LAAL SINGH CHADDHA is the story of man’s extraordinary journey. Laal Singh Chaddha (Aamir Khan) is born in 1971 to Gurpreet (Mona Singh). She is separated from her husband and raises Laal alone in the village of Karoli near Pathankot, Punjab. As a young boy (Ahmad bin Umer), he is fitted with leg braces as he finds it difficult to walk. On top of that, he has a low IQ and hence, he becomes an object of ridicule in school. But Rupa Dsouza (Hafsa Ashraf), his classmate, becomes his close friend. Laal falls in love with her instantly. Both study in the same college in Delhi too. One day, while Laal is being chased by some bullies, he accidentally enters his college ground and the sports coach (Shrikanth Verma) enlists him after he sees him running at lightning speed. Laal participates in running tournaments for his college and becomes a champion. He continues to love Rupa. But Rupa likes him as a friend and is in love with Harry (Guneet Singh Sodhi). She wants to be a model and actress and shifts to Mumbai. Laal meanwhile enlists in the army, like his forefathers did. During training, he becomes friends with Bala (Chaitanya Akkineni). His ancestors used to design innerwear for men and it’s his dream to start an undergarment business. They become so close that he offers Laal a partnership in his future business. Laal accepts it. Sadly, the Kargil War breaks out in 1999 and Bala dies. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
LAAL SINGH CHADDHA is an Indian adaptation of FORREST GUMP . The story is one-of-its-kind, Atul Kulkarni’s adapted screenplay (original screenplay by Eric Roth) has its share of plusses. The biggest achievement of the writer is that the story has been Indianized beautifully. Also, he made the film a lot less dark than the original, especially with regard to Rupa’s character. But the writing is stretched and could have been shortened. Atul Kulkarni’s dialogues (additional Punjabi dialogues by Rana Ranbir) are sweet and simple.
Advait Chandan’s direction is neat. The way he connects one track of the film to another is seamless. A few scenes stand out as they are well executed. On the flipside, the film’s biggest culprit is the second half. While the first half is nearly 1 hour 15 minutes long, the second half’s runtime is more than 1 hour 25 minutes. The remake is longer than FORREST GUMP by nearly 22 minutes and one can feel that in the second half. Several scenes test the patience of the viewers and the makers should have trimmed the length for a better impact. The romantic track is cute in a few places but overall, it’s not entirely convincing. A few plot points are interesting like the track of Mohammed bhai (Manav Vij) but it will be difficult for the viewers to digest. Lastly, the treatment is such that it’s not for mass audiences.
Speaking of performances, Aamir Khan is in great form and owns the character. In a few scenes, he merely communicates through his eyes, especially in the running episode, and shows yet again that he’s one of the finest actors today. He does go a bit overboard with his acting in the racing scenes in the beginning. But he compensates for it in the rest of the film. Kareena Kapoor Khan looks like a million bucks and delivers a bravura performance. Mona Singh is adorable. Chaitanya Akkineni leaves a huge mark despite having a small role. Manav Vij is a surprise and does well. Ahmad bin Umer and Hafsa Ashraf are cute. Shrikanth Verma, Guneet Singh Sodhi and Harry Parmar (Abbas Haji) are okay. Kamini Kaushal (Aged lady in the train), Arun Bali (Sardarji in train) and Aarya Sharma (lady in train) are fine. Vijay Maurya (Dawood) is there for just one scene. Sowmyashree Belur (Bala’s wife) gets no scope. Shah Rukh Khan is superb.
Laal Singh Chaddha: Official Trailer | Aamir Khan | Kareena Kapoor Khan
Pritam’s music is soothing to the ears but none of the songs will have a long shelf life. ‘Kahani’ is the best song of the lot. ‘Tur Kalleyan’ works as it comes at an important juncture. ‘Main Ki Karaan’, ‘Phir Na Aisi Raat Aayegi’ and ‘Tere Hawaale’ fail to leave a huge mark.
Tanuj Tiku’s background score is cinematic. Setu’s cinematography is outstanding and surely one of the best camerawork in recent times. Mustufa Stationwala’s production design is rich. Jogender Gupta’s make-up (for Aamir Khan) is spot on. Maxima Basu’s costumes are realistic and glamorous in the case of Kareena. Parvez Shaikh’s action is sans gore. Redchillies.vfx’s VFX matches global standards. Hemanti Sarkar’s editing is not upto the mark.
On the whole, LAAL SINGH CHADDHA is embellished with fine performances and lovely moments. However, the excessive length and slow pacing in the second half goes against the film. At the box office, it will get the benefit of Raksha Bandhan from evening and also of the long, extended weekend [Thu – Mon]. However its business would be restricted only to the audience in metros and that too premium multiplexes.