“Begum Jaan” is a woman right out of the pages of “Umroa Jaan Ada”.
We encounter her in the autumn of her life. A representative of the culture of a bygone era, she is a living commentary on the heritage that we have lost.
Begum Jaan lives a solitary life with her granddaughter wrapped in a cocoon. Their seemingly tranquil lives are disturbed by the arrival of a young journalist who is looking for a room to rent. He discovers during the course of his conversation that Begum Jaan has been in correspondence with eminent men (including Maulana Abul Kalam Azad) and that all these letters are intact. His curiosity is aroused and he wants to have access to these precious letters for material gains. This triangle of Begum Jaan, her granddaughter and the ambitious journalist is reflective of the change time has brought about in the culture of the sub-continent.
Javed Siddiqui’s play, a tragicomedy, is reminiscent of Chekhov.
Begum Jaan revolves around three main characters, an extremely famous classical singer of yesteryears regarded as a living legend Begum Jaan, her grand daughter Zarina and a journalist Sanjay Pande. These interpersonal relationships between these three characters show that every person has covered himself with various layers that have to be peeled off to get to the deepest realties in each of them.The script is a reflection of changing face of India from pre-independence days to its current state through Begum Jaan’s narration of various events that occurred in her life.