Nai Laila Nia Majnu (New Laila New Majnu) is an Urdu film released in 1969.
Laila and Majnu is an old love story originating in Arabia but familiar around the world in the guise of Romeo and Juliet, Heer Ranjha, Sheerin Farhad and Tristan Isolde (and many many more).
This film, a second rung production, is a comedy that seeks to update the story of star-crossed lovers for the modern era. For an audience raised to place the tale of Laila and Majnu in some distant past the film’s premise was obviously a fun concept to play around with. Though I’ve not been able to trace a full version of the film on the internet it apparently did well at the box office, achieving the envied status of ‘superhit’.
The film’s music was composed/arranged by Tasadduq Hussain whose career was blessed with a number of hit movies and the President’s Pride of Performance Award for his contribution to music.
Dance Music is a title given to a lot of up-tempo rock n roll compositions in a lot of movies. And often times while they do feature some imagined form of rock n roll, most are not that ‘danceable’. In this instance, however, Mr Hussain has hit the nail right on the head and come up with a true stomper.
A frenetic snap fest of snares and bongos kicks off the piece before quickly being pushed aside by a stuttering electric guitar riff that seems to be lifted directly from the most recent Ventures record. A slack-jawed voice sighs, “Nai Laila” and several bars later follows up with a shivery ‘Naya Majnu”.
Still roaring down the line like the Karachi Mail running late a number of instruments take short solos (sax, drums, a Dwayne Eddy guitar, some early electronic keyboards, sax again) before abandoning all resistance and giving way to the unrelenting electric guitar line.
What always amazes me is how musical directors like Hussain, M Ashraf, Tafo and Nisar Bazmi whose roots and training were either in the folk or classical music traditions were able to cotton on to the raw, urgent, sexual drive of American rock n roll so easily. A lot of what was marketed as rock music in these films falls flat. But when they got it right, such as in this piece or in Shankar Jaikisan’s Jaan Pehchaan Ho (Gumnaam) across the border in Bombay, they really got it!
There is nothing this rocker lacks in terms of sheer energy, dramatic tension or rebellion and stands up proud against most surf music of the era.