SYNOPSIS - ZUBEDIAA
- 1952. A funeral. Later, Rizu won't eat. His
grandmother and grandfather quarrel because grandfather didn't go to
his own daughter's funeral. Grandmother screams that their only child
is dead, dead-now beg her forgiveness!.
- Waiting for the schoolbus. A fellow student
breaks the news to Rizu: his mom has died, and his naani, who he always
thought was his mom, is in fact his grandmother. Later Rizu's nurse
answers his puzzled queries by telling him that yesterday they buried
his other mom, a queen of fairies, whose name was Zubeidaa. According
to the nurse, Zubeidaa loved to dance, and when a prince saw her dancing,
he thought she was wonderful and decided to make her his princess and
carry her away on a magic ship to his castle. Rizu wants to know why
Zubeidaa didn't take him. The nurse tells him that Zubeidaa tried, but
her ship broke, and she was taken to the sky, where a star now serves
as her house.
- Rizu dreams of his mother. SONG: PYAARA SA GAON
- 1980. Rizu, now known as Riyaz, has grown up
to be a film journalist. He is obsessed with his mother and wants to
see the dance number from her film, but it's missing. Someone suggests
that he look at the film archives from Jupiter Studios.
- At the archives. The building has been closed
down. A guard suggests that Riyaz try Hiralal, Jupiter Studio's old
- Riyaz hunts down Hiralal, who, when asked, says
of course he remembers Zubeidaa! She was the daughter of the studio
owner, wife in one house, and
in another. She used to come to him
for dance lessons, and was very good. Had Suleimaan, her father, not
disapproved, Zubeidaa would have become a top star. But when he found
out what she was doing, he threw a fit.
- Flashback to SONG: MAIN ALBELI. Suleimaan tries
to drag Zubeidaa home. She refuses to go, saying she's signed a contract
and will complete the film. He drags her off anyway.
- Present: Before Riyaz leaves, Hiralal mentions
an actress named Rose. Later, Riyas asks his grandmother if she knows
of an actress by that name. Flashback to a party celebrating the return
of Suleimaan's childhood friend, Sajid Masood. Sajid doesn't get along
with Rose, and later warns Suleimaan that his adulterous ways will destroy
him one day. Meanwhile, Rose congratulates Zubeidaa and Feroza on their
imminent departure to study in Switzerland. She coaxes Zubeidaa to dance
with Sajid's son, Mehboob. Suleimaan promptly stops this, declaring
that women of his household do not dance in public. He then announces
Zubeidaa's engagement to Mehboob. Zubeidaa, stunned and furious that
he has not consulted her beforehand, runs out. Her mother follows, consoling
her with the fact that "My father didn't ask me [if I wanted to
marry my husband] either." Zubeidaa snaps, "I don't want a
marriage like yours!" Her mother implores her to beg her father's
forgiveness for her behavior.
- Zubeidaa tries to apologize to Suleimaan, then
bursts into defiance: she can't marry that man, she doesn't want to
be confined to a life of housework; she doesn't love him! Suleimaan
tells her to cease this nonsense. Zubeidaa begs her mother to talk with
him, but her mother tells her that Suleimaan will never change his mind.
- The plans for the wedding commence. SONG: MEHNDI
HAI RACHNEVALI. Zubeidaa refuses to let the women put mehndi on her.
She procures a gun and tries to kill herself. She refuses to voice her
acceptance at the wedding. Her father assures the priest that she has
nodded her agreement to the match.
- Zubeidaa is pregnant. Mehboob's father, Sajid,
comes to the conclusion that due to the prevalence of anti-Muslim sentiment,
moving back to India from Pakistan was a bad decision. Accordingly,
the Masoods plan to move back to Karachi (Pakistan). Zubeidaa is furious
with this decision.
- Zubeidaa is in labor; the families wait eagerly
for her to give birth. Sajid lets slip to Suleimaan that he has booked
tickets for his family on a steamer bound for Pakistan. "I would
have told you, but why raise your blood pressure?" Suleimaan gets
angry and calls Sajid an ingrate. Sajid retorts that there is no place
for his family in India, and then starts insulting Suleimaan's line
of work. Suleimaan, enraged, charges: "We give you our daughter,
our help, our home, and in return we get insults!" Sajid says he's
going back to Pakistan, and his son and daughter-in-law are coming with
him, simple as that. Suleimaan replies that his son can go, but Zubeidaa
is not going anywhere, nor is her child. A shocked Mehboob protests,
but Sajid, incensed, says, "Come on, son, these people are no longer
our concern." The nurse bursts in: Congratulations, it's a boy!
- Zubeidaa and Mehboob divorce. Later, Rose shows
up to find Zubeidaa burning her wedding photos and sari. She consoles
- Present: Riyaz asks his grandmother what relationship
existed between Rose and Zubeidaa. She tells him that were it not for
Rose, Zubeidaa would be alive today. When she won't explain her meaning,
Riyaz says he'll find out the truth from Rose herself.
- Riyaz meets with Rose, who expresses contempt
for his grandmother (which upsets him) and shares her own belief that
it was it that woman's fault that Zubeidaa died. Rose says she herself
was only trying to bring a little happiness into Zubeidaa's life, because
Zubi was so, so sad. Flashback to Rose convincing Zubeidaa to leave
Riyaz with the nanny and come out for a day on the town. They go to
a polo game, where the star player for Fatehpur, "Victor,"
makes an impressive play. Rose later introduces them. Victor is actually
Vijendra Singh, Maharajah of Fatehpur, and he is instantly smitten with
Zubeidaa. He invites the two ladies out for dinner at the Taj Mahal
- At the Taj Mahal Hotel: Zubeidaa accepts a necklace
from the prince, who tells her, as they dance, that he has never seen
a more beautiful woman, he wants to look at her forever, and he'd like
to spend the rest of his life with her. Zubeidaa, overwhelmed, bolts
the room. He follows, insists they meet again, and kisses her. Later,
with the help of Rose, she meets Victor again.
- Over the next week, their courtship intensifies.
When he sends her roses, her mother warns her that as a Muslim, she
cannot marry him. Besides, her father has arranged a match for her with
a man who lives in the U.S.. Zubi declares that she'll only marry the
man she loves, and begs her mother to meet him, just once.
- Zubi's mother meets Victor. He charms her with
his profession of love for Zubi, saying the bonds of the heart are stronger
than those of an arranged match. He admits that Zubi will not be his
first wife, confessing that when he was twelve, he married Mandira Devi,
with whom he has two children. He agrees to marry Zubi by Muslim customs
as well as Hindu. Zubi's mom finally says she'll give her blessings
to the match on one condition: that Zubi leave Riyaz with her; she's
grown to love him too much to surrender him.
- Present: Riyaz asks his grandmother for Zubi's
journals. She claims that she's burned them, but he knows that's a lie,
because she keeps everything. When he persists in hunting them, she
finally hands them over. He begins to read. Flashback to: Zubi and Victor,
married, begin their honeymoon. SONG: DHEEME DHEEME.
- Present: Riyaz decides he needs to go to Fatehpur.
- Past: Victor and Zubi discuss Mandira Devi.
He says that she's a true Rajput daughter-in-law and knows that a prince
will bring home a new wife at harvest time lest a drought fall upon
Fatehpur. Zubeidaa is alarmed by this intimation that two marriages
will not be enough: "So let there be famine! This Rajput won't
love again or else
" She pretends to try to crash the plane.
He agrees he won't love anyone else!
- Victor welcomes Rani Meenakshi Devi (i.e., Zubeidaa)
to her new home.
- Zubeidaa meets Mandira. The Princess tells Zubeidaa
that she will call Zubi "M," for Meenakshi, and that Zubeidaa
may call her "Mandi Didi" (didi is a term of address for elder
sisters). But lest others say she has no manners, Mandi warns, they
must call each other only "Her Highness" and "Rani Saahiba"
in public. She also tells Zubi that she mustn't wear sleeveless blouses
anymore, must keep her pallu (the hem of her sari) over her head, and
that her makeup must go. Zubi is appalled: "Don't you get sick
of all these rules? Can't I wear my own clothes?" Mandi says she'll
send a tailor to make Zubi new clothes.
- Zubi and Victor go riding in the countryside,
where they run into Victor's younger brother, Uday Singh. He spouts
a lot of charming flattery at Zubi.
- Zubeidaa misses her child. Victor shows her
a beautiful necklace, which she thinks is for her. He tells her it's
Mandi's birthday present from both of them. Zubeidaa grows jealous of
his attentions to Mandi.
- Victor reminds her that it's their anniversary,
and asks her what she'd like as a gift. She wants a necklace just like
the one he gave to Mandi. He says he has something far better, and takes
her to his hunting lodge, where her son awaits her.
- Present: Riyaz checks into the hotel that used
to be his mother's royal home. During his tour, he remarks upon the
absence of pictures of "Choti Rani," or little queen (Zubeidaa).
The guide admonishes him: don't mention the name of the film actress
that gave the maharajah so much trouble!
- Riyaz meets with Mandira Devi, who says she
missed his mother very much after she died. He asks her if she's forgiven
Zubeidaa, and if it wasn't very hard when Zubi came to live at the palace.
Mandi recalls that his mother asked the same question once. Flashback
- After a badminton game, Zubi - having realized
that Mandi is jealous of her - admits that she's sometimes jealous of
Mandi, and that she's madly in love with Victor. Later, Zubi scandalizes
Mandi by joining in the dancing at a ceremony. When she realizes she's
done something terribly wrong, she flees. Mandi chases her and castigates
her: "You came here to protect the glory of the family; why did
you dance, and in front of outsiders? And why do you come here to sulk?"
Zubi rages at all the rules: she's sick of them, through with them!
Mandi tells her there are two aspects to their lives: that of royal
privilege, and that of royal duty. Without one, the other cannot be.
Zubi retorts, "You do your duty; I can't!" She bolts.
- Victor finds Zubi at the lodge. He tells her
they all have responsibilities; why is she so upset over this small
matter? She says it isn't a small matter! Victor tells her that Mandi
is very upset; "Won't you come and make up with her for us?"
She corrects him: "For you." He soothes her, saying if she
likes this place so much, they'll spend time here, just them. But duties
call him away, and he asks Uday to stay and cheer her up. Uday makes
Zubeidaa very uncomfortable.
- Zubeidaa apologizes to Mandi, who says it's
already forgotten. Zubi says she doesn't know how to come to peace with
the household - specifically, with Uday. "Sometimes it seems like
he's joking, but sometimes
" Mandi advises her to keep quiet
lest she create trouble between the brothers. Later, when Zubi broaches
the subject with Victor, he assures her that she misunderstands Uday.
- Victor makes a gift to Zubeidaa of the hunting
lodge. Uday is very displeased, follows Zubi to her rooms, corners her
and makes a pass at her. He alleges that Victor only loves her in the
way he loves all expensively acquired objects, whereas he, Uday, loves
her in truth. Victor shows up and comforts a highly distressed Zubeidaa.
Uday speaks disrespectfully of Zubeidaa, and Victor asks him to leave.
Zubi asks what Victor's been doing all day, and he makes the mistake
of telling her not to worry; that her job is to be beautiful. She is
incensed: "Is that all I am? Is that my only status?" He does
- Victor, displeased with the plans of his political
party, decides to break off and form his own. He goes on the road to
garner support, and takes Mandi with him. Mandi has a gracious, winning
presence on the podium and the crowd is awed by her dignity. Later,
when Zubeidaa wants to accompany them on the campaign trail, Victor
forbids her to do so, explaining that she might cost them votes. Zubeidaa
is stunned and miserable.
- While Mandi and Victor successfully canvass
the countryside, Uday comes into Zubeidaa's bedroom and harasses her.
She drives him away.
- Mandi and Victor are called to Delhi by the
national government. Zubeidaa catches them at the airport and demands
to go. Victor tries to reason with her, pointing out that the plane
only seats two. Zubeidaa says she'll go in Mandi's place. She gets in
the plane, forcing him to take her or cause a terrible scene. Mandi
watches them leave.
- Present: Riyaz speaks with Uday, asking if it
is true that the maharajah and junior rani died in a mysterious plane
crash? Uday says there is nothing mysterious about it; the plane got
out of Victor's control and it crashed. Uday adds that his brother was
alone at the time; no one was with him. Riyaz, stunned, repeats: "His
choti rani wasn't with him?" Uday smoothly replies: "There
was no choti rani - he had only one wife. Naturally, he had a few mistresses,
but I don't remember any of them."
- Riyaz receives a gift from Mandi: the final
entries from Zubeidaa's diaries. She writes, "By my own hand, I've
fallen from heaven. I know that nothing ever stays the same, but still,
I'll never let Victor change. He's already changed - how can I endure
this? Maybe we'll only be happy in death. We've lost our way, but perhaps
we'll someday find it in a dream."
- Past: The plane crashes.
- Present: Riyaz and his grandmother prepare to
watch the film reels of Zubeidaa's movie. She tells him that Zubi wasn't
the type to kill herself; that one of their enemies must have sabotaged
the plane. Riyaz says that he'll always remember her as a queen of fairies.
His grandmother agrees that she was a queen of fairies. They watch the