Everyone has to watch Waar, right? There’s just too much build-up and baggage that the film has been carrying for almost five years to ignore. Of course! We all went to watch Waar over the Eid holidays, which accounts for the high box office figures. However, all is not hunky dory with the film. Two of its strongholds are filming and soundtrack. Let me rephrase that. Two of its ONLY strongholds are filming and soundtrack.
Waar is a well made film, shot by Bilal Lashari with a smart camera and its soundtrack is contemporary. It brings Pakistani cinema to the present and pushes it forward while most Pakistani films still appear archaic and outdated in technology. Out of all the recent Pakistani films I have seen, Waar actually appears like a feature film instead of a glorified Tele-Film. It is extremely slick and the police academy bombing, the film’s pivot, is one of its best action sequences.
Waar’s biggest appeal is that it toes the anti-India line (is that really a good thing?) but beyond the surface sheen, the film’s story is as shallow as Aisha Khan’s accent. And speaking of accents, there are as many in the film as there are characters. Notable (and most annoying) are Aisha Khan, Shamoon Abbasi and Kamran Lashari. Waar’s native language, English, is its Achille’s Heel.
The technology may be modern but nothing else about Waar is. Okay, so if the ISPR has funded and released Waar as an Eid gift to Pakistanis who have been subjected to decades of anti-Pakistan propaganda in Bollywood films then I guess they got their salt’s worth in response. Everyone loved the India bashing, because that’s what most of us Pakistanis equate patriotism to. But what Waar simultaneously does is it feeds a phobia, especially in Meesha Shafi’s character. You have to watch the film to figure it out.
The characters (and their accents) may be weak but some performances are strong. I do think Shaan (Mujtaba) and Shamoom Abassi (Rumal) have delivered their dues. I found Hamza Abbasi (Ehtasham) to be a more likeable character than the “wanna gonna” Aisha Khan who lurks around the film like an unwanted apparition. Meesha Shafi and Ali Azmat are brief but believable.
Despite all the shortcomings (and there are many) I would support the success of Waar simply because it fuels Pakistani cinema and makes room for more films. Hopefully the next time Bilal Lashari picks up his camera to film – and I hope he does – he chooses a writer who can actually write and story-tell more effectively.