Punjabi Classic: Maula Jatt (1978) …… Te Noori Natt
Continuing with my theme of reviewing some of the movies that are considered classics in Pakistani Punjabi cinema, I shall now give to you: Maula Jatt (1978). It is, perhaps, the most famous movie in Pakistani cinema, and perhaps the most successful as well. It catapulted the career of Sultan Rahi, who apparently went ahead and starred in a gazillion movies after that and destroyed the potential careers of far better looking actors with his awesomeness.
The film was so influential that it, unwittingly, created a template for 90% of the movies that are being made in Punjabi language over the next 30 years or so. I cannot even try to match the brilliant write-up about Maula Jatt by Omar Ali Khan at the HotSpot website. He clearly knows his stuff, and he goes into the style of the film, the inspirations of the narration, and some interesting tid bits about the movie.
The movie was essentially a collection of one-liner zingers, with intermittent gory fight sequences. And going into the movie with these expectations was one of the better decisions I made that night, when I saw that movie. The horrendous production quality didn’t even really matter when the show of unbridled machismo took over the whole experience. Omar Ali Khan concisely sums up the movie
“The …movie is a string of set pieces where our two protagonists Maula Jat and Noorie Nut exchange thunderous one liners at each other as well as a number of high pitched, resonating, soul stirring war cries unique to Punjabi culture known as the “barrak”. The movie is littered with these confrontation scenes where meaty, juicy, crowd-pleasing couplets are exchanged – the script writers coming up with their juiciest one liners to mesmerize the audience with. The “barrak” or “verbal brawl” has been described as a hallmark of the Maula Jat style Punjabi movie.”
“The film, despite the horrid production values does have some crude style to it and it certainly moves along at a sizzling pace. The fights are ridiculous but amusing all the same for their being so utterly over the top. Perhaps it is Qureshi’s menace as Noorie Nut that provides the film with its real beef. The chemistry between himself and Rahi is absolutely intense and electric enough for sparks to truly fly during the juicy confrontation couplets……and thus the audience absolutely relish it. The other major factor in the films success is the script that has been loaded to the brim with stunning couplets and one liners that leave the crowd gasping in disbelief and awe. Not only is the film armed with an explosive script but it is singularly successful in tapping into a Punjabi psyche in a way that few other films have been able.”
Having plagiarized the crux of Omar’s writing, I shall add my own 5 cents about this movie with something I think I do a better job! Visual Aides! Yeah!
The movie starts off with another staple of recent Punjabi movies: a rape attempt – which is foiled by the timely intervention of our hero Maula Jatt. However, it gets the ball of “izzat” (or honour) rolling which becomes the reason of everything in the movie.
Among other interesting things one notices in the movie is the characterizations of Maula Jatt and Noori Natt. Now, both Noori Nutt and Maula Jatt are equally sadistic, equally ruthless, equally capable, and ofcourse equally focused on meaningless quest for superiority (and/or winning back izzat, and/or whatever the motivation of their action was). The only difference was, from what it seems, that Maula does it for a good cause perhaps. The following scene illustrates that equality, of sorts, when Maula and Noori meet for the first time (interestingly they were both on their way to kill each other, and didn’t know what they looked like)
Look like they would go well with each other if they didn’t vowed to kill each other. I really do wonder about where Maula’s royalties might lie if he was Noori’s friend and then all this shit happened.
Talking about the shit, so guess what happened to girl who was attacked initially and was then saved by Maula Jatt? Raped – No! Died – Yes! How did she die?? Did the rapist’s family kill her – No? THEN? (And I swear I am NOT making this up) – She was so happy to be saved, that she started dancing like crazy, and she danced herself to death!! Cray-zyyy Sh**!
I also particularly enjoyed Taani’s (either Maula’s mother or sister-in-law) superpowers. Her Maula-conjuring-powers are unmatched, even better than the Batman signal over Gotham City, and definitely more dramatic! Booyah!
Coming back to the two main characters, Noori Natt is, in my opinion, one of the best characters ever in Pakistani History cinema! I shall have to write a complete blog post on him, because he deserves one! However, the whole movie worked because of the incredible chemistry between Maula and Noori: It seemed that they completed each other! They finally found someone who was a match for them! They relished in the barrak, they relished in the witty shouty-one-liners, and ofcourse they relished in the tanga-baet-baazi show-down!
This song was very enjoyable, and apparently feature the vocal giants Alam Lohar and Shaukat Ali
Also, the character of Daaro was a treat! She was powerful, nasty, and as Arif Lohar said it best “Badddd”. She fucking killed her brother because he failed to rape a woman, and was now a daag on Natt clan’s honour! How bad-ass is that!
I as so hoping that there was more of Daaro in the movie! This article made a point about how Maula Jat type movies gave so much power and crunchy roles to the female characters, and I do agree to the point to certain extent. However, I am not totally convinced of the argument because, at the end of the day, the women are expected to conform to the norms. Though I might change my mind once I’ve seen genre-bursting movies like Hunterwali or Haseena Atom Bomb, but it was obvious that this movie was one of those ones. Though Daari was a fierce, seemingly independent, vicious (oh yeah!), at the end of the day she was “property” and izzat (honour) of her “mang” (fiancé). Her timid acceptance of her fate was a huge blow to my idea about what the character was!
Overall the movie was enjoyable, given you go into it with the correct expectations! Like one should go into it expecting it to be like a Sunny Deol movie, and you will be rewarded with some of the best dialogues you would ever get to hear. Dialogues like “Maula Noun Maula Na Maare, Te Maula Nahin Mar Sakda”, “Nawa Aayaan Aee Sohneya”, and “Teray Peray Ton Tak Tak Tak Di Awaz Nahin, Noori Natt Natt Natt Di awaz AawayGee” are part of our folklore now!
Dishoom-o-meter: 7 Kulfis
Maula Jatt (1978)
Starring: Sultan Rahi, Mustafa Qureshi, Asia
Amputations: 2 (in my version, apparently there are more in the Director’s Cut)
Lesbian Tension: Yes!