JP Dutta met N Anandhi at IIFA, Dubai where he had been to to promote his film Umrao Jaan starring Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Suneil Shetty and Shabana Azmi
25 years ago, Muzaffar Ali made Umrao Jaan. And when JP Dutta attempted to remake the classic, the effort put in was much more than creating a remake – it was a promise made to a father.
Dutta’s father OP Dutta, wrote his version of Umrao Jaan in the year 1952 and started the film with Nimmi, but could not complete it. And when JP Dutta saw Ali’s version and went home to tell his father about it, “He told me about his film as well. He told me about how he could not complete it and narrated the whole story to me. I felt that I should make the film for him. But I had to wait for a new generation to come in. So now with the generation change, I went in for making the film,” says Dutta.
For Shabana Azmi it was another story. Playing the role of Madam Khanum Jaan, she tried fitting into the veil of her mother Shaukat Kaifi in Umrao Jaan. She says, “When you have friends like the ones I have, you don’t need enemies. All of them intimidated me and told me that I have guts to even try and play the role my mother played in Umrao Jaan. But my mother was very helpful, and she discussed the characterization with me and also helped me with the clothes that I choose. It’s a tough act to follow but I am doing my best.”
Meanwhile Dutta is happy that he cast Aishwarya Rai in the lead role for the film, performed by Rekha in the Muzaffar Ali version.
after all these years its great but I must say that Aishwaya’s performance has been so spectacular that I feel she’s the one , Umrao Jaan that I wrote.”
As for Aishwarya, and her comparison with Rekha for the said role have already begun, “Rekhaji has done a fabulous job and it has been appreciated. Was I unnerved? No. I think if you’ll keep asking me the same question it might happen!,” he giggles and quickly adds, “On character movies I have worked on it before in Devdas.”
But Aishwarya says that living up to the expectations of the maker was paramount. “Delivering the ‘adaas’ up to JP Dutta’s expectations was tough.”
For actor Suniel Shetty, the language was the challenge. “It was the Urdu that was tough to speak but I am glad to say that I have managed and completed the dubbing as well.”
Now to see the film and check how the team have managed with Urdu.