About 15 years ago, while watching Forrest Gump on TV, I pondered on how it would be if the movie was made in India, how the episodes could be adapted, and who could replace Tom Hanks. While I concluded that it’d be impossible to adapt the screenplay, I was sure that either Aamir Khan or Kamal Hassan could do justice to the role if it was ever done. Little did I know then that Atul Kulkarni was scripting Laal Singh Chaddha for Aamir at about the same time.
Let’s talk about screenplay first. Atul Kulkarni does a good job with what I thought was undoable, adapting the script for the Indian audience. From 1983 to the 2000’s, every major Indian event has been entwined perfectly into Laal’s journey. Yes, some of the elements from the original (such as ping pong and running into celebrities) are missing, but he does a commendable job. I loved the way the chaddi baniyan business turns out to be the largest knitwear brand in India.
Talking about the direction next. Forrest Gump is a classic, and it is difficult to helm the remake of such an iconic film. Advait Chandan, on his second directorial venture does a decent job, and brings out fine performances from all but one of his cast members. Yes, he fails big time directing one cast member and that might be the biggest drawback of this movie; his inability to direct the Khan!
As I said earlier, if anyone could replace Hanks, I thought it was Aamir. But I was wrong for he’s the one who spoils Laal Singh Chaddha. Forrest/Laal is a dim-witted character, but Aamir goes overboard by showcasing it as a disability. Enlarging his eyes for no reason, he does a combination of his act from PK and Dhoom 3. This might have been bearable if this were consistent, but no, every frame had a different pathetic expression. Not just from his films, he even tried to ape Mr. Bean in some episodes. And god alone know why he was humming and grunting in few scenes! 😠 Only if Advait could direct/manage him and bring out the same innocence and empathy he did from Ahmad Ibn Umar who played young Laal. Alas!
Another problem I had with the direction was how Advait handled some episodes of the film. The Army scenes were at times a mockery (loud screaming, etc.), and the chaddi baniyan arc was overdone. In the original, the friendship that Bubba and Forrest shared was genuine and honest, but that’s a miss in this one. Nuances!
It’s a cakewalk for Kareena Kapoor Khan who owns Rupa as her own.; she does full justice to the character. Mona Singh does a commendable job as Laal’s mother. Naga Chaitanya, in his Hindi debut, is good as Bala, but I thought he tried too much to be Bubba; only if he had made the character his own like Kareena did. Manav Vij makes an impact as Mohammad. The kids who play young Laal and Rupa (Ahmad Ibn Umar and Hafsa Ashraf) are brilliant.
Music by Pritam is good. I personally loved “Main Ki Karaan” and Sonu’s version of “Kahaani”. Editing by Hemanti Sarkar could have been better for the film seemed longer than it should be. Forrest Gump at 142 minutes had more meat in it than this 170 minutes film. The cinematography by Satyajit Pande (Setu) is great. The VFX team needs to be commended for the de-ageing job.
Is it worth your time and money?: If you walk in without expectations or haven’t watched the original, you might actually like the film. But for me, Aamir spoils the show. I ignored him on the screen to survive!
Worth mention: Every scene which didn’t have Aamir in it. 😑
Acting: 5/10 (it might have been 8 or 8.5 if it weren’t for Aamir!)
Technical Aspects: 8/10