A review on Pakistani feature length film, The Legend of Maula Jatt (2022). The feature length epic is written and directed by Bilal Lashari. The film is an adaptation of a 1979 Punjabi cult classic ‘Maula Jatt’ starring the legendary Sultan Rahi. The film stars Fawad Khan as the protagonist with Hamza Ali Abbasi, Humaima Malik, Faris Shafi and Mahira Khan. The Legend of Maula Jatt is produced by Encyclomedia, Lashari Films and is distributed by AAA Motion Pictures, Geo Films and Mandiwala Entertainment.
- Directed by Bilal Lashari
- Written by Nasir Adeeb and Bilal Lashari
- Cinematography by Bilal Lashari
- Edited by Bilal Lashari
- Music by Sarmad Ghafoor
- Produced by Ammara Hikmat and Asad Jamil Khan
- Production by Encyclomedia and Lashari Films
The development of a new adaptation of the Punjabi cult classic started around 2013 by the director Bilal Lashari and later on, Ammara Hikmat and Asad Jamil Khan came onboard as producers for the film. In an effort to make the film grasped firmly into the roots of the original, Nasir Adeeb (the screenwriter of the original) was hired to co-write the script. With a hefty budget of PKR 45 crore, the adaptation was initially supposed to be released around 2018/19 but due to various copyright lawsuits and the pandemic, was pushed further back. The film was finally released on 13th October 2022 and quickly became the highest grossing Pakistani film of all time.
+ Main Cast
- Fawad Khan as Maula Jatt
- Rehan Fareed Hiraj as Young Maula
- Hamza Ali Abbasi as Noori Natt
- Mahira Khan as Mukhoo Jattni
- Humaima Malik as Daaro Nattni
- Gohar Rasheed as Maakha Natt
- Faris Shafi as Mooda
- Shafqat Cheema as Jeeva Natt
- Saima Baloch as Rajjo
- Nayyer Ejaz as Jagoo Natt
- Ali Azmat as Gogi
Born out of a tragic past, Maula Jatt grows up to take revenge against the Noori Natt clan and fights for the justice of his people.
+ High Points
i – So I just would like to get this out of the way, The Legend of Maula Jatt exceeded my expectations. Not only did Bilal Lashari create an engaging, three hour long Punjabi epic with fast paced action and breathtaking visuals but it also did not forget its humble roots of our low budget Punjabi cinema. From the interesting cast of characters to the final epic battle between Maula Jatt and Noori Natt, the film will undoubtedly keep you entertained throughout its runtime. Bilal Lashari and his crew have done a marvelous job in bringing Maula Jatt to mainstream pop culture without desecrating its source material. The film rapidly became the highest grossing Pakistani film of all time and with its continuous legal troubles behind the scenes, it was well worth the wait.
ii – Bilal Lashari is undoubtedly the genius behind the film. With just his second directorial film, Lashari is also credited as the writer, cinematographer and editor of the film. This is truly a herculean effort from the filmmaker who was hellbent on bringing Maula Jatt to the big screen once again and should rightfully be applauded for all his hard work. Since it was a singular vision in a lot of aspects, it is difficult for me to distinguish each individual aspect apart. The masterful cinematography truly complimented the emotional turmoil of the character, accompanied by numerous match cut edits, making the transition brilliant from one scene to the next. The Legend of Maula Jatt could truly be Bilal Lashari’s magnum opus.
iii – The best decision that Bilal Lashrai ever made was that he recruited Nasir Adeeb to co-write the script with him. Adeeb served as the screenwriter of the original Maula Jatt (1979) and dialogues have been written with uttermost perfection for each and every character. Never did any set of dialogue felt out of place or unnecessary to the story but in fact, some comedic ones also left me chuckling under my breath. Apart from Lashari, Nasir Adeeb has had a major role to play in the success of this film.
iv – As far as the performances go, I have no complaints. The theatrical, exaggerated performance of each actor complimented the essence of the source material with its core. It is one of the few instances where the film required exaggerated expressions and played quite well in creating a unique world of love, murder and vengeance. Fawad Khan, Maria Khan, Gohar Rasheed; everyone played their roles brilliantly. But all in all, it was Hamza Ali Abbasi’s Noori Natt who stole the show for me. His tragic past, deranged concept of justice and unfiltered violence made him such a unique figure in the history of Pakistani cinema.
v – Some audience members might have been turned off by the gratuitous violence in the film but it is an essential part of the saga. Bilal Lashrai smarty utilized such horrific imagery in order to heighten the atmosphere of the film. Maula Jatt grows up in a world of injustice and he is not afraid to use his Ghandasa in order to fight for his people. Frankly, I would have been very disappointed if they didn’t abrasively use violence in the film.
vi – Thankfully, the film is devoid of any song and dance numbers… except for this one instance.The ‘Chann Pichay’ was a wonderful melody that was strategically placed right in the middle of the film. It was as some might say “The calm before the storm”.
vii – The music by Sarmad Ghafoor and sound mixing did a stupendous job in bringing Maula Jatt to life. From the galloping of the horses to the verbal defiance of Maula Jatt, each scene was made engaging through its wonderful music composition and brilliant sound mixing.
viii – Now this is how you pay an homage to the source material! None of the famous dialogues of Noori Natt or Maula Jatt were misused or felt out of place in order to nudge the viewers into loving the film. All the callbacks of scenes, dialogues and violence were appropriately used to pay homage but at the end, have an identity of its own.
+ Low Points
i – The three hour runtime was never an issue for me but lack of quieter scenes unfortunately were. By the end of the film, the gratuitous violent imagery did become tad overbearing and one would imagine a couple of more character building scenes here and there might have helped the film in the long run. Such as…
ii – Mahira Khan as Mukhoo Jattni. Her character sadly feels shortchanged as she never developed beyond the characteristic that she loves Maula more than anything. Great but what is Mukhoo herself as a person? A few more scenes could have been utilized in developing her character, her back story, what role does she play in the story apart from being our main protagonist’s love interest.
iii – This is of course, a nitpick from my side but Fawad Khan is too handsome to play the role of Maula Jatt. His performance in the role was great but visually, his movie star looks hindered my attention towards believing in him as the vengeful protagonist. Before the original 1979 film, Sultan Rahi was never perceived as a star. He always played the role of an extra in numerous films, mainly because he looked like any other person you would meet on the street. Similarly, Maula Jatt represents the common man, anyone of us can take the mantle of him. Fawad Khan’s visual appearance never went beyond ‘a movie star playing a character on screen’.
Brilliant storytelling, great performances and direction, The Legend of Maula Jatt might just be one of the best Pakistani films ever made.
Rate: out of 5 stars