Yes, I know I am late to the party and it is only last night that I finished watching the 2019 Pakistani film Laal Kabootar. A film which was Pakistan Official Entry to the Academy Awards in 2019 and I had heard nothing but praises for the film. But being a critic makes you want to keep exploring films, as a result a few films are kept in your watchlist, only to be rediscovered at a later stage. And this was precisely the case with Laal Kabootar. The film lay in my watchlist for a very long time until last night I came across it and decided to give it a go. So then does Laal Kabootar manage to impress, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Laal Kabootar follows the story of a taxi driver who wishes to shift to Dubai and his only chance is a woman seeking revenge. The story creates a world similar to Anurag Kashyap films. The narrative style is close to a neo-noir drama with seemingly unrelated events uniting to form the crux of the story. The screenplay just a shade above 100 minutes is taut but there is a drawback too which I will get to in a bit. The screenplay opens on a terrific note wherein I found similarities to that terrific opening sequence in Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar. That sets the ball rolling for things to come as you feel a shiver down your spine. What amazed me was the world of crime which was created where all characters are grey and close to reality. The pressure is constantly builtup in some brilliantly penned sequences which are entertaining and they will keep you on your toes. Almost three stories move in parallel which are unconnected at the very beginning yet they get loosely connected as the drama progresses. Which brings me to the drawback.
The film felt extremely rushed towards the end. While the buildup was great, the climax seemed abrupt and almost like a convenient knee jerk reaction. It should have been slightly more layered with an extended final act that was rushed and cliched. But taking nothing away from the journey, the screenplay deserves brownie points for holding your interest throughout.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are cerebral and they keep you engaged throughout. The music and BGM are excellent and they really add to the ambience and mood of the drama. The cinematography is top notch as well. Director Kamal Khan is definitely inspired by the world created by Anurag Kashyap. Yet he adds his own individuality in building a world of his own, holding the narrative together and creating a gritty and intriguing drama.
The performances are excellent. Saleem Mairaj as Asad is intimidating and he does a swell job. Ali Kazmi as Noman shines in an extended cameo. Rashid Farooqi as Ibrahim is top notch with an excellent character arc. Mansha Pasha as Aliya had to do a lot of the heavy lifting and she is excellent here internalizing her pain to perfection. Ahmed Ali Akbar as Adeel has a great screen presence and he is well measured in his performance.
Laal Kabootar is a thrilling neo-noir drama which manages to hold your attention throughout. Available on Youtube.