Director: Faraz Haider
Cast: Sharman Joshi, Jaaved Jaffrey, Soha Ali Khan, Dalip Tahil, Mukul Dev, Sanjay Mishra
The Indian Express rating: **
India’s “first war comedy” starts off with spark. Two of Bollywood’s better actors, Sharman Joshi and Jaaved Jaffrey, face off across a long stretch of barbed wire. Night has fallen upon the border between India and Pakistan, and there are war clouds in the air. Who will fire first?
There’s an explosion. It is satisfactorily loud, and we are all set for a rollicking yarn on a subject not usually treated with levity. War films in Bollywood have meant deadly serious tales with soldiers dying and tanks firing, and mothers and wives crying. The macabre humour that such situations evoke has been the focus of several Hollywood films (one of which is my all time favourite Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, in which Peter Sellers shows what a consummate actor he was, and how war can be as much farce as tragedy).
The tone seems to be just right in that opening sequence. We are introduced to the benign hostilities that mark life at the Indo-Pak border. Under the watch of Captain Raj (Joshi ) of the Indian army and Captain Qureshi (Jaffrey) of the Pakistan army, the men on either side indulge in stray shooting to keep their hand in, play antakshri, and trade locker-room insults. They do what the army is supposed to — protect their country and follow orders. It is the greedy generals and silly politicians in both countries that are interested in war, not the soldiers.
Up until this point, where China and the US are also brought in as complicit partners in potential war games, War Chhod Na Yaar is fun. Mukul Dev plays an Afghan ghuspethia, and is quite a hoot to begin with. We also get the joke about the poor Pakistani soldiers not getting enough gosht in their dal. But soon the whole thing loses steam. Dalip Tahil is given a four-hander, playing an Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and American, and Soha Ali Khan is the only girl in the midst of all the men, playing a TV reporter. Of course she is called Rut Datta, and of course she is made to scurry around with a camera and make eyes at Captain Raj. And Sanjay Mishra’s underfed Pak officer is a drag.
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