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Waar (Urdu: وار‎; WārIPA: [ʋɑːr], meaning “The Strike”) is a 2013 Urdu-English language Pakistani action thriller and drama film directed by Bilal Lashari[1] and written, produced by Hassan Waqas Rana.[2] The film features Shaan Shahid, Meesha Shafi, Ali Azmat, Shamoon Abbasi, Ayesha Khan and Kamran Lashari

The film is a stylized depiction of events surrounding the war on terror in Pakistan,[6][10] including the attack on a Police Academy atLahore in 2009.[11]

Major Mujtaba (played by Shaan) is a former Pakistan Army officer, who took an early retirement from the service. The plot involves a counter-terrorism operation being conducted in the Northwestern tribal region of Pakistan, led by Ehtesham (played by Hamza Ali Abbasi) and coordinated by an intelligence officer played by Ayesha. Ehtesham and the intelligence officer come to know of a major terrorist attack that can only be countered with the help of Major Mujtaba.

Cast

  • Shaan Shahid[9] as Major Mujtaba, former Pakistan Army Officer
  • Shamoon Abbasi[9] as Ramal, Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing’s operative
  • Meesha Shafi[9] as Laxmi, Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing’s operative
  • Ali Azmat[9] as Ejaz Khan, politician
  • Hamza Ali Abbasi as Ehtesham[9]
  • Ayesha Khan[9] as Javeria, an intelligence officer[12] and Ehtesham’s sister
  • Bilal Lashari as Ali (sniper)
  • Kamran Lashari – Head of security wing
  • Batin Farooqi – Militant
  • Uzma Khan - Mujtaba’s wife

Production

Shaan Shahid (right) along with Bilal Lashari during the film shooting.

The film’s title “Waar” is an Urdu language word meaning “to strike”.[11] Waar is primarily an English language film with some dialogues in Urdu. According to the producer Hassan Waqas Rana they considered dubbing the movie in Urdu but dropped the idea as it compromised the lead role played by Shaan Shahid. It is reported to include four hundred visual effects.[13] The film that took three years to complete[14] is Bilal Lashari’s debut as a director, who earlier has directed music videos[15] and assisted Shoaib Mansoor in Khuda Kay Liye.[16] Earlier it was reported that Tom Delmar who has worked as stunt director in a number of Hollywood movies would direct the film,[17] later Lashari was chosen as the director who was already working with Rana on another project. Ali Azmat and Meesha Shafi both of whom are known for singing are making their acting debut in the film.[16]

Casting

Originally Ali Azmat’s and Ayesha Khan’s roles were limited to guest appearance that were later expanded to full roles.[13] Hamza Ali Abbasi who intended to work as assistant director on the film was casted as an actor.[18]

Filming

Locations for the filming were reported in 2011 to include Lahore, Islamabad and Swat Valley. Scenes were also reportedly shot in Istanbul. The film is produced by Mind Works Media. Earlier it was reported that the film was shot in collaboration with the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of Pakistan Army[6] but the director Bilal Lashari denied any such collaboration saying that the confusion might have arisen as Mind Works Media worked on a documentary film The Glorious Resolve along with ISPR at the same time when Waar was being filmed.[19] The film is reported to be the highest budgeted film of Pakistani film industry with a budget of about PKR: 170 million .[6][7]

Reception

Release

International release poster of Waar.

The film’s release date was changed repeatedly and finally it was released on 16 October 2013 coinciding with Eid al-Adha in Pakistan.[20] Earlier it was scheduled to release on 6 September 2013.[7] The first theatrical trailer of the movie was launched in January 2012[21] while the second in January 2013.[20] One of the trailers was viewed more than 500,000 times the same month, making it one of the top five videos of YouTube.[11] The film was dubbed as the most anticipated film in the history of the Pakistani Cinema.[22] When the film could not make it to the screens in a considerable time after the release of trailers, the critics dubbed it as another project that will get shelved.[13] Shamoon Abbasi, the main antagonist, cited the lack of resources for filming as one of the reasons for its delay.[12] The film premiered on 10 October at Karachi[23] and on 14 October 2013 at Rawalpindi/Islamabad.[24] The film was given adults-only rating by the Sindh’s provincial censor board for use of obscene language and violence.[20] Waar was released in about forty five theaters across the country.[25] The film was distributed by ARY Films and Mandviwalla Entertainment.[26] Earlier it was reported that the film would be distributed by Warner Bros..[6] The film is reported to be released in twenty five countries[14] and is all set to be released in the UK.[27]Bilal Lashari says film may release in India.[28]

Waar strikes UAE[29] cinemas on 12 December, where the movie actors graced the red carpet at the Grand Cinema, Wafi City.[30][31]

Waar released in cinemas across UK on 17 January 2014.[32]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
IMDB 9.5/10 stars[33]
DAWN News 3/5 stars[34]
The Express Tribune 3/5 stars[35]

The film received positive reviews from critics and became the highest grossing film in Pakistan of all time.IMDb puts Waar highest rated feature film of 2013 globally.[36] It is rated 9.5 out of 10 in a polling based on 18000 users rating, ranking above films like The Wolf of Wall Street and Gravity.[37]

Rafay Mahmood for The Express Tribune gave the movie three out of five stars and commended the cinematography, editing and sound design but viewed critically the story and some performances. According to the review ‘Waar’ is a “piece of pointless propaganda (and) is going to further confuse an already puzzled nation about Pakistan’s outlook on counter-terrorism. In the long run, it will prove to be a great feature for Pakistani cinema but a damaging one for intellect.[35]

Mohammad Kamran Jawaid of Dawn gave ‘Waar’ a negative review, calling the screenplay a “codswallop of instances taped together to form narrative coherency”. He also criticized the film’s English language, stating that “catering to the international market is one thing, but relying solely on it is either ignorance or arrogance”. His review labels ‘Waar’ as a “‘showy’ enterprise.” where the “story, the plot, the resolve – in fact everything – hangs on a failing thread”[34]

Salman Khalid for Daily Times talks about the message given by the movie that highlights the “Pakistani perspective on the menace of terrorism”, while acclaiming the story, direction, action sequences and individual performances.[38]

Indian film director Ram Gopal Varma praised the film, saying he was “stunned beyond belief” and congratulated Bilal Lashari.[39][40]

Critics say the movie’s allusions to rival nuclear power India as the enemy only serves to deepen the antagonism between the two countries.[41]

Box office

Waar opened on the first day of Eid al-Adha on 42 screens, the widest release ever, across Pakistan with 100% occupancy and it broke records with capacity audiences. It earned₨1.14 crore (US$110,000) in its first day, thus breaking the previous record of ₨0.9 crore (US$84,000) held by Chennai Express.[42][43] It earned a total of ₨4.26 crore(US$400,000) till Friday night, breaking all previous records of Eid collections.[44] Waar collected ₨9.7 crore (US$910,000) in its extended first week of nine days[45] and added another ₨3.7 crore (US$350,000), thus making a total of ₨13 crore (US$1.2 million) in thirteen days.[46] The film managed to collect ₨1.9 crore (US$180,000) in its 4th week but was still behind Syed Noor’s 1998 film Choorian, which earned ₨20 crore (US$1.9 million) and then on its 36th day of screening, it broke the record held by Choorian, thus becoming the highest grossing film in Pakistan by earning ₨20 crore (US$1.9 million).[8][47]

Music

The film’s music that took almost two years to get completed is composed by Amir Munawar[3][48] while Qayaas and Umair Jaswal have contributed a song each.

Sequel

On 7 December 2013 ARY Films and MindWorks Media joined for the production of Waar 2, sequel of Waar.[49]

Waar 2 will be shot in Pakistan, UK, Russia, Turkey and Yugoslavia.[50]