturbing, over blown, deliberately hysterical and forcefully sensational misadaptation of the brilliant National award winning Bengali film RAJKAHINI. Shockingly, the creator of RAJKAHINI Srijit Mukherji is the destroyer of BEGUM JAAN which sees the fiery and determined Vidya Balan fighting a lost battle in this flimsy piece of cinema.


Laced with surreality and unintentionally unhealthy hilarity this weird tribute to Shyam Benegal's 1983 masterpiece MANDI revolving around politics and prostitution that brought together the on screen stalwarts of parallel cinema Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah, BEGUM JAAN is a unconvincing mash up of MANDI and the disturbing partition of India that lacks the power to hold, behold and any chance of being told and considered either as a commercial drama or meaningful art etc.

Gung ho to be shocker right from the word go, within 2 minutes the movie opens with a sickening incident where an old woman strips to shame a gang of rapists in New Delhi with the National flag at the backdrop. Now, this could have been the maker's reaction to the utterly disgusting and horrifying Nirbhaya incident and their shout/ cry for women empowerment and their cringe against the system but it makes you cringing on your seat rather than clinging.

Cut to its circa 1947, an outspoken Begum (Vidya Balan) dressed in flowing robes, puffing on a hookah, lying on a charpai ( a bed made of jute), with 'kajal' (kohl) eyes making a dhamakedar entry. She is the Boss, who runs a brothel that falls right between India and Pakistan from where the Radcliffe Line (the Indo -Pak border) needs to be drawn. Madamji says, what border, all men are equal in this 'Kotha' and there is no religion, caste involved while the carnal desires are fulfilled over here.. shabash.. clap clap but what's that?, the government officials played by Rajit Kapur and Ashish Vidyarthi give us an awkward feeling when their faces stare at us from the sides of the screen making it look like a technical guffaw but then we understand it's another chapter in forced deliberation by the helmer to make us realize the divide between two communities. God please, stop testing, doubting and underestimating the intelligence of the audience.

Unfortunately this is the topsy -turvey the movie indulges in and fails to find a way out. Begum Jaan's Haveli (mansion) is surrounded by an old nani played by Ila Arun who narrates the historical tales of Jhansi ki Rani, Meerabai, Razia Sultana and the latest controversies favorite PADMAVATI, the director tries to compare his protagonist Begum Jaan with these legends in unbearably tacky shots for reasons better known to him. Apart from the history reading Nani, a hefty guard played by Sumit Nijhawan, a jovial pimp (Pitobash Tripathy) and the gang of girls that include Gauahar Khan as Rubina, Pallavi Sharda as Gulabo, Priyanka Setia as Jameela, Ridheema Tiwary as Amba, Flora Saini as Maina, Raviza Chauhan as Lata, Poonam Rajput as Rani, Mishti (Indrani Chakraborty)as Shabnam and Gracy Goswami as Laadli. Its Gauahar Khan's track that gives some emotional relief from the erstwhile forced hysteria and sensationalism.

Gauahar Khan, Pallavi Sharda, Pitobash Tripathy and Sumit Nijhawan shine in their individuality. Hold on there is one more thing that's a bit convincing and its surprise, surprise Chunky Pandey in that evil and menacing Kabir whose job is to kill for money and he faces an unexpected challenge from Begum and her lady gang from the brothel who vow to fight for their home. Vivek Mushran as the master is strictly okay, while Naseeruddin Shah as Rajaji is highly disappointing.

The introduction of Gulabo, the policemen incident involving Rajesh Sharma and the little girl, rains before Holi (how come), etc, etc the weird unconvincing, hysterical and lurching episodes of BEGUM JAAN continue... a picture of a slayed dead dog in close up... such desperation to be sensational backfires on the audience like Newton's third law of motion.

Production values are adequate and musically 'Prem Mein Tohre' sung by Asha Bhosle and composed by Anu Malik is nice to the ears. Gopi Bhagat's cinematography is toned accordingly.

After the screening, I met the curiously waiting Srijit Mukherji and asked why he changed things from original and tried all the hysteria and sensationalisms like the introduction of Gulabo, the Delhi incident, he said, we wanted to give the 2016 feel.. the shocking Nirbhaya happened in 2012, RAJKAHINI was released in the mid of October 2015.. just a fact shared to highlight the unconvincing jumble BEGUM JAAN has got itself in.

Rating 1.5/5

Movie Cast & Crew
  • Director: Srijit Mukherji
  • Actor: Vidya Balan, Pallavi Sharda, Gauahar Khan, Priyanka Setia, Ila Arun, Flora Saini, Ridhima Tiwari, Ravija Chauhan, Poonam Rajput, Rajit Kapur, Ashish Vidyarthi, Vivek Mushran, Rajesh Sharma and Sumit Nijhawan
  • Music Director: Anu Malik
  • Lyrics: Kausar Munir
  • Release Date : 14 Apr 2017