Laal Kabootar to be screened in Dubai
The award winning Pakistani film is a trailblazer in its genre, believes actress Mansha Pasha
Parallel cinema is a risky venture. As an alternative to the mainstream commercial cinema, there is hardcore realism associated with these movies, often ditching the glamour and frills of traditional commercial filmmaking. It won't be incorrect to call this a rebellious branch of the otherwise conformist cinema.
The subcontinent is filled with works of visionaries like Mrinal Sen, Shoaib Mansoor, Shyam Benegal and Satyajit Ray who have treaded this path less travelled and have taken this cinema to different heights. They were risk takers in the truest sense of the word. Where there was an easy way to create run-of -the-mill family sagas, they unabashedly chose to shed light on the societal issues.
But, for an industry to survive, a healthy balance of art and commerce is a must. And Pakistani Film Industry, which is a slowly and steadily getting back on its feet is creating some masterpieces, while maintaining this balance.
Where they have potboilers like Teefa in Trouble and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani on one end of the spectrum, there is Cake and Laal Kabootar on the other.
Speaking of the latter, almost a year after its release across Pakistan and after garnering rave reviews worldwide including at the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival and Chicago South Asian Film Festival, Laal Kabootar is finally arriving in the UAE.
The film, with the bustling city of Karachi as its backdrop revolves around Adeel, a cab driver and conman with dreams to leave the city to start a new life in Dubai and Aliya, a widow who is desperate to find and bring to justice the ones who murdered her husband.
Fate brings them face to face and soon they both realise they can help each other. Adeel, who knows every goon on the streets help Aliya find her husband's murderer. In exchange, she promises to give him enough money to settle in Dubai. But neither of them realise they're in over their heads, and so begins an intriguing cat and mouse game through the streets of Karachi. Many reviewers have explicitly mentioned that there is a third pivotal character which is Karachi itself. The way the city and its streets have been captured is something that has never been seen in any of the films before. It is brutally honest and accurate to the core. The film doesn't unnecessarily glamourise or romanticise Karachi or its problems. It strips the city naked and brings it out in the sun.
The film is produced by Harvard graduates, Hania Chima and Kamil Chima; written by Ali Abbas Naqvi and directed by Kamal Khan who is not a new name in the Pakistani production world. He has several ad films and songs to his credit.
We asked Kamal if he, at any point during the making of this film, had any reservations regarding the project because of the risks involved? "Of course, it was a risky call. But my will to do this kept me going. I had been planning this "risk" for the last 10-12 years and everyone around me said that it won't get done. During the process I always second guessed myself. Having never made a film before I never knew how certain decisions will turn out on screen. But in the end it was all worth it," said an excited Kamal Khan.
Kamal must have camouflaged that on the sets with absolute confidence which is why, the lead actors of the film did not find this gamble risky at all. They knew they were out to make something special and hard hitting at the same time.
Speaking to City Times, lead actor Ahmed Ali Akbar reminisces that "Not once did I think I was embarking on a risky journey. I was in the hands of the best. I felt blessed and fortunate to have been cast in a film like Laal Kabootar. Currently in the Pakistani film industry the risk factor for the producer is very different than it is for the actor. But to answer your question, it has clearly paid off."
City Times also spoke to the leading lady Mansha Pasha who is flooded with offers after this film both in TV and films. She gave the entire credit to Kamal and said, "Laal Kabootar is recognised as one of the best, most technically sound films made in Pakistan and a trailblazer in its genre! For any actor that is a high achievement and I am so proud I got to be a part of this film. Everyone who worked on the film did their part to make it amazing. I never second guessed myself because I could see the hard work that went into it and Kamal's passion for film making. He put his heart and soul into this film, and it shows."
She added that she was spellbound when she saw how Karachi was shown in its truest sense. "Its a really special city with a lot of stories lurking around every corner. Laal Kabootar captures the texture of the city really well and we truly enjoyed the process of it."
One of the best parts about this film is that it is not your run-of-the-mill love story.
Laal Kabootar shows that just because a story revolves around a girl and a boy helping each other out, it doesn't necessarily mean they have to fall in love with each other.
Laal Kabootar will be screened at Novo Cinemas, Ibn Battuta Mall, today, followed by an interactive session with Kamil Chima, the co-producer of the film and lead actress Mansha Pasha. The session will be moderated by Shazia Ali Khan, the director of Pinky Memsaab, another 'made in Dubai' film. Tickets are priced at Dhs125 for the event.
Sadiq Saleem is a Dubai based entertainment writer.