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Maula Jatt: Nawa aaya hai, soonia

Posted on August 8, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, TV, Movies & Theatre
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Adil Najam

Maula JattFor 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….

Maula JattIt 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.

Maula JattReleased 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!

44 Comments on “Maula Jatt: Nawa aaya hai, soonia

  1. Roshan Malik says:
    August 8th, 2006 10:42 pm

    Maula Jat is a legend Punjabi film industry. There are some direction issues particularly about the thrill and stunt. But the best thing which i liked in this movie is its dialogues. The seasoned proclaimed offender (Mustafa Qureishi) infuriates the angry young man (Sultan Rahee) with his dialogues.
    One of its famous dialogue :
    “Maulay noon Muala naan maray tay Maula nayeen o’ marda”
    (If God does not kill Maula, then Maula will not die).

    Another dialogue by Noori Nut:
    Jadoon main teri lat wadaan ga tay wisakian tun tuck tuck nayeen, Noori nut, nut, nut …. di awaz ayay gee
    Once i will chop your limb and the crutches wont sound like Tuck, Tuck Tuck, rather it will sound like Noori Nut, Nut, Nut…..

    Regarding the issue of Paindoo approach is concerned, I believe most of the elite does not have the exposure to typical rural cultural values. Though, there is some exaggeration in the movie but still the enemities in the rural areas were like that.
    Once credit which i give to Sultan Rahee (Late) is that he was always accused of making the violent movies. But i believe that most of his viewers were the downtrodden and oppressed of the society. He gave them the message of empowerment against the feudal society.

    Let me tell you very interesting story. I was coming by bus from Gujranwala to Islamabad. When i boarded in the cab in islamabad, and the informal discussion started with the cab driver. When he came to know that I am coming from Gujranwala, he told me that he would never ever go to Gujranwala in his life because “my hero Sultan Rahee was killed there”.

  2. August 8th, 2006 11:01 pm

    Roshan, laughing out loud at your describing Sultan Rahi as “young”… but, I guess in Pakistani movie years he was… afterall, the late Mohd. Ali was able to ‘pass’ his matric exam well into his 40s and come back and say to his mother (who could have been younger than him), “ma, ma, meiN pass ho giya!”

    I was always a Mustafa Qureshi fan…. but I was always struck by the reverance that peopel in rural punjab had for Sultan Rahi…. for his fans he was a god….. as you rightly analyze, for peopel who saw no justice in their life, here was a guy who they say (even if in fictional circumstances) rising on behalf of the oppressed and getting them justice…. movies are in teh business of selling dreams…. for the poor of Pakistan, what dream could be better than that!

  3. Roshan Malik says:
    August 8th, 2006 11:44 pm

    Adil,
    But the thing is Punjabi film had never been a “showbiz” attraction for the male actors. Only because of the elite jargon “paindoo production”. While actors like Muhammad Ali, Waheed Murad, Shahid and Nadeem were the centre of attraction as they were in Urdu movies.
    And Sultan Rahee was infact the younger among all his predecessors like Sudheer, Yousaf Khan and even Kaifee. And just after the death of Sultan Rahee, there was a vacum in the industry. Somehow Shaan tried to fill the space. And credit also goes to Syed Noor by producing Choorian (bangles), which changed the course of Punjabi film from brawling to love story.
    I have also been the fan of Mustafa Qureshi. He has wonderful voice, best dialogue delivery and above all his expressions are awsome.

  4. August 9th, 2006 12:05 am

    Roshan, I think you are on to something important here. One of the otehr ways in which Sultan Rahi (and Maula Jatt) was different was that it had a hero who simply did not look like (to many people still does notlook like) what a hero was supposed to look like; and yet, someone, who actually looked more beleievable to rural Punjab than the heros they were seeing. I have a post on urban-rural divide in Pakistan in cue for next week so I do not want to spill the beans, but what you are alerting us to is that maybe Sultan Rahi was as ‘unlikely’ a face for a hero to urban Pakistan as, say, Waheed Murad (my other favorite) was to rural Pakistan. Shaan, is after my time, so I won’t comment on.

    Your other point about Punjabi movies not being the domain of male actors is also interesting. Unfortaunetly, a large chunk of Punjabi cinema is (and has been at least since the Zia days) really soft (and sometimes not-so-soft) porn. That is another – and a sad – story in itself. Earlier than that there were, of course, the great days of “sanou nehr waaley pull tey bulla kar” and “sunn wanjli di …” when remarkable Punjabi movies were being made… but those became a distant memory… though I hear (and as you suggest) that some things may be improving?

  5. Mohib says:
    August 9th, 2006 2:20 am

    I have heard so much about this movie, thanks for uploading this clip. Although, I could not exactly follow the Punjabi dialogues, I could still make sense what was going on.

    The point about rural-urban divide in movies indeed pertinent and Bollywood has been a victim of the same. I don’t much about Pakistan but it may also be a case of Urdu-Punjabi thing with Punjabi being considered ‘somehow’ rural by the elites.

    In Bollywood the trend has changed slightly with movies like Bunty Aur Babli and Omkara either based in small-town India or the protagonists belonging to the same. The past couple of years have also seen a big upsurge in Bhojpuri (a Hindi dialect spoken in parts of Eastern U.P. and Bihar) film industry with even big stars like Amitabh Bacchan and Hema Malini featuring in the upcoming movies. With imaginative titles like ‘Daroga Babu, I Love You’ and ‘Sasura Bada Paisewala’ and shoe-string budgets, these movies have grossed millions at the box office.

    @ Adil Najam saahab,

    I heard this song ‘sanou nehr waaley pull tey bulla kar’ in the movie, Khamosh Paani, for the first time and really liked it. Now, it seems the original song is from some other movie. Could you please give me a reference about the same so that I can find it out on the net?

    Thanks a lot,
    Mohib

  6. pakpics says:
    August 9th, 2006 3:46 am

    I have seen this movie while playing snooker in a club near to my home. it is really an action movie but apart from action i found it quite funny & all of my friends including me were burst in to laugh when we saw Sulatan Rahi attacking over enemies with “Toka” & really interesting thing was that in one attack he was killing more than 2 or 3 people. Sultan rahi was a great hero.We need such type of hero at our borders.Isnt it?

  7. Asma says:
    August 9th, 2006 5:34 am

    Lolz … what a post .. :) and hopefully no one would loose respect for you too!

    Well, I myself have not seen teh complete movie but few excerpts of it regarding maula jutt and noori nath … this is teh film that basically developed the mustafa qureishi’s style ….!

    Nice :)

    p.s: posted this months back … http://www.pkblogs.com/funyetponder/2005/11/why-newton-committed-suicide_14.html … on sultan rahi :)

  8. Ather says:
    August 9th, 2006 9:21 am

    Its true that Maula Jut has developed into a cult albeit with the Punjabi speaking audiences generally. I only watched this movie when I came to States and it does have some shocker scenes of blood and gore. I would give it a NC-17 rating straight away. Ofcourse, Sultan Rahi’s dialogues have become lagendary. Like in the movie I am a firm believer than whenever we have tyranny (like in 80s, courtesy of Zia Ul Haq) there’ll always be saviors willing to raise voice as shown in the movie.
    I agree with A/Najam that it has become a norm de rigeur in our country just to vehemently criticize anything remotely native. Case in point our Urdu movies. Some produced by Syed Noor are absolutely world standard but our journalists will pan it harshly… for the mere reason its in…Urdu!!! How dare anyone make something made in Pakistan? When Indians copy our movies verbatim, the same ‘journalists’ are agog. Well I guess, I am Native to the core a la ‘Return of the Native’.
    The Indian flick Sholay is nothing but a cheap copy of ‘The Good, the bad and the ugly’ just like 99% of Indian films which are copies of Hollywood.
    As for Maula Jat the message is clear “Where there is Pharoah, there always will be a Moses”

  9. August 9th, 2006 10:15 am

    Mohib
    Sanou Nehr waaley pull tey…. is one of the all time great songs by Noor Jahan…. arguably, amongst her very best…. its a beautifully worded song, and wonderful music (I am not a fan of her latter Punjabi music, but this was a classic)….. amongst other places, you can listen to it here:
    http://www.muziq.net/songs/Noor_Jehan/Punjabi_Hits_Vol_1/
    I can’t find a video clip but from what I can remember this is a song that should be both seen and heard……

    Ather
    I am in the odd position of having to disagree with the paragraph that you start off by saying you agree with me ;-) I must confess I am a fan of both ‘The Good, The Bad , and the Ugly’ and also of ‘Sholay’… I do NOT think ‘Sholay’ is a rip-off of that movie, even though it has some similarities and was purposely made as an Indian ‘western’… I happen to think that Sholay is an all-time classic. For its dialogue, a really powerful story (I think the Sholay story is far superior to and more socially poignant than ‘Good, Bad, Ugly’). I don’t think we have to be negative about someone else in order to be positive about ourselves…. but I do agree with you on the message in Maulla Jatt…. that is what made it powerful…

    By the way, which Syed Noor movie would you recommend as the best in your opinion?

  10. Ather says:
    August 9th, 2006 11:54 am

    Syed Noor has made some fabulous films like Sargam and Jeeva. If imitation is the best form of flattery then Bollywood copied Sargam a la ‘Taal’ with nothing less than Ms Rai in the lead. Sholay does relate to the sub-continental culture coupled with great dialogues and popular songs. Its dialogues are still on every Indian’s lips. ‘The Good, the bad, the ugly’ was seminal, if not a total knock off for Maula Jat and Sholay as ‘The Godfather’ was for Indian flicks like ‘Don’ and ‘Vidhaata’. Nobody can forget that Sholay created powerful characters like Gabbar Singh and Veeru combined with lagendary histrionics of Amjad Khan. Atleast in those times the Indians used to make ‘family’ movies and not pretty obscene ones, like many if not all, are these days. For me, cannot beat the musicial score of ‘The Good, the bad and the ugly’. Remains my favorite to this very day and ofcourse, Clint Eastwood’s acting in The Good, The Bad and the ugly has become a touchstone for all actors in later western films to come. The Good the bad the ugly combined brilliantly the Wild West with fabulous background music (aped in Sholay?) together with a great story. A great boy’s film, if you ask me!

    A/Najam, no offense but Bollywood is creating a remake of Sholay. Do reserve your advance copy J/K

  11. Raza Rumi says:
    August 9th, 2006 1:50 pm

    Dear Adil, most interesting and you should not even think of “losing respect” by euologizing Maula Jatt. Just to add, this film was based on a short story – Gandaasa- written by [late] Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. This partly explains the success of the film as it had a powerful storyline enabling the director to develop complex characters as opposed to the cardboard figures. However, the downside of MJ is that it created a genre that our film industry has not been able to undo despite the decades gone by.

    This leads to the second point I want to make: Syed Noor has emerged as the only filmmaker who has the ability to come up with creative (as far as you can go in Lollywood) cinema. His films have experimented with several themes and styles (sometimes plagirised, one may add). In addition to the films listed above, his 3 films should be mentioned in the top category: Choorian (that was the most successful film in decades), Ghoongat and the recent Majajan. Choorian was inspired by the age-old Cindedralla story but the other two are fairly original and all three are slick. Majajan has also some good songs and you will be pleased to know that its hit number is Bulleh’s “teray ishq nachaya … thaya thaya”. This again confirms our observation that there is a revival of Bulleh Shah’s poetry in the popular cultural idiom.

  12. Raza says:
    August 9th, 2006 6:36 pm

    I don’t think that these views are in minortity though. I have not personally seen Maula Jatt or any other Punjabi movie for that matter but I know Sultan Rahi and Mustafa Quereshi are legends in Punjab if not the whole of Pakistan. The reason these movies don’t get much of a name these days is probably because for quite some time, the newer generation has been moving further and further away from Punjabi. Its not taught in schools, its use is thought to be solely for ‘lower class’ or the uneducated ones. I know because I have gone through this. As a young Punjabi, I never spoke it as a child though I could understand it when my family spoke it around me but we are always taught to speak urdu, maybe because it was the franca lingua of schools along with english and Punjabi was considered to be disrespectful. I probably still don’t have a full scope of the issues behind this but in my understanding this is probably the reason for decline in popularity of Punjabi.

    I first learned to speak Punjabi after coming to Canada, which I am still slowly getting used to. Its not that Punjabi wasn’t spoken at my house because it was the only language of communcation among adults.

  13. sabizak says:
    August 9th, 2006 7:45 pm

    Syed Noor has done a lot of good work, my favourite being ‘Ghoonghat’. Choorian somehow did not live up to the hype as far as i was concerned, though it had some really nice songs. ‘Jeeva’ also had something to it, especially when seen in the cinema. But all my opinion is based on the time these films were first released and my then impressions, i dont know how I would grade them now.

    I am afraid I have only heard about the grand fame of ‘Maula Jatt’ since it was a bit before my time, as in I was too young to have possibly seen it during the height of its popularity but there is an oft repeated family story that everyone used to tell of how my chacha who came to visit from America and had heard the movie’ fame went to see it, but couldn’t survive past the first half and had to retutn home.

  14. August 17th, 2006 1:30 am

    The beauty of this website is its uniqueness due to variety of post.A lovely post again.I never watched the movie but was it really a pakistani copy of “GOd Father”?

  15. jyoti says:
    August 19th, 2006 6:47 am

    Well, Sholay was a copy- of “Seven Samurai”- which I here was a copy of some Japanese movie. “The Good, Tha bad and The Ugly” was totally diferent from Sholay. I’ve read a lot about Sultan Rahi in “Herald” and was really sad when he was killed ruthelessly. ” Ather, “Indan movies” comprise of regional movies also and believe me, they are much better than Hindi movies from Bollywood. Hindi movies copy lots of songs from Pakistani movies, and I’m glad they do it otherwise I wouldn’t be able to listen to such beautiful melodious songs:) Nowadays I hear a song ” Chaandani Raaten” on FM radio channels a lot and I suspect the original belongs to Noorjahan. Can anyone clarify? I used to listen to a Islamabad radio programme, “Intikhab” in ’80s, just to listen to songs by Musarrat Nazeer. One song I still remember- “Chalen to kat hi jayega safar, ahista ahista”. By the way, Hindi cinema is really progressing nowadays. I just watched the latest Hindi flick named ” Ahista Ahista” featuiring Soha ali Khan anf Abhay Deol and it is a very sweet romantic story of two common, new age Indians. You would be surprised to see the grandness of Lal Killa and Jama Maszid captured in the camera. Highly recommended.

  16. August 19th, 2006 10:13 am

    Following on Jyoti, Maula Jatt was full of ‘touches’ that were borrowed from elsewhere, especially from Westerns but it was not a copy of GodFather…. My point was that it was to Pakistani cinema was GodFather and Sholay wee to Hollywood and Indian cinema, respectively… in terms of the content, the style, the change it signified and the general ethos.

    In general, I am not bothered by copies… as long as it is a good copy… being influenced by others is part of the creative process itself… copies can sometimes be better than the originals.. the only bad things are bad copies… and we have plenty of those

    I have not heard this song ‘Chandni Raaten’ that you mention… but that is the title, of course, one of the ALL-TIME great Noor Jahan songs… one of the very best ones… I am not sure who was the composer… Feroz Nizami or Khawaja Khurshid Anwar. See http://pakistaniat.wordpress.com/2006/07/30/madam/

    If it is a copy of this somg or based on this, I hope they did a good job… becasue it is such a classic song and messing it up is a triple tragedy (the pain of having to hear a bad song is compounded by teh memory of knowing how good teh original was and also the knowledge that too many will never know about the beuty of teh original at all! You can listen to Noor Jahan’s version here:
    http://www.muziq.net/showpage.php?page=search.php

  17. jyoti says:
    August 19th, 2006 10:23 am

    Thanks, Adil. the song goes like this:

    “sab jag soye, ham jaagen,
    taaron se karen baaten,
    chaandani raaten…”

    Got any clue?

  18. August 19th, 2006 10:24 am

    yup… that’s it….. that’s the Noor jahan song……

    hoep they did a good job on the remake….

  19. jyoti says:
    August 19th, 2006 10:27 am

    p.s. there is another song “ghar aajaa soniye” that I suspect, is from Pakistan”. I “suspect” because it’s in punjabi and really melodious:) we Indians are producing Himesh Reshamiya nowadays:)

  20. jyoti says:
    August 19th, 2006 11:12 am

    see, I guessed it right:) Well, the remake is equally good. The music has been kept exactly like the original and whoever has sung this beautiful song has done it justice. So i get to hear two wonderful versions of the same song. Now you know why “creative copying” is good:)

  21. jyoti says:
    August 23rd, 2006 7:17 am

    Adil, that’s a remix:( I think they have got a CD of Noorjahan songs and are making remixes.. Just yesterday I heard a Punjaabi song in Noorjahaan’s voice and there were some screeching noices (in English) during the song. It’s so sda. But still, the song sounds beutiful:) I have heard at least three different songs by Noorjahaan on our FM radio channels recently.

  22. taz says:
    August 24th, 2006 8:59 am

    Hi guys just looking through your comments been searching for a Film saw it when I was a child starring Mustafa Quereshi dying for it dont know what the title is jus can remember
    Mustafa Quereshis Dialogue ” tenu ki karrant pehndi ye” hope you lot can help me out !!!

  23. Ali says:
    September 24th, 2006 4:44 am

    MJ is the definitive Pakistani movie, Adil bhai. No question (and no question mark:)! It created a uniquely Pakistani genre while the others added to already existing ones. That does not mean that Waheed Murad-Ahmed Rushdi were not great. They were, no doubt. But don’t you think a lot of why we still think about them fondly has to do with what they mean to us. Those were good times. MJ, on the other hand, makes good course material for USC or NYU film school (and no, not as an example of how not to do movies but as quite a legitimate creative enterprise).

  24. Anwar says:
    September 26th, 2006 11:29 pm

    what a great essay. thank you.

    Maula Jutt has to be the greatest Paksitani film. Especially for its great dialogue.

  25. Asma says:
    November 2nd, 2006 1:02 am

    An interesting Maula Jutt review I found

  26. nayyar says:
    November 5th, 2006 2:32 am

    great place to get a chance to treat our homesickness for Palistan.
    i loved the discussion about maula jatt

  27. January 16th, 2007 10:38 pm

    [...] Maulla Jatt-Nawa aaya hai soonia This could well be the most remarkable Pakistani movie ever! [...]

  28. January 17th, 2007 4:51 am

    [...] Cytat z pakistaniat.com (tÅ‚um. autorskie): “…Maula Jatt jest dla pakistaÅ„skiej kinematografii tym, czym Sholay dla Bollywood i czym Ojciec chrzestny dla Hollywood”. OczywiÅ›cie ich też szanujemy PS. Ma ktoÅ› polskie napisy do tego filmu? [...]

  29. Acim Bilal says:
    January 17th, 2007 2:43 pm

    A great movie with great Sultan Rahi…I cant comment more for this great actor…Sultan Rahi will always be alive in our hearts..No matter he was quite loud in dialogue delivery but his face expressions are great and impressable.I love to see his Movies really

  30. sohail says:
    February 2nd, 2007 1:45 pm

    hi
    yes if box office proceeds and the mania surrounding the movie is considered it can be rightly said that moula jat was and still is the epitome of paki cinema, though a correction is necessary its PUNJABI cinema. urdu movies like zindagi, mera naam hai mohabbat , umrao jan ada, suraya bhopali etc also can be considered as representative of the hey days of pakistani cinema.
    however moula jat initiated the trend of violence in punjabi films to a sickening extent. when it was released, a badmash movie was rare, it was a hit, but it was hashed and rehashed so many times that punjabi movies became a laughing stock to any educated person even many urbane punjabis were embarassed by the idiotic portrayel of punjabi culture by lollywood.to non punjabis it gave the impression that punjabi society is all about rape, murder, revenge and bloodletting.punjabi men were portrayed as gandasa wielding gabrus and women as overweight mutiars who dance shamelessly ,. it took decades of such silly movies before syed noor saved the day with choorian and brought an iota of sanity back to punjabi culture. so it can be safely said that moula jat’s copies really did a dis service to punjab and caused damage to punjabi reputation all over the country.

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