Why is Waar a Poor Propaganda Flick

Being a movie buff, I could not ignore the hype of a Pakistani movie rated 9/10 on imdb.com. So, I bought this DVD of Waar as soon as I saw the poster of its availability on a local shop. Cutting the chase, there was I watching it while a similar Islamabad fiasco of Imran Khan was being unfolded on 13th August; Superb choice on Independence Day?

To my disappointment, the opening scene of the movie was so substandard that a movie rated 3 on imdb would be better off. Two men in an interrogation room were having the sacks removed from their heads. And lo and behold it seemed like the guy just exited a saloon after a perfect haircut, freshly trimmed beard and even whitening powder applied on his face. The much-talked about ‘talented’ young director could do better than that. Anyways, at last I was watching the most awaited movie, which is, in fact, an epic amalgamation of official Pakistan studies curriculum and popular conspiracy theories – surely what more could be expected from an ISPR production.

Waar seemed to me more like a bad copy of Ghar Kab Aaoge (GKAG), a Pakistani movie I had watched in my teenage. Apart from cheeky computer effects of Pyaray Afzal being blown up (after another recent sad demise), flashing toy guns, fake shot of helicopter blowing up (probably also copied from GKAG), Shamoon Abbasi thinking himself Castor Troy but actually copying Shafqat Cheema, absence of a substantial story, poor cinematography, typical Lollywood drama, Shaan being Raymond Davis of Pakistan, counter-terrorist squad of 3 people like Langley, and loopholes in the story (like why are army generals running the police, and why was Shaan’s family killed?), below are my major concerns about the movie.

1. Pak Studies Discourse

After so much public debate on traditional and the new media, everyone should be well aware of the controversies about our educational curriculum. If you are still oblivious, please read K. K. Aziz’s Murder of History. The movie reiterates the same narrative that the country was made in the name of Islam and not for a Muslim minority feared to be discriminated in united India, among others. The real champs of morality are glorified, like always.

2. Popular Conspiracy Theories

Dushman (enemy) has instated agents and spy network inside the holy land and is behind every mess in the country. RAW is behind every ill in the country be it a “good” politician’s killing, Taliban phenomenon, or even a toilet leakage.

3. Stereotyping

Taliban and extremists are basically Pathans who can kill their fathers too for their vicious agendas funded by RAW. Yes, Baitullah, Fazlullah and Sufi Mohammad were Pushtun but what about supporters of Molvi Nazir group, Colonel Imam, Ilyas Kashmiri, Riaz Basra, Ludhianwi, Malik Ishaq, Asmatullah Muawiya, Hafiz Saeed, Azam Tariq and Masood Azhar?

4. Messiah Syndrome

Only a messiah like politician named Zahid “Khan” can save the day. RAW is against messiahs too. The messiah is supposed to be aggressive towards all other politicians who are all corrupt to the core, while the cool innocent messiah himself can have extramarital affairs, live lavishly, even drink alcohol, and still utter phrases like Islam kay naam pe (In the name of Islam). He is also brilliant enough to collect funds from poor people for the construction of a dam. Just off the topic, does Bilal Lashari belong to PTI?

5. Objectification of Women

Messiahs who can have extramarital relationships are also lured by promiscuous women who are in fact undercover agents of RAW. There is no fault of the men at all, and when they dump the girl, they become absolutely clean.

6. Self-Righteousness

A true patriot Pakistani is the one who parrots things like yakeene muhkam (absolute faith) quite often, apart from that he can have extramarital sexual affairs, can drink, and live as he wants. On the other hand, madrassa students and Taliban are homosexual beardos who are controlled by RAW.

7. Foreign Policy Guidelines

USA is responsible for everything in Pakistan and no dictation should be accepted from them; a typical ‘Go Amreeka Go’ stance of the rightwing parties who would never acknowledge the role of home grown extremism, sectarianism, terrorism, feudalism, past military dictatorships, and other factors responsible for country’s ills.

8. Kala Bagh Dam

The Kala Bagh dam is the only solution of energy crisis in the country and any politician, political party or even province having concerns about the dam is a traitor. There was a complete isolation of Sindh and KPK’s respective stances on the dam and a pure glorification of Punjabi elites’ dictatorial narrative.

The end of the movie was also quite typical. Shaan asks Shamoon (the villain) to fight him with bare hands and the movie ends with a James bond style pistol shot by Shaan. This was extremely gross and shows a complete lack of creativity. However, it was more disappointing to see that the movie represented the typical jingoist mindset; it reinforces the already existing denial and lack of responsibility in the society. The good cast worked well as a marketing attraction for urban youth. If Pakistani cinema is to be revived by such dishonest propaganda movies, then we are better off without a cinema.

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