Lahore: The kharrhak (bang) of landmark Maula Jatt, which hit the Lollywood circuit back in 1979 with a bang, is back to life, but not in the cinema circuit but in the corridors of courts. Legendary Sarwar Bhatti, the producer of iconic Maula Jatt, has moved the court to stop versatile filmmaker Bilal Lashari from using the title ‘Maula Jatt’ in his upcoming flick – The Legend of Maula Jatt – set to be released on Eidul Fitr. Mr Bhatti approached the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan against the usage of title and cinematography of Maula Jatt in Mr Lashari’s project. As per Muttaqi Ali, the son of Mr Bhatti, the tribunal pronounced that Maula and Jutt can be used separately but not as the combined title – Maula Jatt.
“Using title ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt’ is a clear cut contempt of court and infringement of our copyrights,” Mr Ali tells Truth Tracker. The violation of the court orders has forced Mr Bhatti to move the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for a case against Mr Lashari and producer Ammara Hikmat without any much success. And he sees a reason behind inaction by the FIA.
“Bilal Lashari is the son of an influential former bureaucrat who can influence the watchdog institutions,” says Mr Ali. “That’s why our applications for the registration of the FIR against Ammara Hikmat, Bilal Lashari, Nasir Adeeb and their team has been pending with the FIA for over an year. The Lashari family is also in news regarding wrongdoings of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Islamabad. Bilal’s father is already on the Exit Control List.”
Mr Lashari has released the trailer of their film ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt’.
Mr Ali says it is the theft of their property.
He says Maula Jatt is in fact more than property to them. “It is like our family.”
And he puts up strong reasons for that.
“My father Sarwar Bhatti wrote the script of Maula Jatt when he was only 22 and was looking for a professional writer to improve it.
“One day, he was sitting at the AG Office canteen in Lahore with his friend Asjad Bhatti where he was introduced to a tea boy. The boy shared his poetry with my father, which touched his heart. He presented the young poet with a situation and asked him to write a song. The canteen boy was quick to come up with lyrics ‘O Zalima Mai Nachaan Gi Zaroor’.
“He wrote that song so well that all the six songs of Maula Jatt were given to him. The first-time lyrist did justice with his job. Later, that tea boy became a well known songwriter of the film industry and he is known as Naseem Fazal.
“With the script ready and songs written, my father went to then famous Punjabi film writer Hazeen Qadri to improve the script but Mr Qadri did not see eye to eye with my father. So, Bhatti sahib went to Nasir Adeeb to improve the script. After reading the script Nasir Adeeb said that this script is 90 per cent complete and that Noori Natt’s character is legendary. To Mr Adeeb, he hadn’t seen such antagonist before. To which, Bhatti sahib said that this script is 10 per cent and you have to add 90 per cent of your ability to perfect it. My father said because antagonist like Noori Natt, my protagonist will become an epic. Later, he gave Mr Adeeb credit as a writer of Maula Jatt besides handsome wages for his job.”
Now, Mr Adeeb is part of the Lashari’s film project, which pains the Bhattis.
“Being a writer of a film doesn’t mean he has become the owner of the film or holds any rights to the film. According to the law the whole world knows that film producer or the production company is the owner of the film unless the film is based on any novel and everyone knows Adeeb never wrote a book in his life. Mr Adeeb has no rights to Maula Jatt or anything related to Maula Jatt.”
Mr Bhatti’s Maula Jatt was a game changer in Pakistan. It broke several barriers back in 1979 when entertainment was under huge scrutiny.
“My father Sarwar Bhatti made Maula Jatt in 1979 in those times 538 films were banned by Gen Ziaul Haq under MLO 81 and of them, 537 films are still banned. The only ban was lifted from Maula Jatt thanks to the untiring efforts of my father against the martial law regime and my father single-handedly defeated the whole martial law regime. Maula Jatt is based on universal justice and universal injustice. And for that, my father paid the highest entertainment tax worth Rs90 million in 1981 for Maula Jatt,” Mr Ali explains.
He says the court gave a permanent injunction on the title of Maula Jatt and the rest of our case about the using of our characters, dialogues and overall style of our film is still pending in the court so the matter is subjudice.
Ammara Hikmat, the producer of Lashari’s Maula Jatt project, however, says their company did not violate any legal rights and that their every move on the film release is legal.
“All the previous versions of the ‘Jatt’ series have been backed by different producers and thus Sarwar’s claims seem like a feeble attempt to cash in on the hype of the film and stay relevant. Bilal’s movie will be featuring Fawad Khan as Maula Jutt, Hamza Ali Abbasi as Noori Natt, along with Mahira Khan and Humaima Mallick in lead roles,” she told online entertainment website Something Haute .
Amid the counterclaims, it has yet to be seen how the ongoing kharrhak between Bhattis and the Lasharis concludes.