Movie review: War Chhod Na Yaar

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Film: War Chhod Na Yaar
Director: Faraz Haider
Actors: Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan, Javed Jaffrey, Dalip Tahil, Mukul Dev
Certification: U/A


The good thing about War Chhod Na Yaar is that it satirises the Indo-Pak border standoff, pokes (tongue-firmly-in-cheek) fun at everyone concerned and delivers a message that war benefits all the wrong people. The problem is that it fails to sustain its attitude, eventually veering into cliches, peachiness, and naive politics that has no bearing in the real world, making WCNY an opportunity lost.


Bollywood has always given Indo-Pak relations an over-the-top and jingoistic treatment. That time has passed. Cinema the world over has decided to handle burning world issues – such as war and terrorism – in a lighter vein. For all their anti-war films such as ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘Platoon’, we now have films like ‘The Dictator’ and ‘Tropic Thunder’ from Hollywood. If the world laughs at war and terrorists, maybe they will stop taking themselves so seriously. Of course, Bollywood entirely missed the point of the “anti-war” film, believing that showing Indians slaughtering Pakistanis made for ideal cinema. It sure did work for the general audience for a long time, thankfully now the basic sentiment – that war is useless – is a mainstream thought.


At a screenplay level, the characters are well defined. Dalip Tahil plays exaggerated versions of the Indian Defence Minister, his Pak counterpart, a Chinese general (who uses a translation machine to communicate with the Pakistanis and ends up sounding like Navjot Singh Sidhu) and an American politician to great effect. His bits are the funniest. On the war front, an Indian captain (Sharman Joshi) and a Pakistani captain (Javed Jaffrey) are good friends who meet under the cover of night for a game of cards and often rib each other across the fence armed with nothing but microphones. Their idea of a fight is beating the other in a game of antakshari. Several such interesting scenes light up the path of the narrative. The setup, essentially, is a job well done despite the considerable distraction that Soha Ali Khan’s reporter character brings into the field.


The story, however, takes time to reveal itself and gets hazy very quickly in the second half. Too many loose ends and questions crop up as the theme shifts from human interaction to mindless action. A couple of secondary tracks – Facebooking teens and bumbling infiltrators – only serve to detract from the flow. Sentimental, misguided talk of nations with a common history and that ultimate endorsement from Obama makes you cringe at the immaturity of the lesson.


Soha Ali Khan File Photo

Technically, the film scores high marks. A lot of it is shot in the dark, always tricky. Cinematographer Sejal Shah has some nifty lighting ideas, given the locations and scenes. Good sound design deserves mention as well. Director Faraz Haider is well in control of the proceedings, especially the lead actors; if only he’d cast better for the secondary parts. Sharman Joshi is the pick of the actors, confidence shining through.


‘War Chhod Na Yaar’ would’ve been a considerably better film if it were more balanced. The Pakistanis are still made to look like a bunch of malnourished idiots who think of India as their big brother. The Indian army on the other hand, is the paragon of goodness, wit, and soldiering. Was this a necessary evil to get the film released? If it was, the war in that case is lost anyway.

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