Lahori Badshah is a black and white Punjabi film released in July 1977. It ran for more than 75 consecutive weeks.

It would be two years yet for the release of Maula Jatt, the biggest grossing and probably best known film Pakistan has ever produced. But the genre of rural-based, blood-drenched feudal soap operas, which Maula Jatt epitomised, was already a staple of Punjabi cinema.

Sultan Rahi, was, until his murder in 1996, the icon of Punjabi pictures. In this movie, his character runs to Lahore seeking revenge against Malik sahib (Mustafa Qureishi) who has murdered his father. Befriended by a gangster, the young boy is given a hockey stick as a weapon and goes about creating a reputation for himself as a fearless fighter. Part Robin Hood, part Superman and part Godfather, Lahori Badshah is always around to save a woman’s honour and assist the poor. After entering into a testy alliance with his arch rival, Badshah realises that his partner of convenience is, in fact, his father’s murderer.

This is raw cinema for a rough-hewn audience. But what it lacks in subtlety and finesse it makes up for with heart and non-stop bashing and smashing.

Noor Jehan, aka Madam or Malika Taranum (Queen of Melody), who sings every one of the film’s songs, is without dispute the single most important and influential figure in Pakistani cinema history. I have always found that Noor Jehan was in her element when she sang in Punjabi rather than in Urdu. In Punjabi, she is absolutely one with the music, not just the rhythms and melodies but the lyrics as well. She inhabits her Punjabi songs in a way she doesn’t with Urdu. And while she was able to sing in any number of moods and styles the way she let loose in Punjabi feudal movies is spectacular.

Akhiyan Laryan Te Pyar Hoya is an upbeat teaser. Composed by Kamal Ahmed, who is assisted by the obscure Chandra Mohan Ram Beli, this song is driven by Punjabi beats, swelling strings and Madam’s heaving breast. Her heavy breathing and flirtatious moans make this number a true piece of gold. When she’s not emoting her love, she lets her voice burst forth in a typical Punjabi rural style. Like the flare of a trumpet, there is a certain blast of sound that hurtles forth out of her mouth and commands as much attention as the hero’s bloody gandasa (axe). Or in this case, a hockey stick.

Nate Rabe’s novel, The Shah of Chicago, is out now from Speaking Tiger.

A version of this story appeared on the blog and has been reproduced here with permission.