Films like Maula Jatt changed Lollywood forever, says Sarwar Bhatti

Published: February 28, 2013

WISHFUL: Bhatti wants to come back to the film industry if the environment changes. PHOTOS: SHAFIQUE MALIK/EXPRESS

Film-maker speaks about his short career in the Pakistani film industry. "It was an unjust claim that Maula
Jatt promoted violence. You have to realise, it rid Pakistani cinema of Indian or Hollywood influences which had corrupted the films," Producer Sarwar Bhatti. WISHFUL: Bhatti wants to come back to the film industry if the environment changes. PHOTOS: SHAFIQUE MALIK/EXPRESS

Sarwar Bhatti produced one of the most memorable films in Lollywood titled Maula Jatt — biggest box-office hit ever in Pakistan’s history — that ruled the big screens for over five years. Released in 1979, clouded with the confusion of General Ziaul Haq’s reforms and shifts in Lollywood, the film reached cult status and the Pakistani film industry changed forever.

“During a time of vulgarity, we changed the parameters of Lollywood for good by making films like Maula Jatt,” says Bhatti, who aside from having other businesses runs a beat-up distribution office in Lahore’s film district Royal Park.

In a career that barely lasted 10 years, Bhatti has only produced five films. He says that his films have promoted “Islamic culture” and given Lollywood a new look.

“It was an unjust claim that Maula Jatt had promoted violence,” says the conservative and proud producer. “You have to realise, it rid Pakistani cinema of Indian or Hollywood influences which had corrupted the films,” Bhatti adds about Maula Jatt, the sensation of the ‘80s. He feels that the film represented the true culture of Pakistan.

Bhatti’s direct involvement as a producer did not last long, but it was not due to any financial issues, he assures The Express Tribune. “I had the complete capital to make a film and easily ensured that it was of quality,” says Bhatti. He boasts about having a Mercedes when he entered the film industry, and feels the only reason his career in Lollywood was short-lived was due to the structure within the industry that never improved.

“During that time, cinemas were still being made and cinema owners were taking the films’ earnings,” says Bhatti, with disappointment in his voice. “And the government was profiting by putting 100% or 200% tax on a single film.”

Bhatti explains the issue was the lack of profit for him; film-makers were not fully earning a return on their projects. “After watching successful films in cinemas, other people would be inspired to make films only to realise that it just wasn’t profitable.”

He feels that if the right environment was provided in the Pakistani film industry, old producers would be willing to return to film-making.

Currently, Bhatti’s small office for distribution seems to be simply the last figment of his connection to film. More importantly, his film Maula Jatt, which is arguably the most screened and copied film in Pakistan, has not given any profit to Bhatti. The illegality, which is prevalent, means he lost millions of rupees in royalties.

“I have never sold my films to cable companies or video rights,” says Bhatti. “I know the value of my property and I have never given it to anyone. Everyone has used it [Maula Jatt] without any legal permission.”

“This illegality is rampant but that’s the case in our society,” shares Bhatti. “I defend my rights through taking action against those who used my film without my permission, but there are thousands of people who have taken it illegally.”

Bhatti is a traditionalist and believes that the mindsets of people in the Pakistani film industry will have to change for advancement. He explains that the irony of Pakistani cinema is that censorship laws are only limited to Pakistani films, while foreign films can be passed without any questions.

With regard to the foreign content being aired on Pakistani television these days, Bhatti says, “If a Pakistani film was to show the same thing, it would be censored for being against national interest. Why are Pakistani films held to a different law while television or foreign films get a free hand in screening whatever they want?”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2013.                   

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Feb 28, 2013 - 8:51PM

    Correct, changed Lollywood for ever but not but for the better. This kandasa culture has come from such Sultan Rahi movies liek Maula Jatt and Vaishi Jutt. We are seeing the effect now in Punjabi Taliban who watched such movies in their youth.

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  • Danish Xuberi
    Feb 28, 2013 - 9:50PM

    As young teens we used to relate the Rambo and Commando of Stalone and Arnold to Maula Jutt. Full pack action thrillers that hinge on the borders of logic and reality. A scene from Maula Jutt in London shows his sister giving a holler “Oaayyy Maulayaaaa,” and Jutt has the intution in Punjab that his sister needs him and he starts running and reaches London. We saw it again in a comedy flick George of the Jungle, when our hero runs all the way to Africa to save his foster ape family.
    We must treat films as they are, “a momentary flight away from reality,” for pure entertainment.

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  • Riaz Khan
    Feb 28, 2013 - 11:03PM

    Yes changed it for worst!

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  • firstwell
    Feb 28, 2013 - 11:31PM

    Maula Jatt was great film. Naturally, one film can not sink a full film industry.

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  • Loki
    Mar 1, 2013 - 3:39AM

    Why is maula Jutt famous till now ?? I know he is a legend but we have to be more advanced now we canr afford these maulas and make films like THE AVENGERS Not those JUTTs again!!

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  • Shaami
    Mar 1, 2013 - 4:10AM

    @TightPatloon: Sometimes people vent out their Ethnic hatred in the guise of Liberalism and opinions. Would it be some Western Hero or someone from so called Aryan Blood of Pakistan then everyone will be praising him but we can understand what happens in Pakistan. What about Chuck Norris ??. Chuck Norris is praised in America or what and tell me is he responsible for Making America a Violent nation. ?. Kindly do some research before making such comments.

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  • Kashif Farooqui
    Mar 1, 2013 - 4:18AM

    First of all Kindly dont call it a Pakistani Hero. This character is only related to some people in Upper Punjab villages and even in Lahore people dont speak Punjabi anymore and dont associate with Punjabis of villages and Maula Jatt character is only relevant in some villages of Upper Punjab where Punjabis are still remaining. Also i live in Lahore and We are Urdu Speakers and we have nothing to do with this Punjabi culture which promotes only violence and Hatred. Pakistani Film Industry only represent Urdu Films and if you want to tell about Punjabi movies then call it Pollywood rather than Lollywood.Recommend

  • goggi
    Mar 1, 2013 - 5:12AM

    He feels that the film represented the true culture of Pakistan.…………..Yes the true “Maaja-Saaja culture of Punjab.

    Glorification of Gangsters and violence was and is the Zeitgeist of the Pakistani society especially in Punjab, otherwise how could a film run for over five years and fascinate a Maaja-Saaja target audience?

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  • Raj Kafir
    Mar 1, 2013 - 5:35AM

    @Kashif Farooqui:
    even in Lahore people dont speak Punjabi anymore and dont associate with Punjabis of villages ………..GET A LIFE

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  • Rabael Malik
    Mar 1, 2013 - 5:35AM

    @Kashif Farooqui Hey Kid wake up from your dreams. Lahore belongs to Punjab and you are the first one to talk like that. Also do remember that Imperialism of one language will end in future and Punjab is not Sindh where one language will become the language of Suburban region and one language will dominate City. In Punjab most people are bilingual but it does not mean that we are forgetting our roots at all.

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  • anwar.suhail
    Mar 1, 2013 - 6:52AM

    @kashif farooqi
    You really reside in Lahore!! People there may be bilingual but they speak and love their native language. You should go out a bit more.

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  • HH
    Mar 1, 2013 - 3:37PM

    Very sad observation by Kashif Farooqi.

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  • Optimist
    Mar 3, 2013 - 6:44AM

    Maula Jatt was classic and had a profound impact.
    .
    Copycat films made later are the ones to blame for the state of industry. Never blame an original and classic idea!

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