Major Mujtaba Rizvi (played by Shaan Shahid) is a former Pakistan Army officer, who took an early retirement. The plot involves a counter-terrorism operation being conducted in the northwestern tribal region of Pakistan, led by Ehtesham Khattak (played by Hamza Ali Abbasi) and coordinated by his sister, Javeria Khattak (played by Ayesha Khan), an intelligence officer. Ehtesham and Javeria learn of a major terrorist attack that can only be countered with the help of Major Mujtaba.
Major Mujtaba's family was assassinated by Ramal (played by Shamoon Abbasi), an agent in India's spy agency Research and Analysis Wing's (RAW) operation. Major Mujtaba wants to take revenge on Ramal. Recognizing Ramal through his actions and tactics, Major Mujtaba is able to counter his attacks.
Mulla Siraj, a Taliban working with Ramal, is operating from a fort in the tribal area. He gives Ramal two bombs which Ramal is going to plant somewhere in Pakistan. Planned by Laxmi, a RAW spy, terrorists conduct an attack on a police training center to divert the attention of the security agencies. They have been watching any suspicious activity as they have learned that a major terrorist action is imminent. One bomb is loaded in a vehicle, which Ehtesham drives away in order to dispose the bomb. He is killed when the bomb explodes. The second bomb is planted in Jinnah Convention Centre, Islamabad but Major Mujtaba counters this attack and saves the country from another deadly terror incident. He takes his revenge by killing Ramal, saying "Good wins over evil in the end".Shaan Shahid as Major Mujtaba Rizvi, a retired Pakistan Army Officer
Shamoon Abbasi as Ramal, Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing's operative
Meesha Shafi as Laxmi, Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing's operative
Ali Azmat as Ejaz Khan, politician
Hamza Ali Abbasi as Ehtesham Khattak, O/C Field Operations CTG
Ayesha Khan as Javeria Khattak, an intelligence officer. Chief INTEL and COM; analyst CTG. and Ehtesham's sister
Hassan Rana as Taha Ali, director CTG
Bilal Lashari as Ali (sniper)
Kamran Lashari as Asher Azeem, DG Internal Security or Head of Security Wing
Nadeem Abbas as Rana
Batin Farooqi as Militant
Uzma Khan as Mujtaba's wife
Waseem Badami as a news anchor
Naseer Afridi (cameo)
Imran Khan as a taliban partner
The title Waar is an Urdu language word meaning "to strike." Waar is primarily an English language film with some dialogue in Urdu. According to the producer, Hassan Waqas Rana, it was considered dubbing the movie in Urdu but the idea was dropped as it would have compromised the lead role played by Shaan Shahid. The story was inspired from real events and highlights the aspect of terrorism in Pakistan. It was written by Hassan Waqas Rana.
Initially, it was reported that Tom Delmar who has worked as stunt director in Hollywood movies would direct; later Lashari was chosen as the director who was working with Rana on another project. It is Bilal Lashari's debut as a director, who has directed music videos and assisted Shoaib Mansoor in the film Khuda Kay Liye. Ali Azmat and Meesha Shafi, who are known for singing, made their acting debut in the film. Originally Ali Azmat's and Ayesha Khan's roles were limited to guest appearance that were later expanded to full roles. Hamza Ali Abbasi who intended to work as assistant director was cast as an actor.
The film is produced by MindWorks Media and includes 400 visual effects. It took three years to complete Waar. Locations included Karachi(Pakistan), Rome(Italy), Istanbul(Turkey), Lahore(Pakistan), Islamabad, Swat Valley. It was reported in the media that the film was shot in collaboration with the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of Pakistan Army; director Bilal Lashari denied any such collaboration saying that the confusion might have arisen as MindWorks Media worked on the documentary The Glorious Resolve with ISPR when Waar was being filmed.
The budget was variously said to be PKR: 170 million and PKR: 200 million.
The release date was changed repeatedly and finally it was released on 16 October 2013 coinciding with Eid al-Adha in Pakistan. It was initially scheduled to release on 6 September 2013.
The first theatrical trailer of the movie was launched in January 2012 while the second in January 2013. One of the trailers was viewed more than 500,000 times the same month, making it one of the top five videos of YouTube. Waar was dubbed as the most anticipated film in the history of the Pakistani cinema. When the film did not make it to screens in a considerable time after the release of trailers, the critics dubbed it as another project that will get shelved. Shamoon Abbasi, the main antagonist, cited the lack of resources for filming as one of the reasons for its delay.
The film premiered on 10 October at Karachi and on 14 October 2013 at Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Waar was given adults-only rating by the Sindh's provincial censor board for use of obscene language and violence. Waar was released in about forty five theaters across the country. The film was world TV premiered on 14 August 2014 on ARY Digital.
Though initially reported to be distributed by Warner Bros., it was distributed by ARY Films and Mandviwalla Entertainment.
The film was released in 25 countries. Waar was released in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) cinemas on 12 December, where the movie actors graced the red carpet at the Grand Cinema, Wafi City. It was released in cinemas across the UK on 17 January 2014. The movie released in cinemas throughout Australia on 15 May 2014. It was expected to release in India but was banned.
Waar received positive reviews from critics and became the highest-grossing film in Pakistan of all time. In the IMDb Waar is the 61st highest rated feature film with more than 5,000 votes. Because since 2012 films of the Top 250 need at least 25,000 votes, Waar is not part of Top 250 yet as it has only about 22,000 votes.
Rafay Mahmood for The Express Tribune gave the movie three out of five stars and commended the cinematography, editing and sound design but viewed critically the story and some performances. According to the review, Waar is a "piece of pointless propaganda (and) is going to further confuse an already puzzled nation about Pakistan’s outlook on counter-terrorism. In the long run, it will prove to be a great feature for Pakistani cinema but a damaging one for intellect."
Mohammad Kamran Jawaid of Dawn gave Waar a negative review, calling the screenplay a "codswallop of instances taped together to form narrative coherency". He also criticized the use of English, stating that "catering to the international market is one thing, but relying solely on it is either ignorance or arrogance". His review labels Waar as a "'showy' enterprise" where the "story, the plot, the resolve — in fact everything — hangs on a failing thread". Salman Khalid for Daily Times talks about the message given by the movie that highlights the "Pakistani perspective on the menace of terrorism", while acclaiming the story, direction, action sequences and individual performances. Rubban Shakeel of Skotato gave Waar 3.5/5 stars, calling it one of the best action films on Pakistan. On Skotato, too, Umer Ali called Waar "A Ray of Hope."
Because of the story, Waar has been critically reviewed in India. Unlike other Pakistani films, Waar received a wider and ever higher coverage than its contemporary Indian movies in the Indian media. Due to the fame the movie has gained internationally, Waar has been received critically by Indian media and politicians. However, Indian film director Ram Gopal Varma praised the film, saying he was "stunned beyond belief" and congratulated Bilal Lashari.
Waar opened on the first day of Eid al-Adha on 42 screens, the widest release ever, across Pakistan with 100% occupancy: It broke records with capacity audiences. It earned ₨1.14 crore (US$110,000) in its first day, breaking the previous record of ₨0.9 crore (US$85,000) held by Chennai Express. It earned ₨4.26 crore (US$400,000) till Friday night, breaking all previous records of Eid collections. Waar collected ₨9.7 crore (US$920,000) in its extended first week of nine days and added another ₨3.7 crore (US$350,000), thus making a total of ₨13 crore (US$1.2 million) in thirteen days. The film managed to collect ₨1.9 crore (US$180,000) in its 4th week but was still behind Syed Noor's 1998 Choorian, which earned ₨20 crore (US$1.9 million) and then on its 36th day of screening, it broke the record held by Choorian.
The movie had collected ₨20.9 crore (US$2.0 million) in seven weeks. In its eighth week the movie got advantage of ban of Hindi films in Pakistan and collected ₨0.6 crore (US$57,000) to take its total to ₨21.5 crore (US$2.0 million). In its 9th Week movie saw a huge competition in the form of Dhoom 3 but still added another ₨0.52 crore (US$49,000). Movie continued its steady run in next Weeks and ended its run around ₨23 crore (US$2.2 million) becoming biggest grosser in Pakistan at that time and worldwide collection ₨40 crore (US$3.8 million). The domestic box office collection of was later broken by Dhoom 3 (released in December 2013) which grossed ₨24.5 crore (US$2.3 million) in Pakistan.
The film's music that took almost two years to get completed was composed by Amir Munawar while Qayaas and Umair Jaswal have contributed a song each. Clinton Cerejo from Mumbai composed Saathi Salaam and Mauje Naina, which were first aired on Coke Studio India, Season 2. Here is the list of soundtracks in Waar:Inquilaab (Vocal: Umair Jaswal)
Saathi Salaam (Vocals: Sawan Khan Manganiyar & Clinton Cerejo)
Mauje naina (Vocals: Bianca Gomes, Shadab Faridi & Altamash Faridi)
Waar received 16 nominations at first ARY Film Awards ultimately winning 13 awards, the highest for the ceremony.
On 7 December 2013 ARY Films and MindWorks Media joined for the production of Waar 2, a sequel. Waar 2 will be shot in Pakistan, UK, Russia, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. Waar 2 is expected to be released in 2016.
Owner and CEO of Mindworks Media, Hassan Waqas Rana was booked under an FIR (First Information Report) with the Pakistani police by the director of Waar, Bilal Lashari for keeping its profits for himself. Apparently he transferred all cinema earnings to his personal account. The court dismissed Hassan's pre-arrest bail and police are searching the suspect in Lahore and Islamabad.