Umrao Jaan

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Based on a 19th-century Indian novel (already the subject of the fondly remembered 1981 film of the same name), Umrao Jaan is the hard-luck tale of a courtesan (Rai)—kidnapped from her village as a girl and indentured to the madam of a high-class brothel (Azmi)—who enters into a doomed romance with a passionate young nawab (Bachchan). This should be the stuff of good old-fashioned Bollywood magic, but the film, with its nonsensuous cinematography and chintzy sets, is but a pale facsimile. (Now playing; Click here for venues.) — Tom Beer

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