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Umrao Jaan's music is mesmerising

The album is a gem that should be a treat for every music connoisseur, writes Piyush Roy.
None | By Piyush Roy/ HT Style, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON OCT 24, 2006 12:41 PM IST

Music director Anu Malik in a conversation prior to the album’s release had said that the only brief he got from director JP Dutta was ‘to create his Umrao Jaan’.

And surely Anu Malik has left no stone unturned in putting forward some praiseworthy music, which is complimented by Javed Akhtar’s now poignant, now flirtatious poetry and Alka Yagnik’s vocals.

Honestly, who else amongst the current lot of female playback singers had the range and experience to not only sing, but also deserve to be the voice of Umrao Jaan’s latest onscreen avatar? Nautch girl epics have always promised great scores, assuring a fabulous showcase for the lead singer in question.

So if Lata Mangeshkar had a Pakeezah and Asha Bhonsle, Khayyam’s Umrao Jaan, Malik’s version comes as a milestone in the national award winning playback singer’s varied repertoire – little wonder she has sung all but two of the songs in the album.

Aishwarya Rai in a still from Umrao Jaan. 

Be it that infectious hum in between

Behka diya hamein

, the pathos of

Main na mil sakun

, the restraining flirtatiousness of

Jhoote ilzaam

or the inviting coquettishness of

Pehle pehel

– Alka makes for sheer listening pleasure also because you can feel her giving her best. However,

Umrao Jaan

is as much about melody as the words that bring out the emotional angst of a life thrown into perennial emotional turmoil.

Javed Akhtar, who makes a dialogue presentation in the album setting the context of the songster Umrao Jaan Ada and 19th century Lucknow, conjures another evocative effort of word wizardry.

Be it in the chaste Awadhi ditty

Agle janam mohe bitiya na kijo

, or defining the many interpretations of love in

Ishq zanjeer hai, ishq taqdeer hai, ishhq ek khwab hai, ishq tabir hai

ala the many images of

Ek ladki ko dekha

to aisa laga… (

1942 A Love Story

) to bringing out Umrao’s uncompromising dignity even in grief.

She may be heart broken but she doesn’t seek pity –

Dil par kitne zakhm lage hain chodo tumko ginayein kya…

Finally, coming to Anu Malik’s score; if for a change we decide to keep the impact of its illustrious predecessor aside and judge it keeping in mind contemporary musical sensibilities, it’s in sync and outstanding.

The opening orchestration of

Behka diya

alone deserves a star. Here is a music director who has researched the sounds of the period he is recreating, and yet the final product doesn’t sound dated.


is another winner


number, while

Pehle pehel

is tauntingly tantalising.

If Khayyam’s Umrao Jaan is timeless, Anu Malik’s Umrao Jaan is a contemporary gem that should adorn the collection of every connoisseur of good Indian film music. As the release date of JP Dutta’s film draws near, musically speaking, the expectations are half won. Over to Dutta and Aishwarya Rai to match the execution and performance expectations.

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