Maybe it is a genre that deserves a bigger scale. Not just in terms of budget, but also thought. Faraz Haider’s debut War Chhod Na Yaar is as childishly simple as the title sounds — with armies reduced to two teams big enough to play volleyball... Or antakshari with each other. And they do. Like teams from your neighbourhood competing for the title, or like two street bullies fighting over a girl. While this reduction does help us see things beyond the politics, it is also too simplistic to carry a heavy-handed anti-war message.
With politicians from India, Pakistan, China and America — all played by Dalip Tahil (because, you know, they are all the same) — acting like caricatures and Haider’s desire to poke fun at Chinese products superseding serious politics, the war never seems dangerous here.
When “Hahaha! Look Chinese missiles, they won’t explode” is the joke, where is the grave danger of brother turning against brother?
The film sorely misses darkness. War comedies have a very bleak outlook and death is part of the comedy. But Haider is afraid to go there. This is a war comedy with no casualties because of the old-fashioned notion that deaths make a film too er... grave. And serious.
This decision to keep it bloodless hurts this feel-good comedy quite a bit. At no point do we feel bad or sorry this is happening. Even the exchange of fire is friendly. Stronger the villain, stronger the conflict, stronger the film. With just caricatures all through, this is as serious as a bunch of boys playing with toy guns.
Public opinion is shown through two groups of kids who chat on Facebook... One literally types out the title. As if their opinion matters in the larger scheme of things.
What works for the film are moments — the antakshari bit, the Chinese politician with a Made In China electronic translator, the Indian Hen-Pakistan soldier gag and the roll-call gag derived from jokes children make up in school.
While this ensemble of Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan, Javed Jaffrey, Sanjay Mishra and Dalip Tahil does a decent enough job, the script never really tests any of the actors because this is essentially a happy film, a party. Everyone is having a good time chatting, cracking jokes and holding back fire.
And sadly, a film with an explosive premise, like the Made In China bomb, goes phusss...
Genre: War comedy
Director: Faraz Haider
Cast: Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan, Javed Jaffrey, Sanjay Mishra, Dalip Tahil
Storyline: The friendly banter and exchanges between army units on either side of the India-Pakistan border are interrupted by the threat of war
Bottomline: This silly, simplistic and conveniently resolved war comedy will make you smile a few times