A madam and her group of prostitutes refuse to part with the brothel home where they reside at during the partition between India and Pakistan.Wikipedia
Begum Jaan Reviews
The climax is full of fire and faux brimstone and lots of speechifying, as the ladies of easy virtue become a gun-toting ‘fauj’.
The film ultimately works only for its actors but most do not get to flex their talent in a script that is trying to tell too many things at the same time.
The 134-minute long Begum Jaan has Vidya Balan in good form, but it lacks cohesiveness as a complete story. It shies away from delving deep into the theme, but you may appreciate its documentary-like treatment.
Watch ‘Begum Jaan’ for Vidya Balan's impressive performance but don't expect it to be a masterpiece!
The shabbily picturised sequence of women blindly firing into nowhere upholds Begum Jaan's flimsy, ill-defined rebellion where Mukherjee draws epic parallels to their resistance.It is as reckless as Radcliffe's.
Vidya Balan could count this performance as another feather in her already overflowing cap...
The Holi number is peppy with striking visuals. Otherwise having the 11 women in one frame becomes nothing but a screech-fest. Having Vidya in a film is an asset though. She is an audacious actor, who merits an extra half star for her ability to shoulder a film.
Begum Jaan loses out on impact due to melodrama. The cluttered plot runs out of steam despite of decent performances.
Would I recommend Begum Jaan? I would. For Vidya who bravely shoulders this cliche with all she's got. And also because of the times we live in, when exclusion has taken the form of a multi-headed monster who raises his head in every sphere.Rajkahini the Bengali original of Begum Jaan is now on my to-watch list.
Instead of being a story about looking at historical from a lesser-seen perspective, we get a tacky movie which soon seems like an exploitation flick. The move to weave in a contemporary sexual assault attack reeks of emotional manipulation and lacks coherence. What is meant to be an act of valour in the filmmaker's eyes comes across as a crude gimmick. Begum Jaan for all its good intent is a misfire of epic proportions.
Director Srijit Mukherji talks of a valid concept and the fact that he makes the women look like badass fighters is phenomenal. Had his film's technical departments lived up to the level of his vision, Begum Jaan would’ve been a resounding story of women empowerment. While the movie does get a lot of things right, it just lacks a little conviction in presenting its powerful ideas.
A plot that could have been a powerful eye opening metaphor on 'mata' (read women) and 'bharat mata' turns into a disturbing, over blown, deliberately hysterical and forcefully sensational misadaptation of the brilliant National award winning Bengali film RAJKAHINI. Shockingly, the creator of RAJKAHINI Srijit Mukherji is the destroyer of BEGUM JAAN which sees the fiery and determined Vidya Balan fighting a lost battle in this flimsy piece of cinema.
Srijit Mukherji's Bangla period film 'Rajkahini' (2015), that this one is the exact replica of, was slightly refreshing, mainly because it was set during 1947 Partition, yes, but on the eastern front, where East Pakistan was being separated from West Bengal, Assam. Normally, Partition narratives get placed in the North, mainly Punjab. As is this adaptation, by the way. Except you don't hear as much Punjabi here.
In creating a world where women rule the roost, the film misses the wood for the trees. Or sex for the sleaze.
Begum Jaan is strong, inspiring, shocking, and more than anything — heart-wrenching. Don't forget to take your handkerchief (or tissues!) along.
Begum Jaan chronicles the life inside a whorehouse set in the middle of the India-Pakistan border. Unfortunately, Vidya Balan who plays the title role cannot save the hopelessly predictable plot. The film is such a terrible, bloated and tastelessly overdone copy of the Shabana Azmi starrer Mandi (1983).
Audience Reviews for Begum Jaan
Rajkahini, the original version, is certainly more intense in comparison to Begum Jaan, but this film can’t be just ignored or written off.
Begum Jaan is a film by Srijit Mukherji, which is a remake of his own Bengali film Rajkahini (2015). The film delves into one of the darkest phase of partition of our country. The film does mention the tragedies which happened on either sides of the border. Radcliffe Line is to be erected as the boundary between the newly formed nations of India and Pakistan. The officials face a challenge when they find a brothel which needs to be demolished to draw this boundary. Begum Jaan takes us through the journey of those 11 women and 2 men, the inhabitants of the brothel and the fights they put up for their rights to live in their house. Rajkahini is certainly more intense in comparison to Begum Jaan, but this film can’t be just ignored or written off.
The film begins with the narrative of Amitabh Bachchan. The opening scene in this Hindi version is different in comparison to that of Bengali version. When a scene from Manto’s book of gang rape of a girl during partition times form the opening scene of Rajkahini, eve teasing and efforts to molest a girl in a bus in the year 2016, decades after independence, becomes the opening scene of Begum Jaan. Is this to tell the audience that years have gone by, certain things still remain the same - women becoming the victim of men’s lust. Begum Jaan does focus on women’s fight against many elements of our society: patriarchal system, the social stigma attached with sex workers, the hypocritical men and their double standards, the right to live, concepts of secularism etc. With the opening and closing scene of Begum Jaan, Srijit does talk about hard-hitting reality that even after decades of partition and independence, the fight against social injustice is not over. Begum Jaan does force us to question and rethink about our past as well as present.
Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan) is the owner of brothel, which has 13 inhabitants – 11 women and 2 men. Salim (Sumit Nijhawan) and Sujit (Pitobash Tripathy) are the two men in the brothel, Begum’s bodyguard and caretaker respectively. Amma (Ila Arun) is the senior most person in the brothel, who keeps sharing stories of empowered females to Laadli (Gracy Goswai) who created history and left their mark in the world viz. Rani Lakhsmibai, Meera, Raziya Sultan, Rani Padmavati etc. It does become part of plot development. Rest of the inhabitants are Rubina (Gauhar Khan), Gulabo (Pallavi Sharda), Jameela (Priyanka Setia), Amba (Ridheema Tiwary), Maina (Flora Saini), Lata (Raviza Chauahan), Rani (Poonam Rajput), Mishti aka Indrani Chakraborty (Shabnam). Master and Party worker (Vivek Mushran) is a regular visitor to brothel and keeps showering them with gifts. These women are all victims of abuse, violence, rape and these trauma become the connecting thread amongst them. All they have is their togetherness. Freedom means nothing for Begum Jaan.
The officials chosen for execution of border construction from either sides are Iliyas (Rajit Kapoor) and Harshvardhan (Ashish Vidyarthy). Through their characters, many intricate facts are conveyed, be it the relationship getting sour between childhood friends, plight / ordeal of people on either sides of the border etc. There are shots where only half of their faces are shown on screen – a metaphor of aftermath of partition, how incomplete people might have felt losing their possessions, family in spite of freedom being restored.
Other characters Raja Ji (Naseerudin Shah), Inspector Shyam (Rajesh Sharma) and Kabir (Chunky Pandey) become important part of the film.
Feisty Begum Jaan and other inhabitants of the brothel are not ready to pay heed to notices issued to her to vacate ‘Kotha’. They are very loud and clear that it is their house. How they all put up brave fight forms the rest of the story.
There are many dialogues in the film which hits one hard.
Srijit through his film Begum Jaan does talk about hard-hitting reality that even after decades of partition and independence, the fight against social injustice is not over. Rajkahini, the original version, is certainly more intense in comparison to Begum Jaan, but this film can’t be just ignored or written off.
Best : Acting
Worst : over melodrama.