In the last few years Pakistani cinema has been able to produce 1-2 movies which could be chalked as a ‘win’ because it showed some promise that maybe, just maybe this is the moment that our film industry will start a revival process. Sadly those 1 – 2 movies came about 5 years ago and then it has been zilch. Other mediums – TV Serials, Tele Films, Short Plays and theatre in general have progressed. In all fairness Pakistan’s TV serials minus a period of about 3-4 years in the 2000’s have always been superb high quality stuff. And now with the rise in theatre and number of channels and more and more serials it is easy to see that there is a lot of talent and a lot of promise in Pakistan. However – films were missing.
This year has seen a complete breakthrough in that. Almost 3 films that I know of have been released with enough of a marketing clout to create a stir or two. And the trailers for all 3 did look quite promising. The 3 in question – ‘Main hun Shahid Afridi’ , ‘Josh’ and ‘Waar’. Although I have not as yet been able to see the first two, I did manage to see Waar. For the benefit of those reading this who haven’t seen the movie I shall not talk about the story or give any spoilers.
The movie is clearly funded by ISPR and is most definitely a response to the plethora of Bollywood films with anti Pakistan propaganda and also a dig against Hollywood films quite conveniently using Pakistan as a label to be used with terrorism and instability. It was needed and I have no qualms about it! The propaganda war needs to be played on both sides to be fair.
Waar stars Shaan Shahid in the leading role, Shamoon Abbasi as the psychotic villainous operative, Ali Azmat as a ambitious politician, Hamza Ali Abbasi as a Special Police officer and Ayesha Khan as an intelligence officer. And also Meesha Shafi as the RAW agent in Pakistan.
The opening scene of the movie is a fine example of the fact that this movie truly does mark a huge ‘win’ for Pakistani Film Industry. The production quality was top notch. The camera was extremely commendable. The background scores go well throughout the movie. The first scene really was executed quite well and honestly had a ‘wow’ moment worthy of any Hollywood action block buster.
Full marks must be given to Bilal Lashari – the director, for the effort put into the movie. It is definitely a leap forward. The first half had a lot of good ‘wow’ moments (Please bear in mind here that we are judging a Pakistani movie so the relative bar should also be seen accordingly and some leeway and leverage given in judgment). It can easily pass off as a Hollywood ‘B’ Grade movie and that is not a put down – it is a compliment because that is a huge leap forward.
The performances from the cast were good. But I was most impressed by Ayesha Khan. The dialogue deliver, the emotions, reactions everything were done extremely well by her. She plays her role quite comfortably. Also Shamoom does a brilliant job as the villain. Your natural instinct is to hate the character and also be concerned with the psychotic tendencies (like enjoying the struggler after killing someone). Spot on performances from these two.
The entire movie was in English language btw (like 95% of the film) so the fact that most of the cast pulled it off relatively comfortably is also a huge wow. Yes some of the dialogues delivery seemed forced but progress is always gradual. All the action sequences in the first half were well executed. The second half was a bit downhill in terms of that – it seemed sporadic and haphazard.
Overall the script is also weak, there are some obvious loopholes. There are some very off story points and moments in the acting. And yes there is enough fodder in it to be made fun of. The dialogues written were also not always strong. But like I said, progress is gradual and not sudden rocket launches (if I can get away with using that analogy).
Kudos to the team of Waar, I think a proud moment for Pakistani Cinema for sure. And I look forward to seeing the other two major releases for the year and hope that there are some proud moments there as well. I would not be overly critical of Waar but would rather choose to celebrate the achievements of the film. Good job – keep it up!