Given the number of heads that roll, war and humour don’t really make great bedfellows. However, there have been cinematic attempts to marry the two. Not many of them have succeeded due to the overbearing dearth of background details. War Chhod Na Yaar is the latest entry to the list. The only thing that works in its favour is the fact that it is Bollywood’s first war comedy so the lack of precedent actually helps. What doesn’t help though is a remarkably half-baked script punctuated by stereotypes, really old jokes and rather long instances of predictable bonhomie in the climax.
Set on the northwestern border between India and Pakistan, the armies on both sides of the fence get along very well. They don’t seem to harbour any sort of malice towards each other. That is until their respective governments decide to attack each other — thanks to the ‘historic’ influence of foreign hands — for no particular reason. The politicians on both ends have much to gain from this seemingly absurd confrontation. But the soldiers aren’t too trigger-happy, especially, the Pakistani ones. After all, for some jingoistic reasons, they are portrayed as those who don’t even have enough to eat and are prepared to forget defense protocols for hunger’s sake. Now, really?
Also, the cliché of associating the Urdu term janaab with Pakistani characters is outdated as well as baseless to say the least but it’s persistent in the dialogues.
The story picks up pace, for a short while, when a journalist enters the scene. Despite being in the loop from the very start, her conscience rises to the occasion only much later into the plot. For the record, she must be the first reporter ever — in fiction or otherwise — who was on ground even before the war started with complete knowledge about what’s going to happen. Fortunately enough, she’s not preachy unlike the movie.
There are moments created here and there with haphazard approach towards an existential enemy. To the script’s credit, nobody seems to drop dead, thus providing comic relief. On the downside, throughout the film, not a single chance to emphasise India’s superiority is overlooked. If comedy was the genre, shouldn’t it have been a bit more balanced for a change?
Interestingly, after a certain point of time, it becomes evident that a third country is the real bad guy! And that’s not it. People on the street are seen boycotting products from the country as a response to their covert action.
In terms of performance, Sharman Joshi is barely distinct as the captain of the army. This is certainly not his finest performance till date. Soha Ali Khan’s touristy scribe remains spirited till the credit rolls. As the Pakistani captain, Jaaved Jaaferi’s admirable command over diction caves in only when his jibes at his men don’t make you laugh. Dalip Tahil portrays four roles in the film but none of them stand out. Their intense caricatures ultimately end up destroying them. On the other hand, Sanjai Mishra’s senile yet quirky Pakistan commander comes across as the most-defined character in the entire canvas. He doesn’t deviate an inch from his graph and does justice to his part.
In hindsight, the intention and the much-needed message behind this project is praiseworthy but the execution meanders way too much. Even if it’s a fun one-time watch, a slightly tighter hold on reality and a lot better storyline would have done the magic. If only everything was fair in war and cinema as well.