Preview shows, portion of first day advances to go to flood victims, say the makers of The Legend of Maula Jatt

Published 07 Oct, 2022 10:48am

They say promotions are muted for the film because of the devastation wrought by the floods.

So far, nothing about The Legend of Maula Jatt seems conformist by any measure, be it the extensive shooting schedule waylaid by bad weather, or the undisclosed but touted to be extremely expensive price tag of the production (that doesn’t make fiscal sense to this writer), or thanks to Covid, the delayed release date of the film — and that too, defying conventions by not being set for either Eid. So, falling in line with the intent of breaking every rule in the book, why would the promotional campaign of the film adhere to the norms, one wonders.

With just eight days to go before its release, The Legend of Maula Jatt has forsaken the tried-and-tested route of flooding the internet and social media with promotional activities.

Some of it, by and large, has been a part of the plan. Most of it, however, comes from a place of genuine sincerity, says Ammara Hikmat, the producer of the film.

“Interviews and other promotional activities were part of the plan after the trailer release, but we had to postpone activities after the floods devastated the country,” she told Images.

“Honestly no one in our team felt like talking about the film, especially when horrific videos of destruction were making rounds. We did not release any poster, nor any content on social media in the following weeks, to show solidarity with flood affectees,” she said, adding that they have decided to share the preview shows’ collection with displaced flood victims. “That’s the least we could do.”

By preview shows, Hikmat means sold-out advanced shows of the film that are set to be exhibited before, or on the day of the release, which is set for October 13. On top of that, she tells this writer, that a percentage of the proceeds from the first day of the show will also be given to flood victims.

Overwhelming the media with interviews and mall visits at a time like this seems ludicrous, one is bound to conclude. “I think it’s an insensitive expectation,” Hikmat states, addressing the lack of press meet-ups for the film.

“The film has no songs or dance sequences so traditional appearances at venues might not be the best way to go about it. That’s why we were very sure from the start that standard mall promotions were not for us,” says Bilal Lashari, the writer and director of the film.

He, however, doesn’t deny the power of a good promotional campaign. “Every film needs to be promoted. [However], the best marketing and promotional tool is the trailer itself. It can make or break a film. I put in over six months to edit the two trailers to give audiences a special presentation.”

By Pakistani standards, that’s five months more than usual as sometimes a trailer is cut within the span of a week.

Sharing stills from Australia and New Zealand, Hikmat, who was a PR professional before she ventured into film production, gave Images an example of what is called Below-the-Line promotions of the film.

Posters of The Legend of Maula Jatt are visible in speeding trains, billboards and cinemas, I am told. A recently released international poster, presumably for the UK and Canadian markets, showcased the title in Gurmuki script (as is the norm), which, by and large, showed the intention of the producers and distributors to appeal to the global Indo-Punjabi speaking community.

While the lack of conventional promotional shenanigans is evident, it doesn’t mean that the film’s appeal hasn’t reached the public. What remains to be seen is how much will it do at the box-office, especially with the announcement of the hike in ticket prices for the first 11 days of its release. Tickets will be sold Rs200 more expensive than usual.

Could the added cost of the ticket, put into place to cover the “extraordinary cost” of the production, keep The Legend of Maula Jatt from reaching the anticipated 100 crore business in Pakistan? Who knows. But that is a debate for another day.