Heer Ranjha

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Heer Ranjha
Painting depicting the lovers Heer and Ranjha, Bazaar School, Amritsar, circa 19th century
Folk tale
NameHeer Ranjha
Origin Date17th century

Tilla Jogian, where Ranjha came

Heer Ranjha (Punjabi: ہیر رانجھا (Shahmukhi), ਹੀਰ ਰਾਂਝਾ (Gurmukhi)) is one of the four popular tragic romances of the Punjab. The other three are Mirza Sahiban, Sohni Mahiwal and Sassi Punnun.[1][2][3][4][5] There are several poetic narrations of the story; the most famous being Heer by Waris Shah written in 1766. It tells the story of the love between Heer Sial and Dheedo Ranjha.[6]


Heer Ranjha has been written by several poets. Damodar Gulati, who was first to narrate the tale, claimed to be its eyewitness. His Qissa is deemed to be the oldest Heer in Punjabi literature. He stated himself to be from Jhang—the home of Heer. 16th century poet Shah Hussain also used the tale in his Kafi. Waris Shah later re-narrated the story in his novel in 1766, in which he stated that the story has a deeper meaning, referring to the unrelenting quest that man has towards God.[7]


Luddan ferries Ranjha across the Chenab

Heer (Izzat Bibi) is an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy family of Sial tribe while Dheedo Ranjha, who is from Ranjha clan, is the youngest of four brothers and lives in the village of Takht Hazara by the river Chenab in Punjab.[8][9] Being his father's favourite son, unlike his brothers who have to toil in the lands, he leads a life of ease, playing the flute ('Wanjhli'/'Bansuri'). After the death of Ranjha's father, Mauju Chaudhry, Ranjha has a quarrel with his brothers over land, and leaves his home. In Waris Shah's version of the epic, Ranjha leaves home because his brothers' wives refused to serve him food. Eventually he arrives in Heer's village and falls in love with her. Heer's father offers Ranjha a job herding his cattle. Heer becomes mesmerized by the way Ranjha plays his flute and eventually falls in love with him. They meet each other secretly for several years until they are caught by Heer's jealous uncle, Kaido, and her parents Chuchak and Malki. Heer is forced by her family and the local priest or 'Maulvi' to marry another man named Saida Khera.[6]

Ranjha is left heartbroken. He wanders the countryside alone, until he eventually meets a Jogi (ascetic). After meeting Gorakhnath, the legendary founder of the Kanphata (pierced ear) sect of Jogis at Tilla Jogian ("Hill of Ascetics"), Ranjha becomes a Jogi himself, piercing his ears and renouncing the material world. While reciting the name of the Lord, he wanders all over Punjab, eventually finding the village where Heer now lives.

The two return to Heer's village, where Heer's parents agree to their marriage - though some versions of the story state that the parents' agreement is only a deception. On the wedding day, Kaido poisons her food so that the wedding will not take place, in order to punish the girl for her behaviour. Hearing this news, Ranjha rushes to aid Heer, but is too late, as she has already eaten the poison and has died. Brokenhearted once again, Ranjha eats the remaining poisoned food and dies by her side.

Heer and Ranjha are buried in Heer's hometown, Jhang. Love-smitten couples and others often pay visits to their mausoleum.[6][10][11]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Heer Ranjha is part of the Qissa genre of tragic love stories, along with tales such as Laila Majnu and Sassui Punnhun.[12]

Because its plot involves a romance opposed by family members and ends with the two lovers dying, the story is often compared to the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet.[13][14]

In popular culture[edit]

The epic poem has been made into several feature films since 1928:[15]

Film and release year Actors Producer and director Film songs lyricist and music composer
Heer Ranjha (1928)[15] Zubeida as Heer, Shehzadi, Jani Babu Fatma Begum, Victoria Fatma Co./FCo
Heer Sundari (1928)[16] Janibabu, Nirasha, Master Vithal Anand Prasad Kapoor, Sharda Film Co.
Heer Ranjha (Hoor-e-Punjab) (1929)[15] Salochna as Heer, Dinshaw Bilimoria as Ranjha, Jamshedji, Neelum, M. Ismail as Kaidu, Abdul Rashid Kardar as Saeda Kherra Hakim Ram Parasad (Producer), Pesi Karani & R. S. Chaudhry (Directors), Imperial Film Company, Bombay
Heer Ranjha (1931)[16] Master Faqira as Ranjha, Shanta Kumari as Heer J. P. Advani, Karishna Tone
Heer Ranjha (1932)[16] Rafiq Ghaznavi as Ranjha, Anwari Bai as Heer Abdul Rashid Kardar, Hakim Ram Parasad at Lahore Rafiq Ghaznavi
Heer Syal (1938)[16] Eiden Bai, Haider Bandi, M. Ismail, Noor Jehan Krishna Dev Mehra
Heer Ranjha (1948)[16] Mumtaz Shanti as Heer, Ghulam Mohammed as Ranjha Wali Sahib Aziz Khan
Heer (1955) Swaran Lata as Heer, Inayat Hussain Bhatti as Ranjha Nazir at Lahore Hazin Qadri, Safdar Hussain
Heer (1956)[16] Nutan as Heer, Pradeep Kumar as Ranjha Hameed Butt Kaifi Azmi
Heer Syal (1960)[16] Shanti Prakash Bakshi
Heer Sial (1962) Bahar Begum as Heer, Sudhir as Ranjha
Heer Sial (1965) Firdaus as Heer, Akmal Khan as Ranjha Jafar Bukhari at Lahore Tanvir Naqvi, Bakhshi–Wazir
Heer Ranjha (1970)[15] Firdaus as Heer, Ejaz Durrani as Ranjha Masood Pervez at Lahore Ahmad Rahi, Khurshid Anwar
Heer Raanjha (1970)[15] Priya Rajvansh as Heer, Raaj Kumar as Ranjha Chetan Anand Kaifi Azmi, Madan Mohan
Sayyed Waris Shah (1980)[16] Urmila Bhatt, Ajit Singh Deol, Koushalya Devi, Prema Kumari Ganpat Rao
Aaj Di Heer (1983)[16] Tina Ghai, Satish Kaul, Mehar Mittal, Om Shivpuri Raj Oberoi B. N. Bali
Heer Ranjha (1992)[15] Sridevi as Heer, Anil Kapoor as Ranjha Harmesh Malhotra Anand Bakshi, Laxmikant Pyarelal
Waris Shah: Ishq Daa Waaris (2006) Gurdas Maan, Juhi Chawla, Sushant Singh, Divya Dutta Manoj Punj, Manjeet Maan (Sai Productions) Jaidev Kumar
Heer Ranjha: A True Love Story (2009) Neeru Bajwa as Heer, Harbhajan Mann as Ranjha Ksshitij Chaudhary and Harjit Singh Babu Singh Mann, Gurmeet Singh
Sulochana and Dinshaw Billimoria in the movie Heer Ranjha (1929).

In 2013, the television serial Heer Ranjha, directed by Shahid Zahoor and produced by Yousuf Salahuddin, aired on PTV Home. Heer Ranjha is a 2020 Indian Punjabi-language period drama television series starring Amaninder Pal Singh and Sara Gurpal in the lead roles. It aired on Zee Punjabi and is based on the folktale of Heer and Ranjha.[17]

In music[edit]

Bally Jagpal British musician has a song named "Ranjha" dedicated to their story. The British musician Panjabi MC references the tale of Heer and Ranjha in his 2003 song Jogi.[18] It has been sung by various Pakistani singers, including the classical/traditional artist Ghulam Ali.

The tale is mentioned in popular Bollywood songs such as "Ranjha" by Rupesh Kumar Ram from the movie Queen ,"Ranjha Ranjha" by Rekha Bhardwaj and Javed Ali from the movie Raavan and "Dariya" from the movie Baar Baar Dekho.[citation needed]

The names of Heer and Ranjha have been referred in the song lyrics of "One Love: The Taj Anthem" by A.R. Rahman.[citation needed]

Alam Lohar is renowned for reciting Heer in various styles and one of the first international folk singers to bring this story in a song format.[citation needed]

The song Khaireyan De Naal from Shafqat Amanat Ali's debut solo album, Tabeer (2008), tells the tale of Heer Ranjha.[19]

One of the songs of 2012 Hindi film Jab Tak Hai Jaan has been named "Heer".[20]

Also, the 2018 Hindi film Race 3 has a song named "Heeriye" which refers to Heer and Ranjha.

In 2020, popular Indian YouTuber Bhuvan Bam wrote and sang "Heer Ranjha". The song depicts the brutal customs of society in the Indian subcontinent and has garnered more than 10 million views.

In Raf Saperra's 2023 single "Ranjha", he sings from the perspective of Heer longing Ranjha's return after she is married off and he becomes a jogi.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ikram, Sheikh Mohamad (1955). The cultural heritage of Pakistan. [Karachi; New York]: Oxford University Press. p. 151. There are five major folk romances [in Punjabi literature], Heer Ranjha, Sassi Punnu, Sohni Mahinwal, Mirza Sahiban, Puran Bhagat. Of these Heer Ranjha is the most popular romance...
  2. ^ Jamal Shahid (11 January 2015). "A beloved folk story comes to life". Dawn. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  3. ^ Karan Bali (13 September 2016). "Before 'Mirzya', Mirza and Sahiban have died over and over again for their love (Numerous versions of the legend exist, including productions in Punjabi on both sides of the border)". Scroll.in website. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Love Legends in History of Punjab". Punjabi World website. 20 April 2007. Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  5. ^ Sahibaan remains unheard The Hindu (newspaper), Published 11 October 2016, Retrieved 8 November 2020
  6. ^ a b c (Arif Jamshaid) The epic of Heer Ranjha, research paper on epic poem written by Waris Shah in 1766 on Academy of the Punjab in North America website Retrieved 14 November 2020
  7. ^ Waqar Pirzada (2014), Chasing Love Up against the Sun, p. 12
  8. ^ Re-Thinking Punjab: The Construction of Siraiki Identity. Lahore : Research and Publication Centre: Hussain Ahmed Khan. 2004. p. 130. ISBN 978-9-69862-309-8.
  9. ^ Transition and Transformation in Varis Shah's Hir. Snell, Rupert (eds.). The Indian Narrative: Perspectives and Patterns. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.: Shackle, Christopher. 1992. p. 253. ISBN 978-3-44703-241-4.
  10. ^ Tomb Of Heer Ranjha In Jhang on Pakistan Geotagging website Retrieved 14 November 2020
  11. ^ Ikram, Sheikh Mohamad (1955). The cultural heritage of Pakistan. [Karachi; New York]: Oxford University Press. pp. 151–152.
  12. ^ Moretti, Franco (2006). The Novel: History, geography, and culture. Princeton University Press. p. 603. ISBN 978-0-691-04947-2. Retrieved 20 April 2022. Qissa in Arabic merely means "story," but in the Indian subcontinent it came to mean specifically a "verse-narrative telling the tragic story of two young people who love each other beyond discretion." Well-known examples of this genre are Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranjha, Sassi-Punno, Soni-Mahiwal, and Yusuf-Zulekha (written roughly between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries)
  13. ^ Sirhandi, Marcella C. (1 September 1999). "Manipulating Cultural Idioms". Art Journal. 58 (3): 40–47. doi:10.1080/00043249.1999.10791952. ISSN 0004-3249. S2CID 191565141.
  14. ^ Cultural Insights Punjab Can It Be a Bridge to Peace Between India and Pakistan? Calhoun website, Published 1 October 2011, Retrieved 14 November 2020
  15. ^ a b c d e f "List of many films made on the love story of Heer Ranjha on Complete Index To World Film (CITWF) website". 3 April 2016. Archived from the original on 8 October 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul (1999). Encyclopaedia of Indian cinema. British Film Institute. ISBN 9780851706696. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  17. ^ "Heer Ranjha". ZEE5. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  18. ^ "jogi lyrics + English translation". lyricstranslate.com website. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Tabeer". www.radioandmusic.com. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Jab Tak Hai Jaan: Watch the new song 'Heer'". News18 India website. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2020.


Printed sources[edit]

  • Temple, Richard Carnac (1884). "No. XXXVIII. The Marriage of Hîr and Rânjhâ". The legends of the Panjâb. Vol. II. Bombay: Education Society's Press. pp. 507–580.
  • Swynnerton, Charles (1903). "The Love Story of Hîr and Rânjha". Romantic Tales From Punjab. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd. pp. 1–69.
  • Gill, Harjeet Singh (2003). Heer Ranjha and other legends of the Punjab. New Delhi: Harman Publishing House. pp. 1–36. ISBN 81-86622-60-8.

External links[edit]