indian cinema heritage foundation

Laila Majnu (1953)

  • GenreRomance, Drama
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time134 mins
  • Length3352.49 meters
  • Number of Reels16
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor RatingU
  • Censor Certificate NumberU-585/53-MUM
  • Certificate Date26/12/1953
  • Shooting LocationM. & T. Studios, Modern Studios

‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all! (R. Browning)

Lovers, through the ages, have been swearing by the names of Laila and Majnu, the greatest lovers the world ever produced. The story of their love comes to us through the hoary past, but, is as fragrant today as it was in the days of yore.

In the vast Sahra of Najd, a caravan of gypsies has encamped the head of the gypsy tribe a kind of old man, is giving his blessings to two young hearts, whose hearts are throbbing with a rapture immortal-love! Love’s path is not that easy-says the old man. It is strewn with thorns of troubles and tribulations. It, sometimes, takes your all and gives nothing in return. He narrates them the tale of true love that blossomed in those very sands hundreds of years ago.

Laila and Qais belonged to two different tribes that lived peacefully near an oasis. Their fathers were the chiefs of the two tribes. Their beloved children studied in the same school. It was here that the tender hearts of Laila and Qais felt something for each other- a thing they could not name. Laila’s father Amir Sarwar came to know of this amour and he wanted to nip the blossom in the bud. But meeting each other was irresistible for the young ones, and defying all stalling, they met each other in stealth. Thus, their loved matured with the passage of time.

It was not very long when everybody around came to know of their love. Amir Sarwar became furious, and his followers belabored Qais mercilessly. Amir, Qais’s father, wanted to avenge his son so that the two tribes were on the verge of factional war, but better sense prevailed with Amir Sarwar, and he decided to move from the place. Laila came to know of the decision, but the tribe had already decamped. She implored with tears and wailing to her companion to carry a message to Qais, but it was of no avail.

When Qais came to know that he had been forcibly parted from his beloved, he followed Amir, Sarwar’s caravan. In the tity of Taif, Laila fell seriously ill. Qais could not find his way to Laila: he changed himself into a beggar to reach Laila under the pretext of begging alms. The very sight of Qais restored Laila to health. Qais who could not be away from Laila for a moment hovered around her house. People decried “the beggar’ and called him a mad man “Majnu”.

Incidentally, the prince of Iraq had come to Taif in those days, and, when his eyes fell on Laila, he immediately decided to marry her. He offered priceless jewels, money and comforts which tempted Amir Sarwar, and he accepted the offer…!

What followed is a heart-rending tale which is beyond all words- the intensity and impact of which you can ‘see’ on the screen alone.

(From the official press booklet)