Begum Jaan movie review: Vidya Balan’s acting abilities crumble under the burden of this over dramatic mess

Begum Jaan

Begum Jaan

Mahesh Bhatt and his home production, Vishesh Films, takes a break from Emraan Hashmi thrillers and go back in history to make a movie on the partition and the sufferings it caused to our ancestors. That’s Begum Jaan for you. It is a remake of 2015 Bengali movie, Rajkahini, and stars Vidya Balan in the main role, along with a huge ensemble cast involving Gauahar Khan, Pallavi Sharda, Pitobash, Chunky Pandey, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajit Kapoor, Vivek Mushran, Ila Arun, Mishti and Naseeruddin Shah. Srijit Mukerji, who directed the original movie, helms this one as well.

Here’s our review of Begum Jaan.

What’s it about

Before I get down to the review, I would recommend you to watch Ram Madhvani’s brilliant short film on Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the man who drew the border between India and Pakistan on the western side –  This Bloody Line. The reason why I am telling you this is because the late Radcliffe is made out to be an unseen villain in Begum Jaan, while in reality, he is nothing more that an unfortunate puppet for British to divide our country before leaving. Anyway, let’s get to the plot…

In the year 1947, the aforementioned Radcliffe, who actually didn’t have much clue about the country’s topography, and drew a border which led to a lot of bloodshed on both sides. One unfortunate victim of this line was Begum Jaan’s kotha that was situated in Punjab, far away from the villages. Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan) is the head of the 11 sex workers that live there, who is like their mother and disciplinarian at the same time. The kotha is under the patronage of the local Maharaja (Naseeruddin Shah), which gives Begum Jaan the gumption to take on even the police. So when the administrators from both India and Pakistan (Ashish Vidyarthi and Rajit Kapoor) ask her to evict the kotha, she stubbornly refuses to do so. When she continues to reject their notices and even threatens, the administrators resort to an extremely nefarious method to get her and her coterie removed, that end up disastrously for all involved.

What’s hot

The premise for Begum Jaan is definitely hard-hitting and at the same time, also empowering at times, at least on paper. The partition was one of the saddest and also one of the most shameful periods in our history. Though 70 years have gone by, we still need movies that need to remind us what happens when we end up fighting with each other, something our political parties are making us do. Also, the movie wants to advocate that women’s situation hasn’t improved much either – they end up being the bigger victims when males fight over dominance and superiority. This fact is stated when the movie begins in 2016 when a woman is molested in the presence of her male friend, before the narrative shifts to 1947. There are some hard-hitting and gut-wrenching moments scattered here and there. One scene that comes to my mind when Begum slaps a raped girl multiple times to get a reaction from her. The scene where Begum Jaan challenges the administrators is also powerful. But the best moment for me was when Begum’s girls celebrate India’s independence, Begum is actually worried about the loss of income for the day, as she knows independence doesn’t make any difference to their plight. But they are quite far and few. It really helps that Begum Jaan is wonderfully played by Vidya Balan. It is a real bold performance from the actress, after The Dirty Picture, and Vidya Balan has let go of her inhibitions to get into the skin of the character. Though the movie lets her scream, shout and abuse a lot, it is in the quieter moments that Vidya shines the best. Check out that scene where she mollifies the king or her smiling acceptance of her final fate –  that’s the class of her performance. Among the ensemble cast, Gauahar Khan, Pallavi Sharda, Vivek Mushran and Chunky Pandey (what an evil makeover!) stand out. Naseeruddin Shah is very effective in his two-scene cameo, especially the scene where he places a creepy request to Begum Jaan. Some of the dialogues hit right at the sweet spot, while Anu Malik’s score is a highlight, the Prem Mein Tohre song being creme de la creme. However, the placement of the songs leaves a lot to be desired.

What’s not

The premise and some of the character depictions may be hard-hitting, but they are done some real injustice here by a omelodramatic and overbearing screenplay. In fact, it nearly undoes the good work done by Vidya, cluttering the movie with too many characters and unwanted subplots. The first half takes its own sweet time to get to the point, showing lengthy scenes of girls bonding with each other. It would have been great for character development, but the director’s insistence on making the actors get into the theatrical mode, screaming and shouting at each other that we cannot relate to them at all. When I watched these scenes I couldn’t help myself but remember Shyam Benegal’s fantastic Mandi that shows you don’t need to screech every time, just because you are playing a sex worker. Unfortunately, the director Srijit Mukherji believes that you need to actually scream and shout to get your point across each other. There are also scenes where Ila Arun’s character narrates tales from history to a young girl where she imagines the lead female character to be Begum Jaan, that could have been cut out. Also, I found Begum Jaan to be a very shallow person, who couldn’t let go of her ego for the sake of her co-workers. She wasn’t born in that kotha, so she and her girls could have moved anywhere else and started their livelihood there. So her insistence on staying adamantly at the place at the cost of their lives sounds unjustified, and hence we just don’t connect with their characters even in their darkest moments. Also why the writers want to show the administrators as victims of partition and yet make them kind of antagonists is beyond my comprehension. The scenes where they keep on blabbering about how the other person’s community destroyed his become very cumbersome. The subplot involving the lovelorn prostitute (Pallavi Sharda) and the Master (Vivek Mushran) is added for shock value. Also I agree that men shown in the movie are complete a-holes, but male-bashing in Begum Jaan is a bit too much.

Speaking of shock value, I haven’t seen the Bengali version so don’t know how bold it is and whether the script justifies the boldness. But here, the bold elements are too in-your-face and unnecessary. There is a scene between Gauahar Khan and Pitobash, where she takes his hand and puts it on her private parts, while lecturing him about their significance. The scene may be well-intentioned, but it was quite forced and actually inserted between a far more interesting scene. The violent climax, save for a touching final moment for the girls, is quite less effective despite the bloodshed. However, the aftermath involving the characters of Rajit Kapoor, Ashish Vidyarthi, and Rajesh Sharma will make you cringe in embarrassment.

What to do

Begum Jaan held a lot of promise for me after that scintillating trailer. However, the movie failed to replicate the trailer’s tight framework, and instead, makes an overdramatic mess of such an important chapter in our history. It’s a pity since Vidya Balan is really good here, and the premise looks promising on paper. Avoid Begum Jaan, unless you have a thing for overdramatic fare.

Rating:2.0 out of 5

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Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2 to release on February 10, 2017 – view new poster!

Jolly LLB 2

Jolly LLB 2

As promised by Akshay Kumar, he has officially revealed his look from the upcoming film Jolly LLB 2. Earlier in the day he posted a teaser poster of the film. Jolly was riding a scooter in the poster but we didn’t quite get a good look at his face. In this new poster released, we see Jolly smile for the camera looking all jolly. Akshay is sporting a moustache in this avatar, and we must say it is suiting him just perfect. Also the release date of the film has been revealed to be February 10, 2017.

Akshay Kumar made the best use of Twitter as a platform to reveal his look. He shared the pic on his social media platform and wrote “And here is the first look of #JollyLLB2 as promised. Ready to meet this Jolly good fellow on 10th Feb. 2017” .





Akshay has quite a few films lined up for next year. Apart from Jolly LLB 2, he also has Toilet Ek Prem Katha with Bhumi Pednekar, which is already making headlines thanks to its quirky title. Also there is Neeraj Pandey’s Crack releasing in August 2016. And then of course there is 2.0 with Rajinikanth, in which Akshay plays the monstrous villain. Also he has a special appearance in the spin off of his hit film Baby, titled Naam Shabana, which will focus on the story of Meera played by Taapsee Pannu.

Jolly LLB 2 is the sequel of the 2013 sleeper hit Jolly LLB that starred Arshad Warsi in the lead role and playing the titular charcater. In the sequel makers wanted a bigger name and hence Arshad was replaced with Akshay. Saurabh Shukla reprises his character of the judge in the second installment as well. The sequel, which has been shot in Lucknow and Varanasi, also stars Huma Qureshi.

Arshad Warsi on being replaced has said, “It makes it easier for marketing, it makes it easier to have a hit. With me, you (the filmmakers) have to make a good film, so that is the problem. You can make money with me only if it’s a very good film. If you have a bigger star, then even if the film is not that good, you still manage to cover the money so risk factor from the producer’s point of view is less.”




Jhanvi Kapoor to make her debut with the Hindi remake of Sairat?

Jhanvi Kapoor

Jhanvi Kapoor

Yes if all goes well, Sridevi’s elder daughter, Jhanvi Kapoor might make her Bollywood debut with Hindi remake of Sairat. And for the one’s who don’t know, let us tell you that the movie will be produced by none other than Karan Johar himself. It was just few days back when the producerbought the remake rights of this superhit Marathi movie which released this year. The movie which was about honour killing received great response from masses in Maharashtra and Karan is confident that it’s Hindi remake too will have the similar outcome. Since the original movie too had two new and extremely young faces, the Ae Dil Hai Mushkil director felt that Jhanvi was best suited for this role and this shall be the debut that she needs.

Says a source close to Jhanvi’s family that, “Sridevi called up Karan Johar a few months back and told that she wants to launch her beti on a grand scale. She wants the launch to be same as what Alia Bhatt got in Student of the Year in 2012.” While KJo had plans to cast her in the sequel of SOTY which also stars Tiger Shroff, the movie got delayed and Sridevi is in no mood to wait more. Also the sequel is a two heroine project and she might feel that Jhanvi should ideally debut in a movie which has a solo lead actress. Now that Karan has the remake rights of Sairaat, he wishes to cast her in it. The director/producer has met the mother-daughter jodi a couple of times to get their feedback on this. The doting mother wants a more commercial launch for her darling daughter but they are working on it.

A lot has been speculated on Jhanvi and her Bollywood debut. Earlier there were reports that she has replaced Alia Bhatt in Varun Dhawan starrer Shiddat. She was also in news for signing Ok Kanmani besides Dulqueer Salman but Sridevi had denied it then. With so many projects being made one can definitely get confused as to which one will she finally chose.Later BollywoodLife even had the reports which suggested that her father Boney Kapoor will launch her in next year and she is prepping up for it already.

Knowing the fact Karan is known to launch many new faces in the industry, we are sure that he’ll be the one who will give Jhanvi her big break. Now the only thing we wish to hear is an official confirmation by the Kapoor’s side. We are waiting to see which project does Jhanvi sign finally and yes who will star besides her? Will it be a new comer or a known face already?

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Guess Which Bollywood Hottie Might Replace Shahid Kapoor In Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa?


It’s going to be Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa season soon and the fans are excited already. Not too long ago we found out that Malaika Arora Khan may be getting replaced with Bollywood hottie Jacqueline Fernandez. And now, if reports are to be believed, Shahid Kapoor may not be onJhalak this season . But guess who are the top contenders for Shahid’s coveted spot? Ranveer Singh and Varun Dhawan!


I think it’s a win-win no matter who makes the cut, don’t you think?


Salman Khan To Replace Shahid Kapoor In Jhalak Dikhla Jaa?


Shahid Kapoor has been very well-received as a judge on Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, so it’s a little sad to hear that he won’t be a part of two upcoming episodes of the show. However, it’s for a good reason: it seems that he and wife Mira Rajput have finally taken time out to go for their honeymoon, something they couldn’t do earlier since Shahid jumped straight into work after their wedding. If rumours are true, they will be travelling to London.

But while Shahid will be missing the shooting for the upcoming two episodes, the channel has grand plans to ensure that they’re not dull. According to HT, Salman Khan will be stepping in to judge the show for these two episodes, and will also use the opportunity to promote Hero, the film he’s producing. Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty, who are the stars of the film, will join him.

Salman has a long-standing association with the channel – he hosts Bigg Boss, one of their main television shows – so this isn’t surprising news. And it’ll definitely be a fun watch! What do you think?

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Colors’ ‘Jhalak Reloaded’ gets social with Facebook Van


Dance reality show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa Reloaded on Colors is making waves not just with the TV audience but with netizens as well. Powered by its star studded ensemble of judges such as Shahid Kapoor, Karan Johar, Ganesh Hegde and Lauren Gottlieb, and an equally strong line-up of celebrity contestants, the show is also upping its social media game with a first of its kind Facebook integration known as the Facebook van.

Staying true to its ‘Reloaded’ concept, the show has already revamped its format by adding exciting and interactive components such as ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Insta-call.’ Adding to the 360 degree marketing campaign across multiple platforms to capitalize on its digital presence, Jhalak Reloaded recently teamed up with Facebook for a special interaction with the contestants.

The Facebook Van, a mobile vehicle introduced to the show on Friday was customized with elements from this season of Jhalak Reloaded. This innovative Facebook Van gave fans a chance to interact with their favorite celebrity contestants through giant TV screen. The interaction included Rapid Fire questions, live Q&A, interviews and fun interactive videos.

Colors Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa marketing head Sapangeet Rajwant said, “With Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’s reloaded look, we wanted a fresher digital presence. The Facebook Van has been a great tool to garner the attention of the fans online. The van will play an active role in bridging the gap between the audiences and the contestants. This initiative will surely make the contestants more accessible to the audience.”

With the Facebook Van, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa Reloaded has paved a new way to build a strong footing in the digital world with the use of a unique on-ground medium.