Waar: All that glitters…

Published: October 11, 2013
Waar is propaganda that will confound an already confused nation. PHOTOS: FILE

Waar is propaganda that will confound an already confused nation. PHOTOS: FILE


No matter how clichéd the subject of your story is, a good script can always save the day but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen for Waar.

Waar is a film about Major Mujhtaba (Shaan), an ex-army officer who takes an early retirement from the forces due to personal reasons. A special police task force is trying to fight terrorism in the tribal areas with Ehtesham (Hamza Ali Abbasi) leading the field operations. His sister (Ayesha Khan) makes strategies for the team, which come to a standstill when they realise that Pakistan is about to be hit by a major terrorist attack and none but the retired Major Ehtesham can lead such a complex counter-terrorism operation.

On the political front, Ejaz Khan (Ali Azmat) talks about a positive change in Pakistani politics as he sits with some unnamed politicians who are actually Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari look-alikes from the political parody Hum Sab Umeed Se Hain. The rest of the story oscillates around Pakistan’s sovereignty and the Indian agents who are trying to dismantle it.

The English script fails to do justice to Pakistan’s cultural manifestation, which cannot be aptly conveyed in any other language but Urdu. The film doesn’t have a single one-liner worthy of being remembered.

When penning down a script, one tends to ‘think’ and process dialogues in the mother tongue – which, for most Pakistani writers, including Dr Hassan Rana, is Urdu. This is why Dr Rana’s English scriptwriting comes across as hollow, lackluster and deficient in narrative finesse.

That, however, is not the primary concern. The real problem is the cultural inaccuracies and immaturity with which Pakistan’s gravest issue – terrorism – is addressed. It’s disheartening to see Pakistan’s most awaited film turn out to be a bland, peculiar and uninspiring piece of propaganda.

Post-bin Laden’s death, Hollywood has moved beyond the depiction of the “Big bad Arab”, and is now exploring and experimenting with villainous characters in films. We, on the other hand, find our mainstream narrative fixated on anatagonising India. The two RAW agents Ramal (Shamoon Abbasi) and Laxmi (Meesha Shafi) are shown to be the primary cause of all things bad and it’s the Indians who not only fund political murders but also suicide bomb attacks. The icing on the cake is that even the lady who does social work by day and seduces Pakistani politicians by night is a RAW agent. Sigh.

The only scenes where Urdu is spoken are those in Waziristan and the characters’ Pashto accent is so funny that even Umer Sharif can mimic a better accent than the one depicted in the film!

As for the actors, Shaan does a commendable job. Continuously evolving as an actor, he no longer sports, the gujjar image that we have known him for, and has become the most slick and sophisticated face of Pakistani cinema. He is undoubtedly at par with any mainstream artist from Hollywood or Bollywood.

Hamza Ali Abbasi is improving by the day and could prove to be an asset for Pakistani cinema. The remaining actors, including Shamoon, fall prey to a horrid script and both Meesha Shafi and Ali Azmat fail in their attempts at proving their acting skills.

Having said that, Waar is easily the most well-executed action thriller that has come out of this region. With cinematography and editing dealt with great care and attention, it has set the bar high for local and Bollywood action thrillers.

A grand-yet-controlled sound design is what keeps you glued to your seats in a film, and kudos to director Bilal Lashari for getting the balance between gunshots and dialogues right. The neck-breaking sound effect seems real and the shots fired from a Berretta are distinct from the ones fired from a Taurus pistol.

The underrated Qayyas provides an exceptional heavy metal soundtrack for the film and Umair Jaswal’s vocals take your breath away in a scene when the special operations team is practising the walk-in-fire technique.

Verdict:  Watch Waar for a mind-blowing cinematic experience but don’t expect a discourse. This piece of pointless propaganda 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. 

Score: 3/5

Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (62)

  • Shabash
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:03PM

    Seriously ET why are you publishing reviews that contain spoilers? The writer might have his own view on the movie but you should not ruin it for those who wish to see it. Atleast you couldve waited till this thursday!


  • Oct 11, 2013 - 8:10PM


    I agree…

    I dont understand whom are they focusing? the masses ? Mein hoon shahid Afridi was a very well made movie… keeping up with the desi content… but this movie is made only for those who live on the other side of the bridge only…


  • Asad
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:14PM

    How many films have put Pakistan in a bad light from India? Hundreds. Are you forgetting the likes of Agent Vinod, d-day among many others. You are obsessed with India and your biaseness shows. Nothing but liberal fascists.


  • Asif Butt
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:15PM

    @ AUTHOR

    Please learn to write NEUTRAL reviews about movies or stop writing about them , atleast professionally.

    Its easily very likely the film is terrible as you say it is. Nothing surprising.

    But WHY do you have objections related to the movie showing all things bad based on RAW ?

    Do you have any personal problem with that ?

    Besides , movies are just movies. India for decades bases all evil and problems that its army face on Pakistan. Then why do you have problem when a Pakistani movie does the same regarding India ?

    This article was just about the movie , but the way you mixed in your PERSONAL OPINIONS makes it the actual PROPAGANDA and political in nature.


  • Indian
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:16PM

    Packiwood is at best


  • Yumna
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:17PM

    So the film is good but the only reason you are upset iabout the narrative being about negative India when Indian films have depicted a negative Pakistan for years. The irony!


  • Aamir
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:22PM

    In the past ET has not given favourable reviews to Pakistani films so I’m not that surprised. What’s wrong with showing India as the enemy. They done this us numerous times in Bollywood films and who is actually behind the insurgencies in Baluchistan. Majority of action films don’t have outstanding scripts so what’s new. I do agree with the reviewer that the film should not have not been made in English and the Urdu patriotic dialogues would have gave been more effective. The bottom line is we need more feel good factor and patriotic films considering what’s happening around us. In that Bilal Lashari has delivered. Brilliant action movie.


  • kanwal
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:27PM

    I will still watch it. I will really appreciate the next time ET puts a big big Spoiler Alert sign somewhere near the title though.


  • faizaan
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:30PM

    Ofcourse being critical of India and their machinations,is a big no-no for a section of our population.


  • erudite
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:33PM

    The writer himself seems already confused,dichotomy in what ever you said, huh


  • Khurram Awan
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:42PM

    So according to the author the film is bland and uninspiring piece of propaganda. The reason he gave is that at some instances the movie revolves around the involvement of India in Pakistan. With due respect to the author I have seen tons of Indians movies where they follow the same narrative but their writers never call it a Baseless propaganda. But thanks to ET we can safely say that anything against India is actually a Profanity and against the Patriotic norms of Express Tribune Group. .


  • faisal
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:46PM

    Rafay Mahmood, I’m sure you enjoyed Agent Vinod and learned something about Pakistan!


  • S
    Oct 11, 2013 - 8:53PM

    The author is clearly obsessed with India to write a balanced and neutral review. How many indian mvoies show Pak in bad light? What is the big deal even if what author says is true? although I think she is exagrating.

    The only point i agree to is that it should have been made in Urdu but nonetheless IA, it iwll prove useful for our cinema.


  • sam
    Oct 11, 2013 - 9:02PM

    Why is India the standard?


  • Connie Chung - Austria
    Oct 11, 2013 - 9:16PM

    The biggest critics of things that are Pakistan is Pakistanis! Have you noticed they are hesitant to support their fellow country men, what is it please give me reasons to understand you people.


  • Saba Awan
    Oct 11, 2013 - 9:18PM

    @Auther : ah well what do we expect from a pro-Indian newspaper.So you think RAW is not involved in terrorist attacks in Pakistan ? how innocent you are!!! .This is not a review but a spoiler and biased personal opinion.


  • ironMan!
    Oct 11, 2013 - 10:06PM

    .lol seriously after reading this bizarre review I’m opting out of reading Tribune ever again! Bet this was published in hatred to the other media channel which has its copyright!


  • AverageMoe
    Oct 11, 2013 - 10:38PM

    The reason why ET doesn’t like this movie is because it isn’t anti-Pakistan, if this were the Hurt Locker or Madras Cafe you would of said it was a ‘great movie’, but if Pakistan makes a similar movie, it’s ‘propaganda’.

    Every single war movie you watch, whether it be from Hollywood or Bollywood(or any other wood) is propaganda, because it tell’s their side of the story, ‘Waar’ tells ours.

    You gave a bunch of spoilers in this review because you don’t want people to go watch this movie, you want this movie to fail, I’m not surprised since ET is partners with the International Herald Tribune, this movie doesn’t appease your American masters.

    I’m pretty sure ET moderators won’t post my comment because there’s no such as thing as ‘free speech’ on this site, any pro-Pakistan comment submitted is rarely posted, because it doesn’t fit your narrative of this country.

    Even if this comment is posted, it’s because it was edited by your moderators.


  • RJ
    Oct 11, 2013 - 10:39PM

    It is so obvious that ET thrives on negative criticism. There is rarely a review that highlights the positives of a movie. Since it receives a good dose of Indian readers, i guess they have refrained to actually appreciate Pakistani cinema’s effort here. And this is why Indian media has the upper hand because they take every opportunity to bash us! While the author is as it is a highly biased and confused reviewer, it is saddening that even the people running the department aren’t concerned over the fact that such one-sided reviews are being published. PS: Since he is so pro-Indian, the author should read reviews by people like Anupama Chopra to learn how NOT to give a partial review.


  • Ricky
    Oct 11, 2013 - 10:51PM

    meesha safi , perizad in BMB and now Laxmi in WAAR, seems like she is quite good at playing Indian roles !!!


  • Bharat
    Oct 11, 2013 - 10:52PM

    Message is important but more important is the quality of the movie. If the movie is good, I shall watch it even if it’s anti-India. After all it’s just a movie !


  • DJ
    Oct 11, 2013 - 11:22PM

    Should Have Named the movie “WAR” . Just opposite(flip) of “RAW”. But rather than blaming anyone else I will blame Indians like Mahesh Bhatt who give their consent to Shan to remake his movie and choosing Ali Azamat to sing a song in his movie.


  • choclet
    Oct 11, 2013 - 11:32PM

    rafay thanks for confirming my instinct. a few days back i commented: had enough of shaan and themes about terrorism. in fact the more i saw the trailer of this film, the more it gave me odd vibes!
    actually the problem with films like waar is that such directors lose balance! they concentrate so much on execution with hollywood and bolly in mind, that they forget about the story, characterization and screenplay.
    in case of lashari he has directed some finely visualized music videos and that was for the simple reason that he had one job: to (just) visualize to complement the lyrics – written by others!
    by the way rafay, u forgot to mention how authentic is the story considering it claims to be based on true events!
    next is 021 or something and again about terrorism n with shaan!!!


  • John Hassan
    Oct 11, 2013 - 11:49PM

    It’s a Brilliant movie! Hats off to Dr. Hassan Rana and Bilal Lashari for making a such a pleasurable Cinematic experience. Something as we Pakistanis should be proud of. Majority of the film maybe in English, however it’s a simple story of Good vs Evil where the Good guy wins in the end and can be understood by anyone speaking any language.
    A Must see for ALL!


  • Oct 12, 2013 - 12:18AM

    I mostly watch movies for entertainment not for taking notes and preparing my presentations based upon it.If it’s some good action then it’s almost a novelty in the world of lollywood.Let’s watch it and be ready to be entertained. :)


  • optimist
    Oct 12, 2013 - 1:17AM

    @ Author, who asked you to focus too much on script when watching a high qaulity action thriller movie? For script, may I recommend movie Lamha for you!


  • optimist
    Oct 12, 2013 - 1:22AM

    @ Connie Chung

    It is sad but true. It is lack of confidence in us. We don’t value our people and only give them respect if some other country acknowledges them. We claim to love Pakistan but make fun of our PM for liking local dishes… America’s cheapest food chain McDonalds is a sign of ‘class’ in our country.
    I remember a passenger making fun of Pilot’s accent (when it wasn’t bad) just because he wanted him to sound like an American or British (despite being a PIA pilot)!


  • PakPower
    Oct 12, 2013 - 2:19AM

    No thanks for this review. I am glad I read the comments first.


  • Magnanimity
    Oct 12, 2013 - 3:12AM

    I think ,you don’t go through newspapers.Indian army chief admitted himself that Indian army and agencies carried secret operations in Pakistan.What kind of proof do you demand ?

    Stop bashing Pakistani stuff always and please learn that what should be criticized and what shouldn’t b criticized .

  • Aisha
    Oct 12, 2013 - 7:55AM

    I must say pathetic piece of review writing. It seems the only problem you have with the movie is that it’s a propaganda against India. Well for someone like me who has grown up watching Indian movies full of trash about pakistan, It’s a welcome relief. Secondly half the script is in English. So what? Don’t pakistani masses watch Hollywood movies? They walk out of the cinema completely aware of the storyline and script.


  • Adil
    Oct 12, 2013 - 8:24AM

    The difference is all non Pakistani terror films are more realistic when they show Pakistan as an epicenter of terrorism vs Pakistani films that blame India. Same time more Pakistanis are killed by terrorism vs. citizens from the rest of the world together…yet still we seek to blame a foreign hand vs. baitullah and his butchers. Yes we are a confused nation.


  • Eddie
    Oct 12, 2013 - 9:22AM

    This review should have carried a spoiler alert right in the titlte. Very unprofessional to give it all away like this.


  • Np
    Oct 12, 2013 - 10:02AM


    Indian movies may show P akistan in a bad light. But do they say ‘based on true events’ while showing ISI agents s pecificallly responsible for terrorism in India? If you say yes, please tell me which I Ndian movie has done that.


  • Ali S
    Oct 12, 2013 - 11:17AM

    Anyone who makes a Pakistani film about Pakistan for release in Pakistani cinemas in ENGLISH is an idiot. So much for local cinema. Besides, our new breed of ‘burger’ writers don’t really have much for a script anyway – they just want to pretend to be ‘artists’.


  • Another Pakistani
    Oct 12, 2013 - 11:19AM

    @author…If you’re expecting a Hollywood flick with a debutant director, I think you shouldnt have watched Waar at all, let alone write its review. Plus, venting your anger at a movie just because its plot doesnt feed your ideas, doesnt make any sense.


  • junaid
    Oct 12, 2013 - 2:27PM

    Dear author where were u when bollywood made Agent vinod, d-day, ghaddar and a list goes on and on, u know u need some mental checkup my frnd and guess what this movie is going to be the biggest hit of pakistani cinema…….. mark my words and please go get some life RAFAY MEHMOOD.


  • Tribune Reader
    Oct 12, 2013 - 2:29PM

    Keep your political opinions to your self you wana be self hating Pakistani Burger, just stick to the movie review and oh yeah a good reviewer doesnt thrown in too many spoilers. ET needs to have a bit more mature and professional people on their team instead of confused self hating Pakistani burger kids.


  • Pakistani
    Oct 12, 2013 - 3:19PM

    @author… you are the only the person who is writing negative remarks on the movie. Everyone else has said its a good effort and according to your reviews you are praising every aspect of the movie but you didn’t like the way they tried to expose enemy’s evil operations in Pakistan. Well I think they are not trying to confuse us but trying to make us understand the real cause of terrorism in Pakistan.


  • Z
    Oct 12, 2013 - 4:34PM


    Poor review indeed. Avoid posting spoilers.


  • Fez
    Oct 12, 2013 - 5:42PM

    Nothing liberal about being pro-India. Sorry ET you have lost any remnant of respect I had for you.1


  • Oct 12, 2013 - 6:21PM

    This movie has been produced by a hollywood company..that’s why the cinematography and visual effects seem to be very nice…basically it’s a joint production of hollywood & lollywood to beat the bollywood..but unfortunately, due to weak script & english language, it fails to (be masterpiece &) attract the mass public of pakistan…It proves to be a propganda movie against India as bollywood do..
    This movie has a budget of rupees 20 crore..I will be very glad if it can earn even 2 crores on box office keeping in view the market of pakistan…


  • Oct 12, 2013 - 6:51PM

    I think Pakistan zinda bhaag is good and better


  • jazz
    Oct 12, 2013 - 8:10PM

    Et, needs to be published in India , only business section is good . ET is too pro india and america


  • Sateen Abbas
    Oct 12, 2013 - 9:11PM

    All of you who disagree with this review & feel ET is biased towards India prove this reviewer wrong flock the cinema houses, take ALL your family & friends to see the film! Make the film a super success because financial success is the best tool to prove this reviewer wrong! Can you do this!


  • Waleed Hasan
    Oct 13, 2013 - 12:48AM

    Went to see the premier at Karachi the other day and i have to say Bilal Lashari has made history! THIS is the change that our country needs. WAAR has not only given Pakistan recognition, quality or simply a good movie, but also something to finally stand up for and be proud of! FINALLY A MOMENT OF HAPPINESS FOR OUR COUNTRY !


  • optimist
    Oct 13, 2013 - 2:30AM

    @ Ali
    This movie is not Hollywood & Lollywood trying to beat Bollywood. It is pure Pakistani film and only distribution rights have been negotiated with Warner Brothers.
    On the other hand, many Hollywood studios regularly make films in India. Next time read titles of famous Indian movies to see who is partner in that.


  • Ahmer Ali
    Oct 13, 2013 - 9:49AM

    Just one word for ET get lost we will watch waar again and again


  • Sahr
    Oct 13, 2013 - 5:51PM

    I’ve been following these blogs for quite some time now and RAFAY MEHMOOD’S articles always follow the SAME pattern, Trash every movie! Recommend

  • Shahid
    Oct 13, 2013 - 9:58PM

    @optimist: It is a Pakistani film but Hollywood technicians were involved in the project right from the beginning…basically we don’t have the technical facilities up to the international standards yet…


  • islooboy
    Oct 13, 2013 - 10:33PM

    ah yes et pro indian burgers weird and illogical


  • Shahroz Butt
    Oct 14, 2013 - 5:17AM

    @Drama Pakistani: “Mein hoon shahid Afridi was a very well made movie”. You must be joking, right? I don’t know whose fault it is was, Humayun Saeed or the director, but they toke useless scenes from the Legends (Shafqat Cheema, Javiad Sheikh, Ismail Tara & Seemi Raheel) but they acted extemely well in their characters. Rest of the young actors especially Noman Habib (Shahid bhatti), reminded of typical low budget Bollywood film actors (which we call them as over or Shiflay actors). Humayon Saeed acting was awful from all. ‘Jiski Lahti, uski behans’. The movie was 2h 47ms long but they could not explain many scenes properly, I blame the editor and director here. The movie was just a cheap rip off of indian movies, females as glamour and rest colorful entertainment and drama. I think the movie was just made for Afridi fans (targeted by using Afridi’s name) and for those who want indian film like culture here. What were they focusing? Bollywood in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Jee
    Oct 14, 2013 - 11:37PM

    ET – This movie took 2 years to be released (was being neutralized). Ali Azmat being in such a movie says pretty much everything about what the movie was originally intended to be. A huge portion of similarities with truth has been removed from the movie already. Talking about propaganda, your channel is full of propaganda you guys do anything from VOA to US AID and Express News also wanted to do Sesame Street. You wake people up with Katrina Kaif dancing half naked at 6 in the morning. Pheeeuuuu!! I wish the movie was released with its original storyline. BTW – the neutralized storyline does not clarify the difference between Afghan Taliban and the bogie man (Pakistani Taliban). It does nothing. It’s just entertainment. Nothing more. The real threat is people waking up with Katrina Kaif dancing half naked at 6 in the morning.


  • Faride Kapadia
    Oct 14, 2013 - 11:51PM

    @shaid:: @optimist: It is a Pakistani film but Hollywood technicians were involved in the project right from the beginning…basically we don’t have the technical facilities up to the international standards yet… and what is the point of you declaring this to remind us of a wretched crappy country we live in?


  • Mi-17
    Oct 17, 2013 - 1:48AM

    Bull shut review !
    It’s an incredible movie. But of course for people like us who have closed ears and eyes to the truth won’t find it worth it.
    Come on! Accept the fact that it’s an incredible movie !
    Love it.


  • Naseer
    Oct 17, 2013 - 6:41PM

    SPOILER ALERT ET does not want you to go and watch this movie, and that is exactly why this sign was not up there at the beginning of the article !
    ET please publish this comment if you have any shame left.


  • adnan
    Oct 17, 2013 - 11:26PM

    films are there for entertainment.. if it says india is he source of terrorism there are many amreekan movies which says amreeka does false flags including mission impossible III…. so keep yr personal agendas to urself n let us enjoy the movie.. after all indian side also makes movies that says pakistan is the source of trouble for all the problemss…..


  • Zen
    Oct 18, 2013 - 2:41PM

    Seriously?! SERIOUSLY!!!?! This is the most absurd review till date. Finally a worth watching Pakistani movie in the cinemas and you’re full of nothing but criticism.

    Yes, the movie being made in English was a drawback but then again so what?!! Our cinemagoers have become so obssessed with Indian movies that a normal worth watching script does not cater to their needs. Horrible horrible HORRIBLE review.

    Everyone MUST watch this brilliant movie and appreciate all the efforts put by each individual connected to it.


  • Zen
    Oct 18, 2013 - 2:44PM

    Agent Vinod, Ek tha tiger, Gaddar to name a few.Recommend

  • A Baluchi
    Oct 19, 2013 - 6:51PM

    Just seen it. Why couldnt the producers spare $100000 for an adequate script writer? Every thing except the script in the movie was good. But alas without a good script, the movie is just another dabba.Sorry to say, worst 400 bucks ever spent.


  • Hira
    Oct 20, 2013 - 8:18AM

    guys, i can see ET being extremely biased, yeah you got that, professional jealousy, since the movie has a tag of ARY FILMS, how can you expect a neutral review? moreover since it bashes India’s filthy face, GEO won’t even give a news.


  • Surya
    Oct 24, 2013 - 7:32PM

    I think a lot of people commenting here are missing the point…if a movie is intended to realistically portray some issues in the country, then by blaming India it is implying that the problems are in reality emanating from across the eastern border. The reality is starkly different. We did not plant OBL in your country. We are not dressing up our soldiers at TTP people, and airlifting them into KPK to create problems in your country. You created them to fight the Soviets, and now the Frankenstein has turned on the creator.

    Kudos to the author to call a spade a spade. He is just hoping to get more people out of the conspiracy theory mindset that plagues the society.

    Some people are comparing this to Agent Vinod, Ek Tha Tiger, and Gaddar…I mean seriously, that is ridiculous. Those movies are clearly portrayed as stories, with very limited reflection on reality. D-day showed positive aspects to an Army general, while obviously highlighting the menace that is D company. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag showed the brutality of partition, the uppishness of a Pakistani coach, but also the humaneness of a local village teacher who protected his childhood friend from attacks, and the ability of a general to happily confer the title of “Flying Sikh” to him. Also, a movie released recently called War Chhod Na Yaar is promoting goodwill, but rarely would be cited in any example.


  • Dr. Asad Sadick, Germany
    Dec 10, 2013 - 12:37AM

    The author of this article seems very biased and full of intent. His critique totally unjustified and unqualified. All I could gather from it is that he doesn’t agree with the subject and simply tries to narrate the story. I think the film has been very well made with very good photography, real to life war-like scenes and fantastic music. It has shown the reality of the problem. The only thing that bothered was the increased use of english and the accent not very common in Pakistan. This surely, however, can be overlooked. Acting was outstanding and I wouldn’t know who to pick.


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