Not so long ago, it was announced that the iconic Maula Jatt film will be remade by not one but two producers. But the film’s remakes, which are being produced by Bilal Lashari and Faisal Rafi of Crew Motion Pictures, have triggered a creative firestorm. After the original Maula Jatt franchise’s producer, Sarwar Bhatti, said that the two can’t proceed with the projects as they haven’t bought the film’s rights, Lashari tells The Express Tribune that his film is ready to roll.
“We are legally covered for the film, which will soon enter the production phase,” says Lashari. The Waar director shares that he wasn’t aware of the allegations being levelled against him by Bhatti. Commenting on the authenticity of his project, he states, “Nasir Adeeb, the writer of the original Maula Jatt film, its prequel Wehshi Jatt and sequel Maula Jatt in London, has rights to the Maula Jatt franchise.” Adding, “Adeeb is a part of our team and has also written the dialogues of our remake of the film.”
Lashari earlier described his interpretation of the film series as much darker and grittier than the original films. He had mentioned that his film will be a “stylised take on Pakistan’s original film genre.” Maula Jatt tells the story of a feud between Maula Jatt (Sultan Rahi) and Noori Natt (Mustafa Qureshi), set against the backdrop of Gujranwala. The Maula Jatt character has dominated Pakistani pop culture for many years.
Where the debate over copyrights of Maula Jatt may have revealed loopholes, it’s important to note that Wehshi Jatt itself was inspired by Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi’s short story titled Gandasa. Since Qasmi passed away in 2006, it will take another 42 years for his intellectual property to be openly available for public use.
Bhatti had previously expressed his resentment at the news of the remakes, stating that both the producers will be at fault legally if they proceed with their respective projects. “I met Lashari and have told him that he is not making the film legally. I informed him that whoever has invested in his project will suffer because he has not bought the rights to Maula Jatt from me. I also met Rafi and, unfortunately, nothing materialised,” Bhatti had said in an earlier conversation with The Express Tribune.
Maula Jatt was considered a resounding success of Pakistani cinema during the 1980s and spawned a number of sequels to become Pakistani cinema’s first unofficial film franchise. It had a successful running at the box office for several years in Punjab, with a cinema in Lahore screening the film for almost six years. The original Maula Jatt is currently being remastered in England for a release in Blu-ray and 3D technology.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2014.