By Neha Bora
Most films in Bollywood are a retelling of previous stories and this might not always be a bad thing except when you aren’t able to tell it well, like in ‘Laal Kaptaan’. Keep on reading the article till the end film review laal kaptaan to know whether filmi files give this movie yay or nay.
‘Laal Kaptaan’ is set in pre-independent India in Bundelkhand. It is the story of one Naga Sadhu referred to as ‘Gossain’ throughout the film, who is an assassin/bounty hunter in the quest of revenge on a mysterious man for a mysterious reason.
The story is so stretched out that despite the great number of beautifully shot fight sequences, a magical ‘Calypso’ reminiscent witch and her prophecy, and the philosophical musings of a deep voiced Sadhu, one wonders what the story wants to get at and if ever it will get there. The basic storyline is simple, and the characters are written beautifully but the thread connecting these vast themes is very fragile almost frayed in several places.
Writers Deepak Venkatesha and Navdeep Singh leave a lot of characters in the film unnamed, we walk out of the cinema hall without finding out what they were called and this initially adds to the intrigue only to become obsolete later on. Another very beautiful aspect of the film is how it treats time. One not only does it talk about the vastness of time and a human beings’ short duration in it, it also conveys time as such in the story.
You are convinced that such a time and space existed surrounding such a man as played by Saif Ali Khan. The story has the element of the Indian Struggle against the British. It also has the deals with the macabre with ideas of ‘kaal’ and its ‘bhainsa’ prevalent throughout the story yet, these are tropes that could not be used effectively.
The support of the cinematography, sound, color and design is spot-on. There is nothing half done or hastily put together in it. The great barren lands and rocky paths of Bundelkhand are set against the colors of dirt, blood and ash. They are fore grounded by the haunting music and background score.
You can feel the strength of Gossain’s wrath with every beat of ‘kaal kaal’, the manic dance of Khan and Dobriyal is well set against a burning pyre as ‘Taandav’ plays on. The rest of the soundtrack is essentially haunting and angry but it isn’t a soundtrack that will give you goosebumps.
The film relied too much on the intrigue that surrounds Sadhus, it tried to exploit the ‘chillum’, the ‘ash’, the ‘dreadlocks’ without actually committing to the idea and instead made Saif Ali Khan only a tokenistic Sadhu. Death is often spoken of without there being any exploration of death or mortality.
Saif’s character does not manage to become the ‘Yamaraj’ that the trailer promised us. He is, in fact, only a Sadhu because making him a common soldier in search of revenge, would take away the aesthetics of the films that is the major or only reason for the audiences to go to the theatre.
The costumes and make-up become an essential part of any period drama and therefore it was essential that the costumes of the characters also convey the time and mood of the film. Maxima Basu does a wonderful job of this in the film. Gossain is Gossain partly because he looks like Gossain. The wrath of the Sadhu are almost wrapped into the folds of his red turban. Deepak Dobriyal character could not have been given a better costume, right from his cloth laden shoes, to his three cornered hat, he looks every bit as queer as his character demanded. Zoya Hussain is left barren and dark as the life she leads.
To talk about ‘Laal Kaptaan’ without talking about the phenomenal acting performances would be ignoring the one element that worked in favor of the film. Saif Ali Khan was said to have worked very hard for the film and this hard work showed. He was brooding, angry and patient as and when required. He spends almost the entire film covered in dirt and ash and paint and doesn’t seem t flinch away from these aspects of his character once.
Deepak Dobriyal brings comedy into the stationary mode of the film without breaking character and he is very convincing as the sniffer human who lives with his two dogs, picks up horse dung and apes the ‘how do do!’ of the British people. I find it hard to believe that anyone else could have done it better. Zoya Hussain portrays the lost and intelligent woman well but appears single-toned throughout the length of the film.
Manav Vij doesn’t work in either portraying the inhuman or portraying the angry. He seems to sulk and Simone Singh playing his rebellious wife seems to have the upper hand in the chemistry and marriage. Aamir Bashir is just about there without doing much for the film. Filmi Files is the best place to check out the latest tinsel town happenings.
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Filmi Files Rating – ★★
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