Sunday 17 September 2017

‘Maula Jatt’ rights have been sold to Bilal Lashari and Ammara Hikmat: original writer Nasir Adeeb

09:33 By Lollywood Online No comments

ISLAMABAD .: Who knew that a small-town boy, hailing from a poverty-stricken family, travelled to Lahore, and tarried outside the very film-studio he wasn’t allowed to enter then, but comfortably seats himself now at, before speaking to me of his much-awaited return. Veteran writer Nasir Adeeb, who completes his 412th film in the coming year, happens to hold the record of being the only scriptwriter in the world to have so many releases to his credit.

Adeeb dreamt of becoming famous, and after having joined the armed forces, he was told that only a shaheed (martyr) is honoured with the ‘Nishaan-e-Haider’ (highest military award), and that’s not the kind of notability he had in mind. And so he very dramatically ran away, and after much struggle, applied to PTV and was accepted as the Assistant Programme Producer. But just then a film by his name was announced in Lahore, so he filed a court case, won and stepped foot in what was then, the magnificent Lollywood. In conversation with The Express Tribune, Nasir Adeeb dishes out his inspiring voyage into films and revisits his classic.

Most recently, Adeeb launched his autobiography titled Tareekhi Jumlay and already has two sold-out editions. He sees his documentation as a piece of writing that he owed to himself. “I spent three years reading and finding myself, and that’s when I came to know that there’re only four things that God has made Himself, the first being a pen,” he delineates, adding, “I literally had tears in my eyes when I read this because I consider myself very lucky, to have been blessed with the strength to write. On the Last Day, when I’m asked of what I made use of this ‘pen’ for myself, I’ll have my book.”

Rewind to 1975: The release of his first Punjabi film, Wehshi Jatt, Adeeb gave rebirth to regional cinema in Pakistan; swiftly replacing Urdu-language-films with the much clamorous, yet booming Punjabi features. It is pertinent to mention that Wehshi Jatt, produced by Azeem Malik and directed by Hassan Askari was the first film to introduce Adeeb’s character ‘Maula Jatt’. Over the course of the next few years, Adeeb wrote a handful of movies for various film-makers, around his iconic characters, ‘Maula’ and ‘Noori’. While the doom of local cinema is often attributed to the violent and vulgar content that replaced quality and refinement, that was brought about in the decades before, Nasir believes otherwise – and refreshingly, acknowledges the new crop of talent for reanimating the fraternity.

“In 1988, I had predicted the downfall of our film industry because I saw the lack of respect. In our society, it was a taboo to be associated to cinema. Till now, no father would ever, proudly speak of his daughter being a great dancer or an artist, or his son, a choreographer or actor,” he exclaimed. “And so when nobody ends up leading a settled life, the industry naturally declines. Today, our society has owned cinema and that’s because actors are coming from respectable backgrounds. Actresses no longer belong to red-light districts.”

After a decade, according to the Registration Act in Pakistan, the rights of characters in a film return to the writer, and Nasir Adeeb makes the most out of that, officially handing over the rights of his iconic dramatis personae, ‘Maula Jatt’ and ‘Noori Natt’ amongst others to director Bilal Lashari and Executive Producer Ammara Hikmat, CEO Encyclomedia, for its anticipated reboot.

“Bilal is the one who came to me with this idea and I was very shocked, because he doesn’t speak in Punjabi at all, but wants to reboot the original film – but in Punjabi, and the film is set during an era he, himself hasn’t witnessed,” he began of his early encounter with the Waar director. “And it’s all the more interesting to know that our producer, Ammara and none of Bilal’s assistants converse in Punjabi either. Knowing Bilal, one can expect him to set trends and break norms. Any ordinary film-maker wouldn’t dare putting his stakes on a Punjabi language film after directing a blockbuster hit. His regard for our language and culture is what brought me into this project.”

However, Adeeb was all praises for the makers and their devotion towards helming a classic that he promises to be “logical” yet doesn’t lose its gandaasa essence, something he found missing back in the day. “It is after working on Maula Jatt that I’ve realised what film-makers actually do. It would’ve been amazing to have started off with Bilal and Ammara; they’re so passionate about the film,” he shares.

“Dair ayad, durust ayad (it’s taken a bit of time to reach there, but I have arrived), and that will hopefully reflect by the numbers it generates at the Box Office.” 

It’s surprising to see Adeeb evolve and adapt to the new wave of a cinema that is equal parts conventional entertainment and modern sensibilities. Despite having a career spanning over four decades, Adeeb’s humility and progress is laudable. However, he is also well aware of Maula Jatt’s cult-position in films and sees the transformation of his characters in collaboration with Lashari as an opportunity to introduce himself to the younger and more contemporary audience.

“I think I’m starting from zero, I feel it’s my first film and maybe that’s why I look up to Bilal and his vision. In a way, it’s my entry to new-age cinema and this is my chance to prove myself,” he maintains. “When you first visit the Taj Mahal, you look at it as a building, but it’s once you’ve seen it that you realise what it symbolises and how it was Shah Jehan’s token of love for his most beloved wife. Maybe after watching Maula Jatt, people would want to know what I hold.”

He continued of the franchise’s epic run at the movies and the Punjabi accent that returns to the fore with Lashari’s directorial. “There are five Bollywood adaptations of Maula Jatt as well. Four of which failed, so Dharmendra, who starred in them, eventually called me and I wrote Ghayal. He then asked me why the earlier films had tanked, even though they had excellent production values – but the truth is that it’s actually the dialect that makes a film like this a hit.”

Starring, the most celebrated actors in the country, Fawad Khan takes the lead as Maula Jatt, whilst Hamza Ali Abbasi wears the antagonist, Noori Natt’s hat with aplomb; Mahira Khan and Humaima Malick also feature as the film’s leading ladies and we can barely wait to see what the renowned quartet have in store. Unlike other writers, Adeeb seems well-engaged in the film’s production stage as well, allowing its team to grasp from the story innovator himself.

“I remember this one scene where the late Sultan Rahi delivered a very powerful dialogue, which was followed by Noori Natt’s in the original, where he says, ‘Oye Jatta’, which Mustafa Qureshi never got right,” Adeeb chuckled. “So Hamza does speak in Punjabi, but Fawad, Mahira and Humaima don’t, but they understand that and are very easy to work with. They pick up the accent I narrate to them very well and are extremely hard-working. That’s all that matters.”

He very fondly recalls the good ol’-days of the gandaasa glory, but has evidently gelled in well with the juvenile crowd of the fraternity. He draws parallels between Maula Jatt and James Bond, and hopes its forthcoming installment crosses the 100 Crore mark, setting new records. Rational, seemingly pragmatic and clearly vehement about cinema, Maula Jatt is one film that we anticipate; it goes without saying.


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