Karachi is a city which has long fought to find its identity and after the struggle, the city is equal parts welcoming, diverse, vibrant and aloof for the people who call it home. To tell a story about revenge, power and greed; three strong emotions which are the grim characteristics of this city is not an easy task. But director Kamal Khan makes it smooth sailing in his debut Pakistani film Laal Kabootar.
By creating a wholesome experience, Kamal has proven that he means business. Whether you talk about Mo Azmi’s cinematography, which beautifully captures the city without compromising on its true essence (including a thrilling chase sequence and smart utilization of foreground and background), the attention to detail with realistic art direction by Syed Mehdi Zaidi or the feisty and city-centric music by Taha Malik, the cast and crew leaves no loopholes in making it a fulfilling audiovisual experience (unless you’re a nitpicker).
The articulate script enriches the experience by creating a perfect punch of power-packed dialogues full of angst, ensuring that nothing seems unnatural or unnecessary. So, kudos to Ali Abbas Naqvi for the screenwriting.
Before discussing the lead actors, it is important to acknowledge supporting actors in the film who have effortlessly helped in pushing the narrative forward. Whether it was Rashid Farooqui in his police officer avatar, giving a captivating performance which earned him applause at the show or Saleem Mairaj who, as always, has proven himself as an actor par excellence, each supporting character plays a key role and nobody seems irrelevant. The young and talented debutants who have given brilliant performances in the film are on their way to become stars.
The lead actors — Mansha Pasha as Aliya Malik and Ahmed Ali Akbar as Adeel Nawaz — create magic on screen, making you believe for the duration of the film that it is truly who they are. From Ahmed’s accent to his overall look and personality, the transition from his comical roles to this dark character is refreshing and rewarding to watch. Although Mansha has done serious roles before, but she makes Aliya truly unique from all her previous performances.
Laal Kabootar might be about Karachi, but you do not need to be living here to understand the sombre realities of the city which are realistically portrayed in the film. Some might feel that the film takes a while to pace up. However, it is important to understand that Laal Kabootar is like a volcano; it builds up slowly only to erupt and create thrill and nail-biting moments which make you sit at the edge of your seat. The labour of love, passion and hard work truly makes it a breakthrough movie and it certainly surpasses expectations as a crime-thriller. Films like Laal Kabootar will not only make you swell up with pride but also help you retrospect on how far ahead Pakistani films have come in just five years.