There have been multiple adaptations of Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s 1899 novel Umrao Jaan Ada and it seems like they aren’t stopping anytime soon. The newest adaptation is a series starring Sajal Aly.
The upcoming Urdu language series is being packaged and produced by an Abu Dhabi-based South Asian celebrity management agency, Action Consultancy, according to Variety. It is being produced by Hamid Hussain and Muhammad Yaqoob.
In an exclusive with Variety on Friday, Hussain said 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. There is a lot in the novel that has never been shown in an audiovisual project.”
The show is said to feature a second strong female lead from the novel and is currently in development. It is expected to head to a major streamer. The novel has been adapted multiple times before. We saw it on Geo TV in 2003 as Umrao Jaan Ada, and in 2014 on Indian TV as Doordarshan. It was even adapted as a stage musical Umrao Jaan Ada – The Musical by Salim-Sulaiman in 2019.
The classic Urdu novel is known for its portrayal of the culture and society of the 19th century subcontinent. It has several film adaptations as well. In Pakistan, Hasan Tariq directed Umrao Jaan Ada (1972) with Rani as the main lead. In India, Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan (1981) starred Rekha as the lead while JP Dutta’s 2006 adaptation starred Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The novel also inspired two 1958 films — SM Yusuf’s Mehndi and Nakhshab Jarchavi’s Zindagi Ya Toofan.
Abu Dhabi-based agency Action Consultancy manages leading stars like Humayun Saeed who recently featured in The Crown as Dr Hasnat Khan and Ahad Raza Mir, who was seen as Arjun in Netflix’s Resident Evil. The agency has expanded its portfolio, venturing into international content like films and series.