Geo TV’s telefilm Laal, directed by Haseeb Hassan and written by Umera Ahmed, premiered on televisions and made a strong impact on the audience. Individually, the director and writer both have a history of creating some of the best works for the industry and Laal was certainly no exception to this. With a screenplay and dialogues that were neither over-done nor overtly simplistic, Laal truly shone in every major aspect as a telefilm and proves that good writing can really make any script extraordinary!

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The plot follows a young Behram, played by the talented Bilal Abbas Khan, who is the son of a lowly fisherman in the province of Balochistan. Behram and his older brother Yusuf have always expected to follow the footsteps of their father, but Behram’s secret passion is revealed to be the army.

Positively idolizing the soldiers serving our country, Behram’s only wish in life is to be in the Pakistan army, but his father firmly squashes that dream. That is, until he meets an officer’s young daughter Zarmeena and becomes friends with her. Behram’s life takes a sharp turn when he tries to steal Zarmeena’s father’s boots and gets caught, and gets sent to school as punishment.

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The plot then jumps forward in time to when Behram becomes a navy officer and the pride of his poor parents. However, while Behram had been working hard to climb the ranks in the navy, his brother Yusuf had taken a different, darker road in life. The remaining half of the telefilm deals with this clash in particular.

Beginning with what was the highlight of Laal: the writing was exceptionally good and the biggest strength of Laal. The conversations between the characters were meaningful yet not forcefully deep. Instead, it had a simplistic charm to it that is hard to instill in any work largely focused on military. And that is another aspect much appreciated about Laal.

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While the story still does revolve around the Pakistan navy, it is not the overarching, dominant aspect of the film. Instead, it is inculcated with the accompanying themes of family, loyalty, love and betrayal. The fact that Behram manages to fight against all odds and stay true to his loyalty to his nation sheds a positive light on patriotism as a whole and shows a softer side to military men. This is largely attributed to the excellent writing, of course.

While the writing was definitely a plus point, Laal‘s cinematography must also be admired! The camera work in many scenes was impressive and gave the movie a very aesthetically pleasing look. Scenes relating to military action were also well-executed and flowed along well. The fact that Laal had both action as well as love scenes back-to-back was a bit jarring but in a way it gave a more humane touch to the characters themselves.

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Certain things should be pointed out that really did not complement the otherwise well-made Laal. Again, the sequences of some scenes that put action scenes right after more emotional scenes made it really hard to swing between the moods the movie was trying to set. In rare scenes, the dialogue really seemed forced and awkward such as the conversation Behram and Zarmeena have in the restaurant. And the relationship between Behram and Yusuf could have definitely been developed more since the climactic scene was a tad bit less emotional as we never saw Behram and Yusuf having more brotherly moments together.

But such things were very rare and minute, and did not affect the movie at all. It was not just enjoyable but impactful as well, and did not revert to simplistic glorification of war. Instead, the promotion of education sent out a good message about not just Pakistan’s military but also the kind of media being produced as such messages have a huge impact on the average household.

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Bilal Abbas Khan played Behram to perfection as well the supporting actors Kubra Khan and Mirza Gohar Rasheed who really made Laal worth watching. In the end, Laal has impressed us as well as left us in tears, and that is always an indication of a splendid movie!

Umaima Munir is a film and theatre nerd who is extremely passionate about well-written scripts. Her love for television stems from days of watching old PTV dramas such as Andhera Ujala.

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