Instep Today

Catching up with the cast of Laal Kabootar

Instep Today
By Buraq Shabbir
Thu, 03, 19

Ahead of the film’s nationwide release on March 22, Instep speaks to Ahmed Ali Akbar and Mansha Pasha about delving into a new genre and what it means for Pakistani cinema.

We are eagerly waiting for the release of Kamal Khan’s debut feature Laal Kabootar, which, according to him, is a “Karachi-based crime drama”. The film premiered in Lahore on March 19 with great reviews coming in while it is scheduled to premiere in Karachi tonight, a day before its nationwide release on March 22 alongside Sherdil.

Instep caught up with protagonists Ahmed Ali Akbar and Mansha Pasha during the film’s promotions in Karachi on a bright, sunny afternoon earlier this month. Given that Laal Kabootar is a crime drama with a crew that’s new in film business, were there any reservations signing on for the project, I asked them.

“The experience was very fulfilling as an actor; it was like working with new people who don’t seem to be very new to their craft,” Ahmed Ali Akbar noted. “Everyone is one of the finest in the industry so it didn’t feel like they were new. The script, and my character is very different; I haven’t done anything like that before. It was a challenge but it was fun.”

Speaking of her character in the film, Mansha Pasha, who was last seen on big screen in Umer Adil’s Chalay Thay Saath, shared, “We start off seeing her [Aliya Malik] in the middle of a struggle; she has been through something. The film follows her journey till she overcomes it.”

Exploring a new genre is a risky decision but Kamal Khan chose to take one with Laal Kabootar, as opposed to most other directors who opt for tried and tested formulas especially if it’s their first film.

“If the film is good, it will find its market,” Mansha asserted, reflecting on films that failed to make a mark despite following the norm. “It’s a very blanket statement; when people say ‘formula’, they mean successful. This doesn’t board true because all the films that have been formulaic have not been successful. The probability is higher because there are so many being made in the genre. We haven’t actually given any new genre a shot just out of fear; we don’t know if it works or not. There are no statistics or market research to back the claim.”

“I can’t say whether this genre works or not, on the basis of our film, but someone has to do it,” she continued. “If a project exploring a new genre becomes a success, others follow suit. It opens up an avenue of people trying to actually go for new things and I think that’s important.”

“We just FEEL that nothing except romantic comedies works in Pakistan, based on what we get to hear, but it is actually not the case. If a film is good, it will work,” added Ahmed.

When asked what Laal Kabootar offers viewers, Ahmed responded, “It has to offer a lot; it has to offer one that we are capable of doing; making any kind of a film in terms of quality of the script, in terms of content. The film surely offers some new kind of visual cinema to Pakistan. It will do well purely based on its story and execution. I believe other factors come next. Also, word of mouth will help.”

Ahmed also said that the film is based in Karachi and highlights how diverse we are. “It is based on people from different walks of lives, from different social strata, coming together in a city like Karachi, which once upon a time was very violent and scary. So, anyone can get hooked into any kind of mess.”

Added Mansha: “The film has very good music, it is been shot in a very different way. It is a story that’s very close to home in the sense that Karachi is like a melting point of different kinds of people. We have all these very different characters coming together and the narrative that binds them together and unfolds as its moving along. If nothing else, the sound is going to pave way for the success of the film because it has been the most compromised thing in Pakistani films.”

On a parting note, we spoke about the ban on Bollywood films and if they feel it is going to affect their upcoming film.

“I really don’t know how it is going to affect the footfall and these Pakistani movies coming out,” Ahmed maintained while Mansha feels, “It is scary that there is a Bollywood ban.”