Not carved into packs but built like a giant, her eyes peer out from a forest of facial hair, lips sunk into a native instrument. From a distance he is a monster and up close, a man-child, waiting to be reunited with a happy soul. The world fears her shadow, but for whom she has a word, she is the light in the sky, the twinkle in her eye, the prettiest woman in the neighborhood, always there to mend her wounds. For fighting evil, for revenge, for slicing joints in seconds, for crushing skulls with one punch, for choosing weapon upon weapon for the enemy, these wounds are often not worth it.
What looks like a page of Rocky from a KGF action drama is actually a scene from Bilal Lashari’s The Legend of Maula Jatt (TLoMJ) with a greater dedication to sensation than its South Asian counterparts. While the overall selection of shots, some sequences and even the editing are more reminiscent of Lashari’s love of anime, it’s TLoMJ’s strange coming of age that now ranks him in the Rajmoulie and Prashanth league of cinema. At least for the native audience.
Barring a few exceptionally directed sequences by Ahsan Rahim in Teefa in Trouble, TLoMJ proves that Lashari is Pakistan’s only master of action. It also proves that we have exceptions like Lashari, who instead of making similar films every year, take their time to manage something truly extraordinary and that too without any filler songs.
The best thing about TLoMJ, however, isn’t its grandeur and scale. That’s why it’s a standout from Prashanth Neel’s brand of cinema – the quality comes from a simple plot and action that doesn’t overcomplicate the narrative or test your bladder. Intermission and cold open collide just when you thought you wanted to run the movie for another five and the movie ends before you expect another big clash. Capture of Narrative and Pace It is common in video games to cut scenes that the user can control but leave out the cinema audience, who are unanimously there for a collective experience.
TLoMJ also doesn’t have the benefit of divine interventions and inexplicable miracles, which not only contemporary South Indian cinema thrives on, but is toyed with in the original Maula and its sequels. Unlike Pakistani films of the original Maula Jutt situation, there are no prayers, no black magic, just good old stock masculinity, and just like any Pakistani film, stocked masculinity and sexuality keep banging on the door. which never open. It’s a stark reality that stands before the audience as they watch a variety of sexually tense moments race to a conclusion.
Sadly, they come and go… Lashari has ensured that the film is full of on-screen male talent that never gets a healthy outlet for release. It knocks at the door of hetero and homo eroticism, sadism, masochism and sadomasochism, pleading in defeat at the altar of suicidal ideals. In repression, it unintentionally reflects contemporary Pakistani attitudes to any and all forms of sexual expression, which some might argue, is responsible for some of our most heinous sexual abuses.
This primal, restless, almost volcanic, stored-up sexual energy is not just a cosmetic setup for a few satirical moments that create an arena full of men ready to tear each other to pieces in the name of honor, revenge. Is. and legacy.
The reformation of Maula Jutt was always inevitable. The question was always how do you make something new out of it, and Lashari answers that there is no gentleness with the vigilante mob that is going to find some solace in Daro’s (Humaima Malick) matrimonial rule. that’s it. Expect the rest of the film to be torn apart by ‘deconstruction’ as a symbol of our times if the producers can’t come up with a better justification for a film driven by male rage. Both the audience and Sigmund Freud are in for a ride.
To milieus’s point, the strong detachment also results in a few shortcomings, especially in the action choreography. While Lashari covers it with some great filmmaking solutions, fight choreography emerges as an aspect that our industry could use some more effort on.
For the most part, Lashari chooses to mask the violence with character reactions and post-production blood. Where the fight scenes are allowed some screen space, the ‘effects’ make themselves known almost immediately – as if mimicking the sword-and-sandal epic Troy. The effects also mean there’s no signature choreographic style – think the ballet-like sequences of the Matrix franchise versus the jitters of John Wick. Lashari misses an opportunity to add local flavor to the fight choreography canon, though understandably so.
While not necessarily lacking, TLoMJ’s visual palette is full of anachronisms and idiosyncrasies. Trying to stay true to the Punjab-inspired visual language, Lashari chooses certain set and prop elements that stick out. Anglo-Saxon wooden barrels and tables double as a pub inside the earthen structure.
Bladed weapons that look more out of place among thrift store wall hangers than on any actual battlefield. The Gandasa itself is marked as something else, ignoring the fact that the Sultan Rahi turned into a popular weapon was originally a farming tool, just like the dreaded grim reaper. Make it whatever you want. Perhaps in an ideal world, the creators of TLoMJ could have played more with the local visual elements – we have our typical swords, shields, axes and whatnot.
On the subject of strife and masculinity, TLoMJ reveals itself to be one-note and shallow. Epic stories in the chivalric tradition explore the rise of manhood in diverse ways. In Greek mythology, for example, where Hercules is the epitome of brute strength and straightforward resolve, figures such as Theseus and Odysseus are known for their cunning.
The unfortunate Oedipus, before his life becomes a nightmare, outwits the Sphinx in his own game of riddles. Orpheus, the original rock star perhaps, even brings a tear to Hades’ eye with the power of music as he tries to save the love of his life from death. The same can be said of other mythological and heroic traditions around the world.
There is more to men and masculinity than noise and brute force. In the world of TLoMJ, however, there is only one. The only antidote to his villain’s masculine terror is hypermasculinity. Not a battle of wits, nor determination and endurance. The answer to violence is more violence.
TLoMJ also misses an opportunity to explore the forgotten humanity of a now legendary cinematic character. As pointed out in another article in this publication. Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi in the story Gandasa envisioned the Maula for a different purpose – to criticize a culture that equates revenge and absolute dominance over enemies as masculinity. It is the only form of Instead of returning Maula to his literary roots, Lashari doubles down on the action entry. Pretty much, cinema needs all kinds of entertainment from the light hearted to the gory.
Pakistani women, especially Mahira Khan, finally got a role that will be remembered on the big screen. Despite her limited screen time, she brings to life a combination of innocence and shamelessness and shares some absolutely arresting moments with Fawad Khan. Thanks to Sarmad Ghafoor’s original ‘Dunya taun apni kahaani’. Which is seen in Fawad and Mahira’s singing style and creates an anthem with a kind of tappa that fades away in no time.
While Mallick was trolled last time, she appeared on stage with Imran Khan (Amplifier) at the PSL event. His performance and command over Daro offers salvation for all his sins. Her character is a slow burner who seems monotonous at first and melts over time.
Hamza Ali Abbasi as Noori Nath is exactly as you imagined Hamza Ali Abbasi as Noori Nath. He is dynamic, loud, and makes the most of his baritone. You can’t find an alternate actor. Who looks so big on screen and still maintains a sense of humanity without an ounce of apology for anyone in every dialogue and every close-up.
Fawad was right about how well Hamza had to perform as Noori and he took ample notes. Khan not only brings back Hamza. But sometimes overpowers him. Thanks to Naser Adeeb’s exceptionally well-written dialogues that Fawad delivers with an ease and ease that doesn’t seem rehearsed at all. He also gets the benefit of a few brief and powerful moments of romantic encounter with Mahira, again well supported by Ghafoor’s music.
Faris Shafi is the sidekick you’d expect Gohar Rasheed to play and Gauhar is the villainous Maakha you’d expect Nayyar Ejaz to play if it weren’t for the age range. Both of them leave a mark in the first half and both stay with you till the second half.
Some might argue that comparing TLoMJ to the likes of KGF is unfair. It is only because neither the Pakistani actors nor the audience are used to this kind of cinema. The scale of the action, the play with masculinity and revenge. The simple themes of innocence and revenge are all unusual for a man with a troubled childhood to ignore.
Although the film takes nothing. But characters and plot fragments from the original. The themes it bravely espouses in this day and age are a broader study of the shared sense of masculinity and the box office success of South Indian cinema. It calls for a rethinking of possibilities. Pakistan, certainly in a better political environment.