The War Within (film)

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The War Within
The War Within.JPG
DVD cover for The War Within
Directed by Joseph Castelo
Produced by Tom Glynn
Jason Kliot
Joana Vicente
Mark Cuban
Written by Ayad Akhtar
Joseph Castelo
Tom Glynn
Starring Ayad Akhtar
Firdous Bamji
Nandana Sen
Samrat Chakrabarti
Anjeli Chapman
Music by David Holmes, Stephen Hilton
Cinematography Lisa Rinzler
Edited by Malcolm Jamieson
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release date
  • September 30, 2005 (2005-09-30)
Running time
119 minutes

The War Within is a 2005 American drama film directed by Joseph Castelo and written by Ayad Akhtar, Castelo, and Tom Glynn. Distributed by HDNet Films and released by Magnolia Pictures, the film stars Ayad Akhtar, Firdous Bamji, Nandana Sen and Sarita Choudhury. The War Within premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.[1]


The War Within is the story of Hassan, a Pakistani engineering student in Paris, who is apprehended by American intelligence services for suspected terrorist activities. After his interrogation, Hassan undergoes a radical transformation and embarks upon a terrorist mission, surreptitiously entering the United States to join a cell based in New York City. After they have meticulously planned an event of maximum devastation, the members of the cell are arrested, except for Hassan, Khalid, and their cell leader Izzy.

With no alternative and nowhere else to turn, Hassan must rely on the hospitality of his former best friend Sayeed, who is living the American dream with his family in New Jersey. To go forward and carry out his own attack, Hassan takes advantage of Sayeed's generosity while plotting his strategy and amassing materials to create explosives. Eventually, Hassan's skewed religious fervor clashes with his feelings for Sayeed and his family, especially Sayeed's young son Ali, his eight-year-old daughter Rasheeda, and Sayeed's sister Duri, with whom Hassan begins to fall in love.

When Izzy is arrested, Khalid and Hassan decide to use the explosives in a suicide attack on Grand Central Station. Duri discovers Hassan mixing the explosives in her brother's house. When Sayeed tries to stop him, Hassan knocks him out and runs away. Duri follows Hassan to stop the attack. At the last minute, Khalid loses his nerve and Hassan goes to the target alone. Duri arrives at Grand Central Station just before Hassan detonates his explosive belt. After the attack, Sayeed is held by the police, who believe that he helped Hassan.



Production notes[edit]

Ayad Akhtar, Joseph Castelo and Tom Glynn wrote the film while students at Columbia University's Film School. Castelo came up with the idea for the film after reading an article about a Palestinian suicide bomber.[3] They approached both Miramax Films and Fine Line Features to finance the film, but both companies refused, citing the subject matter as too controversial for American audiences.[4]

The film was shot on location in New York City and Jersey City. Sameer Bajar and Afia Nathaniel provided the Urdu dialogues for the film.


The War Within received mainly positive reviews from critics. It has an aggregate rating of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes[5] and 61 out of 100 on Metacritic.[6]

DVD release[edit]

The DVD for The War Within was released on January 17, 2006. It features commentary by Joseph Castelo and Ayad Akhtar, 8 deleted scenes and an alternate beginning.



  1. ^ Manoush, Zomorodi (September 8, 2005). "High expectations for Toronto festival". BBC News. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ "The War Within (Cast)". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  3. ^ Wagner, Annie (October 19, 2005). "Annie Wagner Talks to Ayad Akhtar and Tom Glynn". The Stranger. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  4. ^ Smith, Damon (October 23, 2005). "Sympathy for the devil?". Boston Globe. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The War Within (Over the Mountains) (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The War Within". Metacritic. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  7. ^ King, Susan (November 30, 2005). "Getting into the Spirit of awards season". Los Angeles Times. p. E3. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 

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