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Viacom18 Studios and Aamir Khan Productions’ Laal Singh Chaddha (UA) is the story of a slow man who has a heart of gold. It is the official adaptation of Hollywood film Forrest Gump.
Laal Singh Chaddha (Aamir Khan) is a slow learner but has a heart of gold. He lives in a small town of Punjab with his mother (Mona Singh). He loves his childhood friend, Rupa (Kareena Kapoor Khan), and is keen to marry her. Rupa also loves Laal but does not see him as a life partner. Rupa, who hails from a very poor family, has ambitions of making pots of money by becoming a model and ultimately a film star. To realise her dreams, she reaches Bombay and becomes the mistress of financier Abbas Bhai (Harry Parmar). Meanwhile, Laal serves in the Indian army for a brief period, during which he meets Bala (Chaitanya Akkineni) who wants to quit the army and expand his family business of manufacturing men’s vests and briefs. In fact, Bala offers Laal partnership in the new manufacturing unit he plans to set up. During his stint in the army, Laal also meets Mohammedbhai (Manav Vij), a Pakistani armyman/terrorist. All through, Laal and Rupa meet occasionally, sometimes after years too.
What happens to Bala’s new business? What happens to Laal’s one-sided love story?
The original script is written by Eric Roth while its Hindi adaptation is written by Atul Kulkarni. While the story is heartwarming, the screenplay is so slow and boring that it ends up testing the audience’s patience. The first half is at least entertaining at places but the post-interval portion is terribly slow-moving and boring. The drama is over-indulgent, giving so much footage to Laal that his narration (the entire film is a narration by Laal, of his own life’s journey) becomes irritating after a point of time. The worst part is that even when flashback scenes are showing on the screen, Laal’s narration often goes on in the background as if the viewers wouldn’t understand the scenes without his narration. This is a blunder on the part of the writer and director. Rupa’s absence from the scene for long periods of time is another minus point. The audience also wonders how the Indian army and the police let Mohammedbhai go scot-free after Laal saves his life although he is a Pakistani armyman/terrorist. It seems a little difficult to believe that nobody travelling in the train to Chandigarh with Laal Singh Chaddha recognises him even though he has made headline news for running across the length and breadth of the country. While on the point of running for months together, the audience wonders why Laal is doing so and waits with bated breath to know the reason. But what does it get as an answer? Laal gives no concrete reason! Obviously, the viewers feel cheated.
This is not to say that there are no scenes which create an impact. Of course, there are. The scenes in which Laal beats up people who misbehave with Rupa are heartwarming. Also, the scenes when Laal is sad are touching. However, the scenes of Bala constantly talking about vests and underwears are not at all funny although they have been written to create comedy.
The last about 10-15 minutes of the drama are excruciatingly slow and get too boring for the viewers to handle. Talking about the ingredients of an entertaining film, the comedy is too little while emotions, which absolutely tug at the heart strings, are absent at several places where they ought to have been.
Atul Kulkarni’s dialogues are good; some of them are excellent too. The Punjabi dialogues (by Rana Ranbir) are also well-written. Having said that, it must be added that so much of Punjabi dialogues will not go down well with viewers who don’t fully comprehend Punjabi even though care has been taken to use simple Punjabi.
Aamir Khan has taken pains to get into the skin of Laal Singh Chaddha’s character, and the effort needs to be lauded. But the end result is not what it ought to have been. His constant use of his eyes to convey surprise and shock gets too much for the audience. Also, his constant ‘Hmmm’ sound also gets irritating. And, as mentioned above, his (almost) non-stop narration makes it seem as if the film has Aamir Khan (either in person or through his voice) in every frame. Kareena Kapoor Khan looks a ravishing beauty and also acts very well in the role of Rupa. Hers is a mature performance. Mona Singh lends decent support as Laal’s mother. Manav Vij is very effective as Mohammedbhai. Chaitanya Akkineni does not create much of an impact as Bala. Ahmad bin Umer is cute as young Laal. He also acts ably. Hafsa Ashraf is endearing in the role of young Rupa. Harry Parmar is ordinary as Abbasbhai. Kamini Kaushal is good as a co-passenger in the train. Shah Rukh Khan, in a friendly appearance, adds star value. The context in which he is introduced in the film is intelligent. Aarya Sharma (as the lady in the train), Arun Bali (as the Sardar co-passenger), Nazneen Madan (as the lady co-passenger), Harshil Joshi (as the kid co-passenger), Sanjay Deshpande (as the ticket collector), Fateh Singh Chahal (as the Sardar kid in the train), Jagat Rawat (as the school principal), Guneet Singh Sodhi (as Rupa’s boyfriend, Harry), Yuri Suri (as the commanding officer), Sowmyashree Belur (as Bala’s wife) and the rest provide average support.
Advait Chandan’s direction is alright. While he knows the craft of filmmaking, he adopts a narrative style which is as slow-paced as the script. As a result, his narration gets boring, more so in the second half. Pritam Chakraborty’s music is class-appealing. The ‘Kahani’ and ‘Main ki karaan’ songs are good but there is no super-hit number. Raju Khan’s choreography is ordinary. Tanuj Tiku’s background music is quite effective. Setu’s cinematography is fantastic. The locations have been captured so wonderfully in the camera that some of them look like picture postcards on screen. Parvez Shaikh’s action and stunt scenes are appropriate. Mustafa Stationwala’s production designing is of a very good standard. Hemati Sarkar’s editing is sharp but the film is boring in spite of that.
On the whole, Laal Singh Chaddha is a dull and over-indulgent fare which will find some appreciation among the classes mainly but will not find favour with the masses. It will, therefore, not make a mark at the box-office. Collections in high-end multiplexes will be somewhat good but the film will not be able to score in lesser multiplexes, single-screen cinemas and smaller stations. Having said that, it must be added that its business in the final tally would be more than its merits because of the bountiful first eight-day week which is full of extra holidays (Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day, Janmashtami and Parsi New Year).
Released on 11-8-’22 at Inox (daily 13 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by Viacom18 Motion Pictures. Publicity: excellent. Opening: not up to the mark despite Raksha Bandhan holiday. …….Also released all over. Opening was below the mark at many places and fair at some places.