Oh Damn! Maula Jatt in yet another copyright mess and FIA gets involved

Maula Jatt copyright controversy

While one may have thought otherwise, but the controversy surrounding the copyrights of Maula Jatt is yet to reach its logical conclusion. The matter seemed to have resolved after the decision of Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) Tribunal and subsequently, the High Court in favour of Bilal Lashari.

But the claims, blame, and money games have returned after the successful release of the teaser of The Legend of Maula Jatt. As the teaser released a couple of days back, Sarwar Bhatti (Producer, original Maula Jatt) and family came on social media and accused Bilal Lashari and the team of fresh copyright violations.

Mohammad Muttaqi, who is Bhatti’s son, primarily claimed in a Facebook status that IPO tribunal had barred Lashari from using the name “Maula Jatt” in that specific order in the title of their film and that by naming their movie, “The Legend of Maula Jatt,” Bilal Lashari, and team are in clear violation of the ruling.

Muttaqi also went on and made personal remarks against Bilal Lashari’s bureaucrat father, Kamran Lashari, and accused him of influencing FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) to not register FIR (First Information Report) against his son/director Bilal Lashari, producer Ammara Hikmat, and writer Nasir Adeeb, just as he was influencing the agency against conducting corruption investigation against himself.

Here is the complete status which was also shared on Sarwar Bhatti’s Facebook page:

The Other Side Responds

With accusations of such serious nature, Bilal Lashari and team weren’t going to simply sit it out and not respond. The response came and it came in the form of a press release sent to us.

The press release which was titled, “FIA takes action on complaint of The Legend of Maula Jatt‘s producer, Ammara Hikmat,” declared the claims made by “Sarwar Bhatti and his aides” based on “perverse understanding” of the copyright law and a “wildly inaccurate portrayal of facts.”

The press release further said that by the court order issued by IPO Tribunal Lahore, dated 07.08.2018, Ammara Hikmat and Bilal Lashari, who jointly own the literary rights needed to produce The Legend of Maula Jatt had committed no copyright violations as claimed by Sarwar Bhatti, and that Bilal Lashari and team is in all rights to produce and release the film.

The court, however, had remarked that “only the use of the title of Maula Jatt alone falls in a grey area” but since it has been used in combination with different suffixes and prefixes of several film titles in past, Bilal Lashari and Ammara Hikmat, too, are free to use it, provided they follow the same rule.”

This basically means that while Bilal Lashari and Ammara Hikmat cannot name their film simply “Maula Jatt,” which was the title of the original film and over which Mr. Sarwar Bhatti holds the rights, however, if they add something to the original title, they will not be in any kind of violation. Bilal made this addition by attaching the phrase “The legend of” to the original title, Maula Jatt.

This is validated by the fact that in past, numerous films have released having the words “Maula Jatt,” in their title but since they always had other attachments with the original name, they raised no legal issues. Following are some of the examples of such films:

  1. Maula Jatt te Noori Natt
  2. Maula Jatt in London
  3. Shagird Maula Jatt Da

The Conflict on Content

While the title was one part of the conflict, the other part of the issue; as also claimed by Mr. Muttaqi, was on the use of characters, style, and dialogues of the original Maula Jatt. Muttaqi claims that this matter still remains unresolved and is sub judice at the moment since the court is yet to give its ruling on it.

To this, Ammara Hikmat and team responded in the press release by saying that it was actually Nasir Adeeb who created the characters back in 1975 for his film Wehshi Jatt and he alone holds the rights of it. Wehshi Jatt was actually the prequel of the iconic Maula Jatt that came in 1979, for which also Adeeb wrote the screenplay.

Since then, Adeeb has used the same characters, style, and dialogues for various other films including Roshan Jatt, Maula Te Mukkho, Maula Saeen, and Kise De Maula. Since Nasir Adeeb has also written the script of The Legend of Maula Jatt, the makers claim that there is absolutely no issue in regards to the violation of intellectual property rights.

It’s All About Money

The press release also made shocking revelations that Mr. Sarwar Bhatti through his various contacts on several occasions has demanded an “extortionate amount” of 25 crores for the usage of the title.

Moreover, he has also been demanding his name to be put in producer’s credits of the film along with the sole distribution rights of The Legend of Maula Jatt to his company, Bahoo Corporation, along with share in revenue.

The press release also accuses Mr. Bhatti of maintaining double standards as the title and characters of Maula Jatt were used in various films in past, but he didn’t have a single problem with any of those films. It claims that he is doing this only because he sees immense revenue potential of The legend of Maula Jatt.

FIA Takes Notice

After the matter started turning ugly on social media, producer Ammara Hikmat reported the Bahoo Corporation and its CEO Mohammad Muttaqi to FIA for online defamation through cyber stalking and incitement.

To this, FIA has responded by issuing summons to people at the helm of Bahoo Corporation.

We at Galaxy Lollywood desire and hope that either the expert courts resolve the issue once and for all, or both the parties come to some sort of settlement. There is no doubt that if the movie is as good as the teaser, The Legend of Maula Jatt is going to make several new records for the Pakistan film industry, and we don’t want anything that ruins the taste.

Tell us in the comments who you believe is right in their claim and what could be the actual reason behind the entire issue.

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Live in Karachi. A Charted Accountant to be, hopefully. A writer today, a writer always. Email: aayanmughal@gmail.com