Review: ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt,’ starring Fawad Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Humaima Malik and Mahira Khan

November 30, 2022

by Carla Hay

Fawad Khan in “The Legend of Maula Jatt” (Photo courtesy of Mandviwalla Entertainment)

“The Legend of Maula Jatt”

Directed by Bilal Lashari

Punjabi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed region of India during an unspecified ancient time, the action film “The Legend of Maula Jatt” features an all-Pakistani cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and royalty.

Culture Clash:  An orphaned boy grows up to become champion wrestler/fighter, and he sets out to get revenge on the family who murdered his family.

Culture Audience: “The Legend of Maula Jatt” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the 1979 film “Maula Jatt” and action flicks that have a lot of mindless spectacle and formulaic storytelling.

Hamza Ali Abbasi in “The Legend of Maula Jatt” (Photo courtesy of Mandviwalla Entertainment)

“The Legend of Maula Jatt” is an overblown mess with too much bad acting for it to be redeemable. The bombastic fight scenes can’t disguise how everything about this movie looks stale and unimaginative. “The Legend of Maula Jatt” is a remake of the 1979 film “Maula Jatt.” And except for the bigger budget and more elaborate action scenes, “The Legend of Maula Jatt” doesn’t do a lot to improve the storytelling quality of the original “Maula Jatt” movie.

Directed by Bilal Lashari (who co-wrote “The Legend of Maula Jatt” screenplay with Nasir Adeeb), “The Legend of Maula Jatt” drags on and on during the movie’s overly long running time of 153 minutes. The story takes place in an unnamed region of India, during an unspecified ancient time period. It’s yet another action film where the hero is an orphan who grows up to avenge the murders of his family members.

The movie opens with this statement: “This is the story of the raging fire of revenge that still burns to this day.” In the movie’s first 10 minutes, a ruthless conqueror named Jeeva Natt (played by Shafqat Cheema) invades and attacks a community led by Sardar Jatt (played by Babara Ali), a peaceful ruler. Sardar, his wife Malika Jatt (played by Resham) and other family members are murdered, except for the spouses’ only son, Maula Jatt (played by Waliullah Afridi), who is about 8 or 9 years old when he escapes this massacre.

Maula is found and raised by a single mother named Daani (played by Raheela Agha), who has a biological son named Mooda Baksh (played by Agha Hunain), who is about the same age as Maula. When Maula first arrives in Daani’s home, he is mute from the trauma of having a murdered family. However, Maula has apparently blocked out the memories of the massacre because he doesn’t remember who his family is or what happened to them. Maula is haunted by nightmares that confuse him. Daani does not want to tell Maula the truth and keeps it a secret from him.

Eventually, Mooda helps Maula overcome his muteness and become less introverted. The two friends are raised as brothers. At times, there are conflicts and jealousy about whether Daani prefers Mooda or Maula. This on-again/off-again rivalry continues into the adulthood of Maula (played by Fawad Khan) and Mooda (Faris Shafi), and it’s dragged out in a tedious subplot in the movie.

Twenty-five years after his family was murdered, Maula becomes a championship wrestler, as well as a very skilled fighter in other ways. When Maula was an up-and-coming wrestler who was beginning to win his matches, he caught the attention of Mukhoo Jattni (played by Mahira Khan), a feisty female spectator of these wrestling matches. Mukhoo is Maula’s obvious love interest from the beginning. Everything that happens in their relationship is very predictable.

Meanwhile, there’s turmoil in Jeeva Natt’s family. Jeeva’s eldest son Noori Natt (played by Hamza Ali Abbasi) is in prison for being a vicious serial killer. Therefore, Jeeva wants to make his younger son Maakha Natt (played by Gohar Rasheed) his heir. However, Jeeva’s diabolical daughter Daaro Natt (played by Humaima Malik) thinks this is a wrong decision, because she’s loyal to Noori and believes that Noori should be the rightful heir. Daaro also doesn’t respect Maahka (who is a rapist), because she thinks Maahka is mentally weak.

Most of “The Legend of Maula Jatt” shows what happens after Maula finds out that his family was murdered. He vows to get revenge on the Natt family. It’s obvious that a lot of the movie’s production budget went into the production design, costume design and the over-choregraphed action sequences involving armies of fighters. The movie’s visual effects get the job done efficiently.

The problem is that “The Legend of Maula Jatt” filmmakers didn’t care enough about casting skilled actors who can say dialogue in a talented and believable way. The acting in “The Legend of Maula Jatt” is absolutely cringeworthy—either too flat or too exaggerated. Worst of all, there’s no suspense or any real surprises in this long-winded action film, because everything in the movie plays out like a formulaic “heroes versus villains” video game that is a lazy imitation of better ones that came before it.

Mandviwalla Entertainment released “The Legend of Maula Jatt” in select U.S. cinemas on November 4, 2022. The movie was released in Pakistan on October 13, 2022.

Review: ‘Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad,’ starring Fahad Mustafa and Mahira Khan

July 28, 2022

by Carla Hay

Fahad Mustafa in “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” (Photo courtesy of Hum Films and Eveready Pictures)

“Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad”

Directed by Nabeel Qureshi

Urdu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Karachi, Pakistan, the action film “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” features an all-Pakistani cast representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A corrupt cop, who is romancing a virtuous veterinarian, has to decide what to do when the bribe money he has collected mysteriously begins to look like counterfeit bills. 

Culture Audience: “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching an action comedy with a confused tone and a weak storyline.

Mahira Khan and Fahad Mustafa in “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” (Photo courtesy of Hum Films and Eveready Pictures)

The action flick “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” undermines its comedic intentions with preachy and melodramatic subplots in this bloated and jumbled story about a corrupt cop who takes bribes. The movie seems very confused about the tone it wants to have. The introduction of a mystical/supernatural element to the movie’s plot doesn’t fit well with the story at all.

Directed by Nabeel Qureshi, “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” (which means “Long Live Rules” in Urdu) was written by Quershi and Fizza Ali Meerza. The movie takes place in Karachi, Pakistan. The beginning of “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” shows a boy of about 8 or 9 years old named Gulab Mughal (played by Usman), who becomes rebellious troublemaker. Gulab’s father Munir Mughal (played by Faiq Khan) is an ethical police inspector. However, because of Munir’s low income, the family has financial problems.

Gulab doesn’t like that his family is considered lower-class when it comes to money. He thinks his father being a cop who won’t take bribes has a lot to do with the family’s financial woes. And so, Gulab doesn’t really respect his father, and Gulab becomes a juvenile delinquent who steals and causes mischief. From an early age, Gulab has decided that he never wants to worry about being poor.

The movie then fast-forwards 20 years later. Gulab (played by Fahad Mustafa) is now a police inspector who is very different from his father. That’s because Gulab takes bribes and often physically assaults or makes dangerous threats to people who don’t pay these bribes. Gulab’s widowed father Munir (played by Qavi Khan) is retired and very ashamed of Gulab being a corrupt cop.

One day, Gulab is called to the scene of a possible suicide attempt. A woman is standing on the ledge of a high-rise apartment building. She calls herself Sweety. After trying to get her to come down from the ledge, Gulab finds out that Sweety was not trying to kill herself but she was actually trying to rescue a cat from the ledge. She takes the cat and brings it safely inside.

It’s at this moment, viewers can tell this is the “meet cute” part of the story because of the way that Gulab seems attracted to her. After she gets off of the ledge, Sweety tells Gulab that her name really isn’t Sweety, but she won’t tell him her real name. Gulab later finds out that her real name is Jia (played by Mahira Khan), and she is a veterinarian, who is passionate about animal rights and has high ethical standards.

Through a series of circumstances, Jia and Gulab see each other again after he comes into possession of her lost phone. Jia plays hard to get when Gulab shows a romantic interest in her, but eventually she and Gulab begin dating each other. She doesn’t know at first that he’s a corrupt cop. It’s very easy to predict whether or not she will eventually find out.

“Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” starts to get ridiculous when there’s a major plot development about how the image of Muhammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan) starts to disappear from the rupee bills that Gulab has in his bribery stash. This mysterious change has to do with Munir dying with the heartbroken belief that his son Gulab never respected Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The bills then look counterfeit, which causes all sorts of problems when Gulab tries to spend the money.

“Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” just becomes a series of convoluted scenes of Gulab dealing with his bribery money problems and facing a moral dilemma over whether or not he could continue to be a corrupt cop. “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” has supporting characters that are mostly portrayed as bumblers, dull people or irredeemable villains. They include Ronaq Ali (played by Jawed Sheikh), who is Gulab’s sidekick co-worker; Babar Jilani (played by Mehmood Aslam), who is deputy inspector general of Sindh Police and Gulab’s unethical boss who collects bribes too; and Rana Kamran (played by Nayyar Ejaz), a corrupt politician.

In between the musical numbers and silly-looking action scenes, Gulab and Jia have a very predictable romance story arc when a “good girl” falls for a “bad boy” who might have a chance at redeeming himself. There’s nothing in this movie that is innovative or clever. “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” also has a ludicrous subplot about a lion on the loose. At 142 minutes, “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” is also too long for a movie that doesn’t have much substance. Even if the movie were 90 minutes are less,

Hum Films and Eveready Pictures released “Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad” in select U.S. cinemas and in Pakistan on July 8, 2022.

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