This question has worried director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra no end for many years. And that is the reason he is bringing to the silver screen the legend of Mirza-Sahiban this Friday, in his visual extravaganza called Mirzya. With Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher, respectively, as the Mirza and Sahiban of 2016, the classic love story is all set for a contemporary spin, courtesy Mehra.
But before Mirzya hits the screens this Friday, we tell you the legend that is at the core of the story of the film: the legend of Mirza-Sahiban.
1. The legend of Mirza-Sahiban is one of the four tragic romances that are most popular in the folklore of Punjab. The other three tragic romances are the stories of Heer-Ranjha, Soni-Mahiwal and Sassi-Punnun.
2. Mirza Khan’s father was Wanjhal Khan, the leader of the Kharal tribe in Danabad, a town in the Jaranwala area of Faisalabad, Pakistan. Sahiban, on the other hand, was the daughter of Khewa Khan, the chief of Khewa, a town in Sial territory in the Jhang district, Pakistan.
3. The legend goes that in the village of Kheewa, a woman died after giving birth to a son. Another woman nearby had just given birth to a daughter, and she took mercy on the motherless child and brought him up along with her own daughter, breastfeeding both the children.
4. These two ‘milk siblings’ grew up and went on to marry other people. The girl, called Fateh Bibi, married a man named Wanjal Khan and they had a son called Mirza. The boy grew up to become Khewa Khan, the chief of a town called Khewa. He had a daughter called Sahiban.
5. Mirza and Sahiban were of the same age. When it was time for the children to go to school, Mirza was sent to his ‘milk uncle’s’ house so that he and Sahiban could study the Quran together there.
6. As Mirza and Sahiban grew up, they began having feelings for each other. Mirza’s skills with the bow and arrow were unmatched, while Sahiban’s beauty left people agape. Outside the contours of the ‘normal’, the ‘cousins’ ended up falling in love with each other.
7. Soon, Sahiban’s parents discovered that their daughter and Mirza had fallen in love with each other, a relationship that was furiously frowned upon by everyone. Mirza was sent back to his village, heartbroken.
8. Sahiban’s parents, meanwhile, arranged for her to be married to Tahir Khan, a man belonging to the same village as Sahiban. Sahiban sent word of her marriage to Mirza, leaving the latter adamant on not letting the marriage happen.
9. On the day of the wedding, Mirza reached Sahiban’s village and the two eloped on Mirza’s horse, Bakki. After reaching what they thought was a safe distance from Sahiban’s village, Mirza slept off. Sahiban’s brothers, along with Sahiban’s bridegroom, hunted down the lovers.
10. When Sahiban saw that her brothers were closing in on them, she broke every arrow in Mirza’s quiver. Mirza woke up to his throat being pierced by an arrow from one of Sahiban’s brothers. When Mirza turned around to shoot an arrow back, he realised that Sahiban had broken all arrows. Betrayed, Mirza tried to look for an answer on Sahiban’s face. Sahiban, at this point, tried to shield her lover from more of her brothers’ arrows, dying with Mirza in the process.
Why did Sahiban break the arrows – still remains one of folklore’s unanswered questions. A question that bothered director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra no end. So much so, that the director is attempting to answer the question with his film Mirzya. Whether or not his answer is satisfactory is something that probably only the audience will be able to decide.