Punjabi cinema on the brink of a billion dollar boom thanks to Maula Jatt

Contrary to expectations, the film became the highest-grossing South Asian film in the UK, grossing an impressive £1,480,000 between 2018 and 2022 on just 79 screens with a screen average of £18,734.

It outperformed mainstream Bollywood films with much wider releases and bigger budgets in the UK and US. In a crowded market like the US, the film had a higher screen average of $12,687 on 89 screens than global sensation RRR, which had a screen average of $10,833 on a 1200 screen release.

The film had a screen average better than RRR in the UK, Canada and US. The film has 25 more weeks to run in Pakistan and has already grossed more than five times the country’s previous box office record.

With a worldwide release of just 500 screens, The Legend of Maula Jatt has grossed over US$11 million and is set to release in newer territories later this year, including a 12,000+ screen release in China.

His greatest success, however, is his viewership abroad. In addition to the phenomenal performance in the UK, it also broke the previous record of the most watched South Asian film, Bajrangi Bhaijan in Norway.


The film has become the highest-grossing South Asian film in the UK for the period 2018-2022

It was number one at the UAE box office during its opening weekend. In Australia and Canada, it opened at sixth place at the box office.

This is particularly impressive considering that Punjabi films are not as widely available as Bollywood or South Indian films.

This is especially true in Hollywood’s homeland, where world cinema is fighting for screen time.

The film’s recognition value is demonstrated by the fact that many of its viewers were so captivated by the storytelling that they returned to theaters multiple times to relive the experience.

The film is Punjabi cinema at its best. The action drama is a reboot and reinvention of a cult genre that defined Punjabi cinema in the two decades of the 80’s and 90’s. The fertile terrain of Punjab, the Land of Five Rivers, has always been a breeding ground for folklore.

As the stories were passed down through the generations, they were embellished and from them were discovered two characters of traditional rivalry from Punjabi cinema, which soon grew to a cult following.

The characters and sets were taken by Maula Jatt’s team and transformed into legendary characters, larger than live scenes and a timeless narrative to create blockbuster footage.

The narrated story is about a fierce prizefighter with a tormented past who seeks revenge against the most feared warrior in medieval Punjab. The film features some of Pakistan’s greatest actors including Fawad Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Mahira Khan and Humaima Malick.

A visual feast with stunning cinematography, backdrops and a powerful sound design incorporating traditional Punjabi folk music sets the film apart from any past or present Punjabi cinematic experience ever seen on screen.

What sets this film apart is its ability to attract a cult following. The film has such an appeal that despite the limited number of screens it was released on, people traveled for hours to see it.

The film’s merchandise is selling to diaspora audiences like a Marvel film product line. A replica of the ‘Gandasa’ weapon used in the film fetched $50,000 at auction in Toronto last week.

One must be aware that Punjabi is the 10th most spoken language in the world, with 151 million people around the world who are familiar with the language. It is the third and fourth most spoken language in the UK and Canada respectively.

Punjabi is spoken by twice as many people as Tamil and Telugu. Although widely understood by Hindi audiences, Punjabi cinema has never grown into a major industry, while the other two South Asian languages, Telugu and Tamil, are considered billion dollar industries.

This is strange considering that Punjabi is the undisputed language of entertainment in the subcontinent and Bollywood relies heavily on Punjabi music for its mass appeal. Although Punjabi can often be found in snippets, jokes and songs in Hindi cinema, it has struggled to make the transition from the domain of light-hearted humor to a big-screen spectacle worthy of global cinema.

Almost 65 percent of Punjabi films released worldwide between 2010 and 2022 were low-budget slapstick comedies or rom-coms, which stereotyped Punjabi cinema, stunting its growth and limiting its potential.

However, The Legend of Maula Jatt broke convention with its appeal to a much broader demographic, reminding us that audiences crave stories that reflect their cultural heritage and experiences while crossing both geographic and language boundaries exceeds.


Its success has sparked talks about the potential of a multi-billion dollar Punjabi cinema industry that has surprisingly not been taken seriously until now. It has got the film industry to take notice of this unexplored gold mine – the untapped potential of Punjab and the myriad opportunities it offers.

The film is a game changer that reinvented the past, expanded the present and unleashed the forces that will shape the future of Punjabi cinema. Its success proved that Punjabi cinema can be a seamless transition to Hindi and thrive as a visually compelling story without the need for dubbing.

The film opened up new opportunities for the Punjabi film industry and demonstrated the potential of high-quality Punjabi content to kick-start a new billion-dollar industry.

  • This article has been brought to you by the Directorate of Culture and Heritage Research Center (CHRC) and is not necessarily representative of the views of The Herald

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/23418636.punjabi-cinema-verge-billion-bollar-boom-thanks-maula-jatt/?ref=rss Punjabi cinema on the brink of a billion dollar boom thanks to Maula Jatt

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