Forrest Gump (1994) re-releasing in 2022 in an Indianized adaptation with Aamir Khan leading the cast with Kareena Kapoor is a big deal and sets the audiences expectations sky high. The moment Aamir Khan announces a film, the audience immediately takes a note of it and eagerly awaits to experience what Aamir has to offer. It is reported that Aamir has been associated with the project for more than a decade. Aamir Khan usually does one film at a time and completely gets sucked into the character and the project. Most of his films have been critically and commercially successful barring a few.
Tom Hanks starrer Forrest Gump itself is based on a 1986 novel by the same name. Actor Atul Kulkarni has adapted the Hollywood film with an Indianized narrative. For people who have known Forrest Gump and have seen it might wonder how the narrative would turn out after a gap of more than 2 decades what with the change in dynamics of consuming entertainment content and experiencing a see change with a global exposure.
Advait Chandan’s ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ is an undiluted adaptation. Much like its original, ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ narrates the story of a simple good-natured man, how he sails (like a feather) through his life with his values. The film opens with the song ‘Kahani’, played in a rural landscape as a bird’s feather glides through different locations before it finally lands near Laal Singh Chaddha’s feet.
Most of the film is narrated in the form of an autobiography, with Aamir Khan’s character telling his story onboard a train enroute to Chandigarh. Laal Singh Chaddha (Aamir Khan) and Rupa D’souza (Kareena Kapoor) are childhood friends. Laal wants to marry Rupa, but she denies saying that though she loves him, cannot marry because the two have strikingly different character/nature/expectations. Laal lets his life tag him along without letting him really take charge of it. From being a fast runner at school/college level, Laal ends up in the Army. He is shown to be a part of the Kargil war, where he saves several lives and is awarded for the same. Not just that, he, unknowingly saves the life of a soldier Mohammad (Manav Vij) from the enemy country who in turn befriends and joins Aamir Khan fulfil his promise to a fellow soldier and friend Bala. He begins his business of manufacturing vests and briefs (chaddi and ganji) and with Mohammad paaji’s marketing skill the business grows big. While Rupa is on her own in a messed-up life, returns after being ditched by life. The two meet again only to get married soon.
The film’s story moves swiftly through Laal Singh Chaddha’s life connected with landmark events in India’s recent history, weaving them into the film’s storyline, from the end of the Emergency to India’s historic 1983 World Cup victory, Operation Blue Star and Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Mandal Commission, Rath Yatra, 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, and the Kargil War. The narrative courses seamlessly through these major events and so does Laal Sigh Chaddha’s life.
Aamir Khan’s brilliance is missing in parts and looks like sliding into his PK character but makes up with his facial expressions, creating a strong effect on the audience.
Kareena Kapoor’s character as Laal’s love interest and also a gangster’s moll is not etched out too well. However Kareena does try to do justice to the character and looks charming. Similarly Naga Chaianya as Bala is decent and leaves an impact in his few scenes. Obviuosly his chaddi ganji scene entertains and generates some laughter.
Manav Vij as Mohammad Paaji, an enemy soldier saved by Laal is an interesting character. He gets a few meaningful lines and generates interest in the goings on. A dialogue when Laal asks him, why his side’s soldiers did not take him when he was injured, he says, “murdon ko bhi nahin le gaye to zinda ko kya le jayenge” (meaning, they did not even bother to take the bodies of dead soldiers, why would they take an injured one).
Mona Singh who was last seen with Kareena Kapoor in Aamir Khan starrer ‘3 Idiots’, does a credible job as Laal’s mother. She performs well as a strong single mother and farmer who drives a tractor through the town, and firmly believes that her supposedly unequal son deserves every equal opportunity.
Being an Aamir Khan film, it cannot go uncompared with his evergreen films like 3 Idiots, Lagaan, etc. in terms of the story and the overall entertainment factor. Laal Singh Chaddha, though does not have anything unlikeable but the challenge that the film might face is that it is a way too old story and might not be liked by the regular entertainment movie buffs. All in all, Laal Singh Chaddha is a definitive watch for Aamir Khan fans
Movie: Laal Singh Chaddha
Director: Advait Chandan
Cast: Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Mona Singh and Naga Chaitanya, Manav Vij.
Duration: 164 Mins.