Umrao Jaan (1981 film)

Umrao Jaan is a 1981 Indian Hindustani-language erotic musical film directed by Muzaffar Ali and starring Rekha as the eponymous character. Based on the 1905 Urdu novel Umrao Jaan Ada, the film tells the story of a Lucknow courtesan and her rise to fame.

Umrao Jaan
Umrao Jaan movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMuzaffar Ali
Produced byMuzaffar Ali
Written by
Based onUmrao Jaan Ada
by Mirza Hadi Ruswa
Music byMohammed Zahur Khayyam
CinematographyPravin Bhatt
Edited byB. Prasad
  • Integrated Films
  • S. K. Jain & Sons
Release date
  • 1981 (1981)
Running time
145 minutes
Budget50 lakh[2]


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.

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.

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.

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 was praised for her acting, but the box office returns were just average.[4] 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".


Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
National Film Awards Best Actress Rekha Won [5]
Best Music Direction Mohammed Zahur Khayyam Won
Best Female Playback Singer Asha Bhosle Won
Best Art Direction Manzur Won
Filmfare Awards Best Director Muzaffar Ali Won [6]
Best Actress Rekha Nominated
Best Music Director Mohammed Zahur Khayyam Won


1."Dil Cheez Kya Hai"ShahryarAsha Bhosle6:06
2."In Ankhon Ki Masti Ke"ShahryarAsha Bhosle5:42
3."Jab Bhi Milti Hai"ShahryarAsha Bhosle1:28
4."Jhoola Kinne Dala"ShahryarUstad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Shahida Khan Nizami2:31
5."Justuju Jiski Thi"ShahryarAsha Bhosle4:37
6."Kahe Ko Byahi Bides"Amir Khusrow[7]Jagjit Kaur4:52
7."Raagmala"ShahryarUstad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Runa Prasad, Shahida Khan5:22
8."Yeh Kya Jagah Hai Doston"ShahryarAsha Bhosle6:07
9."Zindagi Jab Bhi"ShahryarTalat Aziz4:51
10."Pratham Dhar Dhyan" Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan 


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.

In popular cultureEdit

Vanya Mishra danced to the song at Miss World 2012.


  1. ^ "National Film Archive of India". Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  2. ^ Subramaniam, Chitra (15 April 1980). "Umrao Jaan attempts to recapture aristocratic grandeur of Awadh". India Today. Living Media. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  3. ^ Cast and crew IMDb.
  4. ^ Umrao Jaan topactresses, boxofficeindia
  5. ^ "29th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Filmfare Nominees and Winners" (PDF). The Times Group. 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  7. ^انتخاب-امیر-خسرو-۔۔۔-جمع-و-ترتیب-اعجاز/

External linksEdit