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Thu, Aug 18


Epsilon Spires

Vidhi's Bollywood Film Club: Umrao Jaan

An elegant historical drama based on the first Urdu-language novel, Umrao Jaan tells the life story of a famous 19th century poet and courtesan. In her introduction, Vidhi Salla will share anecdotes about the making of the film. Indian snacks and refreshments will be provided for sensorial delight!

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Vidhi's Bollywood Film Club: Umrao Jaan
Vidhi's Bollywood Film Club: Umrao Jaan

Time & Location

Aug 18, 2022, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

Epsilon Spires, 190 Main St, Brattleboro, VT 05301, USA

About the event

Vidhi's Bollywood Jukebox Presents: Umrao Jaan, August 18. Doors 7:30pm. Film begins shortly after 8pm.

Before the film and during the intermission, audiences can shop for Indian handicrafts as well as participate in a brief Q&A session with radio host Vidhi Salla. Indian snacks and refreshments will be provided for multisensorial delight!

In collaboration with Vidhi's Bollywood Jukebox, Epsilon spires presents the Bollywood classic Umrao Jaan (1981), a musical drama that tells the story of a 19th Century courtesan poet from Lucknow, India. One of five films directed by Muzaffar Ali, a fashion designer, poet, painter and social worker, the film won several accolades in India including five National Awards, considered the highest in the country. Umrao Jaan has been lauded for its music, lyrics, art direction, screenplay and most importantly for actress Rekha's understated, elegant portrayal of Umrao. Director Muzaffar Ali belongs to the royal family of Kotwara and was able to draw from his royal lineage to recreate 19th Century courts of India. He even used a number of objects and costumes from his family heirloom to add authenticity to the visuals of the film.

Umrao Jaan will be introduced by Vidhi Salla, curator of our Bollywood film series and host of the the international radio show, Vidhi's Bollywood Jukebox. Vidhi is a journalist of Indian cinema and spoke to director Muzaffar Ali in an exclusive interview in 2021. In her pre-screening introduction, Vidhi will be sharing anecdotes about the making of the film as described to her by Ali. 

Umrao Jaan will be screened inside the sanctuary with a 10-minute intermission. 

More about the film:

Umrao Jaan is based on an Urdu-language novel, Umrao Jan Ada that was written by Mirza Hadi Ruswa and was published in 1899. Widely regarded as the first Urdu novel, it tells the story of 19th century tawaif (courtesan) Umrao Jaan Ada. Umrao, born Amiran to a modest family in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, is kidnapped at the age of 12 by enemies of her father and sold to the head courtesan of a kotha (brothel) in Lucknow. There she is renamed Umrao and is trained in classical music and dance to charm wealthy clients from royal families. Umrao soon develops an interest in poetry and begins exploring the world of ghazal writing and composition.

Courtesans, known as tawaifs during the Mughal period of India were highly respected women that were trained in Indian classical singing and dancing from an early age. They often had royal patronage and were learned in poetry, literature, art and even politics. Following the stigmatization of courtesans on the part of British colonizers and their subsequent marginalization from Indian society, courtesans remain largely unsung figures of Indian art and culture. A number of Indian films have attempted to highlight stories of the lives of courtesans and Umrao Jaan is among the foremost. The magic of Umrao Jaan is in its refined aesthetics and accurate representation of 19th Century Lucknow that was the result of director Ali's vision and passion.


  • Vidhi's Bollywood Film Club

    Admission for one to Vidhi's Bollywood Film Club. Please choose your seating with respect for others and let us know if you require special arrangements. $2 from every ticket goes directly towards the historic preservation of the venue. Thank you for your support! Enjoy the program!

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  • Equity & Inclusion Ticket

    Tickets for this event are $15. Thanks to a generous grant from the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, subsidized tickets are available for those who self-identify as experiencing financial hardship. In order to make this program accessible for all, we are offering tickets by sliding scale. Taking equity and inclusion into account, please pay what you can to help support the artists and venue.

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  • Pay It Forward Ticket

    I would like to add a donation to my ticket to express my support and appreciation of the adventurous and intellectually engaging programs at Epsilon Spires. Thank you & keep up the good work!

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