This often-filmed Arab love legend of Laila and
her lover, released in 1986, could have been
Asif’s most formally ambitious film had it been
completed during his lifetime. As with his
Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and in keeping with
his grandiose film style, it was in the making
for over a decade. When Guru Dutt, who
played the lead, died in 1964, the film had to
be reshot with Sanjeev Kumar in the lead.
When the director died as well, the film was
abandoned, then revived by his widow, Akhtar
Asif, and finally released in incomplete form.
The composer Naushad contributes songs such
as Hame kuch raahein khuda de de, Yeh
nadanon ki duniya hai yeh diwanon ki mehfil
hai. Cameraman R.D. Mathur, formerly of
Bombay Talkies, developed his baroque style
almost exclusively for Asif’s period epics: his
camera moves over elaborate desert vistas and
complicated sets, including a bravura tracking
crane shot lasting almost ten minutes when
Qais is rejected by Laila and leaves, the whole
town turning out to witness his departure.