Movie: Laal Kaptaan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Zoya Hussain, Manav Vij, Deepak Dobriyal
Rating: 2 stars
India is known for its enriching history where we talk about cultural diversity quite often. The sense of pride and nationalism wasn’t really prevalent in our countrymen till the longest time and especially when it was needed the most, that is against the British invasion. At that point of time, we all realize very well that India wasn’t the best place to live as there was a fight for power and supremacy between the Mughals, Afghans and the British. However, after the Battle of Buxar in 1764, the Mughals and Afghans had lost their grip over India and India was gearing up for a long and torturous British rule and supremacy. Director Navdeep Singh’s ‘Laal Kaptaan’ is based around this timeline.
Set around the period of 1764 in the 18th century, Saif Ali Khan plays the role of a Naga Sadhu, referred to as ‘Gossain’ by everyone. Gossain happens to be an unfortunate soul who had lost his father at a tender age, as he was betrayed by his own men. Post that, he was brought up by a group of Naga sadhus who not only took care of him and nurtured him but also taught him the nitty-gritty of warfare and warcraft. As he grows up, he becomes a bloodthirsty exterminator, whose only mission and goal in life is to eliminate his father’s executor, the Pathan warlord Rehmat Khan, ably played by Manav Vij. This forms the basic crux of the narrative. In this journey of eliminating Rehmat Khan, he comes across various characters — the tracker, played by Deepak Dobriyal, and the unnamed widow, ably played by Zoya Hussain. While the tracker offers his services in exchange for commercials, the widow has her own reason in accompanying Gossain throughout the journey of eliminating Rehmat Khan. As far as what the reasons are, that needs to be explored as the narrative unfolds.
IWMBuzz Verdict: Although the performances of the cast are thrilling and engaging, they are totally put off and let down by an extremely weak script. Director Navdeep Singh tries his best in portraying the India of that time period through the lens of Gossain, but somehow the film loses its might when the script transforms into the screenplay. Not only is it extremely slow and boring but it also fails to keep you guessing, something one definitely wants in an offbeat film. Too much emphasis has been placed on the aesthetics and visible side of things, but it fails to match up and gel with the screenplay. Manav Vij efficiently essays the Pathan warlord and looks equally competitive as he faces Gossain, and that’s a big deal in itself. Deepak Dobriyal is a joy and delight to watch as usual, but somehow his character has been underutilized. Zoya Hussain, who was last seen in Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz, shows her skills to perfection; she can definitely act. Navdeep Singh, as the captain of the ship, fails to integrate the demand of the audience of today with his screenplay style. That’s why the film looks unmistakably boring and long. The direction lacks promise and it fails to integrate with the cinematography. There are certain shots complimented by very average background score, which makes the frame even duller. The very fact that a Naga ‘sadhu’ takes the ‘revenge’ path is in itself an exciting thing. But then again, one goes to the movies to watch the picture in motion and not text. Overall, Laal Kaptaan is a movie with plenty of potential that goes the wrong way, and one would feel bad for the actors as the script couldn’t match up to the intensity of the actors. The only shining factor in the movie is the performance of Saif Ali Khan who simply nails it in his never seen before avatar. Overall, a desperate attempt to go offbeat fails miserably. Watch it only if you are a Saif fan. There’s nothing new or magnificent to offer.