2011 seems to be slated as the year of the rebirth of Pakistani cinema. With all the excitement about the imminent release of Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol, the industry is now abuzz with news of Bilal Lashari’s first feature-length venture Waar, which is currently in post production. The film has been produced by MindWorks Media and has been shot in collaboration with Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The film has been receiving a lot of attention due to rumours of a release by Warner Bros. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) slates the release date as June 1, 2011 and the estimated budget is reported to be a whopping $2,000,000 (Rs170, 000,000).
The director of the film, Bilal Lashari, is well known in the industry. A graduate of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, USA, where he earned a BFA in Motion Pictures and Television in 2008, Lashari has already made a name for himself in directing music videos. He has worked with top artists and bands like Abrarul Haq, Atif Aslam, Meekal Hassan Band, Jal and EP.
In 2008, Lashari won ‘Best Music Video Director’ at the Lux Style Awards and ‘Best Pop Video’ at the MTV Pakistan Music Video Awards for “Sajni”. He has also directed the popular video “Chal Bulleya” for Meekal Hassan Band.
Lashari also worked as assistant director for Shoaib Mansoor during the filming of Khuda Kay Liye.
Waar (to strike) is an action/thriller and drama film. It has been written by Hassan Waqas Rana and stars Pakistan’s actors, Shaan Shahid and Shamoon Abbasi. It is also said to star Sadia Hyat Khan, a new comer in the industry.
While it is thrilling to hear news of a Pakistani feature backed by a major studio, the subject matter fails to excite. The storyline has been inspired by the war on terror in Pakistan and its effects on the world, but with a stylised interpretation of it. It is something that cinema goers worldwide have been exposed to over and over again. One hopes that Rana has penned a script that finds a new and refreshing angle to explore war and terrorism.
The soundtrack of the film has been done by Qayaas, a Pakistani band. According to Khurram Waqar, the lead guitarist of Qayaas, “Inquilaab”, “Khayaal” and “Pal” are all part of the soundtrack. The presence of Qayaas in the film makes the project sound even more interesting.
This English-language film has been shot at various locations in and outside of Pakistan, from Lahore, to the beautiful hills of Islamabad and the breathtaking Swat Valley, where a major military operation was launched two years ago. Some parts of the film have also been shot in Istanbul, Turkey.
The film will first be screened at some major international film festivals and will then be released worldwide.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2011.