Reasons why ‘War’ is a blockbuster

Released in nearly 4000 screens in India on Gandhi Jayanti and showing in that many screens at the start of the Dussehra holiday season, Siddharth Anand’s actioner ‘War’ has set the box-office on fire

Reasons why ‘War’ is a blockbuster
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Biswadeep Ghosh

The film starring beefcakes Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff, both indubitably handsome actors from two different generations, has a running time of 154 minutes. Somewhat long for an action film? Perhaps, but nobody's complaining.

War has cost an estimated ₹200 crore to make. That is a lot of money despite films like the Rajanikanth-Akshay Kumar starrer 2.0 with a reported budget of ₹570 crores redefining the idea of the cost of production in Indian cinema. The good news for War is, producer Aditya Chopra needn’t worry about the recovery of investment.

The trilingual film also released in Tamil and Telugu apart from Hindi, the most lucrative version, has taken a massive opening, reportedly earning ₹53.35 crores on its release day. That is the highest ever opening for a Bollywood film, followed by the first day collections of Thugs of Hindostan, which had earned ₹ 52.25 crores before falling flat on its face at the box-office.

War will experience no such misfortune. The film has reportedly collected Rs 23.10 crore on day 2, which is fabulous on a working day. And, it will surely perform better during the extended weekend.

Many critics haven’t liked the film much. They have found the story silly and superficial. They have been also critical of the less-than-nominal focus on the female lead Vaani Kapoor, calling it an instance of the commodification of women in big-budget, man-dominated Hindi cinema. Some have found the background music loud, and one critic has questioned the fact of location-hopping without justification.

The masses have responded differently. War has been shot in many locations, Marrakesh, Malta, the Arctic Circle, and even Kerala and Delhi included. Good cinematography has made it a good-looking film, which, history shows, is frequently appreciated by viewers.

Think Siddharth Anand’s action drama Bang Bang!, the official remake of the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer Knight and Day also starring Roshan opposite Katrina Kaif. The film had worked because of its gorgeous protagonists and sequences shot in exotic locales. War is no different. The film, in fact, is prettier.

Many have criticised War’s writing department because of the wafer-thin storyline. That is the outcome of smart, viewer-friendly writing. What screenwriters Anand and Sridhar Raghavan have done is create a film wrapped in gloss that highlights the male protagonists and does little else.

The story focuses on an intelligence agent named Kabir who has gone rogue (Roshan) and his mentee Khalid (Shroff)n who has gone after his mentor. Action focusing on these handsome men is the primary objective of writing the screenplay. Everything else is either insubstantial or inconsequential or both.

War, as said earlier, is a man-dominated film. Although Anupriya Goenka as Khalid’s analyst has a meaty role, Kapoor, who plays the heroine, has about 20 minutes of screen time. The heroine’s half-baked characterisation deserves criticism. But there is little doubt that it is part of the strategy of focusing on Hrithik and Tiger, whose coming together is a minor coup.

How good are Roshan and Shroff, the two brawny USPs? Roshan with his classy salt and pepper look markets his ageing without hesitation. And man, that works brilliantly. As an actor, he is far superior to Shroff, which shows in every sequence in which they are seen together.

Shroff, on his part, is fantastic in the dance and action sequences. He is known to admire Roshan but doesn’t seem to be in awe of the senior actor. Both of them share great onscreen chemistry, which helps the film immensely.

War has clicked because the film’s writers knew they wanted to write an escapist crowd-puller with action, stunts and dances the day they switched on their computers to write it. It is a money-minting machine because the smartly penned screenplay has nothing much to write home about.

Now, isn’t that interesting?

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