Bilal Lashari’s keenly anticipated “The Legend of Maula Jatt” is slated to release on Eid-ul-Fitr 2019. The film has Fawad Khan returning on the big screen after almost two and a half years, and it has some other big names like Mahira Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi as well. Humaima Malick; who has been missing in a dominant role ever since Bol, will also be part of this magnum opus.
So, the hype of the film on social media is crazy, and the fans are eagerly waiting to see the first teaser of the film, which is due on 21st December. But the film’s fate will eventually land in the hands of the exhibitors, and it’s important to know whether they are as excited about it or not.
Therefore, we talked to some of the leading cinema owners of the country and tried to get their pulse on the film.
First, we talked to the Chief Operating Officer of Cinestar cinemas, Ali Chaudhry, who tried to gauge the prospects of the film through its budget. Ali said, “Some of my closest friends are producing Maula Jatt and I have strong expectations from it. The director Bilal Lashari and producer Ammara Hikmat have invested huge sums into it, making it the most expensive film of Pakistan. I am sure it will set a benchmark in terms of quality for other Pakistani filmmakers”.
On being asked what he expects in terms of footfall in cinemas when the film releases, Ali said, “From whatever I have seen of the film, I can surely say it is bound to break records!”.
But, will the big budget of the film be enough to break records? Of course not. A film needs to tick all the right boxes, and one of the important ones is marketing. Ali believes that the team of Maula Jatt is so far doing well in that regard.
“So far, they are going in the right direction. I was happy to know that the film is releasing simultaneously in China, which is a big win for its makers. Plus, they have managed to sustain the hype of the film on social media, and I expect the buzz to only increase after the teaser releases,” Ali said
With the highest number of screens in the country, the opinion of just one cinema owner doesn’t suffice for the Lahore territory. Hence, we decided to take another opinion from the cultural heart of the country, and for this, we headed to one of the most visited multiplex chains in the city, Super Cinema.
Talking to us, the Head of the cinema, Khorem Gultesab, shared his views on the film in these words, “Well, I haven’t had a look at anything pertaining to the film, so all I can say is that Bilal Lashari is a credible director and a thorough professional. He has been sure-footed and maintained a steady pace while making this film. I hope that it concludes as a high-quality, entertaining film.”
After Lahore, we decided to see what an exhibitor with their shop in the country’s biggest city thinks about the film, and so we decided to talk to Mr. Khattak, the General Manager of Capri Cinema, Karachi. Khattak said, “The names of Fawad Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi, and Mahira Khan are enough to pull in the crowd. I am quite excited to see the first teaser of the film.”
But as reports suggest, will a film that is majorly in the Punjabi language resonate with the predominantly Urdu centric market of Karachi? Khattak believes it would, “It doesn’t matter anymore. Gone are the days when a film was judged by what language it was made in,” he insisted.
“Despite Capri being a single screen cinema, people don’t even come to watch dubbed English movies anymore. Preferences have changed. People now prefer to watch films in their original languages, even if they are foreign to them. Moreover, the use of Punjabi has drastically increased in recent films and TV shows, so I suppose it is well understood now,” he further added.
He also appealed to the producers to release only one film on festive dates like Eids. This he believes would give a chance to cinema owners to do justice with the films in terms of their showtimes.
While the cinema owners in the country’s two of the biggest cities seem positive about the film, Gujranwala is holding its cards close to the chest at the moment. Nasir Ismail, Head of the Prince Cinepax, Gujranwala, says, “I reserve my opinion till I see the trailer of the film. Until then, I cannot judge its business potential.”
It’s a fair call, we believe. Nasir, however, is hoping that the makers would have done something different from the original “Maula Jutt.”
After Gujranwala, we were headed to the city of saints, Multan, and there we decided to talk to the person behind another major cinema of Punjab, Dreamland. Mr. Shahzad, GM Operations of the cinema, shared his excitement for Maula Jatt in these words,
“The film has an amazing cast like Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi. Fawad is already a superstar and commands respect among the audience. Whereas, Hamza Ali Abbasi surprised the trade with the exemplary performance of “Parwaaz Hai Junoon” at our cinema. Therefore, it is safe to say that the advance bookings for the film are going to be crazy.”
He further went on and said, “The icing on the cake is Mahira Khan, who is a huge attraction for housewives and families. Therefore, the film has something for everyone. Plus, the title, “Maula Jatt” will also attract that particular chunk of the audience that doesn’t come to cinemas anymore but has seen the old “Maula Jutt,” and has a sense of nostalgia attached to the film.”
Since a number of small cities adjoin Multan, Shahzad is hopeful that the film would attract public from all those locations too at their cinema.
Well, seems like the Cinema owners all across the country are as excited about the film as us the fans. And with the release of the teaser just a few days away, it wouldn’t take long when the entire country is under the spell of The Legend of Maula Jatt.