The tale of Layla and Majnun has been the subject of various films produced by the Indian film industry beginning in the 1920s. One, Laila Majnun, was produced in 1976. In 2007, the story was enacted as both a framing story and as a dance-within-a-movie in the film Aaja Nachle. There is a reference to the story in the song 'Laila' from the film Qurbani. Also, in pre-partition India, the first Pashto-language film was an adaptation of this story.
Layla and Majnun, also known as The Madman and Layla – in Arabic, is a classical Arabic story of star-crossed lovers. It is based on the real story of a young man called Qays ibn al-Mulawwah from the northern Arabian Peninsula during the Umayyad era in the 7th century. In one version, he spent his youth together with Layla, tending their flocks. In another version, upon seeing Layla he fell passionately in love with her. In both versions, however, he went mad when her father prevented him from marrying her; for that reason he came to be called Majnun meaning "madman."
Qays ibn al-Mulawwah ibn Muzahim, was a Bedouin poet. He fell in love with Layla bint Mahdi ibn Sa’d (better known as Layla Al-Aamiriya) from the same tribe. He soon began composing poems about his love for her, mentioning her name often. When he asked for her hand in marriage, her father refused as this would mean a scandal for Layla according to local traditions. Soon after, Layla married another man.
When Qays heard of her marriage, he fled the tribe camp and began wandering the surrounding desert. His family eventually gave up hope for his return and left food for him in the wilderness. He could sometimes be seen reciting poetry to himself or writing in the sand with a stick.
Layla moved to present-day Iraq with her husband, where she became ill and eventually died. Qays was later found dead in the wilderness in 688 A.D. near an unknown woman’s grave. He had carved three verses of poetry on a rock near the grave, which are the last three verses attributed to him.
Many other minor incidents happened between his madness and his death. Most of his recorded poetry was composed before his descent into madness.
Among the poems attributed to Qays ibn al-Mulawwah, regarding Layla
In India it is believed that Layla and Majnun found refuge in a village in Rajasthan before they died. The 'graves' of Layla and Majnun are believed to be located in the Bijnore village near Anupgarh in the Sriganganagar district. According to rural legend there, Layla and Majnun escaped to these parts and died there. Hundreds of newlyweds and lovers from India and Pakistan, despite there being no facilities for an overnight stay, attend the two day fair in June.
Another variation on the tale tells of Layla and Majnun meeting in school. Majnun fell in love with Layla and was captivated by her. The school master would beat Majnun for paying attention to Layla instead of his school work. However, upon some sort of magic, whenever Majnun was beaten, Layla would bleed for his wounds. Word reached their households and their families feuded. Separated at childhood, Layla and Majnun met again in their youth. Layla's brother, Tabrez, would not let Layla shame the family name by marrying Majnun. Tabrez and Majnun quarreled; stricken with madness over Layla, Majnun murdered Tabrez. Word reached the village and Majnun was arrested. He was sentenced to be stoned to death by the villagers. Layla could not bear it and agreed to marry another man if Majnun would be kept safe from harm in exile. Layla got married but her heart longed for Majnun. Hearing this, Layla's husband rode with his men to the desert towards Majnun. He challenged Majnun to the death. It is said that the instant Layla's husband's sword pierced Majnun's heart, Layla collapsed in her home. Layla and Majnun were said to be buried next to each other as her husband and their fathers prayed to their afterlife. Myth has it, Layla and Majnun met again in heaven, where they loved forever.