Film Review: Waar (2013)


Directed by: Bilal Lashari
Written and produced by: Hassan Waqas Rana
Music by: Amir Munawar
Cast members: Shaan Shahid, Shamoon Abbasi, Ayesha Khan, Meesha Shafi, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Ali Azmat, Kamran Lashari

:actual conversation:
#1: “Waar dekhnay ja raha hun.”
#2: “Suna hai achi film hai.”
#3: “Meri pehn da dupatta wapis kar oye jaisi nahin, achi tou ho gi hi.”

After making us wait for almost 2 years, watch trailers over and over again, Google the release date and details of the film, Waar is finally here, a film that surely lived up to the hype it created. (the most anticipated and most expensive film in the history of Pakistan) One must wonder, why it took so much time. The answer is: For all good things, we have to wait.

Waar is an action-packed intense thriller that focuses on the current War on Terror situation in Pakistan and incorporates the actual events in such a way that it sometimes blows your mind away. Now, the plot and story are typical and the script is weak but the way in which they’re executed is amazing. I was hoping for a twist in the plot or a mystery that would be revealed in the climax but there’s no such thing. The film is stylish, but there is less substance and more style, which is a drawback, obviously. A good film is a balance between style and substance.
Directed by our very talented Bilal Lashari who’s known for directing music videos of mainstream artists, I must say his work is impressive. He knows what he’s doing and he doesn’t try to kill it by overdoing it. There are a lot of things that Bollywood hasn’t even thought of, yet, and Lashari is doing like it’s a child’s play for him. I know it takes a lot of effort and time to work on a project that’s become a topic of discussion for people and he has proved himself. He indirectly asks us, “check ki hai bhai ki direction phir, hai na aala?” 

Major Mujtaba (played by Shaan Shahid) is a former army officer who has a dark and extremely sad past and that’s exactly the reason why he takes an early retirement. He’s one of the best officers and is needed when the time arrives and only he can prevent bad things from happening. His character story is good and is made even better with intense performance by Shaan.

maintenanceTalking about the rest of the cast members, performances are good and average but there’s not much of character progression, all the focus is on Mujtaba and the remaining cast looks like the extras in a dance number. The antagonist, Ramal (played by Shamoon Abbasi) could have been a much, much better character but the writer Hassan Waqas Rana didn’t put much effort into him. It’s also affected by Abbasi’s performance which isn’t compelling enough, it does work at times but there should’ve been more. Ali Azmat and Meesha Shafi are ridiculous especially Shafi, she’s trying to do I don’t know what and it looks terrible. Azmat tries too hard to be himself, acting like he’s also a rockstar in the film. Maybe he was, before he became a politician. After Shaan, I like Hamza Ali Abbasi‘s performance who plays the role of Ehtesham, a police officer.

Performances are also affected by excessive use of English language (dialogues in Urdu are much, much better), it feels like the actors are focusing more on the accent and much less on the expressions and emotions and it’s not a rocket science when you want to identify certain emotions and power in words. Moreover, my advice is that if you are writing an English script, then at least make it a little strong, include good vocabulary. (the English used in film is an equivalent of an application in the English exam in Matriculation + there are a lot of cheesy dialogues)

Technical aspects of the film are at par with any Bollywood or even Hollywood film. Background score and soundtrack are beautiful, totally support every frame of the video and why wouldn’t they? It took Amir Munawar 2 years to compose and complete the music and there’s hard work written all over it. (if you’re familiar with background score used in Punjabi films, you’d give Waar’s music a 100/10) Camera work and cinematography are too good, one of the best things about the film. There are a few scenes that has so much power and intensity in them, only because of brilliant cinematography. Say goodbye to nonsensical camera angles previously used by Lollywood.

Most of the people are calling Waar a propaganda film and criticizing and giving it a bad review on that basis. They must be forgetting the countless films that are made against Pakistan and other countries, a lot of which are positively reviewed by critics because a film is a piece of fiction, of course, you can use actual events in your film to enhance its power but at the end of the day, it still is a piece of fiction. All the fuss just because the film has Indian agents in it is pointless, and stupid. Where is that “propaganda” when Indian films use Pakistani agents in their films? Also, please refrain from judging any movie on the basis of a country where it’s made because it can cloud your judgement because of the love for your country. Judge it on the basis of its material; the performances, plot, script, technical aspects and its overall presentation.

Finally, Waar is a wonderfully presented and a gripping thriller that has almost everything you need in a movie these days and I’m completely sure that it’s better than a lot of Indian films produced this year. If you’re still unsure about whether you want to watch it or not, read the summary below:

+ Best film production to come out of Pakistan
+ Genuine effort by Bilal Lashari as a debut director
+ Brilliant camera work and cinematography
+ Beautiful background score and soundtrack
+ Intense performance by Shaan Shahid
+ Cool guy with a sniper rifle

– More style, less substance
– Weak script and cheesy dialogues
– Poor character progression

  • Excessive use of English Language

Score: 7.8