I remember Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan not as a classic but for the unfairness of it all. 1981 was also the year of Jennifer Kendall’s wonderful, unassuming performance in 36 Chowringhee Lane that was ignored at the major award ceremonies for Rekha’s much-hyped star act. I think Aishwarya Rai conducts herself rather ably here, crying ever so fetchingly, dancing efficiently and talking in husky whispers, fitting in with the demands of a Bollywood tearjerker. Problem is, J.P. Dutta reduces Umrao to just that—a melodrama and nothing more. The strength, the emotional highs and lows and the tragedy of the woman, who is forever betrayed by her men and destiny, don’t run deep.