Saif Ali Khan’s ‘Laal Kaptaan’ Is a Slow and Tiring Revenge Saga
Laal Kaptaan has an ambitious setup and an intriguing premise. It’s the kind of film that would sound great on paper. It has all the ingredients, after all. It features Saif Ali Khan in a kind of role we haven’t seen him essay and it’s a period drama set in the 18th century about a Naga sadhu seeking revenge.
The film has an underlying theme of death as the ultimate truth that no man however great can escape and is helmed by Navdeep Singh, who previously made the critically acclaimed Manorama Six Feet Under and NH 10.
In the dusty ravines of Bundelkhand, Saif Ali Khan plays Gossain, a Naga sadhu, out to seek revenge. The menacing look, complete with kohl-rimmed eyes and dreadlocks immediately brings to mind a certain Jack Sparrow. The man at the receiving end of Gossain’s wrath is Rehmat Khan (Manav Vij), a morally corrupt chieftain, who has betrayed the Marathas and allied with the British.
This is an interesting time in history, 25 years after the Battle of Buxar, when the British are trying to work their way in to colonise the country and how the infighting and mistrust between the many tribes and clans in a way helped them in their nefarious designs. Rehmat Khan and Gossain clearly have a past and we get all our answers right at the end, but by then we have already run out of patience and it just becomes a case of too little too late.
A couple of the tracks, especially those involving the women in the film actually become very interesting. Zoya Hussain has a haunting look about her and the exchange between her and Rehmat’s wife played ably by Simone Singh lifts up the proceedings.
Then Deepak Dobriyal comes in at crucial times in the film to give us much needed comic relief.
But these are just tiny bits that can’t redeem Laal Kaptaan and it’s unnecessarily convoluted story telling. It isn’t a nice feeling to come out of a film unable to understand the point of what the makers were trying to make. Sadly, Laal Kaptaan leaves us with exactly this frustration .
The Quint’s rating: 1.5 Quints out of 5.
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