With its intelligent narrative, Laal Kabootar has proved that it packs the right punch for those who want to go to the cinemas to enjoy a thriller without stereotypes; Sherdil, a patriotic film fails miserably due to a loose script and hackneyed acting skills.
*ing: Ahmed Ali Akbar, Mansha Pasha, Ali Kazmi, Saleem Mairaj
Directed by Kamal Khan
Exploring the gritty underbelly of Karachi and how it entraps people into its perilous jaws, Laal Kabootar narrates the lives of two characters – Aliya (Mansha Pasha) and Adeel (Ahmed Ali Akbar) – whose lives intertwine when a dark series of events bring them into each other’s lives.
Delving into a serpentine narrative, where the good and bad meet in the dusty streets and back alleys of the metropolis, Laal Kabootar - directed by Kamal Khan - is a strong exploration of all that goes on below the banal layers of the socio-cultural crust this city shows to the world.
Teeming with target killers, petty thieves with big plans, and land-grabbers who keep Karachi at bay, the film has been honest in its portrayal of a city that is unforgiving to everyone. Truly, it has all the elements of thrill and excitement to take the cinema goers to a rollercoaster ride.
However, that said, the narrative is beyond just describing the city. It has so much more to bring to the audience with how it shows the character arcs, which thankfully are not just about one goal. Be it Adeel or Aliya, the characters have evolving aspirations throughout, which show that the end-goal can be interchangeable in the film. Similarly, the acting skills - which evoke a myriad of emotive reactions throughout the film - are also solid as both Mansha and Ahmed are able to mould themselves perfectly in various facets.
Another actor definitely worth mentioning is Saleem Mairaj, whose role as the menacing target killer on the streets of Karachi brings out a new facet to the actor’s repertoire.
Apart from the actors, adding onto the film’s magic is also Mo Azmi, who as the Director of Photography, has managed to create another cinematic experience after he was able to win people over with his work on last year’s Cake. Similarly, screenwriter Ali Abbas Naqvi also shined through his writing, by taking an intimate take on urban life in Pakistan with Laal Kabootar.
Lastly, one must also commend the film’s exploration of local and traditional music, where Danial Hyatt, an interdisciplinary artist and music producer who creates music under the moniker Nawksh, and is associated to acts like Mole and orangenoise – has lent his vast sonic expertise to the score of the film that manages to create an experience of its own.
Overall, Laal Kabootar has proved that it packs the right punch for those who want to go to the cinemas to enjoy a thriller without stereotypes and cliches that other films are full of. It makes one feel that finally, there’s an intelligent narrative worth watching on the big screen.
*ing: Mikaal Zulfiqar, Armeena Rana Khan, Sabeeka Imam, Hassan Niazi
Directed by Azfar Jafri
Adding onto the ongoing wave of nationalism, Sherdil is the latest attempt by Azfar Jafri to create a narrative that focuses on the lives of Pakistan Air Force officers, who prioritise their duties before their lives. However, while the patriotic film has tried to use the current scenario to its advantage, it miserably fails due to a loose script and hackneyed acting skills.
Starring Armeena Rana Khan, Mikaal Zulfikar, Sabeeka Imam, and Hassan Niazi, the film written by Nomaan Khan explores the life of young cadet Haris Mustafa (Mikaal Zulfikar), whose lifelong dream to join the forces comes from his grandfather’s ultimate sacrifice for Pakistan in the 1965 war. However, before he could join the PAF, he finds staunch disapproval in the form of his father and his girlfriend Sabrina (Armeena Rana Khan), who keep their preconceived notions on the forefront regarding the matter.
Narrating largely Haris’ personal struggles and his growth in becoming a gallant PAF fighter pilot with the India-Pakistan skirmishes in the milieu, Sherdil oscillates between highs and lows faced by the protagonist throughout its two and a half hour runtime. However, while that gives the film a hero who we know enough about, it gives minimal information about anyone or anything else.
Due to this, the film falters at points where the protagonist’s needs and aspirations are sidelined and his connections with other characters in the film take main stage. A large example of this is the relationship shown with the female lead, where the film fails miserably to create any sort of chemistry between the two. If anything, the film fails the cast, who seem robotic in their ‘love’ for each other in the narrative.
Similarly, the film’s own script and dialogues are almost hackneyed and robotic as well. Gone is any sort of subtlety as out come mammoth interchanges about the India-Pakistan conflict and jingoistic remarks, which make the story more about how the country has been a victim of aggression by an aggressive (neighbouring) India. Furthermore, onto the matter of national narrative that has in the past created conflict in the region, the film does more of a disservice as instead of pacifying tensions, it raises them.
Overall, apart from the few well-shot action sequences of the PAF’s dogfights with the enemy in the film where the JF-17 Thunder shine through, the film is not worth watching in the cinemas at a time when there could be better narratives made.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection