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Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha Review

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Dangal is often cited as Aamir Khan’s most outstanding performance. The actor who popularised method acting now plays Forrest Gump, a character made famous by Tom Hanks from the movie of the same name, with grunts and more grunts. Laal Singh Chaddha, the official Hindi remake of this Hollywood classic, floats, much like that recognizable white feather that appears frequently in both movies, but each time it lands at Aamir’s shoes, it is merely trodden upon.

In contrast to Forrest, Laal is on his way to meet Rupa (Kareena Kapoor Khan, who played Jenny in the original) when we first meet him. The shot moves up from his scuffed-up shoes to his smiling face and bright eyes. The seat in front of him is occupied by a woman who lugs her suitcase in. Laal gives her a fleeting glance before opening a box of golgappas he is bringing for Rupa. Alagse paani. Finally, he groans. You realize  right then and there that the following two to three hours will be rather taxing.

Kareena’s Rupa, who was derived from Robin Wright’s Jenny in the original, was possibly the starkest example of the Indianization the plot underwent. It seems as though the filmmakers were aware that Jenny wouldn’t be able to win over the public in her first form. She was essentially “vegetarianized” to make her more likable. Jenny’s 1970s-era craziness, which was propelled by Flower Power, has been reduced to a defenseless lady being imprisoned in Dawood’s 1990s-era Bollywood. It is not a horrible cliche, interwoven with a tryst with physical abuse she witnessed being inflicted on her mother as a young child. Kareena also looks better than Aamir, who is still grunting, thanks to her smooth performance.

Yes, Aamir’s cartoonish acting has undone everything. I’m not sure when Aamir decided to recast Forrest as the “borderline retarded” Laal during the production of Laal Singh Chaddha, which the actor acknowledged took him nearly 15 years to complete. The Army recruit Laal befriends on the bus to the training camp, Naga Chaitanya’s Bala, is the clearest example of how drastically wrong Aamir went with his over-the-top acting. The only difference between Chay’s Bala and Mykelti Williamson’s Bubba is that the chaddi-banyan ka business has taken the place of the shrimp-fishing enterprise. He is from Tamil Nadu and has the usual “South Indian” accent that the rest of India has long associated with that region.

But Chay does, and in such a way! Every scene displays his earnestness and devotion to the material and the director’s vision, which keeps his performance from falling flat and appearing to be a joke. Manav Vij’s Mohammad, a terrorist Laal rescued in Kargil out of the kindness of his heart and unaware that he was the “enemy,” completely replaces Gary Sinise’s Lieutenant Dan. The symbolism of establishing the enemy as the friend is far too exaggerated, and plainly absurd even in a state of suspended disbelief. This is true even as Mohammad follows Dan’s trajectory throughout the rest of the movie, co-founding Bala’s chaddi-banyan ka business with Laal.

Laal is a young man from a wealthy Pathankot-based Sikh family. And the fact that Laal Singh Chaddha’s timeline ends abruptly in 2018, right before the Balakot Air Strike, says a lot about how scared this Chaddha is of the ‘chaddis’. Shah Rukh Khan is what I like most in Laal Singh Chaddha.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Movie Name: Laal Singh Chaddha
Cast: Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan
Director: Advait Chandan

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