Nai Laila Nia Majnu (69)


Nai Laila Nia Majnu (1969)
Cast:  Aaliya, Kemal, Naseema Khan, Lehri, Ilyas Kashmiri
Director: Munawar Rasheed
Music: Tassaduq Hussain
Nutshell: Madcap, frivolous and very, very silly but also hugely entertaining with a stunning soundtrack and intoxicating dance numbers.  A gas!


Nai Laila Nia Majnu arrived as a bit of a novelty and a whole lot of fresh air at the very tail end of the 60s and cashed in to the tune of a Platinum Jubilee status in Karachi which translates to a 75-week theatrical run.  The world used to spin at a far slower speed in those days and a trend in the west would often take so much time to arrive that it would already be passé in the west as it started to take of in the East.  The late sixties brought us Flower Power, Freedom, sex drugs and rock’n’Roll, Charlie Manson, The Supremes and The Beatles and bell-bottom trousers.

Nai Laila Naya Majnu is aimed directly at the trendy youth market of the era and taps into the “dance and pop music” phenomenon and then fuses it with a whole lot of very silly slapstick style comedy which is silly enough to actually be quite amusing.  The sizzling title track sets the tone and the first scene introduces our teenage girls to us…. girls who are into listening to pop music records and hanging out.  They are being chased by two loveable goofs in the shape of Kemal and Lehri and their escapades take up the entire length of the movie along with some excellently funky tracks by Tassaduq Hussain and dances to match.

The entire movie is a silly comedy caper cum situational farce sprinkled with some delightful dances and tunes and ends up as a whimsical delight.  The four main actors excel in the film and appear to be having a blast enjoying themselves and the chemistry translates to the goofy antics and madcap fun along the way.  Aaliya is superb but it is Lehri who steals the show with his deadpan, poker faced witticisms while Kemal and Naseema Khan lend solid support.

The story is about as simple as it gets.  Four college students, two girls and two guys indulge in the usual desi movie romance banter thing with lots of jokes, costumes, trickery, nautanki, mistaken identities and drama…. but while they irritate the hell out of each other we all know that these are the tell-tale signs of true love.  But just as they slowly arrive at this realization, a bunch of obstacles conspire against them and these must be deftly dodged if a satisfactory conclusion is to be arrived at.

The highlight of the film is the excellent music by Tassaduq Hussain and the catchy songs that have been delightfully choreographed.  There are strains of “aaja aaja main hoon pyar tera” from across the border and though Hussain manages to come up with some nice little ditties he doesn’t quite score the bullseye in replicating the Rafi-Asha classic.  Yet the influence is clearly evident.  Even Tassaduq’s background music during fights or chases or just some comic routine ridiculously cool and fits the mood of the film quite brilliantly.  Nai Laila Nia Majnu may not be an award winner nor a socially relevant drama laden with morals and messages.  What the film does provide however is a delightfully whimsical and brainless entertainer with its heart completely in the right place.  Combine that with some excellent performances and a stunning soundtrack and you have a film that is a rollickingly fun ride throughout.  Tassaduq Hussain has composed one of the most memorable and fun scores in Lollywood cinema history and singer Mala is on her finest form.

Nai Laila Naya Majnu is a rough edged little diamond of madcap, frivolous fun – as the bad girl from Playboy said “it’s a jolly good time!”