"In Aina, Nazrul infused a romantic note through the songs"
From its birth to the present there have been many romantic Pakistan movies. People from both Pakistan and India admire these films.
The revival of Pakistani cinema has also helped connect millennials with the classics.
Whether the movies were in black and white, colour, or digital, they have gained a huge audience and following.
What is also interesting about the movies is the language and the different cultures they represent. In these films, there have been actors from all the province of Pakistan.
After the wide popularity of Urdu films, Punjabi movies clearly stand on second.
DESIblitz discovers 15 romantic masterpieces from the 50s till present.
Director: Sabtain Fazli
Stars: Noor Jehan, Ajay Kumar, Sudhir
The film Dopatta is set during the post World War II period. Bulbul (late Madam Noor Jehan) is the wife of an army officer, Roshan (Ajay Kumar).
Her husband is off to war and she is eagerly waiting for him. This black and white film does not fall short of depicting emotions and real-life scenes.
The film starts with her husband suffering an injury. Bulbul speaks with a doctor to find a way to treat him through plastic surgery. As the dialogue continues, they go back in time when Bulbul and Roshan met.
This film has classic songs that remain popular. Famous tracks from this film include ‘Tum Zindagi Ko Gham Ka Fasana Bana Gaye’ and ‘Chandni Raatein.’
Noor Jehan sang all the songs of the film herself.
Dopatta is one of the earliest films of Pakistani cinema following partition. The music, cinematography, set and the acting was remarkable.
Everyone in the film lived their roles perfectly. It is an entertaining and engaging film to watch.
Director: Masood Pervez
Stars: Noor Jehan, Aslam Pervaiz, Nazar, Allaudin
Koel opens with a beautiful musical performance. It shows a family enjoying a beautiful cloudy day.
The beautiful family appear happy, but all is not well for them. They live in a village and lead a very poor life. They are hosting a dancer from Karachi who is a burden to their household.
Their lives change as the patriarch Allah Banday Khan (Allaudin) gets an offer to play on an international stage. He decides to take the opportunity but dies in an aeroplane crash.
The family’s sole-earner is no more and there is nothing left at home. His wife decides to give the custody of her child Zareena to the dancer (Nazar), helping her become a renowned dancer.
Zareena grows up with her friend Salman (Aslam Pervaiz) who is an excellent flute player. As time passes by, Zareena (Noor Jehan) becomes a dancer, yet she does not reveal her name.
It happens so that Zareena lives next to Salman, but he does not recognise her. Meanwhile, she does remember him.
Salman unable to forget her is heartbroken when he finds out that she is a dancer. On the other hand, Zareena wants to do everything she can to get back with Salman.
Koel is one of the most successful musicals of Pakistani cinema.
Some of the famous songs of this movie are ‘Dil Ka Diya Jalaye Rakhna’ and ‘Rhim Jhim Rhim Jhim.’
This film had romance but most importantly it highlighted the actual life of a dancer. It was harsh at times, portraying society in a very accurate manner.
Yakkay Wali (1957)
Director: M. J. Rana
Stars: Musarrat Nazir, Sudhir, Zarif, Nazar
Yakkay Wali is a remarkable film, which displays a very unusual story from the ‘50s. The movie opens with dacoits looting a village. They do not spare anyone – not even the feudal, traders or peasants.
With a murder taking place, villagers chase the assailant but to no avail. Amidst the fight is a blind man in a house. Laali (Mussarat Nazir) supports the man who is her uncle.
This film is unusual because it tells the tale and hardship of Laali. She is a Tonga driver at the railway station.
She faces criticism for being single and doing a man’s job. However, she stands firm and remains hopeful.
One day everything changes for Laali as she finds a customer.
Coming from the city, Aslam (Sudhir) one day confesses his feelings and love for Laali. Aslam tells her that it is not the tonga, but in fact her that he wants.
Laali who initially feels awfully shy and refrains eventually falls in love with him.
This movie sent a very progressive and powerful message all over Pakistan and India that a woman can do anything. Musarrat gave a remarkable performance, making the film a super hit.
Zubaida Khanum put her vocals to the songs of the film.
A user reviewing the film mentions on IMDb: “I highly recommend this movie for Punjabi speaking people.”
Nazar and Zarif, two popular comedians of that time, also feature in the film.
Director: Sharif Nayyar
Stars: Shamim Ara, Santosh, Darpan, A. Shah
The movie Naela from 1965 marked the debut of the talented Shamim Ara. The film is an adaptation of a novel with the same name. The late Razia Butt is the writer of the novel.
Naela tells the romantic story of a woman who attracts two men. Both men are aware of the situation and do everything to win Naela (Shamim Ara).
In order to prove love and friendship, one of her lovers (Darpan) leaves Naela and lets his friend (Santosh) fulfil his love. This creates complications, as Naela is not happy about the situation.
Mala and Naseem Begum perform the songs to this film. Mala sings the famous song ‘Dil Ke Veeranay Mein Ik Shama Hai Roshan Kab Say.’
One interesting fact about this film is that it ran for twenty-nine weeks in a Peshawar cinema.
The story of Naela is similar to Bollywood film Sangam (1964), starring Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar and Vyjanthimala.
The romantic musical film was a super hit, celebrating its Silver Jubilee.
Director: Parvez Malik
Stars: Zeba, Waheed Murad, Nirala, Tarannum, Zahoor Ahmad
Armaan helped to create the careers of legendary actors Waheed Murad (late) and Zeba.
The film starts by showing the rural and domestic life of a woman named Najma played by Zeba. She is living with her aunt and two cousins. One day everything changes for her as her cousin confesses to Najma that she is pregnant.
She also discloses her lover but is unable to tell him the news because of his career. Her lover never returns and she gives up the baby to a peasant.
On the other side, Waheed Murad plays the role of Nasir. He leads a lavish life and loves to go to parties. Suddenly everything changes for him as he receives a marriage proposal by the wife of his late friend.
This film has nine songs performed by Ahmad Rushdi, Mala and Khursheed Sherazi. The film achieved its Platinum Jubilee.
It was also one of the earliest films that managed to shed light on the more inconvenient topic of childbirth before marriage. However, the acting made it even better, with the actors getting a lot of praise.
Heer Ranjha (1970)
Director: Masood Parvez
Stars: Firdous, Ejaz, Munawar Zarif, Ajmal
Heer Ranjha is an epic romantic musical movie that puts life into the legendary poem of the same name. Heer Ranjha was originally written by Waris Shah in the 18th century.
The film surrounds the love affair of Heer, played by Firdous, and Dheedo, portrayed by Ejaz. The name Ranjha is given to Dheedo as he belongs to the Ranjha tribe.
Dheedo falls in love with Heer and decides to work for her father by herding cows. Likewise, Heer also finds Dheedo attractive and loves him even more for playing the flute.
Things crumble as tribal differences emerge, along with her uncle, Kaido (Ajmal) discovering the affair. He tells Heer’s father who quickly decides to marry his daughter to a wealthy yet comical man (Munawar Zarif).
Kaido’s performance is quite evil in the film. He wants to make sure that his niece is morally right. So, as he does not approve of Heer meeting Dheedo, Kaido goes as far as poisoning her later in the film.
Dheedo loses Heer but does give up on her. This film marks the epic journey of Dheedo finding Heer.
This Punjabi film was a huge success, as it received many accolades.
The film features twelve songs by legendary playback singers Noor Jehan, Masood Rana and Irene Parveen.
Those who were fortunate to watch the film in the cinema still praise the cinematography and songs.
Umrao Jaan Ada (1972)
Director: Hassan Tariq
Stars: Rani, Shahid, Rangeela, Nayyar Sultana
Umrao Jaan Ada is a classic film, which is an adaptation from the namesake novel by Mirza Hadi Ruswa.
Rani starring as Umrao Jaan faces a terrible life as her father becomes a victim of avenge. This is because her father helps put a dangerous criminal behind bars.
After being set free, he avenges her father by kidnapping her and selling her to the main tawaif (courtesan). As a girl, she learns how to dance and please men, eventually becoming a tawaif herself.
Umrao Jaan becomes the favourite of many men. She is an excellent dancer and holds complete command over Urdu poetry. Her singing manages to make everyone fall in love with her.
One particular man Saleem (Shahid) falls for Umrao Jaan. Like many men who want to be with Umrao Jaan, Saleem goes another step. He pays the main Tawaif a great amount of money to be with Umrao Jaan.
While Saleem does it out of love, Umrao Jaan is not happy about the situation. She was not expecting such behaviour from a kind, gentle and an affectionate person like Saleem. But Saleem proves to show his love as he promises to defend her honour and maintain her respect.
But this is where all the trouble begins for Umrao Jaan. Every man who visits Umrao Jaan loves and desires to be with her.
Runa Laila, Irene Parveen, Ahmad Rushdi, and Noor Jehan put their beautiful voices to the film.
The film was a major success, with fans from both Pakistan and India appreciating the performances.
Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat (1975)
Director: Shabab Keranvi
Stars: Babra Sharif, Ghulam Mohiuddin, Bahar Begum, Tamana
Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat is a tragic romantic film. It is an adaptation of the famous book, Love Story (1970) by Erich Segal. The film starts as a rom-com and finishes on a beautiful note.
The film introduced relatively new faces to Pakistani film audiences. Noshi (Babra Sharif) plays the role of a cancer patient. She is adored by her lover, Hamid (Ghulam Mohiuddin).
Despite such a fulfilling life, nobody including her lover knows anything about Noshi’s condition.
This film slowly takes its tragedy toll as the details unravel. Cancer starts to affect her body and everyone is aware of her illness.
Having desperately attempted to hide her condition, she eventually fails and dies.
This film proved to be a significant success at the box office.
Singers such as Naheed Akhtar, Mehdi Hassan (late) and Ahmad Rushdi sang for this film.
‘Yeh Duniya Rahay Na Rahay’ is one of the most famous song from this film.
This film may start as a bit too idealistic. But as the story goes on, it manages to capture the attention and hearts of many.
Mohabbat Zindagi Hai (1975)
Director: Iqbal Akhtar
Stars: Mohammad Ali, Zeba, Waheed Murad, Qavi Khan
Mohabbat Zindagi Hai is a romantic film, featuring three big actors. Mohammad Ali plays the lead role opposite Zeba. Chocolate boy hero Waheed Murad plays second fiddle to them.
The film starts with a jolly dialogue and a game of chess between a retired army officer (Qavi Khan) and his friend. He asks about his daughter and his servant responds: “She is gone to play Kabbadi.”
In reality, Nadira (Zeba) is fighting a man who attempts to rape a woman in the forest. She is brave and shows no fear. However, her father is concerned about her tomboy attitude.
He asks his servant for a solution who in response tells his master to contact his friend Mirza. What starts as a journey for Nadira’s future turns into twists and turns as she meets Mirza’s nephew.
This film had perfect timings when it came to delivering the lines. While all the actors gave an outstanding performance, the story was also strong.
The film sheds light on the elite class of Pakistan of that era in a very realistic manner.
The film also offered memorable music and amazing dance performances. Mehdi Hassan, Naheed Akhtar and Ahmad Rushdi were the notable singers of the film.
Director: Nazrul Islam
Stars: Nadeem, Shabnam, Rehan
Aina is an evergreen love story from 1977. Iqbal, played by Nadeem, is a hotel receptionist. He falls in love with Rita, played by Shabnam.
Rita’s father (Rehan) does not approve of the bond but later surrenders to the will of his daughter.
Iqbal and Rita marry but things do not seem to go well. Her father does all he can to elevate his social status but Iqbal refuses. He believes in his dignity and self-respect. Rita also wants the best for herself and their children.
The film is filled with tensions and intense conflicts. It so unapologetically depicts the lives of two different and opposing classes.
The film ran for almost seven years in cinema. No movie in the history of Pakistani cinema has achieved such success.
Mehdi Hassan (late), Alamgir and Nayyara Noor are the vocalists for the film.
‘Mujhe Dil Se Na Bhulana’ is the happy and sad theme song of the movie.
Commenting on the songs, film critic Mushtaq Ghuzdar in the book, Pakistan Cinema 1947-1997 mentions:
“In Aina, Nazrul infused a romantic note through the songs using the elements of nature as tools to enhance their impact.
“His use of open spaces to create the mood of the scenes in contrast with the normal lip-sync presentation of songs greatly appealed to the audience.”
Nahin Abhi Nahin (1980)
Director: Nazrul Islam
Stars: Qavi Khan Faisal Rehman, Arzoo, Ayaz Naik, Rangeela
The movie Nahin Abhi Nahin begins in a village where a woman (Arzoo) is struggling with labour pain. Her husband, a farmer (Qavi Khan) is desperately anxious. A few minutes later a baby boy is born.
The husband and wife take care of the child and do everything they can to raise him in a better environment. Being their only child they look after his every need.
Their son Armaan (Faisal Rehman) one day comes announcing that he has passed the matriculation exams. His mother and father are in joy and proud of him. But all is not well for the future of their son.
Not having enough money for their son’s education, the farmer decides to sell his land.
Consequently, Armaan joins a boarding school in Karachi. There he meets Shabnam (Arzoo) on a rainy day. Arzoo loves Armaan’s innocence and naivety, whilst for Armaan, it is love at first sight.
One day they meet again and finally manage to express their love for each other. It turns out that the feeling is mutual.
However, there is one problem between the two. Shabnam belongs to the elite class, whilst Armaan lies about his social status to keep the relationship going.
To see a student fall in love with a much older woman was quite ahead of its times. But it was rather obvious that Shabnam looked much older than he was.
Of course, the film very beautifully captured the naivety and youth of actor Faisal Rehman. Ayaz Naik plays an important yet supporting role in the film.
Director: Nazrul Islam
Stars: Nadeem, Shabnam, Diana, Talish, Allaudin
Bandish is a super hit musical set on the beautiful island of Indonesia. It is one of the first big-budget Pakistani movies to be filmed in a foreign country.
In the beginning, a rich landowner (Talish) picks his godson, Faisal (Nadeem) from the airport. Faisal travels around the exotic green lands as he finds them majestic and beautiful. He is to inherit a great deal of wealth from his godfather.
Faisal is offered a guide to whom he repeatedly refuses. According to him, he wants to see the beautiful country on his own.
One day Faisal goes on a jet ski but fails to control himself. As a result, he crashes in the middle of the ocean. Unconscious by the shore, he is saved by a beautiful woman (Diana Christana) and is taken into a cabin nearby.
Faisal marries Diana, forgetting that he was married before.
A flashback shows Faisal on an aeroplane. There he comes across a beautiful PIA air-hostess, Shama (Shabnam). He tries to flirt with her on the aeroplane and later in Singapore.
He does all he can to win her heart and eventually they both fall in love with each other. You will have to watch the film to see what happens in the end.
The film has the famous song ‘Sona Na Chandi Na Koi Mahal’ by melodious singer Akhlaq Ahmed. Robin Ghosh was the music composer of the song.
The cinematography of the film captures some good sceneries.
With Bandish having a realistic script, this Platinum Jubilee film was popular in Pakistan and India.
Bin Roye (2015)
Director: Shehzad Kashmiri
Stars: Mahira Khan, Armeena Rana Khan, Humayun Saeed, Javed Sheikh, Zeba Bakhtiar
Bin Roye is a film, which focuses on a tough love story between Saba Shafiq and Irtaza Ghazanfar.
Saba, played by Mahira Khan, is madly in love with Irtaza, portrayed by Humayun Saeed. Irtaza acknowledges her affection but does not actually like her as much as she does.
The film has a twist when Irtaza travels to the USA. During his stay, he meets Saman Shafiq, played by Armeena Rana Khan. They both fall in love and decide to get married.
What Irtaza does not realise is that Saman, in fact, is the elder sister of Saba. Irtaza returns home and Saba is excited to see him. However, Saba is shattered when she finds out that Irtaza and Armeena are married.
Mahira khan won ‘Best Actress’ for the film at the 15th Lux Style Awards in 2016. Applauding the film, Maliha Rehman from Dawn News wrote:
“Bin Roye as a desi version of a chick flick. But it’s a good one and interesting enough for even men to sit through it.”
Dobara Phir Se (2016)
Director: Mehreen Jabbar
Stars: Sanam Saeed, Adeel Hussain, Ali Kazmi, Hareem Farooq, Tooba Siddiqui
Dobara Phir Se revolves around the love story of Zainab Rehman, played by Hareem Farooq and Hammad Farooqui, portrayed by Adeel Hussain.
Zainab is divorced and has a 10-year-old child with her. The film explores the love life of Hammad and Zainab and how they manage to live together.
It also describes the life of their friends Vassay (Ali Kazmi) and his wife Saman (Sanam Saeed).
Haniya Aslam, Ali Hamza, Zarish Hafeed, Jimmy Khan, Sara Haider, Arooj Aftab, Rekha Bhardwaj and Shiraz Uppal have sung for tracks of this film.
Reviewing the film on IMDb, a user writes:
“Its kind of a film that we normally expect from Mehreen Jabbar.very mature and strong approach towards story line. very powerful direction, very powerful editing.”
The film was shot in New York, USA, particularly at Bridge Street Bridge and Lake Mohegan.
Punjab Nahin Jaungi (2017)
Director: Nadeem Baig
Stars: Humayun Saeed, Mehwish Hayyat, Urwa Hocane
Punjab Nahin Jaungi is a romantic comedy, which has a love triangle. Durdana Butt (Urwa Hocane) has a huge crush on Fawad Khagga (Humayun Saeed) and really wants to marry her.
On the other hand, Fawad is barely interested in Durdana. Things take a turn as Fawad is introduced to Amal Dastoor (Mehwish Hayyat) through a picture.
His mother is interested in the marriage proposal and Fawad really likes her. But Amal does not like him due to his rural background.
The film explores the lives and possibilities of Fawad’s attraction towards Amal and Durdana’s love life.
There are seven songs in the film by a range of singers including, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Farhan Saeed, Meesha Shafi, Asrar and Shiraz Uppal.
The film ran in cinema houses for quite some time. Many critics affiliated with Pakistan print and digital media praised the film.
As far as Pakistani cinema goes, there are many other romantic movies. The ones presented are just a few.
Whilst there is a revival of Pakistani cinema, further improvements can be made, especially in the screenplay.
Also, romantic Pakistani movies should address lower socio-economic matters as depicted in some of the classic films.
The rom-com genre is proving to be popular. Hence fans can expect some more exciting rom-com films produced by Pakistani commercial filmmakers in the future.