indian cinema heritage foundation

Ishk-e-Punjab (Mirza Sahiban) (1935)

  • Release Date29/03/1935
  • GenreRomance, Drama
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguagePunjabi
  • Run Time129 minutes
  • Length3512.82 meters
  • Number of Reels11 reels
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor Certificate NumberB-14202-Bombay
  • Certificate Date24/01/1935
  • Shooting LocationAmritsar, Lahore, Gujranwala, Jhang and Gurdaspur

A story from the golden days of romance and chivalry where men sacrificed wealth, fortune and life for their beloved, and women were loyal, faithful and obedient to their lovers. Sahiban (Miss Khurshid) was the fascinating, charming daughter of Khewakhan (Master Sohan Lal), the Chaudhary of Jhang, a beautiful village in Punjab. Mirza (Bhai Desa) was the son of Fateh Bibi. Mirza and Sahibanwere 'milk siblings'. Mirza's parents had sent him for his education, and he came to live at Sahiban's house. As they grew up, Mirza became a valiant archer. Stories of his unfailing aim spread far and wide. Sahiban, on the other hand, turned into a beautiful young maiden. Such was her beauty, that men around couldn't take their eyes off her. From their childhood, cupid seemed to have plans for them and once they grew up, they expressed their feelings to each other. Gulabo, Sahiban’s vicious maid happened to see her with Mirza and she reports the matter to Sahiban’s parents. They promptly throw Mirza out of their home forcing him to find shelter in the house of his maternal aunt Bibo. A kindhearted and sympathetic woman Nuri (Miss Sarla Devi) takes care of him. This breaks Sahiban's heart and she weeps inconsolably. Her family immediately plans her wedding with Tahir Khan. Sahiban resists but no one listens to her. The moment Mirza finds out about this, he reaches Sahiban's village on his horse. When Sahiban sees Mirza, she comes running towards him and they elope. Meanwhile, Sahiban's brothers realize that she is missing and they ride out looking for the couple.Eventually, after riding for hours, Mirza gets tired. He decided to take a nap under a tree. Sahiban is worried, as she knows that if her brothers arrive then they’ll surely attack Mirza and he would kill them. So she takes his arrows out of the quiver one by one and brakes them all in half. She could plead to her brothers to spare him as she believed that they wouldn't hurt the man who was the love of her life. Unfortunately for Sahiban, that's not how things panned out. The moment her brothers catch sight of Mirza, they shoot an arrow which pierces his throat. Waking up from his slumber, Mirza reaches out for his bow and arrow, only to find them broken. He feels deceived. His eyes begged for an answer from Sahiban as another arrow came flying in Mirza's direction and pierced him in his stomach. Sahiban was speechless at the turn of events. Aghast at what had happened, she jumped on to Mirza's dead body, letting the arrow pierce her as well. As the brothers closed in on them, both Mirza and Sahiban die a silent death.

A sublime romance of immortal lovers Mirza and Sahiba, ‘ISHK-E-PUNJAB’, is crowned with the distinction of being the First Punjabi Feature Film in the history of Indian Cinema. Hindmata Cinetone, Bombay opened a new office in Lahore to make the first Punjabi feature film. The entire star cast was taken from Punjab and the shooting of the film Mirza Sahiban under the direction of a young Sindhi man, N. Balchandani was started in 1933. The film was shot in all the major towns of Punjab like Amritsar, Lahore, Gujranwala, Jhang and Gurdaspur capturing the natural beauty and culture of Greater Punjab. It took two long years to complete the film with heavy expenditure. In the meantime, the reins of direction were taken over by a Lahorite, Mr. G. R Sethi. Rababi Bhai Dessa played the central character of Mirza while Miss Khurshid of Tehsil Chuniyan (Lahore) performed the role of Sahiban. The famous folk artiste of Punjab, Bhai Chhailla also played an important role in the film. The cameraman E. Cooper captured the grand, glorious and gorgeous scenes of the picturesque landscapes of Punjab, which was a real feast for the spectators. Unfortunately, the full details of all the songs are not available. However, only one melodious song Je main aisa jaandi preet kiye dukh ho.. rendered by Miss Khurshid under the baton of music director Prof Nawab Khan could be traced out.