Islamabad, Asharq Al-Awsat—When the hero of the movie—a Pakistani army major—cold-bloodedly kills a terrorist at point blank range during an interrogation, there is a huge applause in the cinema. The movie audience at CineGold, a luxurious cinema in a posh part of Islamabad, do not dwell on the fact that the hero of Pakistani action thriller Waar might be a bit “trigger happy.” Rather, they applaud as he kills one terrorist after another in a two-and-half-hour action movie that was indigenously produced in Pakistan.
The movie Waar (“attack” or “strike” in Urdu) is set during the Pakistani security forces’ operations against terrorists and militants over the last ten years of the war on terror. One of the producers of the movie told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movie is a reflection of true events, in so far as it pieces together and narrates different events and operations that Pakistani security forces carried out in different parts of the country.
For instance, the movie starts with scenes based on a real operation carried out by Pakistani security forces in north of the country, to secure the release of a Chinese engineer from the custody of tribal militants.
So far, the movie has been a huge success. According to one announcement, the Pakistani film (which has dialogue in both English and Urdu) did record business during the three days of Eid, grossing PKR 40 million.
It is the largest amount earned by any Pakistani movie at the box office to date. Star-studded Indian movie Boss, according to the entertainment industry insiders, played second fiddle to Waar in the same period, earning only PKR 10 million.
Artists associated with the production of the movie told Asharq Al-Awsat that Waar has made history in Pakistani cinema, taking in nearly PKR 190 million (USD 2 million) at the box office to date, though it is perhaps worth remembering that the film reportedly cost PKR 200 million to make in the first place.
Distributed by ARY Films, Waar was written and produced by Hassan Waqas Rana and directed by Bilal Lashari, a young and rising talent. The cast includes a mix of industry veterans and newcomers: Pakistani superstar Shaan Shahid plays the lead role in the movie, an army officer called back into service as the last hope of Pakistan’s security agencies in their battle against Indian-sponsored local terrorists.
The producers of the movies are planning to distribute it abroad for an international audience after its achieved huge success in the local market. “After the gigantic success of Waar in Pakistan, we are now going to take it to the global stage. I believe that Waar has started a new era where we will be making world class movies and our talent will be appreciated,” said one local film critic.
The movie is billed as an action-packed thriller, with Pakistani security forces shown chasing the terrorists and militants into the country’s tribal areas. In one scene late in the movie, we see the protagonist, Mujtaba (Shaan Shahid), jump out of a military helicopter as he makes his way to the main terrorist’s hideout, bumping off any opponent he runs into. He even rescues a couple of children, while the rest of his covert action team serves as cannon-fodder backup.
Mujtaba is out to take revenge for the killing of his wife and son by the same terrorist mastermind who serves as the villain, who carried out a major terrorist attack on a national event in Islamabad, where country’s prime minister was also present.
And, typical of Pakistani movies, the terrorist is defeated and killed, while Pakistan’s security forces achieve one success after another throughout the course of the film.