Television

Pak film depicting Indian militants creates new boxoffice records in Pakistan

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NEW DELHI: If Indian films do it, can Pakistani films be far behind?

A newly-released Pakistani film depicts how Indian villains team with Islamist militants to plot attacks across Pakistan, and as expected the Pak heroes save the day.

A scene shows militants overrun a Pakistani police academy and kill 100 officers as an Indian spy and her accomplice waltz in a flat in Islamabad to celebrate the success of their mission.

Waar ("Strike"), Pakistan's first big-budget movie has been filmed with the support of the army in Pakistan, according to a Reuters report.

The reports say that even in Pakistan itself, Waar is denounced by some liberals wary of what they see as fiery nationalistic rhetoric and scenes demonising India.

"Like any other action film, we wanted to show the triumph of good over evil," said director Bilal Lashari, 31. "And we wanted to do it with a great amount of spectacle and scale."

Politics aside, Waar is interesting. Helicopter gunships whizz over mountains and commandos lay siege to militant sanctuaries in Pakistan's picturesque, lawless tribal regions.

"The army was great in that they gave us a lot of logistical support," Lashari admitted. "All the scenes with the helicopters and the mountains - we could not have done without the army."

The movie has proved hugely successful. On a recent viewing in a packed cinema in the capital, attendees leapt to their feet to applaud patriotic scenes.

In one such moment, a retired officer takes on an Indian contractor on the roof of a building while a female Pakistani officer rushes to defuse a chemical bomb planted on the balcony. Many cheered as the officer reduced the Indian man's face to a pulp. A woman turned to a group of giggling boys and scolded them for "laughing during such a serious movie".

Presented almost entirely in English, Waar took more than three years to make and officially cost around $2.2 million in a country where the average film is made on less than $25,000.

Its distributors say Waar grossed more than $900,000 during the first week - a record for Pakistani cinema.

Bollywood film Ek Tha Tiger, one of the Hindi film industry's biggest box-office successes in 2012, but banned in Pakistan, depicted a Pakistani intelligence agent choosing her love for an Indian agent over her country.

This year, a film based on an Indian operation to capture a fictional mafia don given asylum in Pakistan riled Pakistan's censor board. The villain in D-Day was loosely based on real-life gangster Dawood Ibrahim, who India says is harboured by Pakistan.

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