A terror plot, drama, action and a well-known and attractive cast — it is no surprise that with these key elements, Waar’s well-executed trailer generated excitement when it released two years ago. But that anticipation and fervor has died down, since the movie did not see a release and critics dismissed it as ‘just another project that won’t make it to the screen’. But there’s finally some good news — the film is tentatively scheduled to release late September or early October this year.
“I am the type of person who is never satisfied or happy,” says Waar’s director Bilal Lashari, who won the Best Music Video Director award at the Lux Style Awards and Best Pop Video at the MTV Pakistan Music Video Awards for Sajni in 2008.
“But the way it (Waar) has come together, I am sure it will raise the bar of cinema (film-making) in terms of what people are used to.” While he has directed several music videos in the past, this will be Lashari’s first attempt at making a film.
Waar is themed around the idea of counter-terrorism, revolving around a team of police officers, who are looking to stop a terrorist attack in the country.
Lashari feels that the film, which will be released under the banner of ARY Films/Mandviwalla Entertainment, is relevant to Pakistan’s current scenario.
“The cinematography, shooting and aesthetics will all be something new,” he adds. The film’s star-studded cast includes Shaan Shahid, Shamoon Abbasi, Ali Azmat, Ayesha Khan and Meesha Shafi.
“Initially, Ali and Ayesha had been given smaller guest appearances but (later), we decided to expand their roles,” he explains, adding that Ali is a natural performer and a great actor.
While making this film was a big challenge and delays were inevitable, Lashari says that he is certain Waar will provide the audience with something to think about.
“It’s been a crazy learning experience. It hasn’t been easy and it was a constant test of patience,” he says, adding that he didn’t have a real break in nearly three years. “We are attempting to do a lot of things that haven’t been done in Pakistan before.” The film is said to have 400 visual effects.
Focus groups and an English script
Assessment and feedback go a long way, and when it came down to judging how well the movie would do at the box office, writer and producer of Waar, Hassan Waqas Rana decided to do things the traditional way.
He conducted focus groups where people were shown only parts of the film. “Both of us, Bilal and I, are the biggest critics of ourselves. But I think we’ve been pretty amazed by the turnout of the project,” says Rana. “However, the real truth of how the film really is, can only be assessed when it reaches the audience.”
A major part of Waar’s script is in English, which the film-makers explain, has been done keeping Shaan’s character in mind. However, the idea of dubbing in Urdu did cross Rana’s mind. “I think the main worry was that the local audience wouldn’t be able to relate [to it] but our tests have revealed a good response,” he continues.
“We also looked at dubbing the film but resisted because we thought the main character would be compromised.”
After gaining positive feedback from the post-production and editing teams in the US, team Waar is all set for a Pakistan release this fall, with an international release to follow.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2013.