Laal Kabootar (Review): A step in the right direction for Pakistani indie cinema

Movie Name: Laal Kabootar 

Release Date: March 22, 2019

Director: Kamal Khan

Review by: Momina Mindeel 

Before Laal Kabootar‘s release, a lot of us were skeptical about how it will be received by the audiences for it banked on a niche; an indie-film based entirely on Karachi and its crime scene. Some of us thought it would just be a Sacred Games rip-off while others were of the view that it might not be relatable for non-Karachiities. Then the film released (today) and surprisingly, took us all by surprise. With its brilliant direction, crisp plot, apt city-centric music, beautiful cinematography, and powerful acting, Laal Kabootar proved most of us wrong (this is one of those instances where we absolutely loved being proved wrong, not gonna lie).

The film revolves primarily around two characters; Adeel Nawaz and Aliya Malik. The latter is in search of her husband’s murderers while the former is indirectly involved in minor criminal activities. Their paths cross when he becomes her taxi driver, for a ride. Following a shootout, the two eventually become a part of, Adeel offers to help Aliya find her husband’s murderers, in exchange for a hefty amount.

Acting

Starting with Ahmed Ali Akbar, the actor played Adeel Nawaz – a small town taxi driver who conspires with his friends to steal from his own passengers because he needs to collect money so he can fulfill his dream of going to Dubai and earning there. Ahmed pulls off the quintessential small-town boy with big dreams rather perfectly. From adopting the dialect to the get-up, Ahmed has done a near-perfect job, barring his first scene on screen which seems just a little forced as far as his dialect is concerned. We can, however, definitely forgive that as he compensates for it rather well in the remainder of the movie.

Mansha Pasha, on the other hand, doesn’t have a lot of scenes in the movie but her character is weaved rather smoothly in the overall narrative. What stands out the most about Mansha’s acting that it’s never overdone. She is just there, being the most natural a character can be. She plays the character of Aliya Malik – a strong woman who does not give up on finding her husband’s murderers despite all the warnings she gets from the supposed killers.

Amidst all of this, there is another character – Mama that’s played by the veteran actor Saleem Mairaj – that stands out. It may sound outlandish in writing but Slaeem Mairaj is our very own Nawaz-ud-din Siddiqui. The guy is underrated to say the least, given his exceptional acting skills and ability to morph himself into his every character.

Cinematography

Moving on to the cinematography and art direction, they are done by Mo Azmi and Syed Mehdi Zaidi respectively. The former has done a brilliant job in capturing Karachi in all its authentic glory. Although I personally feel like there were a little too many (aerial) shots of the city, they still blended well with the narrative. Similarly, the characters were zoomed in on a little much at some occasions and their faces were too close for audiences’ comfort but that’s that. The fact that a film was able to assimilate almost all of the major crime scenes happening in the city (namely corruption, land grabbing, target killing, phone snatching etc.) all in one movie that too only lasted an hour and a half and didn’t drag itself, unlike our usual Pakistani movies, was a feat in itself.

Music and more

As for the music, Taha Malik has, just like everyone else in the movie, has done a brilliant job with his very city-centric music. There are no unnecessary dance numbers, the songs are mostly in the background and add positively to the narrative. They have a very raw, potent feel to them

The film, very aptly, has Laal in it for it revolves around the bloodshed happening in the city. Besides, quite amusingly, the target killer in the film is always seen wearing a red cap; a subtle manifestation of the title of the movie.

Verdict:

We give Laal Kabootar 3.5/5 stars. The film definitely gives the not-so-explored genre of crime thrillers in Pakistan, a remarkable boost, with almost everything well-done.

 

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