Laal Kabootar, starring Mansha Pasha and Ahmed Ali Akbar, is set to hit our cinema screens on 22nd March and we can’t wait to see it. It’s a crime thriller set in Karachi, a fast-paced film full of suspense and intrigue. We caught up with the film’s heroine Mansha Pasha.

The film’s gritty trailer gives very little away about the plot but there is an immediate atmosphere of danger and mystery. Mansha Pasha plays Alia, who is searching for something. She won’t reveal more about the plot beyond saying that ” the stories of diverse characters from different socio-economic strata become interconnected.” However the tagline of the teaser, ‘Aik chor hi chor ko dhoondta hai’ (“Set a thief to catch a thief”) does perhaps give a clue. Ahmed Ali Akbar plays a poor guy with big dreams, and how he becomes involved in Alia’s search isn’t clear – but the fact that it leads him into dangerous situations is.

What’s apparent immediately from the teaser and trailer is that this film is set in the seamy underside of Karachi and the trailer signposts that the story is about greed, power and revenge. Looking at the grittiness of the cinematography, there is the fear that Pakistani audiences may not respond to a film that is so unglamorous. Pasha doesn’t agree,

“I don’t think we should underestimate the audience. They haven’t been offered much in the way of crime thrillers on our TV screens or in film but I think there is an appetite for more than masala movies and romantic comedies. This film is like nothing you’ve seen before and you will be absorbed by the story.”

She goes on to say that entertainment doesn’t have to be song and dance or laughter. That it’s just as entertaining to be thrilled by an adventure movie, scared by a horror movie or intrigued by a thriller. She says that it’s great to see film-makers bringing something new to Pakistani Cinema.

“It’s a driven film, with high emotions but it’s not a ronay-dhonay walli film. It’s like Karachi, where we’re constantly moving, and it’s the suspense about what will happen next that is the driving force through the film. ”

Mansha’s character Alia is no shrinking wallflower. She is a badass character who seems consumed by something. Pasha explains that though she couldn’t relate to the situation Alia finds herself in, she put a lot of thought into the character and her backstory.

“Alia is a fascinating character. Almost everybody in the city has been a victim of crime at some point, whether it’s a mugging or something more serious. Experiencing crime in some way has almost become a part of our psyche and it’s interesting to see that explored on film. This is not Karachi through rose-tinted glasses.”

You will recognise Karachi in the film, even though it may not be the same Karachi that you see every day. The city by the sea is an incredible melting pot and it’s a city of contradictions and juxtapositions.

“I was shooting under a bridge close to my house and I cross that bridge every single day but under the bridge is a totally different story. That’s what Karachi is, ” she explains.

“Our director Kamal had a definite vision for the story so this was an incredible project to work on,” she goes on to say.

Kamal Khan, the director, is an award-winning music video director but this is his debut feature film. It’s also the first film by the production house Nehr Ghar films, headed by Harvard grad siblings Hania and Kamil Chima. However, Pasha feels that this freshness could well be an advantage,

“Kamal very sincere to his vision. He was adamant the story is paramount, and was not ready to compromise on that for perceived commercial reasons. He has his own cinema language and I have so much faith in Kamal and his artistic sense. You will have an opinion – you will either hate it or love it. The way its been shot and the way the story is told demands a reaction from the audience.”

Laal Kabootar opens in Pakistan on 22nd March. Check out the trailer and tell us what you think!

Salima Feerasta
Author

Salima Feerasta is chief editor of Karachista.com and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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