Pigeon amongst cats

Daniyal Zahid believes we have a Pakistani film of supreme quality – where few were looking for one

Pigeon amongst cats
It was almost a year ago that Cake was released, resulting in a spike in optimism for everyone remotely affiliated with the Pakistani film industry and its many cheerleaders. One had hoped that perhaps Lollywood had finally turned the proverbial - and the much protracted - corner.

And then throughout the next year, we were back to the same old – and often much-worse old – excuses in the name of filmmaking, pushing one to ponder whether Cake was a one-off and indeed as to how long might that continue to be the case.

In Laal Kabootar, we finally have a film that belongs to the same shelf, and can be held in the same light. Even though a distinctly contrasting product to Cake, Laal Kabootar has the cinematic oomph that has rarely ever been associated with Pakistani cinema.

The film is the latest reminder that a film of supreme quality can be made without big-banner stars, or a blatant imitation of Hollywood or Bollywood.

The movie’s plot should be revealed in the following solitary line, for any further detail would count as a spoiler at some level: Ali (Mansha Pasha) is searching for her husband’s killer and chances upon Adeel (Ali Ahmad) who is eying an exit to Dubai.

Set in a more realistic version of Karachi, and not the city’s caricature, Laal Kabootar exhibits rustiness a la Martin Scorsese and gruesome action details that one would associate with Quentin Tarantino.
Ali Abbas Naqvi deserves plaudits for piecing together a storyline that truly lives up to the word ‘thriller’

The director Kamran Khan has truly arrived with the film, as he packaged together a thrilling story, stupendous acting and a memorable soundtrack to form a gripping, pulsating entertainer.

A true highlight of the film is the acting, which also underlines the seamless casting for the roles. Mansha Pasha, Ahmed Ali Akbar, Rashid Farooqui and Saleem Mairaj have all nailed their characters.

Ahmed thrives as he puts on a melange of emotions ranging from will, desperation and even fear – which the sub-continent make lead usually struggles with. Mansha Pasha as a strong-willed wife demonstrated her character’s courage rather perfectly. The veteran Rashid Farooqui has once again lived up to his billing as a versatile artist, making you both love and hate him as the daunting father and a brutal police officer.

A realistic portrayal of Karachi is another signature of Laal Kabootar, especially when compared to a few other Pakistani movies in recent times. Robust action sequences also add to the overall feel and punch of the film.

Kamran Khan has showed a Karachi which hustles and bustles, is raw, cruel and dirty in many prongs, offering endless possibilities, for the good, bad and the ugly. Mo Azmi’s cinematography has painted the picture that the film requires. The shots are majestic, well-framed, with meticulous color combinations for every scene. Azmi, who was DOP for Cake, has once again underlined his prowess in another top-drawer production.

The screenplay is short, swift and leaves you on the edge of the set. From the moment you hop on, to the moment you get off, Laal Kabootar is a roller-coaster that will squiggle and squirm as it takes you along a memorable, exhilarating ride. Ali Abbas Naqvi deserves plaudits for piecing together a storyline that truly lives up to the word ‘thriller’.

Also, the soundtrack of the film deserves praise, for truly serving as the complementing cherry on top of this scrumptious red velvet cake. Taha Malik has produced music that fits the theme of the film seamlessly, with Jugrat and Chal Hut being the highlights.

Given how its peers and most of its predecessors seem to be expecting charity in the name of the must echoed ‘revival of the cinema’ Laal Kabootar is the one that puts the money where its mouth is. Among the many cats scrambling for the spoils, it’s the pigeon that has flown to an upper tier.