For a moment I flirted with the idea of using the title “The Greatest Pakistani Movie Ever?” (to match with the earlier ATP post on PTV show Fifty-Fifty). But even with the question mark at the end, that would have been unfair on the remarkable movies of the 1960s; particularly, for me, the Waheed Murad-Ahmad Rushdie hits.
That said, I do believe — and I know I am in a minority here — that Maulla Jatt is not just a remarkable but a milestone Pakistani film. Most people think of it as an ‘action’ film (and some would call it an over-action film), but for me it is a dialogue movie. Memorable for its dialogues and even more for how they were delivered by Sultan Rahi and Mustafa Qureshi.
This next clip is a good, although not the best, example of the barak (brawl) vernacular that is the hallmark of the Maulla series of movies.
Let me go out on a real limb here and suggest that Maula Jutt is to Pakistani cinema was Godfather was to Hollywood and what Shoalay was to Bollywood. I know, I know. That is too much to gulp. I am exagerating (on acting quality, for example); but only for effect! But play along and think of it….
It is an action movie most memorable for its dialogue. It blurs the line between good guys and bad guys. It is thick with political and social commentary. And it leaves an imprint on everyday language that lives beyond the movie (“I’ll make them an offer they cannot refuse”, “kitnay aadmi th-ay?”, “nawa aaya hai, soonia?”).
Produced by Sarwar Bhatti and written by Nasir Adib, Maulla Jatt is not only the biggest box-office hit ever in Pakistan’s history (it ran for five years straight), it is also a cultural, social and political icon; for good and for bad.
Released at the height of the Zia-ul-Haq regime, it was full of political innuendo. Die-hard fans will talk about how the message of the movie was that when faced with oppression we sometimes have to take things in our own hand (as Maulla does) but this is a painful process (hence Maulla’s constant desire not to have to use his dreaded ganDassa). At least, this is what the myth became.
Anyhow, I have a feeling I am going to get into trouble for this one; always happens when I mention Maula Jatt.
Amongst a large segment of our educated elites there is a deeply ingrained (and cultivated) feeling that Maulla Jatt is the height of the uncouth, of the ‘paindoo.’ No surprisingly, I find that most who hold this view have never actually seen the movie. So, be it. If paindoo it is, then paindoo I am!