Aina, a musical love story with a tinge of social comment, created history for having the longest combined run in Karachi—almost 250 weeks. The record for the business that it grossed at the box-office was surpassed in 1995, almost twenty-two years later, by Munda Bigra Jaey. Starring Shabnam, Nadeem, Rehan, Qavi, Bahar, Hanif and Shahzeb and produced by M.A. Shamsi of Kashif Films, it was, in the real sense, director Nazrul Islam’s brainchild. The film was based on an oft-repeated plot, involving a young man from a middle income family contented with his job as assistant manager at a hotel, and a rich and pampered though good-natured girl. They fall in love but when the time comes to get married, the girl’s parents, as usually happens, oppose the match. The ensuing tussle turns into a verbal battle between the arrogance of the rich and the pride of a have-not. Ultimately in desperation the parents give up but warn the couple that they are now on their own. Now the part-time romance is transformed by the full-time vagaries of daily existence. The realities of life dawn on the girl who misses her parents. She becomes more and more desperate when the husband sticks to his egoistic stand and flatly refuses to let her accept any gift or support from her parents. The differences between husband and wife reach a breaking point.
In the meanwhile a baby boy is born to them. The wife’s parents use the birth of their grandchild as an opportunity to take their daughter away after telling her that the baby died in childbirth. The man is left with the child, he leaves the city and finds work at a hill resort. Some years pass; both long for each other. In the end, the heroine goes to that particular hill station for health reasons and there she hears a young boy singing the same song she used to render for her beloved. Songs often serve as vital signs of recognition in the cinema of the subcontinent. The gambit works well with the audience, even though it has been used in dozens of movies. In Aina the heroine chases the boy who, through the song, leads her to his father. The film ends with the happy reunion of the lovers and good sense prevailing in all concerned.
What made Aina different from run-of-the-mill ventures, was the innovation in the picturization of half a dozen enchanting songs composed by Robin Ghosh on lyrics closely linked with the situation and narrative of the story. Suroor Barabankvi and Bashir Niazi, colleagues of Nazrul and Robin Ghosh, together created some of the finest melodies in the realm of film. Nayyara Noor in her soothing voice sang Roothe ho tum, tum ko kaise manaun piya. Yet another popular song was Waada karo Sajana which was filmed on a speedboat and sung by Mehnaz and Akhlaq. Mehdi Hasan excelled in a most unusual tune Kabhi mein sochta hun. Mehnaz sang some of cinema’s most unforgettable duets with Akhlaq and Alamgir such as Pyar karti hun, kis se and Mujhe dil se na bhulana. The last song, also rendered by Mehdi Hasan and Nayyara, hit the popularity charts as the theme song of Aina.
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. He took the liberty of showing the love birds engrossed in each other or dancing to the rhythmic beat of the song, sometimes played in the background and sometimes being sung by them. This allowed a great deal of freedom in juxtaposing the performers in a vast landscape through very, very long to very big shots with smooth transitions. He was not the innovator of this technique, yet in Aina, it was used imaginatively and skillfully. Shabnam and Nadeem enacted the romantic scenes with aplomb and were lauded by urban youth and young married couples.
It is an interesting coincidence that Bollywood’s Raja Hindustani, the topmost money maker of 1996, has almost the same plot. Aamir Khan and Karishma Kapoor play the roles enacted by Nadeem and Shabnam in Aina. The musical love story of a rich girl and a modest but proud young man once again comes out as a winner. It shows a remarkable similarity in the kind of themes appreciated by the audiences of India and Pakistan even after fifty years of Partition.
Aina established Calcutta-born Nazrul Islam as one of the topmost directors of Pakistani cinema.
Cast and Production Credits
Year – 1977, Genre – Drama, Country – Pakistan, Language – Urdu, Producer – M.A. Shamsi, Director – Nazrul Islam, Music Director – Robin Ghosh, Cast – Shabnam, Nadeem, Qavi Khan, Bahar, Rehan, Hanif, Shahzeb