Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Hijrat makers promise entertainment

Farooq Mengal’s film focuses on social issues through a love story set against the backdrop of internally-displaced Afghan refugee camps. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY
The sudden rebirth of Pakistani cinema this year has encouraged film-makers to dapple in various themes. Debutante producer-director Farooq Mengal is another one to partake in this adventure, with his first film Hijrat.
Known in the drama circuit for producing and directing serials, Mengal’s film takes on the crucial subject of internally-displaced Afghan refugee camps, with an added love story.
Model-turned-actor Asad Zaman, who is also making his debut with this film, plays the role of Murad – a young, happy-go-lucky person who finds himself thrown into the world of the internally-displaced where pain and agony is a normal, daily experience. It is under these circumstances that he falls in love with a field doctor Jia, played by model Rabia Butt, and is exposed to a different side of life. Zaman highlights that while the film addresses serious social and human rights issues, it is meant for sheer entertainment.
“The film is complete entertainment,” says Zaman, who plays the lead in the film. “It’s about a guy who is interested in having a good time and eventually finds out how unpredictable life is. But there isn’t one particular angle to his journey. The lesson is that one should not lose hope.”
The film also stars veteran actor Nadeem Baig, Salma Agha and Mareeha Safdar. The music has been composed by Sahir Ali Bagga and the film will include songs by Ali Azmat, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Imran Aziz and Abida Parveen. Considering the big names, it seems that Mengal managed to put together a great team and Zaman acknowledges that. “It’s a team effort for sure; there was instant chemistry [on the sets],” he says.
Quetta-based director Mengal seems to have been working on the script and pre-production of the film for nearly a decade. The film has already shot its first spell in Quetta and is all set to shoot the second in Europe. It is aiming for a spring release next year, depending on whether the distributors are able to accommodate in terms of dates. However, production is expected to complete by early next year.
The first look of the film was released last week, and the Hijrat team is happy with the response it has received. Mengal is hopeful the audience will enjoy this feel-good story as well as Butt and Zaman’s chemistry. “This will be something that all audiences will enjoy. The intention is to make this something fun and spontaneous,” says Mengal.
As far as the revival of Pakistani cinema is concerned, it seems there is finally a ray of hope for those with projects like these. “We have a re-birth of sorts taking place. It was over before but now there are so many projects happening. New talent is getting a chance and even we are giving it our best,” says Zaman. “Film has always remained a huge medium that is looked at with seriousness,” he adds.

Pakistani films need to be shown in India: Zinda Bhaag makers

Makers of Zinda Bhaag are hopeful that the film will be welcomed with open arms in India. PHOTO: FILE
ABU DHABI: A shared culture and matching sensibility make India a promising destination for screening films from across the border, say Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, co-directors of highly-acclaimed Pakistani film Zinda Bhaag.
Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah-starrer Zinda Bhaag is the first Pakistani movie to be sent for the Oscars in the last 50 years. In 2008, Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye was released commercially in India, making it the first Pakistani film to release across the border after 43 years. It was followed by Mehreen Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani. In 2011, Indian audiences were treated to Mansoor’s Bol.
Now, the makers of Zinda Bhaag are hoping that the film, based on illegal immigration, will be welcomed with open arms in India. “I really think Pakistani films need to be [regularly] shown in India. That needs to happen,” Gaur, who was in the city with Nabi for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF), told IANS.
Zinda Bhaag was screened at the ADFF. It was appreciated for its local Lahori flavour, punchy dialogues and natural acting and for showcasing an issue as sensitive as the clamour of the youth to settle in a foreign land by hook or by crook, in a light-hearted but convincing manner.
Gaur believes the film, which took over “two years and roughly $500,000 to make”, has the ability to strike a chord with Indian audiences for more reasons than one. “If there is any country that this film transcends seamlessly in, it is India. In India’s Punjab, too, illegal immigration is as prevalent as it is in Pakistan’s Punjab. So it is a story that will easily appeal [to the Indian audience]. We are very excited about a possible release in India,” said the film-maker, an Indian married to Zinda Bhaag producer Imran Zaidi.
Nabi, who is happy that his film has been able to make it to various screens in Pakistan and the US said, “We are in our fifth week in Pakistani theatres. In the US, it’s in the second week. It has released in around 10 cities. It will be followed by Canada, and hopefully India soon.”
He revealed that a recent limited screening of Zinda Bhaag in Delhi evoked a positive sentiment. “The people said this can be any mohalla of Delhi and a lot of people said subtitles are not needed. There is an instant connect in Delhi with the story and characters, which are based in Lahore,” Nabi added.
Cultural exchange lies at the heart of their film, for which they used around five crew members from India. It has a pivotal role essayed by veteran Indian actor Naseer, who even held a week’s workshop for the first-time actors who play protagonists in the film.
“When we decided to have some crew members from India for ‘Zinda Bhaag’, we took a very deliberate decision. The practice in Pakistan is to get crews from cities like Bangkok but we chose India and the reason was clear.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Pakistani film 'Zinda Bhaag' is a hit at Abu Dhabi Fest

Abu Dhabi: Naseeruddin Shah starrer Pakistani film 'Zinda Bhaag', first movie from the nation sent for Oscar consideration in last 50 years, did excellent among viewers when screened at the ongoing Abu Dhabi Film Festival and showing the strong cultural bonding between the two nations. The viewers enjoyed the film so much that they laughed, hooted and whistled while watching the immigration drama Saturday evening. Veteran actor Naseer's performance was much appreciated. The fact that 'Zinda Bhaag' comes from Pakistan, where filmmaking took a beating in the 1990s, and that it is contending for the Oscar in the best foreign film category, was a huge draw for film aficionados, who thronged the theatre here for the film's screening. 
The viewers enjoyed the film so much that they laughed, hooted and whistled while watching the immigration drama. "It's very proud moment for us to show the film in UAE," said Farjad Nabi, who has co-directed the movie with Meenu Gaur. Their movie speaks the mind of the modern youth in Pakistan through three 20-something men, who wish to make a living anywhere, but in their own country and their city Lahore. It is about "doing the dunky", a local parlance for illegal immigration. In between all the fun and jokes with which the movie begins, there truly underlies a serious expose to people's resort to dangerous ways to cross borders and enter foreign lands, reasons why they do it and its repercussions in most cases. The first half of the film could have been crisper and it could do without a few songs. However, its tongue-in-cheek humour in chaste Lahori Punjabi kept the audiences entertained and one could hear sounds of applause and whistles on several dialogues. The film's latter half delves deeper into the clamour of Pakistani youth to look beyond the borders to live their dreams. A foreign viewer congratulated the filmmakers for delivering a "powerfully written and entertaining" film. Starring first-time actors Khurram Patras, Salman Ahmad Khan and Zohaib, 'Zinda Bhaag' has a tone different from movies like 'Ramchand Pakistani' and 'Khuda Kay Liye', which had come out of Pakistan. It is quirky, fun and also intense - balancing light humour with a serious issue. Naseer as the red-haired local don Puhlwan is as impressive as always, and there were NRIs who came in to watch the movie hoping the actor would have come. He hadn't. The filmmakers said the actor had organised a week's workshop for the newcomers, and the result was there for all to see. The film had more Indian factors than just Naseer. A lot of crew members are Indian and there were subtle references to Bollywood via popular dance steps from songs like 'Ek pal ka jeena', 'Oh oh jaane jaana', 'Kajra re' and some from 'Dabangg'. Another scene had the protagonist singing lines from the song 'All izz well' from blockbuster Bollywood movie '3 Idiots'. Talking about the Indian crew, Gaur said: "It made more sense to get crew members from India as India and Pakistan have a shared culture. It was the best decision we made." Now the duo is planning to work on a film on a 'historical span'. But it will take time, they said.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

With ISPR support, debut film-maker hopes to revive national pride

Dr Tauseef Razzaq’s film project is about national and military heroes. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
If we consider themes of the mainstream feature films of 2013 — cricketing story Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, counter-terrorism inspired Waar and politicalChambaili — it becomes clear that film-makers are adamant on telling some version of a feel-good ‘patriotic’ story.
Pakistani nationalism is trending and if Waar’s success is anything to go by, cinema halls and box office stats are at an all-time peak.
Another person to join the pride-wagon is former doctor of the Pakistani cricket team, Dr Tauseef Razzaq. In his debut project, Razzaq is all set to bring his own version of a patriotic film to the big screen.
The idea, he says, is to “recreate a spirit of national pride.” In an interview with The Express Tribune, he says, “When a generation loses the ‘spirit of this nation’, the country’s soul passes away.”
Like many, Razzaq feels Indian content on TV is a threat to Pakistani culture. For this reason, he feels that advertisements, films and songs should remind the current generations of Pakistan’s history and values. “My film will have a trickle-down effect. Kids today, who are watching Indian advertisements, do not have the same spirit as our generation,” says Razzaq.
Titled Saya-e-Khuda-e-Zuljalal (Protection of Magnificent God) — the last line of Pakistan’s national anthem — the film is more or less a timeline of the country’s historical moments, such as partition and the 1965 war, narrated through national figures and heroes. The cast includes Umair Sultan, Nayyer Ijaz, Arbaaz Khan, Nauman Ijaz, Shaan, Shafqat Cheema, Rambo and many more. The film is written and produced by Razzaq himself and directed by Umair Fazli.
Currently in the production stage, the film has been supported by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) and Air Force — an endorsement, film-makers are often reluctant to publicly admit to. Razzaq is quite frank about his film’s association with the ISPR.
“I told them I had a script that focused on our national heroes, especially those who fought in war. I went to the headquarters and read my script to them. They were happy with what I had done,” shares Razzaq. “However, they did want to make a few changes and after that the script was approved,” he says.
“Parts of the script, which were army-related have been looked over by ISPR. All the events have been verified first and then shot,” he adds.
As far as funding is concerned, Razzaq says the ISPR had, at the time, allocated its production budget to Samjhota Express but they still managed to help him by granting access to certain areas in terms of shooting locations. For example, a scene that shows Shaheed Major Aziz Bhatti’s battle has been shot only a kilometer away from where he was actually killed — an area near the Indian border. The teaser trailer of the film also highlights extensive use of computer-generated imagery (CGI), which means that the film is likely to have high visual effects.
Razzaq hopes to refresh the image of national and military heroes such as fighter-pilot MM Alam. He says he contacted MM Alam before he passed away to get his opinion on the script. “I sent him a copy. He was one of those who really supported and encouraged me to make this film,” he says.
At the end, Razzaq asserts that he is a patriot, who wants the film to be a reflection of how Pakistanis, and not Indians or the world, see history.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

WAAR-struck: Ram Gopal Varma gushes over Lashari's blockbuster

Never before had Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per tweet seemed so criminally inadequate than on Saturday, when multiple award-winning Indian director Ram Gopal Varma found himself scrambling for words in praise of the recently-released Pakistani blockbuster film ‘Waar‘.
The first of Varma’s series of tweets was ambiguous, leaving readers unsure whether his claim of being ‘stunned beyond belief’ was sarcastic.

Hijrat- Another attempt for the revival of Cinema

After Chambaili, Main hoon Shahid Afridi, Zinda Bhaag and Waar, here comes another quality movie. Hijrat is a love story that plays out in the foreground of an exodus that rendered millions homeless during the Afghan Waar. It touches upon the lives of those whose spirits were broken by the homes they lost and who’s hearts were broken by the shelter they found.
Starring Asad Zaman, Rabia Butt, Wiam Dahmani, Mahjabeen, Azra Aftab, Saima Baloch, Ali Fateh and Fahd Nur, “Hijrat” is set to release soon in cinemas around Pakistan. It is written and directed by the talented Farouq Mengal. It is produced under the banner of FM productions.
The first look teaser and poster were released a few days ago and look promising. There is no release date announced yet.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Box Office history: Racing to Rs150m milestone in 9 days

Waar was the biggest scorer in terms of box office this Eid, followed by Boss and some smaller local films.
The box office battle between Waar and Boss has turned out to be a lucrative one. The two major releases coupled with smaller Urdu, Pashto and Punjabi films released this Eidul Azha have together raked in approximately Rs150 million at the domestic box office — the highest ‘first week’ collection in the history of Pakistani cinema.
After a ground breaking start on Eidul Azha, business faced an overall slump. Bagging a whopping Rs70 million in the first five days, Waar could only make a little more than Rs27 million in the weekdays that followed. Although it is not considered to be a low turnout for weekdays it is also not as significant as was expected. Surprisingly, Akshay Kumar’s Boss has had steady business, and from an initial weekend collection of Rs20.6 million, the film did slow and steady progress by reaching the Rs40 million mark in its first week.
Traditionally, box office collections are gathered post-Zuhr prayers on a Friday. But since Eid fell on Wednesday, the collections were recorded the next Friday, making the ‘first week’ a nine-day run. On Eidul Fitr, the box office collection amounted to Rs100 million as Chennai Express sped ahead with a gross return of Rs54.3 million in the Eid week. Eidul Fitr fell on a Friday with an added public holiday on Thursday, so the box office ‘week’ comprised eight days instead of seven. Since then, five screens at Neuplex Cinema Karachi and three at Centaurus Cinema Islamabad have been launched, giving an advantage to films released on Eidul Azha in terms of screen space.
Waar was given a substantially larger number of screens as compared to Boss, primarily because the owners of Atrium and Centaurus cinemas are also distributors of the film. For instance, in Atrium and Centaurus, the ratio of screens allocated to Waar versus Boss was approximately 20 to six per day.  In Shabistan/Prince Lahore, the allocation was five to Bossand four to Waar per day.
Despite the obvious difference in the content of Waar and Boss, the overall success and competition for both at the box office is a positive sign for Pakistani cinemas. It is a great achievement that out of the 63 screens available in Pakistan, 17 have been established this year and more are to follow in the coming year.
The expected business of Waar in its total running in Pakistan is Rs170 million, with Bossbringing in an estimated total Rs70 million.
The lesser giants in Lahore and Peshawar
Besides the clash of the titans, the local box office saw business from small budget local films. Urdu film Super Girl starring Nida Chaudhry, appealed to younger audience members who enjoyed watching Chaudhry’s provocative dance numbers, and did reasonably well considering it was made with a small budget. Screened in Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, Dera Nawab, Sialkot, Sarghoda, Sheikhapura and Lahore, it made an estimated Rs2.5 million.
The sole Punjabi film Sharaabi starring Shaan, Saima and Nida Chaudhry made less thanSuper Girl, but had an even smaller budget. This was screened in Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, and Sheikhapura. Another film Gunda Geet, made by film-maker Shehzad Gujjar and screened at the Odeon cinema, had a very poor turnout.
According to Qaiser Sanaullah of Lahore’s Metropole Cinema, who is also the general secretary of the Cinema Owners Association, the general turnout in the walled city was lower than expected this Eid. He explained that the fall in numbers can be accounted for by the higher costs tied to Eidul Azha. “Less people turned up this Eid because there were household expenses compared to the small Eid which has less spending,” he said.
“The poor individual ends up spending thousands on sacrificial animals while the rich spend lakhs. There are also more family functions connected with this Eid,” he added.
Despite this decline in viewers, he maintained that films had a good run at the box office and that Waar and Boss generated ‘significant business’. “Overall Waar did even better. The makers managed to retain a lot of viewers by using subtitles,” he continued. He felt, however, that the film lost viewing in more remote areas. “If it had been in Urdu, I think it would have done more business,” he said.
Four new Pashto films Orbal (starring Meera), Gandagir (the first HD Pashto action film), Zadi Pakhtun and Gherat were also released in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Eidul Azha, but no Urdu movie was shown in Peshawar. According to film producers, all the films were displayed on single screens due to which business remained low in the initial week their release.  The four movies will be shown in Karachi and Kabul in the coming days.
The distributors, however, were unwilling to disclose box office figures due to taxation concerns.
Big Money
Eid box office collection
Waar: Rs97 million
Boss: Rs40 million
Super Girl, Sharaabi, Gunda Geet, Orbal, Gandagir, Zadi Pakhtun and Gherat: Rs8 million
Total: Rs145 million

New blockbuster movie shows why Pakistan loves to hate India

A man rides an escalator past posters of the movie 'Waar' at the Atrium cinemas in Karachi October 23, 2013. REUTERS-Akhtar Soomro
1 of 3. A man rides an escalator past posters of the movie ''Waar'' at the Atrium cinemas in Karachi October 23, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro
(Reuters) - Militants overrun a Pakistani police academy and kill 100 officers. An Indian spy and her accomplice waltz in a glitzy flat in Islamabad to celebrate the success of their mission.
This is a scene from Waar ("Strike"), Pakistan's first big-budget movie which opened this month to enthusiastic audiences in the nuclear-armed South Asian country of 180 million.
Filmed with the support of the all-powerful military, the movie depicts every volatile aspect of Pakistan's rocky relationship with its nuclear arch-rival India.
Even in Pakistan itself, Waar is denounced by some liberals wary of what they see as fiery nationalistic rhetoric and scenes demonising India.
The narrative is simple and packed with action.
Indian villains team up with Islamist militants to plot spectacular attacks across Pakistan. Pakistani security forces jump in and save the day.
"Like any other action film, we wanted to show the triumph of good over evil," said director Bilal Lashari, 31. "And we wanted to do it with a great amount of spectacle and scale."
Politics aside, Waar is fun to watch. Helicopter gunships whizz over mountains and commandos lay siege to militant sanctuaries in Pakistan's picturesque, lawless tribal regions.
"The army was great in that they gave us a lot of logistical support," Lashari said. "All the scenes with the helicopters and the mountains - they couldn't have been done without the army."
Though yet to be screened in India, the film serves as a reminder of tensions between the neighbouring states, which have fought three wars since independence from the British in 1947.
India and Pakistan trade accusations of staging cross-border attacks and supporting militants in the disputed region of Kashmir, where violence has seen a resurgence in recent months.
The movie has proved hugely successful. On a recent viewing in a packed cinema in the capital, attendees leapt to their feet to applaud patriotic scenes.
In one such moment, a retired officer takes on an Indian contractor on the roof of a building while a female Pakistani officer rushes to defuse a chemical bomb planted on the balcony.
Many cheered as the officer reduced the Indian man's face to a pulp. A woman turned to a group of giggling boys and scolded them for "laughing during such a serious movie".
"Of course India supports terrorism in Pakistan," said Sheila Raza, 23, as she left the cinema. "I think Waar is an accurate portrayal."
Presented almost entirely in English, Waar took more than three years to make and officially cost around $2.2 million in a country where the average film is made on less than $25,000.
Its distributors say Waar grossed more than $900,000 during the first week - a record for Pakistani cinema.
But some in Pakistan have mocked Waar as a propaganda movie. Cultural critic Nadeem Paracha said: "This film is basically the Pakistani state's fantasies being played out on a big screen."
India's film industry produces highly successful anti-Pakistan films of its own.
Bollywood film "Ek Tha Tiger", one of the Hindi film industry's biggest box-office successes in 2012, but banned in Pakistan, depicted a Pakistani intelligence agent choosing her love for an Indian agent over her country.
This year, a film based on an Indian operation to capture a fictional mafia don given asylum in Pakistan riled Pakistan's censor board. The villain in "D-Day" was loosely based on real-life gangster Dawood Ibrahim, who India says is harboured by Pakistan.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Hyderabad’s first 3-D cinema attracts crowds

HYDERABAD: An arts and design student says it is really nice to have a 3-D cinema to revive cinema culture in Hyderabad, but she is irritated by the ticket price as not only students but many other people also find it hard to pay Rs600 for a movie ticket.
The cinema, Cine Moosh, has been attracting elites, families and students since it opened to the public on Eidul Azha. The 144-seat cinema will exhibit both 2D and 3D movies. Currently it is screening 2D movie Waar, featuring Shaan, Meesha Shafi, Ayesha Khan and Shamoon Abbasi. It is a directorial debut of Bilal Lashari.
“Well, we really enjoyed it. There is no doubt about it. But I feel a little uncomfortable with the ticket price …..Since it is the only cinema here, they are charging as high as Rs600 per person,” says Kaiful Wara, a student of the arts and design institute of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, who had come with her friends and teachers to watch the movie on Tuesday evening.
The cinema is said to be a joint venture of several partners, who till recently ran a restaurant on the building’s ground floor. Its upper storey houses the digital cinema, located off the famous Auto Bhan, which has now emerged as an important corridor of food outlets, branded garments and shoes, offices of cellphone companies, international food restaurants and high-rise residential-cum-commercial buildings. However, shop owners are complaining about criminals, demanding extortion on the pattern of Karachi.
“The environment is good and that’s why I say it’s nice to have such a cinema and we expect more,” says Ms Wara. She says she has lately seen a movie in Bambino cinema in the city and then it is her second visit to this new digital cinema to have fun. “Cinema is an important thing for any city,” she remarks.

Nadeem Baig has big hopes for cinema revival

Nadeem’s first love is the film industry. PHOTO: FILE
Yesteryears’ hero Nadeem Baig is a household name in Pakistan. His days of cinema glory are long gone but those who raced to the movies to watch his films in the ’70s will tell you that he managed to rule a screen dominated in the ’60s by the much-adored matinee idol Waheed Murad.
The Express Tribune catches the actor on the sets of upcoming film The System to talk about the return of the cinema-goer.
“Back in those days, audiences would flock to cinemas,” Baig recalls. “The movies used to be screened in jam-packed cinemas. The films we produced did well at the box office which is why actors got that much attention and fan following.”
The Lollywood actor reminisces a bygone era in which Pakistani cinema was thriving. “I don’t have any regrets [about my career] because this industry has given me everything. But I do believe that we have lost the standard of cinema,” says the 72-year-old.
Baig, who became more involved in television projects as the film industry fell apart, was last seen in Humayun Saeed’s Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi. “Film is my first love; it is my identity. In the future, if I am offered a substantial role in a good quality film, I would definitely want to work in it.” The actor was recently in Balochistan to shoot sequences for Farooq Mengal’s film Hijrat as well as The System which is being directed by Shahzad Nawaz.
He blames bad films for driving audiences away from cinemas and says that he moved to TV projects for the same reason. However, rebirth of cinema in Pakistan has given way to some hope. “We lost our audiences by producing sub-standard films but I am hopeful that the time for revival has come,” says Baig.
Baig’s contemporary Javed Sheikh explains that back in the ’70s, no actor was out of work as hundreds of films were being produced at the studios. For leading men like Sheikh, who was recently cast alongside Baig in films Bhai Log and Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi, that time was considered the ‘golden period’ of Lollywood.
Baig feels that the increase in production this year is a sign of better days to come. “During our time, there were more experienced directors and writers, who had enjoyed success for a long period. These days, we have a lot of new people coming up, who have either studied film or have gained experience and are now trying their hand at film-making.”
Baig, who has been famous for being a multi-faceted actor, has also dabbled with playback singing in many of his films. He aspired to produce a film with an aim of building his own support system, but it did not turn out to be feasible. Currently, his work is limited to acting. There were rumours that he would be directing and producing a film but so far, nothing has materialised.
“Making a film is a big responsibility and if you really want to make a good quality film, you have to struggle for a lot of things — such as a good subject for a start. At this point, it is difficult for me,” Baig confesses.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

‘WAAR’ on terror: A story of unsung heroes

Dr Hassan Rana and Shaan in a scene from Waar PHOTO: PUBLICITY
“Right now, as your readers read this article, out there somewhere an Mi-17 pilot is helping our soldiers or rescuing victims of natural disasters. Right above him will be a Cobra helicopter pilot and a gunner, both looking out for them,” says Dr Hassan Rana, the action director and writer of Waar — Pakistan’s first big-budget war film that portrays the good and the evil sides of the war on terror.
The country has lost over 7,000 security personnel, both from the armed forces and police, who have fought to save the lives of citizens and safeguard their motherland.
The talks with the Taliban are currently ‘work in progress’ – to do or not to do, that is the question. Against the backdrop of disarray and confusion regarding possible solution to terrorism in Pakistan comes Waar. It could not have been more timely.
The makers of Waar have conducted substantial research in their attempts at recreating the violent and insurgent atmosphere. The aim, they explain, is to give an accurate ‘feel’ of how Pakistan’s armed forces tackle Pakistan’s burning issue on battlefields. “The viewer shall have a pretty accurate idea of how our true heroes take the battle to the enemy,” said Rana.
Makers of the film knew that this depiction could not be sketched and coloured in without the help of Pakistan’s Armed Forces and Police Services. To get the ball rolling, the film-makers – with the blessings of the then interior minister Rehman Malik who guaranteed support of the FIA – embarked upon a journey that brought them close to the frontline forces in the war against terrorism.
“We were given the honour of meeting some of the best soldiers in our army, who fought many battles for our country. From there, we were able to understand the basic instinct of a Pakistani soldier,” says Rana.
While they were able to understand the patriotism of soldiers by engaging with officers who are drafted in the military, it was Major General Asim Bajwa who helped them truly understand the relationship of a soldier with his weapon. “He helped us understand the battlefield psychology of the soldiers and the enemy,” Rana says of Bajwa, who recently commanded an infantry division in Waziristan. “He helped us understand the weapons and why a particular weapon is used, when,” he adds.
Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Mirvais Khan from Islamabad Police supervised the sequences pertaining to the police department in other places in the film, whereas it was SSP Malik Yousuf (now additional director, FIA, Islamabad) who supervised all the shooting inside the Police Headquarters.
“From developing uniforms to ensuring accuracy, the choice of weapons and tactics everything was as real as it actually happens in the police,” said Yousuf. One of the sequences shown in the film is inspired by an actual event whereby the Police Academy in Lahore was attacked in 2009.
About the debate on social media regarding the kind of involvement the Pakistani army had in the project, Yousuf believes that Waar has played a key role in highlighting the losses of the police. “It’s true that operations in the conflicted area are carried out by Pakistan army but the Police haven’t suffered any less,” said Yousuf. “Media has deliberately ignored the huge sacrifices made by the police in the war on terror but after watching this film the layman would recognise it.”
“Usually it’s the unprofessional people who deal with on-screen portrayal of the security forces which is why a lot of Indian films get it wrong. But I personally made sure that accuracy is not sacrificed at any cost,” he says.
It took an entire year for the crew to cast the right weapons for the film. “Most of the weapons that you shall see in the film are currently in service and are the mainstay of our security forces and likewise for terrorists,” explains Rana.
“I am pretty sure that all the viewers shall be mighty proud to see their Cobra Gunship and Mi-17 helicopters in action,” said Rana. The weapons change with the types of battle scenarios in the film such as CQB (Close Quarter Battle) to HRT (Hostage Rescue Tactics) to all out battles complete with Air support.
The pilots who flew the aircrafts couldn’t be contacted as they were busy transporting relief goods to the quake affected areas of Balochistan.
Waaring with weapons
The weapons shown being used in the film by the armed forces and terrorists are accurate and reflect the weapons actually used by both the sides.
The good guys use
AI AS .50 calibre
RPA 12.7x99mm range master
AR-10 with Bushnell range finder
The Smith & Wesson M4 carbine with precision sighting and range finding systems, the H&K G3 with precision sighting setups.
Colt M4 carbine
Pakistan Ordnance Factory’s SMG with EOTECH precision night visioning and Target Acquisition systems
H&K MP5 submachine gun
Ordnance Factory’s assault rifles
Side arms
Glock 17, Beretta 92FS, SIG-Sauer P226 Tac Ops.
The Terrorists use
Dragunov sniper rifles
Dshk 12.7 heavy machine guns
Taurus P 24/7 9mm.