Laal Singh Chaddha

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Laal Singh Chaddha
Laal Singh Chaddha

LAAL SINGH CHADDHA is heart-warming, tender, humorous and simplistically philosophical!

Skilfully adapting the Hollywood classic “Forrest Gump” into the richly varied Indian culture and values, LAAL SINGH CHADDHA is a sweet, charming and consistently engaging film, despite its long runtime. After a very long time I enjoyed a big screen movie-watching experience and I would go as far as saying, that in my opinion, LAAL SINGH CHADDHA ends up being a better film than the original Tom Hanks starrer. Go for it!

The Plot: Dim-witted but an eternal optimist, Laal Singh Chaddha (Aamir Khan) stumbles through life, wondering whether you should write your own destiny or float freely like a feather, going wherever life takes you.

Just to give you a perspective, while “Forrest Gump” won multiple Academy awards, it still remains a film which was hugely loved by the audiences, but thrashed by the critics. So, it was a film which touched the hearts of millions across the world, but the top international critics still criticise it for its surface level philosophy and the unreal emotional manipulation it indulged into.

However, it’s a tall ask to remake a cult classic like “Forrest Gump”, adapting it into a whole new cultural backdrop, yet retain its inimitable charm that made it a classic in the first place. I’m glad to tell you that Aamir Khan and Advait Chandan have managed to dexterously do just that and have given us an Indian version which is as endearing as the original and perhaps a bit more relevant. Director Chandan keeps the charm of simplicity held throughout, staying true to the real essence and context of the plot.

When the predecessor itself had flaws, you can’t expect this remake to be flawless either. It replicates the original’s strengths and weaknesses, but leaves its mark by charting its own course with believable homegrown characters. The story narrated by Laal himself on a train journey, you find yourself irrevocably pulled into every facet of Laal’s life and personality in this episodic plotline. Yes, the runtime is a bit long, but never bothersome, as the screenplay, despite all its flaws, is engrossing throughout.

The ultimate dichotomy of life forms the central premise of the film, and it is conveyed in the most simplistic manner. A slow-witted, ordinary man, achieving remarkable feats without deliberately pursuing them to begin with, is the classic food for thought, as far as life goes. So do your actions and will dictate your destiny, or is everything predestined? It’s simple, yet complex, but LAAL SINGH CHADDHA manages to weave the heart and mind beautifully, without ever getting preachy.

Moving through monumental events in Indian history, through the lens of Laal, as he ages along, LAAL SINGH CHADDHA gives us glimpses of the Emergency, the ‘83 World Cup Win, Operation Blue Star, Babri Masjid case, the Kargil War, Mumbai Taj attack amongst others, and eventually ending in this modern internet era. This evolution through India’s ups and downs is nicely portrayed, and while it stays clear of touchy political issues which could create a stir in today’s times, the film makes for a thoroughly engaging drama.

Visually, the film is a winner, with gorgeous frames and grand shots throughout the film, making the narrative all the more riveting. It’s evident that immense thought and labour has gone behind creating each scene and the passion is hard to ignore. Yes, it is corny and indulges into self-aware emotional manipulations, but in mainstream cinema you’re allowed that creative liberty as long as the movie watching experience is fulfilling. The melodies by Pritam are soulful and always delightful.

Of the performances, I would take the unexpected turn by saying that Kareena Kapoor is the real show stealer in this film which revolves mainly around the extremely lovable protagonist character of Laal Singh Chaddha played by Aamir Khan. Her character, obviously derived out of Monica Bedi-Abu Salem chapter, is one that truly enthrals you. Her portrayal is as composed as it could get and she makes it look so easy and seamlessly natural. As the luminous Rupa, Kareena has the power to stop a film in its tracks with minimal make-up and ordinary costumes. Coming to our title character, the soul of the film, Mr. Aamir Khan. While his acting will have the audiences in split, some loving it and the others criticising it for being a repetition of his role in PK, you have to agree that Aamir Khan throws all that he has into the role and comes up with a simpleton who is wondrously loveable. I personally wouldn’t place this amongst his top performances, but it’s his relentless commitment that really melts your heart. His pursuit for perfection is evident in the way the film is made and he makes sure that each character around him is as convincing as it could get. Mona Singh, Manav Vij and Naga Chaitanya Akkineni are all truly likeable in their small, but key roles.

To sum up, LAAL SINGH CHADDHA is a big film with a bigger heart, which is made for the big screen, more specifically for the multiplexes. Totally worth your visit to the cinemas this weekend. Aamir Khan doesn’t dissapoint!

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