Review: What team Dawn.com thought of The Legend of Maula Jatt
Warning, this review contains spoilers for the film The Legend of Maula Jatt
The Legend of Maula Jatt is shaping up to be one of the biggest films in Pakistani cinematic history and after watching it ourselves, we can agree that it deserves all the accolades it’s getting.
The film has a star-studded cast and features Fawad Khan as the titular Maula Jatt, Mahira Khan as his love interest, Hamza Ali Abbasi as Noori Natt, Humaima Mallick as Daaro Natt, Gohar Rasheed as Makkha Natt, Faris Shafi as Maula’s friend Mooda and appearances by Shafqat Cheema as the Natt patriarch, Ali Azmat as Gogi, Nayyar Ejaz as Jaggoo and Resham and Babar Ali as Maula’s parents.
We went to watch the film in Karachi and here are our thoughts.
Sub editor, Images
I went to watch The Legend of Maula Jatt for Hamza Ali Abbasi’s Noori Natt and Humaima Mallick’s Daaro Natt. Don’t get me wrong, they were great as expected, but I came out of the theatre a Faris Shafi’s Mouda and Gohar Rasheed’s Makkha stan. Words fall short for their exceptional performances, from Shafi’s sudden urge to rhymes or Rasheed’s character that reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. For me, they gave off main character energy far more than Fawad Khan’s Maula and Abbasi’s Natt.
If I had to pick my favourite bits from the movie, they would be Rasheed smoking the scorpion weed and instantly becoming the scariest of the three Natt siblings who don’t believe in forgiveness. Shafi’s rhymes and his bond with Ali Azmat’s Gogi, their jokes and banter was my favourite part of the film.
However, one thing that did put me off was Mahira Khan’s Mukkho. The supporting character to Maula was rather bland and to top it all off, Mahira’s Punjabi didn’t cut it for me. I would’ve liked to see Mehwish Hayat as Maula’s love interest instead, as Ms. Marvel gave us a glimpse of Hayat and Fawad’s sizzling chemistry. Sanam Saeed, Iman Ali and Kubra Khan are some actors I wouldn’t have minded as Mukkho either.
Managing Editor, Images
Before watching The Legend of Maula Jatt, I was very, very skeptical of all the glowing reviews it was receiving but I am happy to have been proven wrong. Usually, when rating a Pakistani movie, I think you have to keep in mind it is a Pakistani movie and need to rate it accordingly, allowing a lot of things to slide that you wouldn’t in a Bollywood or Hollywood production. But The Legend of Maula Jatt isn’t good for a Pakistani movie, it’s just a good movie.
From the action sequences to the background music, I loved the film. And while I loved all the characters (with the exception of one), the real standouts to me were Faris Shafi and Gohar Rasheed. I expected Fawad Khan to be great, and he was. Same with Hamza Ali Abbasi — kudos to him, by the way, for pulling off his man-bun, being a feminist and having possibly the most layered character in the movie. But what I didn’t expect was to fall in love with Shafi and Rasheed’s characters. They sat on opposite ends of the psycho spectrum but were both amazing. For all his psychopathy and evilness, I actually found myself disappointed when Rasheed’s Makkha met his ignominious end. Hats off to the entire Natt clan for their portrayal of their collective insanity and evil — they were truly nuts.
One thing I really wanted to commend were the fight scenes. I’m used to seeing some not so great fight scenes in Pakistani movies but try as I might, I can’t point out a single thing wrong with the action sequences in TLOMJ. From the SFX makeup to the stunt coordination, everything was perfect. They might be a bit too gory for some people, but as someone who loves a good action movie, these were right up my alley.
The only downside for me was Mahira Khan’s Mukkho. Her Punjabi accent needed a lot of work and while I understand the need for star power and the casting of non-Punjabis for the film, it took years for the movie to be completed. She could have used those years to work on her accent and delivery because her performance fell flat.
Managing Editor, Dawn.com
Here are three takeaways from The Legend of Maula Jatt:
Brilliant casting barring one: Prior to watching the movie, I’d heard mixed reviews about the casting but apart from Mahira Khan, the rest of the actors brought their A-game to the big budget big screen production. Mahira (unanimously, if the chatter in the cinema is taken into account) was the weakest link with a Punjabi accent that bordered on mimicry and acting skills of a beginner. There was no chemistry between Fawad and Mahira’s characters; Fawad’s scenes with his on-screen nemesis Hamza Ali Abbasi had more heat.
From Bond to Jatt: Fawad has come a long way from his days as a scrawny Bond in the early 2000s’ Jutt and Bond and lead singer of the popular band Entity Paradigm.
I had my reservations on whether he’d be able to pull off the role of the super macho Maula Jatt, originally and famously played in 1979 by the unmatched Sultan Rahi. But a buffed up Fawad who was able to show his emotional range with very few dialogues and strong facial expressions delightfully proved me wrong.
Nawan aya ae, sohnia: The moviemakers have delivered what they promised — Maula Jatt and the other iconic characters in all their larger-than-life glory. The famous dialogues from the original movie are well-timed and executed without a hitch.
The costumes, gory violence and sets are all a visual treat, and so was watching musicians Ali Azmat and Faris Shafi play roles they were obviously meant to. The contemporary spin on the iconic movie, apart from the quality of the production, comes through most in the one musical number that the entire movie has (which in the spirit of not giving away spoilers I shall not write more about).
Qurat ul ain Siddiqui
Deputy Editor, Dawn.com
I was really impressed with the production quality. Honestly, haven’t seen it so superior in Pakistan, and even in much of Bollywood. It was excellent!
One other thing that I found working for me was that even though I only speak Urdu and English, I was able to get most of the Punjabi without reading subtitles. The actors weren’t speaking fast, and I could make out what they were saying. So for the first time, I really felt like I perhaps understand more Punjabi than I thought I did!
I also liked that the plot wasn’t exactly the same as the original cult classic. It has been modified and in some ways modernised.
I also liked the layering of the so-called villain or Noori Natt. He’s not an out-and-out evil dude. He has layers to him and actually until the end, I couldn’t decide if he even was a villain. Maula would perhaps have done the same as Noori had he been in his stead and vice versa. Heck, in another world, they may have been pretty great friends. Which then makes me ask, is Maula a hero? is Noori a villain? Is it so black and white?
Sub editor, Images
I will admit, I was coerced into watching The Legend of Maula Jatt but having watched it, I’m very glad I was. What dissuaded me initially was the fact that the entirety of the film was in Punjabi, that too with subtitles in Urdu script. Being a person who likes to hang on to each dialogue so I don’t miss a beat, I felt like I would miss out on a lot. Two and a half hours later, I was surprised by how easy it was to keep up with the paths the plot embarked on.
What stood out for me was how the ‘bad guys’ had far more enriched personalities than the rest of the characters. The Natt siblings, each one a little kooky in their own way, will have your respect, if nothing else. And I couldn’t help but root for Noori at the end, not wanting him to die because ruthless as he may be, I found him honourable. And a feminist for the way he saved his sister from being buried alive and championed her. That’s pretty impressive for medieval times.
Where acting is concerned, I have to give it to Mirza Gohar Rasheed and Faris Shafi. Those two may have been side characters in a relative sense but they were among my favourites.
All in all, I think it was super impressive. Not just because of the ensemble cast, but also the way it was directed. Each shot was a visual delight and even the transitions had me wowed. Additionally, the dialogues were poetic without composing poetry — each aspect was well thought out and brimming with meaning. The film was an all-rounder and I think every adult should watch it — not kids because some scenes are far too gory and gruesome.