Umrao Jaan seems like a way station for Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai on her path to international success. So says the New York Times, hoping that she does not suffer for her art as much as her character does.
"Oh, the price of being beautiful. Umrao Jaan - a retelling of a historical Indian tale covered in a 1981 Bollywood classic - might also be a commentary on its star," says the influential American daily in a rare review of a Bollywood film.
"Rai, often hailed as the queen of Bollywood, has for many a global allure, calling to mind that of Brigitte Bardot or Sophia Loren. But you hope Rai does not suffer for her art as much as her character does," adds reviewer Andy Webster.
Recounting the many misfortunes of Umrao, he says, "The whims of men can be terrible to live by, but too many scenes exploit Rai's tearful, screen-engulfing eyes.
"Bathos and weak dubbing don't help. But the actress's presence is undeniable. Rai has Western films coming; Umrao Jaan seems like a way station on her path to international success."