"Mummy ne kaha fauj vich bharti ho jaa. Par menu kisi nu maarna accha nahin lagda hain," Aamir Khan's Laal Singh Chaddha quips to his childhood friend Rupa (Kareena Kapoor Khan) when she asks him about his future plans in life. No wonder, years later, the man ends up saving a Pakistani combatant on the battlefield during the Kargil War.
It's this sense of innocence on screen which helps Aamir Khan's adaptation of Tom Hanks' Hollywood classic Forrest Gump to stand on its feet despite a few bumps on its way.
What's Yay: Atul Kulkarni's faithful adaptation, Performances
What's Nay: Lazy pace of the narrative, Length of the film.
Laal Singh Chaddha begins with a CGI feather which lands up near the soiled shoes of an amiable Sikh man, Laal Singh Chaddha (Aamir Khan), who is travelling in a train to visit a loved one. With a classic Indian mithai box filled with some gol gappe puris and a bottle of spiced water, Laal soon cracks open some of his life memories and shares it with his uninterested seatmate.
Starting with his mother (Mona Singh) who gifts him 'jaadui' shoes to correct his posture to how his childhood sweetheart Rupa plays a pivotal role in making his braces fall from his legs, the film devotes the first few chapters to Laal Singh Chaddha's childhood.
From thereon, it takes us through different phases in Laal's life wherein his bond with his loved ones like Rupa (Kareena Kapoor Khan), his army pal Balraju Bodi (Naga Chaitanya) and Mohammad (Manav Vij) make him realise that 'zindagi gol gappe jaisi hoti hain, pet bhale hi bhar jaave par mann nahin bharta.'
After his directorial debut Secret Superstar, Advait Chandan helms Laal Singh Chaddha which is a faithful adaptation of the Hollywood flick Forrest Gump. Writer Atul Kulkarni has beautifully adapted it for the desi audience by adding some interesting themes from the Indian history and culture.
From how Laal teaches Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan his signature dancing style to coming up with the idea of 'Rupa' innerwear in memory of his friend Balraju, he meticulously sews these subtexts in this narrative which has a timeline of some of the country's biggest conflicts and historic moments.
Director Advait Chandan does a fairly good job in bringing all these things alive on screen. On the flipside, the film falters a bit when it comes to the emotional department. There's barely any scene where you find yourself tearing up. The slow-paced narrative ends up testing your patience at times.
Aamir Khan brings in a certain sense of naivity and eccentric-ness to his character Laal Singh Chaddha. As a man who lacks cynicism and takes things for exactly what they are, his portrayal of Laal Singh Chaddha is poignant in its own way. However, his Punjabi accent and speech pattern slips off at places.
Kareena Kapoor Khan marks her return to the big screen after four years and proves that she's still got the fire in her belly. She makes you empathize with her character Rupa who picks tragedy over Laal time and again for a reason which has its roots in her childhood.
One wished that Telugu star Naga Chaitanya's delightful chemistry with his co-star Aamir Khan in his Bollywood debut vehicle was aided by some solid written lines! Mona Singh as Laal Singh Chaddha's mother lends an emotional support to the film. Manav Vij is effective in his role.
Satyajit Pande makes apt use of his lens to capture the different landscapes in Laal's life. Right from the yellow mustard fields who transform into a magical world with fireflies at night to Laal's four-year jog across the country, he keeps the mood of the film bright and lively. Hemanti Sarkar's editing needed to be more taut to keep the meandering moments in check.
The music album of Laal Singh Chaddha is a blend of different moods which seeps effectively in Advait Chandan's story telling. Out of the lot, it's Sonu Nigam's rendition of Kahaani which lingers for long.
When Laal Singh Chaddha finally ends his four-year jog, a reporter urges him to say something. Hearing him, he replies, "Main thak gaya hoon, ghar wapas jaana chahta hoon."
That fatigue rubs off on the audience as well with the length of this film. Thankfully, the film has some able performances to lean upon.
We give 3 stars out of 5 stars to Aamir Khan-Kareena Kapoor Khan's Laal Singh Chaddha.