HEER RANJHA

First rate punjabi musical
Q. Z. MALIK
CREDITS: Banner: Punjab Pictures. Producers: Ejaz and Masud Pervez. Director: Masud Pervez. Story and Screenplay: Ahmad Rahi. Music: Kh. Khurshid Anwar. Songs. Ahmad Rahi: Dialogues: Ahmad Rahi, Audiography: C. Mandodi. Photography: Masudur Rehman. Cast: Firdos Ejaz, Zammurd, Salma Mumtaz, Rangeela, Munawar Zareef, Aqeel, Ilyas Kashmiri and Ajmal. Released in June 1970

Producer-Director Masud Parvez and music wizard Khurshid Anwar are back in splendid form. Together they have scored again; and this time it is Waris Shah's 'Heer Ranjha'. Between them, these two proven artists and craftsmen have made a colour film version of the romantic classic that, despite a few slips, is a worthy tribute to its creator.

The film begins in the form of a fantasy the director's conception of the Quranic injunction that matches are made in Heaven. It is quite a beautiful sequence and the rendering of Waris Shah's verses in the background, preceding the sequence and during it, adds considerably to its impact.

The actual story opens in Ranjha's village with Ranjha romping about, teasing the girls and breaking their pitchers. With Ranjha's carefree and romantic character established, the story gathers momentum.

Event after event occurs at a brisk pace and the story races to the thundering climax sequence that fades out in a final touch of fantasy.

The director keeps a steady hold on the audience and in this he is ably assisted by the camera work, the acting, the editing and the music. Picturisation of the song-cum-dance sequences, particularly those on Firdous, is very good. Despite not being of the crude and vulgar type seen in the usual run of Punjabi pictures, they draw spontaneous applause.

Dwelling on picturisation one cannot help mentioning the sequence of a song on Firdous, at the end of which Masud Parvez Frames a `diya' and the full moon. It is a beautifully artistic touch that gives added meaning and depth to the situation. That this little touch draws cheers from he audience is ample evidence that our cinemagoers appreciate and welcome the subtle and the artistic.

On the whole, Masud Parvez has done a fine job, but there are a few slips. For example, the song-and-dance sequences featuring a lot of village girls, the background prop in the roof-top sequences, Heer's dresses and jewellery, particularly those she dons before her marriage, the fight sequence on Ranjha, Ranjha's hiding under a basket that could hardly cover a child, Heer's imbecile husband, etc. Such weak-points in a Masud Parvez's film are surprising. His major, or basic, slip is that he has not given adequate attention to the mystic aspect of the classic, which basically portrays the conflicts between the body and the soul.

A lesser flaw is the abrupt occurrence of the tragedy. This particular sequence could have been developed with more telling affect.

Khurshid Anwar has found his best form again. Both in the tunes, and the back ground music he is in top form. His music in fact is the chief highlight of the picture.

On the histrionics side, Ajmal dominates. He has put over a first-rate performance.

Firdous has done well as Heer. Colour is flattering to her, but one wishes the big closes on her had been avoided or their angle changed to cover the hairline of her upperlip.

Ijaz manages to do well in the romantic sequences but when it comes to portraying a tortured soul, he is less than convincing. For this he has to thank the limited range of expressions and gestures that he employs in almost every film. But most of all, it is the fact that he has put on. It is particularly unbecoming when he dons the 'Jogi's' garb.

Rangeela, in a brief appearance, has done so well that in one sequence he almost overshadows an acting giant like Ajmal.

Munawar Zarif is one of the film's major disappointments. One is tired of seeing him do and say the same things over and over again. And his over-acting makes him more unbearable.

Ahmed Rahi's dialogue is nice, forceful and witty but at places he falls to the pedestrian level dictates of the `box-office' or `popular taste' perhaps. His songs, almost all of them, are first-rate.

'Heer Ranjha' is a creditable effort that is head and shoulders above its predecessors. It is film, that; minus the village girls' song-and-dance sequences and a careful pruning of Munawar Zarif, can be exported to any foreign market with confidence and a measure of pride.

In a way it is a milestone, for it has not only set a new and laudable trend in Punjabi films but has also brought Khurshid Anwar and Masud Parvez together again. It revives the memory of `Intezar', `Zer-i-Ishq,' `Jhoomar' and `Koel' and one hopes that these two gifted film-makers will stay together and give cinema goers many more like them.


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