Waar

Nov 6, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Entertainment, General, Screenplay

*Spoiler alert. Proceed at your own risk*

When I first saw the trailer of the movie Waar (translated as “The Strike”), I was blown away into an honest-to-God-awe. Something like what I felt when I saw the first episode of Burqa Avenger and when watching Khuda Ke Liyay. Who doesn’t like to see their own people kick ass on the big screen? The trailer was enough for me to want to see the movie, bring it up everywhere and at times repeatedly and excitedly ask the same people if they knew when it was going to be released.

When the news came that it would be released on Eid, it was decided that it would be the awesomest-longest Eid vacation ever. We would watch one of the coolest movies ever made, recline on our seats with our fat bellies facing the projected screen.

The cinema was jam packed and the excitement of the crowd made one feel happy. Hey! It made one feel Pakistani. However, as a frequent moviegoer I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed.

Waar starts with 2 suspects in a room along with the main protagonist (Mujtaba – played by Shaan) interrogating them. The first thing he does after exchanging a few words and puffing on his cigarette is to shoot one suspect in the hand. The very first question that I asked myself (well.. after going WTF!) was, “Is this how we interrogate suspects?” And, “Does the movie endorse such an act as heroic and without any consequences?”

The Hero

Mujtaba is a ex-serviceman with an impeccable record. He retired after his family was killed in a vengeful attack by the villian, Ramal, a serial killer turned independent contractor assisting the Research and Analysis Wing (Raw) of India. He is a Rizvi (if one is to consider the wife’s tombstone), meaning that he is one of the minorities in Pakistan who are frequently targeted. I would have to applaud the movie makers for the depiction here. Mujtaba is is shown smoking, crying and occasionally changing shirts. It was however pretty odd that throughout the movie, only back is shown bare. Never the front. Could it be that the mighty Shaan has fallen prey to the pot belly?

The Villian

Ramal has been depicted with the right amount of cursedness (nahoosat). However, at times the evil was too much. He kills every henchman cum facilitator that he received assistance from in the movie! Whether it be the guy who drove him from Kashmir (snapped his neck and used his body as firewood), or the old baba henchman who told him, “Gaari tayyar hai” (injected him with chemical bomb liquid) or the middle aged man who supplied him with weapons (when he asks for his payment, Ramal is shown wearing his gloves and asking, “Hmm, akelay rehtay hou?”).

General observations

I have never seen so much makeup on a sister (Javeria, played by Ayesha Khan) mourning at her brother’s (Ehtesham played by Hamza Ali Abbasi) fresh grave. Made me snort my drink, cough and laugh like anything to the embarrassment of me and the poor unacquainted fellow seated with me. The lack of interest and poker face expression by to-be child suicide bombers upon being rescued also came as a surprise. You are an indoctrinated individual. Do something. Don’t just stand there. The site of a RAW agent dressed in leather pants and wearing shoes in her own home while waltzing was equally amusing.

All of these are however are minor deviances to detail which one could tolerate. The biggest weakness of Waar are the action scenes / sequences. Since this movie is an action based movie, one could at least expect the fighting to be good. However, it leaves you uneasily shifting in your chair.

With a budget of PKR of PKR 170 – 200 milliion, its hard to recall a single scene in which one witnesses a person shooting from a gun and the other person being hit by the bullet with the orientation of the camera being intact.  It’s a basic illustration from the likes of any B grade action movie to all kinds of 3D games imaginable (including classics like Counter-Strike, Tomb Raider, Duke Nukem and Doom).

One gets to watch a lot of scenes where they show one person shooting from a gun followed by another scene where the other person is shot. The result is bewildered terrorists running away from gunshots from the Pakistani Army and its helicopters. The animated artificiality of most explosions was also very apparent. Talking about explosions, did they say that the chemical bomb has a radius of 2 kms?

The final brawl between Ramal and Mujtaba is also choreographed and shot to the viewer’s dissatisfaction.

Since the movie was mostly in English and partly Urdu, adding subtitles would have added value to the whole experience.

Verdict

If one measures Waar with all the other Pakistani movies ever made, it could most definitely be considered to be on the top with a handful of contenders. However, if the movie is measured by international standards, then Lollywood has a long long way to go in this particular genre.

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