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A little daft, but a brave attempt

Anuj Kumar
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War Chhod Na Yaar (Hindi)

Director: Faraz Haider

Cast: Sharman Joshi, Javed Jafferi, Soha Ali Khan, Sanjay Mishra, Dalip Tahil

A well-intentioned skit that is extended way beyond its potential, this is what one makes of debutant Faraz Haider’s comedy on the futility of war. A timely idea to develop in these times of acrimony between Indian and Pakistan, Faraz takes us far from the J.P. Dutta’s border. Nicely portrayed by Sharman Joshi and Javed Jafferi, the Captains from both sides crack jokes. But soon war clouds start gathering because of a flimsy conspiracy plotted by self seeking politicians on both sides. An Indian politician uses an unsuspecting reporter Rut Dutta (Soha Ali Khan) to further his agenda while the Pakistani one is dancing to the tunes of the Americans and Chinese.

The good thing is Faraz has a keen sense of observation. When a Pakistani soldier says he has relatives on both sides and he doesn’t know which country he is fighting for, the irony is hard to miss. Dalip Tahil is made to don four nationalities to underline the point that politicians across the world are essentially the same. The pun on the mercenaries from Afghanistan is spot on. However, Faraz lacks the skill to weave his biting sense of humour into a cogent and layered narrative. His expression becomes theatrical, despite committed support from the cast and crew, particularly cinematographer Sejal Shah.

While he shows immense restraint in taking pot shots at the Indian army, Faraz turns the Pakistani army into a team of famished souls, who don’t know from where their next bullet will come from. A little more nuanced approach in the portrayal of the neighbouring country would have helped, particularly when the idea is to be pacifist. The joke on Chinese goods gets stretched a little too far. Drawing from the advertisement of a media group, a recurring episode in the film is antakshari between the two sides. It is an interesting way to establish the pointlessness of acrimony but it also gets predictable. So much so that you can easily guess what song they will sing after the climax. The misplaced curiosity of the electronic media has been done to death and there is no novelty in turning the gun on the media.

Amateurish portrayal of army and media can be ignored in this genre, but the beauty of satire lies in how much you can punch without becoming farcical. After showing hints of a taut political satire, Faraz goes the silly way and is left with little fresh ammunition to fire. Many elementary questions go a-begging as the plot lines keep revolving around the line of control, but things never come to boiling point.

Sharman, Soha and Javed ensure that the over-the-top mood in the writing doesn’t translate into their performances, and Sanjay Mishra once again supports well as the underfed Pakistani soldier. A little wooly, a little daft but a brave attempt indeed!

Anuj Kumar

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