Ultimatum (1976)


Ultimatum (1976)
: Sultan Rahi, Aasia, Ghazala, Kaifi, Inayat Bhatti, Iqbal Hasan, Afzal, Bahar
Director: Kaifi
Nutshell: mid 70’s potboiler is the usual vengeance based, social injustice yarn


This film with the rather catchy title was yet another completely formulaic effort from the swinging 70’s that managed a fair run at the Box Office despite its shortcomings. We had been initially drawn to the film having misread its title in Urdu as “Ultee Madam” (the Upside Down Madam) which would have been quite a mouth-watering prospect. Unfortunately (for depraved sleaze hounds like us) this movie ranks fairly low on the sleaze-scale with its emphasis firmly on providing juicy, rousing, crowd-pleasing, dialogues that are so much the trademark of writing directing brothers Bhattti – Inayat Husain and Kaifayat Husain – Lollywoods equivalent of the Coen Brothers.

The movie follows the exploits of various loosely connected characters all of whom have vengeance on their agenda – two of them have raped sisters who committed suicide to avenge while others have various back stabbings to settle. Jabroo (Sultan Rahi) and Inayat Bhatti are the two with raped siblings to avenge, languishing in jail waiting for their opportunity to strike. On the other hand there is earnest bus driver and side kick Nanna who are in trouble with the local evil Chaudhary (Afzal Ahmed) who’s Ghunda Tax they have successfully sabotaged thus far.

Saucy village beauty (Shehzadi) GhazalaDrama from "Ultimatum" is the apple of the Chaudhary’s eye but she only has eyes for drab goodie two shoes bus driver Sultan providing the Chaudhary another reason to despise the driver. Everyone’s paths intertwine as they somehow do in all Lollywood films and there are humongous complications and coincidences along the way – another desi movie trademark. Thrown into the mix somewhere along are westernized, blonde bombshell Aasia and her weasley accomplice who looks mysteriously like Sultan the driver in psychedelic gear.

The emphasis here is on meaty crowd pleasing dialogues written by the brothers Bhatti interspersed with some spicy dances by the seasoned Ghazala and Aasia. Iqbal Hasan plays the sole straight cop with his customary aplomb and Sultan Rahi shows that spark that was to shortly transform him into a cinematic sensation for the next couple of decades.

The charismatic Afzal Ahmed is his polished self as the scheming Chaudhary but it his bumptious blimpish sidekick goon Bashira who is the real scene stealer with his “badmarsh” antics. The Brothers Bhatti reserve the best lines for themselves which somewhat makes up for their distinct lack of screen charisma. Ghazala sparkles as the feisty, chatty village belle while Aasia has less scope despite the bewitching array of blonde wigs and Germanic schoolgirl accessories. From a pretty routine, formula sort of fare – perhaps the lasting memory is of various cast members menacingly and energetically announcing “Aae Sadda Ulteematum Hae!” – refrain repeated at least a dozen times during the course of events.

The most brilliantly inane dialogue is reserved for Bahar who early in the film snorts “mera puttar kadi ghalt kaam nain kar sakda‚Ķass laeen, ke who mera puttar hae!” (“My son can never do any wrong, because he is my son!” – Now there’s logic for you. Ultimately this pot-boiler is a rather disappointingly average film.