Number of times one comes across certain films that stay true to the adage – ‘this would have seemed really good on paper’. Well, Laal Kaptaan is one such film. A period action drama that was announced quite some time back and then took a while before hitting the screens, this Navdeep Singh directed affair would certainly have been envisioned as an altogether different experience than what it actually turns out to be. However, as it all unfolds on screen, one wonders how could a film be so much all over the place.
The premise of the film is interesting as Saif Ali Khan enacts the part of a Naga Sadhu, who is also a warrior. Really, never before has one seen a mainstream Bollywood actor in a characterisation like this ever before and in that aspect, one has to compliment Saif Ali Khan for picking on yet another new part to play on screen. This character has revenge on mind as he makes it a mission of his life to hunt down a man (Manav Vij) who is running a kingdom up North. Even as the drama unfolds and numerous killings take place every few minutes, one waits to see what would be the next move of both these men.
The core premise of the film has ample scope for drama, conflict, action, suspense, twists, turns, thrills and of course able performances. Moreover, since Aanand L. Rai is the producer here, you also expect the content to do the talking. Of course there are some sort of doubts as well since the film has taken a while to reach theatres. Moreover, it is arriving in the dullest time period for Bollywood releases and that too with unconventional marketing and promotion resulting in limited awareness. That makes one wonder what exactly is the target audience for the film.
These are the same emotions that one gets while watching the film as well since it tends to be a tad haywire at various junctures. There is so much happening in a limited time period that one feels Laal Kaptaan would have been better off with limited episodes and associated tangents. That way, audiences would have been better aligned to the story that was being told as the narrative would have been on one line with limited distractions.
In case of Laal Kaptaan, there are quite a few distractions and while some of these do contribute to the story, albeit making it way too complex, a few are totally avoidable. Thankfully, the actors on screen are capable enough to deliver mature performances even though the screenplay doesn’t support them to go beyond a certain point.
Saif Ali Khan is the pick of the lot and after Sacred Games series and Baazaar, this is yet another unique part that he has picked. Manav Vij always boasts of good screen presence and he is effective here too. Deepak Dobriyal is reliable as ever and makes sure that one watches attentively whenever he comes on screen. Zoya Hussain, last seen as the leading lady in Mukkabaaz, has a substantial role and gives a good account of herself. Other supporting actors fit the bill.
What doesn’t fit the bill though is the storytelling that really needed to be strong enough in order to hold such a complicated script. Unfortunately, even though the technical departments, especially cinematography, background score, sets and locations, are still effective enough, same can’t really be said for the film as a whole.