Destructive Comparison

By Humaira Khan | December 2022

What drove them to make Maula Jatt again? Is the Pakistani film industry so fatigued with making good films through the years that it had to dip into its past and put big money into remaking a film that became a legend by accident?

In the times when the original Maula Jatt was made, the 70s, the Pakistani film industry was at the brink of disaster. It had lost all its good talent in every department and new creatives did not wish to be identified with the industry. This was the time when the ‘Gandasa Culture’ was in full sway in the Pakistan film industry. Maula Jatt was a film that was just a cut above the usual gandasa films, so it became a hit and went on to acquiring the status of a classic.

What carried the film forward was its story - a rivalry between two Punjabi rural characters played by Sultan Rahi and Mustafa Qureshi - and an intensity in terms of enmity that the writers conveyed in their lines and the actors rendered with as much passion. Since there was nothing that could match Maula Jatt in those days (though many tried in Pakistan and India), the film became a blocbuster.

Fast-forward to the present times. It was somewhat of a decade back that Bilal Lashari and his associates thought of remaking Maula Jatt. They didn’t have access to the kind of caste that featured in the original film but they had the money to get new actors, more advanced technicians, new technology and all that was needed to make an impressive film.

They never seemed to have realized that what made Maula Jatt the blockbuster it turned out to be was not an all round high-tech input but a down-to -earth approach that had made the best of what was available.
The new Maula Jatt is simply a re-make of a forty year old film that became a classic because of its simplicity. The new venture, however, misses out on all the ingredients that turned the story of Maula Jatt into a legend.

In the new film, the characters speak their lines in an urbanized Punjabi while the flavour of the original word-combat is simply lost. In the gandasa culture of the Punjab, which only the film of those days promoted, the females were healthy, buxom individuals and not like today’s dainty maidens. This again is a big let-down in the re-make.

The producers probably thought that modern sound technology, expensive stunt action and extravagant make-up and dresses would flip audiences over but that did not happen. This was unfortunate as the public had a sucessful original to compare with.

Young cinegoers were not impressed by all the talk about mega and modern. What really mattered for those who enjoyed the film in 1979 and the eighties, was the desired parallel. It seems to have destroyed the legend instead of adding to it.