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Laal Singh Chaddha

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
4 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

The weekend biggie is here and I am all but ready to be trolled for it. There are going to be many “Haha” reactions to this post as I will be mercilessly trolled by a bunch of faceless trolls(or even educated ones, I don’t know). This is because I have finished watching Laal Singh Chaddha and have absolutely adored it(something which I didn’t think I would). An official adaptation of the Hollywood classic Forrest Gump was already a far fetched idea to begin with(and this is coming from someone who rates Forrest Gump in his Top 5 films of all times). Ever since Aamir Khan had made this announcement, I was extremely skeptical given the monumental task at hand. But little did I know then that a bunch of faceless trolls would ensure that the film is a non-starter even before it releases.

The film has been at the receiving end of the trolls many days before its release. It was almost like the group did get activated just to circulate a negative word of mouth and run the “Boycott” campaign. I had earlier said in my review of ‘Darlings’ that this is an absolute sham. One should watch the film for its merit and criticize it for its shortcomings. But to directly boycott a film would mean a damaging impact, not only on many people who have worked on the project but also to the country’s economy wherein one of the leading tax payers comes from the Hindi film industry. One needs to be socially responsible and not present a one-sided narrative to derail any project.

While viewing Laal Singh Chaddha from a neutral standpoint, here is my balanced and unbiased take on the film. And once again I am reiterating, no we are not paid for this review nor have we been paid for conveying the message of not boycotting a film. Just for the record, Popcorn Reviewss does not endorse such activities and will never resort to doing so! So here we go!

Story & Screenplay

An official adaptation of the Hollywood classic Forrest Gump, Laal Singh Chaddha traces the heartwarming journey of the protagonist from his childhood to his adulthood. Now we all know the story of Forrest Gump(atleast the ones who have watched the original), and how impactful this story is. And so I was more interested in the screenplay which was always going to be challenging to match up to the original in terms of the emotional quotient. To my surprise, the emotional quotient was bang on right from the beginning to the end. Standing at almost 3 hours, it might be a daunting task for many but the human story with the right amount of emotions is so well portrayed that it makes for a breezy watch.

Just to put it on record, this is an adaptation of the truest form. It is NOT a frame to frame remake as many other films are guilty of in the name of an adaptation. The drama opens with a feather just floating in the air, traversing its way through the different directions and through multiple obstacles. This was a beautiful metaphor for life which takes a few unexpected turns yet makes its way to its destination, before floating away further and beginning its next cycle. Another angle to look at it could be the life of our protagonist, Laal Singh Chaddha.

Thus, begins a series of flashbacks which are filled with magic, innocence and more importantly an empathetic human spirit which knows only to love and not to hate. The flashback involving the young Laal Singh Chaddha and his mother was beautiful, and it did resonate with me in many moments. A moment being a young Laal asking his mother to wait outside on his first day at school was just so relatable. In another sequence, the mother teaching the young Laal some valuable life lessons was again relatable and nostalgic.

The drama here is extremely heartwarming and it will fill your heart with the right kind of emotions. How often have we seen that certain people in our life enter only to give us direction and then leave unexpectedly. The original had the track of Bubba which was beautiful and to replicate that same bond with Bala was going to be tough. I wouldn’t say, the writers matched it completely but it still was a great attempt at showcasing their bond.

As the cliche goes, one moment of love is more powerful than several moments of hate. That was beautifully showcased. The entire transformation of a character filling him up with love was beautiful to witness. There are many such moments which are heartwarming and will make you teary eyed every now and then. Which is not to say that the film won’t make you laugh. There are several moments in the screenplay including the SRK meta reference which had got the packed house hooting and cheering with laughter. A separate moment in the second hour featuring changing the brand name of a vest company made for a hilarious moment too.

On the slight downside, there are moments of lag briefly, early on in the second hour. But Atul Kulkarni who has written the screenplay, quickly brushes that aside and puts forth another interesting track which further fuels the film. A small technical drawback was the army bit where they do not recruit people like Laal but I will let that pass in the name of creative liberty(something which the film teaches you as well to focus more on the positives rather than the negatives). But there are several moments which will melt your heart and also get you teary eyed be it the sequence involving the mother in the second hour or the beautifully woven final act which completes the cycle of life(again depicted through the feather). The screenplay is really well written and excellently adapted.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are heartfelt and poignant and there are many life lessons to be witnessed through them. Also if you can read between the lines, there is a beautiful message about love and humanity over maybe religion. The music is just so beautiful and there are many songs which I be revisiting often. The BGM is really good and it helps to evoke the right kind of emotions. The cinematography is magical and captures so many shots with serenity. Director Advait Chandan who had previously directed Secret Superstar, a film which I had really liked, packs this film with so many emotions that even with a comparison to the classic Forrest Gump, this film stands its own. The direction is top notch for most parts, it would have been perfect had certain sequences been tighter post the interval.

Performances

The performances are just beautiful here but I will also highlight some of the flaws in the approach of the protagonist. Naga Chaitanya as Bala makes an impressive debut in the Hindi film industry. He is instantly affable and has a charming presence onscreen. Manav Vij as Muhammed has such a beautiful character arc that I wished to watch more of him. He was simply brilliant and pulled off his character quite well. Mona Singh as Laal’s mother delivers a heartfelt performance. Some of the best scenes in the film involve her and Laal and the beautiful bond that they share. Kareena Kapoor Khan as Rupa looks really pretty and she does a wonderful job here.

Which brings me to the veteran Aamir Khan – a performance which I would like to dissect a bit. As Laal Singh Chaddha in his formative years, the wide eyed stutturing approach did not sit well. It did give me a feeling that he was slightly going overboard with this approach. A notable difference was the one featuring in the train which was well in control. But things change drastically for the better in the second hour. I am unsure if the thought was to show a slightly more matured Laal or whether it was self realisation on the part of the veteran, but he looked in better control in the second hour. Overall, he contributes for many heartfelt moments including the stunning monologue in the final act which absolutely did touch my heart. So I still don’t get the hate around his performance. Not the best Aamir Khan performance but still pretty good.

Conclusion

Laal Singh Chaddha is a beautifully heartfelt adaptation of the original Forrest Gump. Please shower your love to this film as much as you can. If you can’t, please don’t use this as a tool for hate either. Available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended.

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