Bilal Lashari's next project: A multi-million dollar remake of Maula Jatt

Published: December 14, 2013

The director speaks exclusively with The Express Tribune about what he has in the works.

He came, he saw and he conquered. Bilal Lashari’s journey as a film maker has begun on as high note a note as it possibly could. While it’s clear that no one else can come close, one wonders whether even he will be able to top himself and fulfil the expectations associated with his next project. Now, Pakistan’s leading director is all set to surprise us again, not with box office returns but with the project that he has gotten his hands on.  Lashari earlier put the arms and ammunition of Pakistan army to stylistic use, and will now be giving a new identity to Gandasa films with a multi-million dollar remake of Maula Jatt. Lashari unveils his next venture in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune

“This will be my take on Gandasa films which are blamed for the death of Lollywood” says Bilal Lashari. “I think the Gandasa genre was a missed opportunity for Pakistani cinema, and what better choice to utilise it then by paying homage to the cult classic Maula Jatt.”

This rebooted version of Maula Jatt has been in its pre production phase for the last seven months, and Lashari was waiting for the Waar hype to quiet down for the right moment to disclose his new film. The film is a co-production with an American production house, the name of which he is not disclosing just yet, and will have a budget in the millions of dollars, according to the director. From a war epic to a new brand of Gandasa films; Lashari is taking some huge steps and even huger risks. Traditional Gandasa films have been looked down upon by modern viewers due to a lack of content, but Lashari is not only aiming to stay true to the spirit of the originals, but he is also determined to make it palatable for contemporary audiences.

“The entire world has been exporting their own styles and versions of cinema outside their territory, but we have been silent,” Lashari says, concerned. “Hollywood sent us the old westerns or the cowboy films, the Japanese gave us Samurais. We have also had Ninjas, but I now feel it’s our time to tell the world what our Gandasa films are capable of,” Lashari stays determinedly.

His concerns are genuine, and the fact is that in the past few years many have spoken about revamping Maula Jatt but no one has actually successfully done so, making Lashari’s venture all the more interesting. Four different production teams have approached The Express Tribune in the past two years for potential coverage regarding their versions of Maula Jatt, and none have shown any progress or delivered a finished product thus far. Lashari has acquired the rights to the original cult classic starring Sultan Rahi, and one can’t help but be intrigued as to what his vision of the film is.

“My version of Maula Jatt will be a visual epic, with less dialogue and many captivating moments. It will be a dark but stylised take on Pakistan’s original film genre.”

While we can tell you that the new Maula Jatt will stay true to the original by being a Punjabi language film, the name of the script writer has not been disclosed as yet. The casting process has just begun and Lashari is looking for younger and fresher faces from Pakistan and is keeping his options open in terms of getting Bollywood stars on board. The shooting locations for the film have not been finalised and neither has the cast.

On the other hand, Mindworks Media and Ary Films have announced the making of Waar 2 which surprisingly, will not be directed Bilal Lashari. This time around, Dr Hasan Waqas Rana will be calling the shots. This certainly doesn’t reduce Lashari’s love for his passion project, which became the highest grossing film in Pakistan. Apart from the fact that it made Lashari the most acclaimed film maker in the country, the film also raised the bar in terms of production value in Pakistani films. There are numerous reasons why Lashari is neither in favour of a sequel being made nor will be onboard as director.

Waar was something extraordinary for Pakistani cinema and it should just be left alone,” he chuckles.  “Personally Waar 2 would mean staying in my safe zone, and like any concerned artist I would rather challenge myself with every new project. If I took the helm for Waar 2, it would be more like taking one step ahead and five steps backwards.”

Ever since Waar was released, the rumour mill has been churning our news that Lashari had a major fall out with Rana, the producer/writer of the film who will now be directing Waar 2. Some said that the reason was based on the producer/director distribution of revenues, while others believed it was due to the criticism that the film was receiving on its script.

“The rumours are completely false, and I share a good relationship with the producer of the film, or I would not be in Dubai busy promoting Waar. Yes, the director-producer relationship is one where you have differences, but they certainly do not outweigh the good times,” Lashari says.

Partly excited and partly nervous, Lashari had to take a deep breath before giving a final message for his fans out there regarding the expectations from his next film.

Maula Jatt will be much bigger and better than Waar, and my fans should keep expectations as high as possible, because that’ll motivate me to meet them.”

Reader Comments (40)

  • Hassan
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:10PM

    I hope he does a good job. But this is a bad idea, if you ask me.

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  • Sohail
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:21PM

    Maula Jatt, remake of a cult classic still limited to the Punjabi audience. You compare with other countries’ historic genres, they sure were not in one specific language. They catered their whole country. Please take care of this fact. If you cant make the entire nation understand a movie, how can you make the whole world know about it Bilal?

    P.S. I do understand Punjabi language, I am talking generally. :)Recommend

  • Rastionalist
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:30PM

    He should cast his father in the leading role as he did in Waar Recommend

  • gujranwala789
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:30PM

    It is a very good news for me being a gujranwalian to look forward to the new project of bilal lashari namely Maula Jatt which will be a punjabi language film and will present a jenre that is unique to pakistani punjab. I can assure Bilal that it will definitely do very good business in Greater gujranwala region (gujranwala, gujrat, sialkot, sheikhupura , narowal etc.) because the most hardcore pakistani punjabis live in these regions who love their language.Recommend

  • Raj Kafir
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:34PM

    I heard he is a perfectionist. He should re make Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah.Recommend

  • NooriNatt
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:37PM

    hahahaha

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  • hax
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:41PM

    won’t work. if it’s a punjabi film it’ll rule out urban/modern audience which made Waar revenues.Recommend

  • sher ullah baig
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:43PM

    Indeed i will be waiting for Bilal Lashari next project. a great step to exhibit Pakistani Cinema. great work Recommend

  • Khurram Awan
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:48PM

    He did a great job with Waar and I am sure that Muala Jatt will be a different genre altogether when Bilal will step into it. Also Waar is popular in Urban middle class only and the films like Maula Jatt will open new avenues for our nascent film industry to make inroads in subruban regions as well. Recommend

  • Stone
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:58PM

    This is a great idea. Remaking a classic with modern touch would be interesting. All the best to Mr Bilal!Recommend

  • Lala Gee
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:58PM

    I predict only a lukewarm response this time, as the educated won’t be interested due to the movie theme, and also there wouldn’t be any patriotism involved as well, and the potential audience isn’t rich enough to easily spare cash in these highly inflationary times for buying expensive cinema tickets, especially when the alternative entertainment like Turkish soaps and Hollywood/Bollywood movies on television don’t cost a dime. Despite whatever reasons we attribute to the destruction of the Pakistani film industry, one of the main reasons is the prohibitively expensive costs of going to cinema in Pakistan compared to innumerable, almost free, and time saving alternatives available to the viewers. Wish the producer best of luck.Recommend

  • shah
    Dec 14, 2013 - 6:59PM

    Oh for heaven sake don’t go back to that era of depicting violence.we have enough crazies already. Try to make a better industry.Recommend

  • ironMan!
    Dec 14, 2013 - 7:04PM

    Way to go Mr. Lahshari! Looking forward to your next project. Make us proud (..yet again!)Recommend

  • Alyy
    Dec 14, 2013 - 7:11PM

    I think it would be an extremely creative film if done well. I hope him the best of luck, hope the film has new and beautiful faces too.Recommend

  • Diamond in the rough
    Dec 14, 2013 - 7:23PM

    I think he might just come up with a nice visual movie – I predict a desi version of Kill Bill ’cause that’s the only thing that he could logically sell. Oops, the cats out the bag.. but this might just be the thing to turn the Sultan Rahi genre around…hahaRecommend

  • Daud Cheema
    Dec 14, 2013 - 7:36PM

    Recently i watched a Movie “Drive” by Nicolas Winding that was like a remake of 1980s movie classics and believe me i thoroughly enjoyed it. This time as well Lashari is collaborating with One American studio and if the movie will turn out like a pure rendition of Maula Jatt with a modern look then it will be a master class in my view.Recommend

  • optimist
    Dec 14, 2013 - 7:43PM

    I think Bilal should stick with Waar style movies.
    .
    Every director has his own unique style in wich they are good at. He should take that level ahead and surprise viewers even more.
    .
    But if he must venture into Maula Jatt, the budget should never cross 10 Crore as the market would definitely be limited this time.Recommend

  • Khurram Awan
    Dec 14, 2013 - 8:05PM

    @Sohail: Already we lost our language while catering to the Whole Country and now just shunning that movie because it belongs from a Certain Language that is hated by a Burger Class and Elite of Pakistan is uncalled for. I hate this type of thinking by our so called Educated class. Infact Urdu movies audience is limited to Urban Hubs only.
    Even if that movie will be a hit in Punjab alone then its population alone can transform that movie in the highest grossing film. Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Dec 14, 2013 - 8:22PM

    If Tarentino can bring an old western theme back to life in “Django Unchained”, our guy Lashari can do it to. Its a great idea, but rather than reboot he should have gone with a new idea on the same theme.
    Oh well lets hope for the best!

    Recommend

  • AK
    Dec 14, 2013 - 8:44PM

    Well, I highly appreciate his courage and dare to select this project. we are keeping our expectations as high as you want and will see how you convince the urban and educated class of Pakistan towards this genre.

    Recommend

  • Raza
    Dec 14, 2013 - 9:07PM

    @Khurram Awan:
    They seem to be forgetting that the Balochs and the Pashtuns don’t watch films anyway so main target is Sindh and Punjab, and Punjab alone has 50% of Pakistan’s population. Moor will address Balochistan, Waar was nationalistic for every Pakisani and his next will b great to target Punjabis. I hope there will b a Pashtun centered film too soon!

    Recommend

  • quicky
    Dec 14, 2013 - 9:44PM

    Mola Jutt, gr8 idea. thumbz up

    Recommend

  • Karsus
    Dec 14, 2013 - 10:46PM

    Now that is a serious risk to be taking. It should be interesting to see how it turns out.Recommend

  • Torab
    Dec 14, 2013 - 11:29PM

    Its a great idea and why people think a punjabi movie wont have big audience. Punjabi music is more popular nowadays than urdu music. Every bollywood movie has a punjabi hit song. Look at Rahat fateh Ali khan some of his most famous songs in Punjabi. Punjabis live all around the world and would love to see Mola Jatt remake. I can bet this remake will do a roaring business.

    Recommend

  • Babar
    Dec 14, 2013 - 11:34PM

    Multi million dollar flop!!Recommend

  • Torab
    Dec 14, 2013 - 11:39PM

    Mola Jatt remake has to be in Punjabi. I mean how could you enjoy mola jat in Urdu. The original Mola jatt is all time highest Grosser of Lollywood. Punjabi movies have always worked and i would love to see some quality lollywood punjabi movies in coming years. I reckon the market for punjabi movies is bigger than a urdu lollywood movie. I am waiting for the movie. Long live Punjabi language Recommend

  • Maula Jatt
    Dec 14, 2013 - 11:50PM

    Looking forward to it. One of my favorite movies. I think Maula Jatt has universal appeal and is not limited to one province or one country. Most of the enjoyment was from the script and writing and it all depends on that.Recommend

  • Carlos
    Dec 15, 2013 - 12:48AM

    @Raza: watch out for Hijrat. It features Afghan war of 80s and its tragedies.

    Recommend

  • Aneela Zakaria
    Dec 15, 2013 - 1:45AM

    Bilal Lashari.reminds me of another young dynamic person M. Night Shyamalan who made the Sixth Sense a simple film about a young man seeing dead people. With Bruce Willis this movie rocked Hollywood and M. Night Shyamalan was hailed as the next best upcoming Hollywood sensation. The film grossed records at the box office, the plot the story were flawless M. Night Shyamalan was on top of the world, touted as “the next Spielberg” by Newsweek. Then it went terribly wrong his greatly anticipated next film bombed and he entered the list of “one hit wonders” is Bilal Lashari.heading in that direction with Maula Jatt

    Recommend

  • Khurram Awan
    Dec 15, 2013 - 2:11AM

    @Raza: Sir in Punjab millions of Balochs and Pushtoon live and they see these movies as well. The beauty of Punjab is its Pluralism and integrative culture. In Punjab you just need to be born and bred here to be a Punjabi and the movies produced here are enjoyed by people belonging from all ethnicity who integrated overtime here.
    Also Maula Jatt is just a character and people from all walks can like him. Also it is not a representation of Some ethnicity. For example many people are a fan of figures like Superman, Batman, James Bond etc but they dont need to be American or English to like these characters rather the whole world enjoy those characters.

    Recommend

  • Ammar
    Dec 15, 2013 - 3:14AM

    //Maula Jatt, remake of a cult classic still limited to the Punjabi audience. You compare with other countries’ historic genres, they sure were not in one specific language.///

    I don’t know on which planet you live on but in India beside movies in Hindi, there are more movies in Tamil, Marathi, and many other regional languages.

    In South Africa, there are movies in English as well as Afrikaans.
    In US there are movies in English and Spanish as well ( because of large spanish speaking population)

    Recommend

  • jahanzeb abbasi
    Dec 15, 2013 - 9:44AM

    This is very great and brilliant step…………..you stole my idea great!!!!

    Recommend

  • noorilhuda
    Dec 15, 2013 - 4:04PM

    Should have gone with a new venture instead of a remake!Recommend

  • Haseeb
    Dec 15, 2013 - 6:21PM

    i don’t know why he didn’t choose to do a film better than waar,he can make a great gandasa movie but i would never go to watch it

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  • Dec 15, 2013 - 6:29PM

    If you want yo remake of Maula jatt then please change the name!

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  • Ali
    Dec 15, 2013 - 8:08PM

    Relax people…after the success of WAAR, I think we shouldn’t expect Bilal Lashari’s remake of Maula Jatt to be a typical Punjabi Gandasa movie…..let us see what he has up his sleeves and I have a feeling its going to be awesome…fingers crossed

    Recommend

  • Realist
    Dec 16, 2013 - 1:13PM

    Am I the only one who thought Waar wasn’t well-directed/written? The cheesy English, the choppy editing, the forced acting… wow

    Recommend

  • Dec 16, 2013 - 11:59PM

    Bilal will definitely rise our cinema industry, Maula jutt also will be super hitRecommend

  • Umer
    Dec 18, 2013 - 2:53PM

    I met the guy …He is very passionate about his flims and a totally down to earth guy .

    He will do awesome hopefully :) ..Pakistanis need to support their own.

    Recommend

  • Mustafa
    Dec 19, 2013 - 12:14AM

    Wonder if the ISI is sponsoring this project too? The Noori Nut must be a Hindu then. Also, the way he has been kicked out of Waar 2 and his ‘khasiani billi khamba nochay’ approach makes one laugh

    Recommend

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