First Pakistani film to be released in India in a decade

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NEW DELHI: Pakistani film The Legend of Maula Jatt, starring Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, is likely to be released on the big screen in India this Friday, an INOX official said. This will perhaps be the first film from Pakistan in over a decade to get a theatrical release here.

“It will be played in Punjab and a few theatres in Delhi in INOX where there are Punjabi speaking people,” Rajender Singh Jyala, chief programming officer, INOX Leisure Ltd, told PTI.

Multiplex chain PVR Cinemas had shared a release announcement on its official Instagram page but deleted it soon after. “Presenting the official poster of #TheLegendofMaulaJatt! Coming to PVR this Friday,” the post read.

The action drama, which has become the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time amassing USD 10 million, was released in Pakistan on October 13. Directed by Bilal Lashari, The Legend of Maula Jatt is an adaptation of the 1979 cult classic Maula Jatt and producers have said it is neither a remake nor a sequel.

Its stars Mahira and Fawad are familiar to Indian audiences through their popular Pakistani drama Humsafar and also through Bollywood — Fawad, who was most recently seen in the superhero series Ms Marvel, has featured in Khoobsurat, Kapoor & Sons, and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil while Mahira appeared in Shah Rukh Khan-starred Raees.

The last Pakistani film to get a theatrical release in India was Bol starring Mahira in 2011. Before that was Ramchand Pakistani starring Nandita Das and Rashid Farooqi in 2008. Khuda Kay Liye, which included Fawad in the ensemble cast alongside Naseeruddin Shah, came in 2007

Pakistani films, however, have been screened at festivals in India. In November this year, the Dharamshala International Film Festival screened Saim Sadiq’s Joyland, which is Pakistan’s official entry in the international film category at the 95th Academy Awards. Khuda Kay Liye was the first ever Pakistani film to be included in the official selection of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The Legend of Maula Jatt started production in January 2017 and concluded in June 2019. The film was initially scheduled for cinema release on multiple dates in 2019–2020 but kept getting delayed due to copyright-related issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.