It’s a very good adaptation of Forrest Gump.
by Lalit Magazine
Laal Singh Chaddha has been in the news for more than two months now and, sadly, most of the time for wrong reasons. Social Media has been trending with #BoycottLaalSinghChaddha. Some self-declared critics already condemned it as a badly made movie – a cut and paste copy of Forrest Gump.
So when I entered the cinema hall, the first thing I decided was to forget about Tom Hanks and Forrest Gump and to simply concentrate on the Hindi adaptation and to judge the movie on its own merits.
The movie opens with a railway station scene – a train slowly moving into the station. Suddenly a white feather gets dislodged from somewhere and starts moving around wherever the wind takes it. It keeps on flying around until it lands at Aamir Khan’s feet. He picks the feather up, takes out his notebook and keeps it inside it along with the picture of Kareena Kapoor.
This opening shot sets the tone for the movie, even throws light on the theme of the movie, that life is not controlled by anyone; or is it?
We see Laal Singh Chaddha (Aamir Khan) – a Sikh with a long flowing beard and a turban – sitting in an ordinary coach of a train. He starts talking to initially bemused and bored co-passengers, and as he ventures into his past, describing certain scenes in detail, they are slowly riveted, many scenes resonating with them. This is how the viewers come to know that he was a specially-abled child. We come to know about his childhood friend Rupa, who later on becomes his sweetheart, played very well by Kareena Kapoor.
Laal Singh Chaddha’s spunky mother, brilliantly played by Mona Singh, fights hard to give her son the best of education. She knows his limitations but never gives up on him. Through the formative years of Laal Singh, we also get the glimpses of social and political events taking place during that period. We have the Emergency, the Operation Blue Star, the killing of Indira Gandhi and the 1984 massacre of Sikhs after that.
We also get a quick look at Advani’s Rath Yatra, the Mandal commission and, later on, even the Anna Hazare movement.
All these events have been deftly incorporated in the storyline although some may feel the whole placement somewhat contrived. Some may well ask why the 2002 Gujarat pogrom has been skipped, and rightly so.
One explanation is obvious: during that period Laal Singh never ventured out of Delhi and Punjab. One can also feel that an already beleaguered Aamir Khan wouldn’t have liked to put himself into greater trouble in view of the times we live in. In any case, not including 2002 Gujarat pogrom doesn’t make any difference to the smooth narrative of the movie.
Laal Singh Chaddha joins the army, makes a friend, Bala, but misses Rupa who is in Mumbai, pursuing her dream of becoming rich.
We are shown the glimpses of the Kargil War, the bravery of Laal Singh and thus the story moves on, holding your interest, The pace, though, is slow at times, but you get so involved with the storyline that the slowness doesn’t bother you.
The movie is moving and sad, but not devoid of effortless humour.
The original script by Eric Roth has been brilliantly adapted to Indian conditions by Atul Kulkarni.
An important social message has also not been ignored. When Manav Vij asks Aamir that he had never seen him offering prayers to God, Aamir replies: “My mother used to say that religion often spreads Malaria.”
Whenever there used to be riots, his mother would ask him not to leave home. To his why, her reply would always be: “Bahar malaria phaila hua hai – you’ll catch malaria outside.” How innocently and subtly this message has been put across! The India of today is in dire need of it.
Aamir Khan is said to be a perfectionist and there is one very great example of it in a scene where Laal Singh sees Rupa seated in a car on the streets of Delhi. He keeps on shouting his beloved’s name but to no avail. He starts running after the car. There are number of cars ahead of him, as one expects in Delhi traffic. The scene is of the 90’s. All the cars in the scene are the ones which existed in the 90’s. You don’t see a single car from the 21st century, which underline’s Aamir’s sharp attention to detail.
Aamir has given one of his best performances even though there are times when you feel he is overdoing a bit. Kareena Kapoor as Rupa is very good.
Manav Vij, as the Pakistani friend of Laal Singh, has also given a standout performance.
The most outstanding part of the movie is its cinematography. Shots of almost every part of India have been spectacularly captured; the camera work is superb.
Pritam has done a good job with the music. After a long time, I loved listening to songs of a movie. All the songs play in the background and their lyrics very effectively portray the philosophy of the movie.
All in all, Laal Singh Chaddha is a movie worth watching. You don’t get to see such movies from Bollywood very often. Aamir Khan has been very brave to make this kind of a movie, which doesn’t have the usual box office ingredients. He has taken a risk, worked very hard and produced a real feel-good movie.
Advait Chandan has shown great skills in direction. Remember he was the director of The Secret Super Star as well. Movies like Laal Singh Chaddha aren’t made every day.
Lalit Magazine is a cricket and theatre enthusiast. His theatre group Navankur has staged several plays. He loves music and is in the middle of writing two English novels.