Laal Kaptaan: Film Review – A Tale of Dreadlocks & the Thrill of Chase

Verdict: Saif Ali Khan’s portrayal of an unforgiving Naga Sadhu in Laal Kaptaan is a winner.

First things first – Laal Kaptaan is not particularly a 100-crore club movie but it’s undeniably different, entertaining and should definitely be on your watchlist. While we have loved Sartaj, we were looking forward to watching Saif on the big screen and he slays in style in Laal Kaptaan, both literally and figuratively.

What’s Laal Kaptaan About:

Naga Sadhu Gossain (Saif Ali Khan) is a mercenary and a bounty hunter, and someone no one in their right minds should mess with. He is a fatal combination of fierce combat skills, spectacular focus and has nothing to lose, which makes him formidable. However, on the account of being a gossain, he is frugal, can enviably resist temptations of luxury and travels light. Gossain is approached by Noor Bai (Sonakshi Sinha) who wants a man called Rehmat Khan (Manav Vij) dead. Turns out that Gossain has been hunting down Khan for decades now and he commences his hunt yet again, this time with a resolve to end it. Rehmat Khan is a pillager and murderer, who robs the money that was supposedly for the Marathas and has made enough enemies in the past as well as the present. Thus the film has a perfect number of pre-Independence elements added to the mix, which makes this chase even more interesting to watch.

What Works:

Backed by a unique storyline, Laal Kaptaan largely relies on Saif Ali Khan’s prowess and he doesn’t let you down. The narrative progression of Gossain’s and Rehmat Khan’s animosity is slow and steady, not unlike Gossain’s resolve to exact revenge. Saif Ali Khan gives a performance that ranges between low-key restrained and all kinds of pronounced and it is convincing. Manav Vij’s cold-blooded Rehmat Khan is chilling and you want bad things happening to him in the film. Deepak Dobriyal get limited screen time but Dobriyal being Dobriyal, he manages to shine in that, along with the two (adorable) hounds. Laal Kaptaan is not all about mindless revenge and bloodshed, though. The film has a few voices of reason asking what we are wondering the whole time and that’s satisfying to see. Navdeep Singh’s Laal Kaptaan has some talented people delivering intelligent and borderline philosophical dialogues. The music is great and complements the serious undertone of a revenge drama set in the pre-Independence period. The production values are superb, which adds greatly to the tone and authenticity of the set-up. While the climax is intense and doesn’t exactly make you smile with glee, yet it is deeply satisfying to see the film tie up all loose ends.

What Could’ve Been Better:

At a runtime of 155 minutes, a lot could’ve been cut out in favor of a crisper, shorter and more impactful movie. It also has some gory scenes that may not be for everyone’s stomachs. The film tries its best to keep the suspense tight till the end but it’s not really effective. But while you may see the twist from far away, it doesn’t take anything from the entertainment quotient of the film. The indigenous dialects may be a tad difficult to follow. Barring a few dubbing and green screen faux pas, Laal Kaptaan is a decently made, enjoyable film.

Why You Should Watch:

Laal Kaptaan’s main theme is revenge and rarely does it stray away from it. The narrative is intense and Saif Ali Khan has done a good job convincing us why a Naga Sadhu could be thirsty for someone’s blood. Manav Vij is a worthy antagonist. The visuals are stunning and the smaller storylines converge in a substantial climax you’ll definitely enjoy.

And it’s not just us who have loved Laal Kaptaan. Here’s what the audience has to say:

Pooja Pande: Cats, memes, lists, and Oxford commas.