In the documentary chronicling the film-making process of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic war film, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, the troubled production phase behind the director’s masterpiece is discussed in great detail. From bad weather wrecking expensive sets to lead actors either suffering near-fatal heart attacks or showing up out of shape for their characters – the yearlong principal photography for Apocalypse Now was nothing short of an annus horribilis for the film’s crew.
Although not in the same category as that of the cult classic, Hassan Waqas Rana’s Yalghaar seems to have endured a similar fate so far. Initially slated to release in December 2015, the film has been delayed time and again for a plethora of reasons.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Rana revealed that even though the movie was on-course for a timely release, he decided to re-shoot a few scenes which resulted in the filming process for Yalghaar becoming longer than expected.
Initially aiming for a movie laden with more visual effects, Rana filmed keeping that end result in mind before altering his approach later on. “I changed my mind because when I saw the rough cut, I wasn’t too pleased with it and so I thought of doing some re-shoots,” he explained.
With the Pakistani film industry not having many precedents in the genre, Rana acknowledged that the film was bound to have a few difficulties given that this was the first time a project of this stature is being undertaken. “Even Apocalypse Now had its own set of problems. Here things are happening a little differently as this is the first time something on such a grand scale is happening in the country,” he added.
Wanting to retain an element of realism in the motion picture, the crew had to get accustomed to a different technology during the re-shoots. “Later on, we had different filming equipment, including a Letus exoskeleton Gimbal, which offered the camera more pay-load thus making our shots more dynamic,” the director said.
While it may have taken time to convince the cast and crew to rejoin the sets, it eventually contributed to the postponement. “I am working with an ensemble cast and getting them back together once they finished their scenes was very difficult. Most of them had moved on to other projects so lining up their schedules was an issue.”
Not willing to get drawn into a discussion about the release date, Rana stated that as of now his primary focus is to oversee the film’s production to the end, though he did remain confident about an eventual premiere some time in 2016.
The re-shoots and prolonged filming has left Rana with the arduous task of going through several of hours of footage. With film editor David Hamilton currently working on the rough cut at the prestigious Pinewood Studios in London, the director said the team is in talks with a separate editor for the final cut.
As post-production for Yalghaar continues to happen at a steady pace, Rana revealed that principal photography for Waar 2 is also set take place in London in the coming few months. “We aim to shoot scenes of the film in London with actors Bilal Ashraf and Shaan Shahid,” he said.
Yalghaar and Waar 2 are not the only ventures that Rana seems to be occupied, with the Waar writer and producer sharing that he is also working on a superhero movie. The yet-to-be-titled project is still in the pre-production and planning stage and is being written by Rana and Ashraf. Although it is too early to say this, but if the movie comes to fruition, it would be the first superhero film in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2016.