Laal Kaptaan Movie Review: An arid period vengeance drama you can skip
Laal Kaptaan Review: Laal Kaptaan is slow, and the story fails to keep us engrossed. For people who love neo-western classics, the film’s pace might be just right.
Laal Kaptaan Director: Navdeep Singh
Laal Kaptaan Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Manav Vij, Zoya Hussain, Deepak Dobriyal
Laal Kaptaan Stars: 2/5
Laal Kaptaan is slow, and the story fails to keep us engrossed. For people who love neo-western classics, the film’s pace might be just right. However, for others, it takes a toll. You tend to fast forward the story in anticipation of finding a deeper, darker secret that turns out to be less exciting and shocking than finding the Google Easter Egg. Saif Ali Khan starrer Laal Kaptaan attempts to follow the cinematic formula riding on cinematography, grim storyline and occasional acting brilliance. Alas, it’s not for everyone.
Set in the 18th century and around the time of Battle of Buxar, Laal Kaptaan is about vengeance and violence. The parched Bundelkhand (although the film is shot in Rajasthan) shivers with the visit of an uncanny Naga Sadhu, Gossain (Saif Ali Khan). He is in pursuit of an infamous traitor of the Maratha kingdom, Rehmat Khan (Manav Vij) for a reason which, supposedly, is the spine of the film. Gossain is introduced as a dreaded bounty hunter who learnt the art of war from Naga Sadhus. Drunk in his vengeance, he has the grit and guts to challenge a king in his palace when trifled with and doesn’t think twice before slitting throats or dragging bodies. Concurrently, the East India Company plays the devil by offering arms to Rehmat Khan, who has a history of tiff with it before he decides to run away with the treasure of Marathas.
Directed by Navdeep Singh, Laal Kaptaan is co-produced by Eros International and Aanand L Rai's banner Colour Yellow Productions. Navdeep, who has delivered excellent films such as Manorama Six Feet Under and NH10, uses the arid Bundelkhand as a character in itself. When the film starts, you expect it to be grittier, but start losing patience right after the initial 20 minutes. The film is slow, and the story fails to keep us engrossed. For people who love neo-western classics, the film’s pace might be just right. However, for others, it takes a toll. You tend to fast forward the story in anticipation of finding a deeper, darker secret that turns out to be less exciting and shocking than finding the Google Easter Egg.
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Saif Ali Khan is shown in a never before seen avatar which added its own intrigue value to the storytelling. He is not only intense and emotional but also fierce. Deepak Dobriyal plays Sancho Panza, a tracker who is accompanied by two dogs. He literally sniffs moments to leave an indelible impression with his brilliant acting skills. Manav Vij stays true to the character sketch provided to him. He is brutal and cold-blooded, but his character wasn’t allowed to age well in the script. Ultimately, apart from giving a face to the villain there isn’t much the character does.
The film will fare terribly on the Bechdel test. But then most Bollywood films do. Zoya Hussain has played her part well but gets very little screen space. However, it’s much more than what Sonakshi Sinha has been given. Sonakshi’s character vanishes even before you blink! Vibha Rani plays a mystic. Her opening scene is engaging and makes you uneasy, setting the tone of the film. There are some dialogues which register and click. Then, there are those which don't work for Laal Kaptaan as one doesn't emotionally feel attached to the revenge or even the reason behind the revenge. Dialogue such as ‘Inaam main kya mila, Halwa?’ is very colloquial and doesn’t fit right with the era in which the film is shot.
One of the most interesting trivia of the story is that nobody ever utters the word Laal Kaptaan. Perhaps, the biggest sign that the makers forgot what they wanted to make out of this film.