Uf Yeh Beevian is an Urdu film that was released in 1977 and racked up more than 75 weeks in Karachi’s cinema halls.
S Suleman, a director who seemed to have a knack for making hit movies, began his career playing the young version of Dilip Kumar’s character in Mela (1948). After migrating to Pakistan with his brothers, who included the matinee idols Santosh Kumar and Darpan, Suleman established a reputation as a socially conscious and sensitive director. Many of his films, such as Lori and Baji, were praised and appreciated for their progressive social messages.
Suleman was not one to sit on his laurels. Conscious of the tendency among his peers to rely on formulas and plagiarising movies from across the border, he set out to try new things. Comedy proved to be the new frontier he was looking for, and throughout the 1960s and ’70s he created several well regarded and fondly remembered comic films such as Uf Yeh Beevian.
Notwithstanding an outrageous early scene that depicts what can only be called a home invasion by a group of clap-happy dancers, Uf Yeh Beevian begins as a standard middle class social drama. Zahid (Shahid) is informed by his aunt with whom he lives that arrangements have been made for his engagement to Nadira (Shabnam) from Lahore. But when they return from the airport, trouble is already brewing. Nadira is modern and liberated but rude, entitled and aggressive. Zahid and his aunt are horrified and beg her to leave.
Similar disasters unfold when Zahid pays a visit to Lahore and discovers that Nadira is now a panch-waqt namazi (she prays five times a day) and ultra-conservative Islamic woman. Zahid is totally confused until Nadira confesses that she has been testing him and that in fact she loves him and hopes he will marry her. Zahid does exactly that, and they set the wedding date for after Nadira’s return from a trip to Nairobi. Zahid reads of a plane crashing killing all aboard. Nadira is assumed dead, and Zahid hits the bottle.
Concerned family and friends arrange another wedding for Zahid with the feisty and Najma (Najma), who manages to make Zahid forget Nadira. However, Nadira inexplicably reappears in Zahid’s house.
Zinda Rahein to Kiski Khatir is the best song in an otherwise silly movie. Zahid is reeling from Nadira’s apparent death and visits a club in Islamabad. The music composed by M Ashraf is modern enough for dancing, but sufficiently low-key to match the mood of a desperately sad Zahid. Mehdi Hassan gives Agha Hassan Imtisal’s downbeat lyrics a suitably melancholy tone. The actor, singer and lyricist work together to make a poignant and moving moment the highlight of the film.
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A version of this story appeared on the blog https://dailylollyblog.wordpress.com/ and has been reproduced here with permission.