By Nilofer Qazi
I was invited by Lok Virsa’s Film Club Mandwa to watch Heer Ranja Waris Shah’s love story immortalized in Pakistani cinema in 1970. Ejaz Durrani as Ranja and Firdous as Heer. Ejaz Durrani now a distinguished humble 80 years old was the chief guest as this revival cinema launch.
I haven’t really seen too many Pakistani movies unfortunately and a movie club considering reviving our rich history intrigued me. No I was actually excited, finally I will see the famed songs and THE love story of our region. Standing ovation as Ejaz Durrani walked in with his daughter was so heart warming. The audience in their 50s and 60s clearly had seen the movie in its hey day.
Who hasn’t heard of the story of the love story of Heer Ranja?
It is the story of a young man and young women in rural Punjab who do not receive the sanction of society to marry one another. Their story has influenced major themes of the sub-continental literature, music, dance and drama not only in Punjab, but also everywhere in the world. The Romeo and Juliet of the subcontinent.
In fact I have also visited Waris Shah’s mausoleum in Jandiala Sher Khan, Sheikhupura District. I wanted to see where one of the most famed love story had come from? The devotees sing Heer Ranja at the Mazaar sang if Heer & Ranja actually lived not a story of their saint’s imagination. Fascinating how the story becomes stronger than the messenger.
I digress, Lok Virsa’s Film Club is a fantastic and timely initiative. Nevertheless, it needs a little professional management such as establishing a decent Facebook page reaching out to younger Islamabad residents who grew up with no knowledge of Pakistani cinema. Zia’s era till recently there were no cinemas operating in Pakistan. The cinemas now play primarily English, Hindi and Urdu contemporary movies. There is no place for the lost decades in between to show case our films to this generation of Pakistanis.
Mandwa Film Club is a tiny step in rectifying this gap.