The film The Legend of Maula Jatt has become the highest grossing film in Pakistan, breaking all records by making more than $10 million globally.
Film star Mahira Khan. who starred as Mukho in the film, spoke to Variety along with director Bilal Lashari. Discussing the success of the film, the actress emphasized the importance of filmmakers and storytellers who could take stories from Pakistan to international platforms.

“Whether it’s Joyland, whether it’s Maula Jatt, the people at the helm of these projects are passionate. They have stories to tell and they are visionaries. We need more directors, more storytellers, who are telling stories from the heart. The other thing we really, really need is that I would like to see our government supporting our industry. And this year, we saw that happen,” the actress told the magazine.

Khan also spoke about platforms like Netflix and Amazon coming to Pakistan, stating,


“Cinemas will be opening up and films like Maula Jatt have doubled, tripled, quadrupled footfall. These may be small, little steps, but they are eventually going to be really, really big steps. Netflix and Amazon – I believe they need to come in now because we have amazing content. But before that happens, we can actually put out as many films as possible, even the smaller ones. We don’t have a digital outlet yet. So we can still do that business and we can still put out those smaller films.”

Director and co-writer of the film, Bilal Lashari, discussed about how heartening it was to watch a Punjabi-speaking film receive immediate international fame the way Maula Jatt has done. He hoped the success of the film will pave the way for more stories from Pakistan to get an international audience.

“What a fantastic journey our film has had since its release. The love and appreciation from audiences has made this 10-year ride worth every moment. It is heartening to see people embrace regional cinema across the globe. I hope the success of The Legend of Maula Jatt will pave the way for stories from Pakistan for a worldwide audience.”

Mahira talked about her character Mukkho, Maula’s love interest, and how she was a fiercely independent woman who broke expectations that the film would follow the 1970 film’s representation.

“The biggest thing that Mukkho had was that she was just such an empowered woman – she loved fearlessly, her moral compass was so intact, she had integrity and she was fierce also. That was a very big thing that the women in this, in today’s Maula Jatt, are very empowered. And I think this is something that a lot of people asked me prior to the release that ‘Are we going to see the same 1970s representation of women?’ I said, no, you’re going to see Bilal Lashari’s representation of women. I’m glad to have been a part of it.”

When Mahira Khan was questioned about growing tensions between Pakistan and India, which has led to Pakistani artists and films being banned from playing in the former, the actress pointed out that Indian and Pakistani artists look out for each other since they are connected by the thread of art and how they have become soft targets by their countries.

“I had the most amazing time working in India. I am still in touch with so many people and there’s a lot of love there. Unfortunately, we are easy targets, soft targets, whether it’s us here in Pakistan, whether it’s them there in India. Because we’re artists, and we’re connected by that thread of art, we actually get each other. So we’re trying to look out for each other, more than anything. Even now, we are so careful with what we write on social media. It’s not that we don’t talk to each other. It’s not that we don’t wish each other on our birthdays. It’s not that we don’t meet each other in different countries. It’s not that – it’s just that we are actually not just protecting ourselves but protecting each other.”

Khan further hoped that there would be an opportunity in the future for artists from India and Pakistan to collaborate on a project, and hoped that things would soon get better for this to happen.

“Unfortunately, it’s politics, it’s not a personal thing. On both ends, until the time that scapegoats are needed, we will always be that. But let’s say that it gets better. Let’s say that there is someone in power who does not use us as easy targets. That would be lovely. Can you just imagine the collaboration? It would be lovely,” she said.