Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Thoughts on 'Umrao Jaan' and 'Don'
I was very apprehensive about seeing both of these movies having such strong affection to their respective originals. There are two prevailing schools of thought on remaking classics - one says to leave well enough alone & one says that it will help the original gain a whole new audience. I used to be in the latter group until I realized that most Desis in college today had never seen the original to either of the remakes being discussed today.
Watching 'Umrao Jaan' was like seeing a painting come to life. The cinematography and colors captured India circa 1850 like few other movies before. Aishwarya Rai (looking ethereal) proved to be a formidable Amiran and despite mixed critical reviews of the film, her acting was universally praised. Abhishek Bachchan holds his own against his future bride to be as the Nawab (prince) and gives one of his strongest performances to date. The costumes & dialogue were said to be painstakingly done to recreate Lucknow of that era. Especially lauded was Ash's command of the Urdu language - not bad for a girl from the South who grew up speaking Tamil! The song from the movie is 'Salaam' - see it here. Official movie website here
'Don' on the other hand was something that didn't need to be remade. It's not that the movie was that bad (it wasn't) or that SRK didn't do an adequate job of playing Don (he did). It's that Amitabh so made this role his that no one could do it better and if anyone tried he would just be compared to AB - an unfair thing to say the least. The remake was quite faithful - not only copying the story, but also some of the most famous dialogues and in the ultimate homage, remaking two of the original songs. But while watching it I found myself remembering the way AB said the line or acted the scene - and wishing I was watching the original instead. The movie had some substance - but unlike the remake of 'Umrao Jaan' - it had no heart. The song from the movie is Maurya Re - see it here. Official movie website here.