In the last few years, the trend of films based on the pre-independence era has increased in Bollywood. Not only real life characters like Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi, Kesari or Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy but also fictional films like Thugs of Hindostan, Tumbbad are getting a lot to see. And now this week, Saif Ali Khan’s Laal Kaptaan is releasing in cinemas, which is a revenge story. So will Laal Kaptaan manage to woo the audience or will it fail in its endeavor? Let’s review.
Laal Kaptaan is a tale of revenge for two decades. It is 1789, 25 years after the Battle of Buxar, Hunter (Saif Ali Khan) is a Naga Sadhu who is on the hunt for a man named Rahmat Khan (Manav Vij). Through Noor Bibi (Sonakshi Sinha), Hunter learns that Rahmat is the governor of a state in North India. Wicked Rahmat snatches away all the treasury of his kingdom and kills his servants. By the time the hunter arrives at the fort in search of Rahmat, Rahmat disappears from there. Hunter has a fight with some Pathans in the fort in which he is injured, then a widow present in the fort takes care of him. She requests him to accompany her but Hunter refuses but the woman follows him. Following the hunter and the woman, a tracker (Deepak Dobriyal) who specializes in tracing the whereabouts with the help of his sense of smell and pet dogs, reaches the fort. In no time, the Marathas attack the fort and the tracker agrees to help them find Rahmat. Meanwhile, a few days later, Hunter reaches the place where Rahmat and his army have camped for the night. Hunter quietly broke into Rahmat’s tent, but did not kill him, which was his sole aim for 25 years. Rahmat’s army captures Hunter. What happens after this, it will be known after watching the next film.
Deepak Venkatesh and Navdeep Singh’s story is very cheesy and gives the feel of some Bollywood and Hollywood films. Deepak Venkatesh and Navdeep Singh’s screenplay is confusing and ineffective. There are a lot of tracks in the film and except for Hunter’s track, none of them are interesting. Also, there is no equation between all tracks. Sudeep Sharma’s dialogues are nothing special. One-liners fail to entice.
Navdeep Singh’s direction is very disappointing. He had very weak material in his hand and he makes it worse with his weak performance. The film is extremely dry and slow and very few scenes attract your attention. But it doesn’t just affect. Even it seems silly to see that Hunter passes Rahmat Khan twice and still doesn’t kill him.
Laal Kaptaan, initially looks complicated due to flashback portions. Hunter’s entry is like that of a hero but then the film falls apart and it stays till the end. Though the middle few minutes make the film better but they do not save the film. The film is very long at 155 minutes and moves very slowly. Also the story is very random and confusing. Hence, it fails to engage the audience. It is hard to understand that, Hunter has been desperate to find Rahmat Khan for 25 years and when he finally meets her, he never kills her. In the end, the reason is revealed but it is very disjointed and silly.
Talking about the acting, Saif Ali Khan makes the film somewhat watchable. His look is quite dashing and he gets engrossed in action scenes. Manav Vij also does very well as a bad person. His serious eyes work very well for such roles. Deepak Dobriyal is mild-mannered but his performance in most of the scenes doesn’t create laughter. Zoya Hussain suits her role. Simon Singh is decent. Aamir Bashir and Ishika Dey are improvised. Neeraj Kabi (Sadullah Khan) gives a good performance in cameo and Chetan Hansraj (Sangram Singh) and Ajay Paul (Thakur) also look fine. Sonakshi Sinha is wasted because she is only there for one scene.
Sameera Koppikar’s music is nothing special and the songs have been used very badly. ‘Tandav’ sounds strange to hear. ‘Kaal Kaal’ and ‘Lahu ka Rang Kara’ do not give the desired effect. The background score of Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandavarkar suits the mood of the film.
The cinematography of Shankar Raman is superb and the film has been shot in some unseen locations. Rakesh Yadav’s production design is authentic. Darshan Yevlekar’s hair design and Dhananjay Prajapati’s make-up are superb, especially in Saif’s case. The costume of Maxima Basu Golani is also similar to that of 18th century India. Illusion Ether’s VFX is fine but could have been better in some scenes. Jabeen Merchant’s editing in many scenes is stellar.
All in all, Laal Kaptaan is a strange and useless film which has nothing to woo the audience. The film will struggle a lot at the box office due to its low buzz and pre-Diwali period.