Sajal Aly set to star as Umrao Jaan in eight-part series adaptation

The renowned classic of Urdu literature was originally written by Mirza Hadi Ruswa in 1899

Rida Lodhi January 27, 2023


Sajal Aly is all set to take on a project of a lifetime! The actor is gearing up to essay Umrao Jaan in a Pakistani adaptation of the popular novel Umrao Jaan Ada. An Urdu literature classic penned by Mirza Hadi Ruswa in 1899, the book is known for its portrayal of 19th-century India, its culture, society and the lives of courtesans.

The novel has had several onscreen adaptations. And the latest is being helmed by producer Hamid Hussain. “I can't reveal much at this point but yes, we are working on an Umrao Jaan Ada adaptation with Sajal in the lead role," Hussain told The Express Tribune. He added that, unlike previous offerings, Aly's Umrao Jaan is an eight-part series instead of a film. "It's going to be an eight-part series and not a film. We are working on a two female lead cast for this series and Sajal is one of them."

Claiming it to be a never-seen-before narrative, Hussain added that it is, however, inspired by the original novel, so expect the grandeur! "Since it's not a three-hour film but a series, we have more leeway to work better on the characters and build the story in a more refined manner." Adding on why Aly is the perfect choice to essay Umrao Jaan, Hussain said, "It's an old-school romantic drama, and Sajal has that perfect look. She was the apt choice to nail the regality and elegance required for someone to be cast in Umrao Jaan."

Hussain also told Variety that the series adaptation relies “heavily on the original Urdu version of the novel, unlike the film adaptations that had taken creative liberties to fit the story into a film narrative,” adding, “there is a lot in the novel that has never been shown in an audio-visual project.”

Previously in Pakistan, Hasan Tariq directed Umrao Jaan Ada in 1972, with Rani in the lead role. Across the border, Muzaffar Ali’s popular take on Umrao Jaan (1981) starred Rekha, while JP Dutta’s 2006 adaptation Umrao Jaan starred Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Apart from this, the novel also inspired two 1958 Indian films: SM Yusuf’s Mehndi and Nakhshab Jarchavi’s Zindagi Ya Toofan.

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