Mujra has been depicted in Bollywood films like Umrao Jaan and Devdas or other films that show the past Mughal rule and its culture. Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai and Rekha were some of the actresses who made this art form iconic in Bollywood.
Mujra is a form of dance originated by tawaif (courtesans) during the Mughal era which incorporated elements of the native classical Kathak dance onto music such as thumris and ghazals. Mujra was traditionally performed at mehfils and in special houses called kothas. The profession was a cross between art and exotic dance, with the performers often serving as courtesans amongst Mughal royalty or wealthy patrons.
As you have seen in the movies where mujra dance form is incorporated the women trained in mujras often end up in prostitution.There is a famous location in India, in the city of Agra where it is a tradition for every man to learn mujra. The mujra is an act that's traditional, yet sensuous. We are enlisting some courtesan acts by our hot divas that stole a lot of hearts in Bollywood.
The grace of a peacock, the beauty of a rose and the voice of a nightingale - the Lacknavi salon culture asked a lot of the courtesans. Here we have the top 10 actresses of Bollywood who would have been perfect for that era, given their excellent performance in the mujra art form.
Check out the best mujra dancers in Bollywood...
Madhuri Dixit is among the top actress-dancers of Bollywood in recent times. She played a courtesan as Chandramukhi in the 2002 ‘Devdas' remake. Her performance in the song ‘Maar Dala' became hugely popular that year. She was also seen in a similar avatar for the song ‘Apne Karar Mein' in Dedh Ishqiya.
The age of modern mujras - and the churidars are replaced with shararas. Kareena Kapoor brought in this change with ‘Dil Mera Muft Ka' in ‘Agent Vinod' (2012). The beats sound nothing like those of the languid sarods and upbeat tablas of the original mujras. But, Kareena is Kareena - and like everything else she does, she pulled it off like a star.
In Mr and Mrs Khanna as Haseena Jaan performed a mujra on the tunes of Happening.
Aishwarya Rai comes off a poor second next to Rekha in the ‘Umrao Jaan' remake, but she too is quite good as a tragic ‘tawaif'. ‘Salaam' was a beautiful number that Aishwarya will best be remembered for from the movie. Besides, her performance in the song from ‘Bunty Aur Babli' - ‘Kajra Re', a quite upbeat twist to the classic Mujra, went through the roof when it was released.
One of Bollywood's dark horses, Mahie looked like a million dollars in ‘Ranaji' from the movie ‘Gulaal' (2009). It is not technically a Mujra in the purest form, as it has a lot of socio-political overtones - unlike the former, which deals with more romantic themes. But you have to hand it to Mahie; she rocked the song - politics and all.
Remember this Bong beauty in ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising'? She played a prostitute who falls in love with the protagonist. The Mujra of that film was called ‘Main Vari Vari'. Rani looked resplendent in her pink and gold regalia as the chief courtesan - and made the most of her small role in the movie.
Sushmita Sen had a small role in ‘Kisna: The Warrior Poet' (2005) - and as the courtesan Naima Begum, danced to the much forgettable number ‘Chilman Uthegi Nahi'. Although she looked beautiful and danced gracefully, the performance was a marker of how the subtleties of the dance form is now near to being lost in Bollywood.
Proving to be an unexpected treat, Tabu was quite convincing as the mujra dancer clad in gold in ‘Dil Ka Kya Karein Sahib' from ‘Jeet'.
Rekha is another yesteryear Mujra queen who can give any present-day actress a run for her money. She was scintillating in ‘Umrao Jaan' (1981) - her most memorable Mujra performances being ‘In Aakhon Ki Masti' and ‘Dil Cheez Kya Hai'. Another jewel of hers is ‘Salaam-e-Ishq' from ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikandar'.
The original Mujra queen, Meena Kumari swayed the audiences with her dances in ‘Chalte Chalte', ‘Inhi Logon Ne' and ‘Thare Rahiyo' - all from the classic hit ‘Pakeezah'. One of Meena Kumari's last films, she received a posthumous Filmfare nomination for her beautiful portrayal of a tragic courtesan.
One of the most beautiful actresses of yesteryears, Madhubala dazzled as Anarkali in the period epic movie ‘Mughal-e-Azam' - and ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya' has become the stuff of pop culture. She was not a trained dancer like most of her contemporaries, but she pulled off the hit Mujra number with élan.
The original Chandramukhi in the 1955 ‘Devdas', Vyjayanthimala was an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer to begin with. Hence, her performance in ‘Ab Aage Teri Marzi' did not come as a tough task - and she looked like she knew her moves alright.