Film: Laal Singh Chaddha
Cast: Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Mona Singh, Chaitanya Akkineni, Manav Vij
Director: Advait Chandan
Rating: 3.5 Moons
“Zindagi golgappe jaisi hondi hai. Pet bhale hi parjawe, mann nahi bharta.” This dialogue from Aamir Khan’s and Kareena Kapoor Khan's Laal Singh Chaddha isn’t just the Hindi version of Forrest Gump’s “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” but also an apt summary of the film. A perfect blend of humour, love and emotions, just like a perfect plate of paani puri or golgappa as you call them.
Touching a classic can often result in faltered adaptation and watered-down characters, which was feared with Laal Singh Chaddha as the makers had the mammoth task of recreating Forrest’s and Jenny’s complex characters in Forrest Gump for Indian audiences. Did they fare well? Let’s know!
Laal Singh Chaddha is a strong-willed person who lives with his mother (Mona Singh) in Punjab. With an IQ below average, Laal (Aamir Khan) becomes the butt of jokes and a target of bullying at school. To add to his misery, he is fitted with leg braces. Unable to walk and run like his schoolmates, he finds it difficult to gel with children of his age but Rupa (Kareena Kapoor Khan) is an exception.
Rupa and Laal, like aloo and gobhi, make for the best pair. As they grow up, their work lives keep them away from each other most of the time. Laal cannot forget Rupa whereas she is busy chasing her modeling dreams. After breaking free from the shackles of his leg braces and societal judgments, Laal becomes the fastest runner in Punjab, leading him to marathon races and later, the Indian military.
On the first day of his military training, Laal meets Balaraju Bodi (Chaitanya Akkineni). A dedicated heir to one of the oldest chaddi-banyan manufacturing families, Bala is rather focused and passionate about starting his own brand with Laal. However, the streak of Laal losing his dear ones begins with Bala who is killed in action in Kargil. While Laal is serving the nation, Rupa struggles to find a break in Hindi cinema. Despite being in the good books of rich businessmen and even gangsters, will she find herself trapped in the murky world of showbiz and glamour? Laal Singh Chaddha will answer.
Laal Singh Chaddha was in the works for 14 years and the perfection attained justifies the effort put in by Atul Kulkarni in ‘adapting’ Forrest Gump, an emotional, dark and gutsy film. Yes, topics like drugs and nudity haven’t been touched but the subjects addressed are no less. Thankfully, it isn’t a frame-to-frame copy of its inspiration. Changing the landscape from countryside to Punjab’s sarson ke khet and lush greenery, Atul brings to the fore a thoroughly engaging, entertaining and satisfying film that celebrates the spirit of an ordinary man with extraordinary willpower taking the routine route of highlighting Indo-Pak rivalry and how Laal’s simplicity and innocence can change the heart of a terrorist.
Blending humour, in the most unexpected way, the script and screenplay are the real winners this time. It looks like director Advait Chandan had a blast making this film and it reflects beautifully. Taking the audience on an unforgettable train journey, he celebrates the power of ordinary people. Watch out for Atul’s and Advait’s brilliance in positioning and styling Shah Rukh Khan’s charming, eye-pleasing and clap-worthy cameo. Can we ever get bored of Shah Rukh? Never! Running far away from making it an unremarkable adaptation, Atul and Advait choose to add strong depth to the narrative and allow the penetration of Indian cultural, historical, and religious elements effortlessly.
Laal Singh Chaddha also traces India’s most bloody conflicts like 1984’s Operation Blue Star, the anti-Sikh riots, the 1999 Kargil War and many more. Shedding light on violence between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, the film makes a strong statement on religion. There’s one conversation between Aamir and Manav Vij in which the latter equates ‘mazhab’ with ‘malaria’. A dialogue which will remain fresh for the next couple of years.
Aamir Khan, in the titular role, lends a unique voice to Forrest Gump. Enacting the character of a below-average man, the superstar delivers a fine and memorable performance effortlessly. From getting his body language right, and perfecting his Punjabi diction to capturing Tom Hanks’s speech patterns, Aamir takes the film to the next level. A special mention must be made of Ahmad Ibn Umar, who plays the role of younger Laal, for doing an incredible job.
Kareena Kapoor Khan steps into possibly the complex and critical role of Rupa, originally named Jenny in Forrest Gump. Holding the film strong with her performance, the actress will stay back in everyone’s heart forever. Her character develops majorly in the second half. It goes without saying that when it comes to dramatic portions, Kareena is at her best. Oh, did we forget to mention that she looks stunning in the film?
Chaitanya Akkineni or Naga Chaitanya gets a well-sketched-out character. Unlike Bubba in Forrest Gump, Chaitanya’s Bala gets more screen time with an interesting backstory. In his debut Hindi film, the actor shines and leaves an indelible mark. Mona Singh shows her acting prowess as Laal’s mother. Though a brief role, she gives it her best. Manav Vij as a Pakistani terrorist is as brilliant as others.
Laal Singh Chaddha has songs, of course, but none of them disturbs the narrative flow. The cinematography is just perfect, especially the Kargil war sequence and Laal’s run across the country. A film with a runtime exceeding 2 hours 30 minutes, Laal Singh Chaddha’s second half seems dragged but that doesn’t dampen its impact. Just like golgappas, savour Laal Singh Chaddha fresh with your families.
PeepingMoon.com gives Laal Singh Chaddha 3.5 Moons