Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Film and Media

Bollywood Dance Classics: "Umrao Jaan"

See four celebrated, rarely screened classics that laid the foundation for modern Bollywood. 

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“Umrao Jaan,” 1981. 

Based on the famous Urdu novel by Mirza Ruswa, Umrao Jaan stars Rekha as a courtesan and poet in 1840s Lucknow who falls in love with a man from the ruling class and must contend with the limits placed upon her as a “public woman.” Directed by Muzaffar Ali. 145 min. Urdu with English subtitles.


Explore the origins of modern Bollywood through a selection of critically acclaimed Indian films from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, with a particular emphasis on stories of dancing women. From gorgeous spectacles to intimate character studies, these celebrated works — rarely shown in the United States — showcase the labor and creativity of film choreography and performance. For viewers who wish to look deeper, these four films also serve as case studies in dance’s potential to deliver complex narratives involving caste, gender, and religion. Above all, they are a testament to the timeless and universal delight of watching bodies move with incredible grace, skill, and virtuosity on screen.

See our schedule of all Beyond Bollywood events and performances

Organizers & Sponsors

Beyond Bollywood: 2000 Years of Dance in Art is co-organized by the Asian Art Museum and the Cincinnati Art Museum. This exhibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Generous support is provided by Eliza and Dean Cash, Sumir Chadha, Vaishali Chadha and Family, Yogen and Peggy Dalal, Sonia Dhami, Shashi and Dipanjan “DJ” Deb, Susan and John Diekman, Sameer Gandhi and Monica Lopez, Aarti and Sandeep Johri, Kiran Kapany and Ariana and Misha Schwarz, Lata Krishnan and Ajay B. Shah, Fred Levin & Salle Yoo and Jeff Gray, Dipti and Rakesh Mathur, Sundar and Anjali Pichai, SACHI: Society for Art & Cultural Heritage of India, Ram and Vijay Shriram, Sanjay and Suniti Subhedar, Meena Vashee, and an anonymous donor.

Sustained support generously provided by the Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Endowment Fund for Exhibitions.