Since last year, Bollywood has seen an increase in films of the pre-independence era. Not only movies based on real-life characters like MANIKARNIKA – THE QUEEN OF JHANSI, KESARI or SYE RAA Narasimha Reddy, but fictional greens like HINDOSTAN, TUMMBAD or THUGS of upcoming SHAMSHERA are being made. Saif Ali Khan’s latest outing, LAAL KAPTAAN, belongs to the latter category and attempts to narrate a changed play. Does LAAL succeed in KAPTAAN entertainment despite niche appeals? Or does it fail to impress? Let us analyze.
LAAL KAPTAAN is a story of revenge in one or two decades. The year is 1789, 25 years after the Battle of Buxar. Hunter (Saif Ali Khan) is a Naga monk seeking a man named Rahmat Khan (Manav Vij). Through Noor Bibi (Sonakshi Sinha), Hunter learns that Rahmat is the governor of a state in northern India. At this time, the wicked Rahmat takes away all the treasures of his kingdom and kills his servants. Along with his army, his confidant Adham Khan (Aamir Bashir), his wife (Simone Singh), wet nurse (Ishika Dey) and his newborn son, he is on the banks of the Yamuna River abandoning the fort. By the time Hunter reaches the fort, there is no one except the widow (Zoya Hussain). Hunter is wounded while fighting some of the Pathans on the way and the widow takes care of him and heals his wounds. In return, she requests him to take her with him. Hunter refuses and yet, he chases her. After Hunter and the widow leave, a tracker (Deepak Dobriyal) who is an expert in locating the hideout with his smelling power and the help of pet dogs, reaches the fort. At some point, the Marathas attack the fort and the tracker agrees to help them find Rahmat. Rahmat was supposed to give a portion of the treasure to the Marathas but since he has not found it, they are trying to find it. Meanwhile, a few days later, Hunter arrives at the place where Rahmat and his army camp for the night. Hunter quietly sneaks into Rahmat’s tent but does not kill him, which has been his sole purpose for 25 years. Rahmat’s army strips Hunter but Rahmat does not want to eliminate him. He wants to know who Hunter really is and why he wants to kill her. Rahmat is also reminded that he crossed paths with Hunter six years ago and the latter told him that he would finish him. Still, Hunter spared him. What happens next makes the rest of the film.
The story of Deepak Venkatesh and Navdeep Singh is very substandard and gives a deep presentation of some of Bollywood and Hollywood’s special films. The screenplay of Deepak Venkatesh and Navdeep Singh is confusing and ineffective. The film has a lot of tracks and none of them are interesting, except for Hunter’s tracks. Also, the transition between tracks is not smooth. There is a twist in the story unfolding in the pre-climax but it comes at a time when the audience gets tired of going along and just wants the film to end. Sudeep Sharma’s dialogues are nothing special. Philosophers fail to woo one-liners. Also, different dialects and even Marathi are used and in the absence of subtitles it would be difficult to understand some lines.
Navdeep Singh’s direction is very disappointing. He had very weak material in his hand and furthermore, he makes the show worse with his execution. The film is extremely dry and slow and very few scenes catch your attention. There is also an attempt to add humor with Tracker’s character and allied to the Maratha army, showing buffaloes, as buffalo. But it does not just affect. Even revenge looks a bit silly as Hunter crosses the path with Rahmat Khan twice and still does not kill him.
Laal Kaptaan: Public Review | First Day First Show | Saif Ali Khan
LAAL KAPTAAN has an intriguing debut showing the flashback part. Hunter’s entry is heroic but soon the film falls flat and remains the same until the end, save for a few minutes in between. The film is very long at 155 minutes and runs at a snail’s pace. Also the story is very random and also quite confusing. Therefore, it becomes difficult for the audience to maintain their interest. Furthermore, it is heartening that Hunter has been desperate to find Rahmat Khan for 25 years. And when he finally meets her, he never kills her. Listeners will never understand this factor. In the end, the cause is revealed but it is very unrelated and silly.
Speaking of performances, Saif Ali Khan has a really good show. His look is quite dashing and he excels in action sequences. Human Vij also does very well, as does Baddy. His sharp eyes work very well for such roles. Deepak Dobriyal is breathtaking but his performance in most scenes does not add to laughter. Zoya Hussain maintains a trustworthy show. Simon Singh is decent. Aamir Bashir and Ishika Dey are passable. Neeraj Kabi (Saadullah Khan) gives a good performance in a cameo and also goes for Chetan Hansraj (Sangram Singh) and Ajay Paul (Thakur). Vibha Rani (Lal Pari) is quite scary as Clairvoyant but the director misses her here simply because he could have done a lot with this character. Madan Deodhar (Maratha captain) is apt and he is the only one who manages some laughter. Henry Douthwaite (British officer Theodore Munro) has little to do. Sonakshi Sinha is devastated and just there for a scene.
Sameera Koppikar’s music is nothing great and the songs are badly used. ‘Taandav’ Seems exhilarating but comes to a very confusing point in the film. ‘Red Red Najariya’ A great item could have been made for the song, but only played for a few seconds and therefore, meaningless. ‘Bald bald’ And ‘Blood color cara’ Do not create the desired effect. Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandavarkar’s background score suits the film’s mood.
Shankar Raman’s cinematography is superb and the film is shot in some virgin locations. Rakesh Yadav’s production design is authentic. Darshan is Yevlekar’s hair design and Dhananjay Prajapati’s makeup spot, especially in the case of Saif. Maxima Basu Golani’s costumes are also straight out of 18Th Century India. The Illusion Ether’s VFX is fine but could have been better in some scenes. Jabeen Merchant edits many scenes.
Overall, LAAL KAPTAAN is bizarre and a bad film with nothing enough to present to the audience in general. At the box office, the release of Diwali before Diwali as well as negligible buzz will bring doom for the film.