The tragedy of Heer Ranjha is probably one of the most popular folklores of the subcontinent because of its power to evoke pathos. Writers and film-makers, on both sides of the border, have made countless attempts to capture the intensity of Heer Rhanja’s failed romance. However, this time around, cultural and social icon Mian Yousuf Salahuddin — popularly known as Yousuf Salli — is bringing the classic in what may be the first of its kind musical drama serial for PTV. The serial will have 13 episodes in Urdu and will include 14 songs in Punjabi.
“Many adaptations of Heer Ranjha have been made and some have even incorporated Sufi poet Waris Shah’s version of the folklore, but I don’t think anyone has made a musical on this tragic tale,” states Salahuddin, who claims the drama serial will be a continuation of Virsa Heritage, a cultural programme which he revived two years ago.
The drama serial will be directed by Shahid Zahoor and the screenplay has been penned by Aqeel Ruby. Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah will do the voice-over for the drama, which will include television actor Ahsan Khan as Ranjha and model-cum-singer Zaria as Heer while Sohail Sameer will play Murad Baloch and Shafqat Cheema will essay the role of Kedo, Heer’s uncle.
Salahuddin, who is the executive producer for the drama, states that Ustad Allah Bakhsh’s paintings inspired him to take up this venture. So much so that some of the scenes in the musical look exactly like Bakhsh’s paintings, which Salahuddin managed to collect after extensive search. “These paintings will be incorporated in the drama and will add depth to each episode,” he adds.
Salahuddin has been an ardent promoter of cultural activities such as Basant, and now through this drama he hopes to highlight the scenic beauty lying undiscovered in the heart of Punjab. Salahuddin has found locations, which will not only show the lusciousness of fields but also give a glimpse of the grandiose Mughal architecture that Lahore is famous for.
Music to the story
Salahuddin has not only composed the songs for the drama but has also penned the lyrics of the soundtrack. He is backed by classical music maestro Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who is composing and singing for the musical serial while Sahir Ali Bagga will be handling the sound arrangement and singing a few tracks as well.
The connection between the three has been a long and deep-rooted alliance which has in the past churned out several hit songs such as “Koi Dil Mein”. Performed by Khan with Salauhddin as the musical director and Bagga responsible for the composition, the track became so popular for its classical jazz score that it bagged the Best Music Talent at the London South Asian Film Festival 2012.
Apart from Khan and Bagga, the soundtrack of “Heer Ranjha” will also feature Hina Nasrullah, Fariha Parvez, Humera Channa, Sanam Marvi and Malaika Ali. According to Salahuddin, the songs have been kept simple yet melodious so that the audience can connect to them easily.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2012.