(2006) American critics love Ash
Aishwarya Rai might still be reeling from the shock of her Umrao Jaan bombing in India, but American critics are still smitten with the star.
In a left-handed compliment, the review of Umrao Jaan in The New York Times starts with the declaration: ‘The price of being beautiful.’ It goes on to say, ‘Umrao Jaan, a retelling of a historical Indian tale covered in a 1981 Bollywood classic, might also be a commentary on its star, Aishwarya Rai. Ms 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 Ms Rai does not suffer for her art as much as her character does.’
The review by Andy Webster singles out a ‘vivid Shabana Azmi.’ Praising Ash’s allure, the 300-word review which decried the film’s excessive melodrama added, ‘But the actress’s presence is undeniable. Ms Rai has Western films coming; Umrao Jaan seems like a way station on her path to international success.’
Umrao Jaan is another high profile movie after Jaan-e-Mann to have a soft opening overseas, but it isn’t a cold turkey, at least in America and Canada. It grossed about $480,000 in its first weekend in North America, a respectable opening, taking 40 percent more than Jaan-E-Mann did in the corresponding period. But in the UK, the Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan movie made just $250,000, a few thousand more than what Don grossed there in its third weekend.
We will have to wait for one more week before we know if Umrao Jaan becomes a modest hit in North America or eats dust in its second week.