How much does it take to be kind, to be empathetic, to not discriminate, to listen more, and speak less? Well, if it takes a lot and if finding these behavioral aspects in an individual is a rarity, then surely “Forrest Gump” should be remade for every generation. Robert Zemeckis’s directorial showed society its face in the mirror. It made us feel ridiculous for fighting over land, for being selfish, for treating others unequally, and oppressing them. It made our socio-political systems look absurd. After watching a film like “Forrest Gump,” you are bound to think how simple yet complicated it is to live together. How simple yet complicated it can be to understand that “different” doesn’t necessarily mean “wrong.” It was a big responsibility that Advait Chandan and Atul Kulkarni had taken when they decided to adapt “Forrest Gump” and create an Indian version of the cult classic, i.e. “Laal Singh Chaddha.” From the first look of the film, I personally didn’t find it very convincing, but I had faith in the creative abilities of the team and especially the protagonist, Amir Khan. The biggest decision that the team took was to exactly replicate the English film scene by scene. Yes, there are a few changes made here and there, but overall it is an Indianized clone of “Forrest Gump.” So first, let’s see what the story had to offer and then analyze in what departments it hit the bullseye and where it missed the spot.
‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Laal was named after his ancestors, and his mother had high expectations for him. His legs were weak, but his mother never let his spirits get shaky. She always told him that he was no different from others. She told him to not believe anyone who tells him that he is not capable of doing stuff on his own. The only person who treated Laal like an equal was a girl named Rupa D’souza. Both the kids hung out together after school, and Rupa often didn’t want to go back to her home. Laal was always subjected to a lot of bullying. Boys often picked on him and mocked him. One day, a group of fellow students started pelting stones at Laal when he was going back home. Rupa was with him, and she told him to run and save himself from those boys. Laal started hobbling with his leg braces on. Slowly, the nuts and bolts of the braces started loosening. The metal started clunking and finally the braces broke into pieces. Laal realized that he could run. From that day onwards, wherever Laal had to go, he used to run and make it there.
One day, Rupa didn’t come to school, and Laal went to visit her. He found Rupa sitting outside her house sobbing. Her mother was being subjected to domestic abuse. It happened quite often, but still, Rupa could never get used to that traumatizing sight and the voice of her mother asking her father to show some mercy. And how could she? She lived in a state of constant fear. She prayed to her God to make her rich, so that one day she could make the violence stop and give her father all the money he needed. But that day, it went a bit too far. The mother met her fateful end, and the father was taken in by the police. Rupa was sent to live with her grandmother, who used to work at Laal’s house. Laal was happy, because now Rupa was with him always. Laal’s mother sent him and Rupa to Hindu College in Delhi to pursue their graduation. In the university Laal took part in all the track events, whereas Rupa started taking part in modeling competitions. She realized that if she became a model or an actress, she could earn a lot of money. She started fueling the dream of going to Mumbai and earning a lot of money. Laal’s mother had a unique way of sheltering her only child from the vices of the world. Whenever the country was burning with hate, she told him that malaria had spread and that he was only safe if he stayed inside his room.
Laal locked himself indoors whenever the country was fuming with hate and anger, be it during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the 1990 Rathyatra, or the Mandal Commission riots. Laal joined the Army, and Rupa went to Mumbai to make her dream of becoming an actress into reality. Laal met Balaraju Bodi in the Army, who eventually became his very good friend. Bodi’s family had been in the business of undergarments since time immemorial. Bodi pitched the idea of opening an undergarment factory once they left the Army. He asked Laal to be his business partner, to which the latter happily agreed. It was 1999, and India was in a state of war with Pakistan. Laal and Bala were in the same battalion. Their troops were given a mission to capture one of the peaks, occupied by infiltrators. The Indian Army misjudged the number of Pakistani soldiers, who had an advantage as they had an elevated vantage point. Rupa had told Laal to start running as soon as he felt that his life was in danger. He did exactly that. But when he reached the foot of the cliff, he realized that his friend Bala was left behind. He went back again, but every time he found some other fellow soldier who was injured and asking for help. He saw the Pakistani commander also lying on the ground. He didn’t know who was the enemy and who was a friend. He picked him up too, on his shoulders, and brought him down. He couldn’t save Bala, but he did save five other soldiers, for which he was awarded a medal by the Indian government.
‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ Ending Explained: Did Laal And Rupa Get Married In The End?
Rupa never responded to any letters that Laal sent her. Rupa had been charged with obscenity, and a lot of people, organizations, and NGOs were protesting against her. She later got associated with a lot of bad people. She wanted to become rich quickly. She wanted to take the shortest possible route, and obviously, it got her into a lot of trouble. She became the mistress of a gangster who took advantage of her, showed her dreams but never intended on fulfilling them(parallels are made to the controversial relationship of the infamous gangster Abu Salem and Monica Bedi ). Rupa could never become an actress. Laal kept meeting her at regular intervals. Once, he went to meet her and saw the gangster slapping her. He couldn’t resist the urge and ended up beating the gangster. Rupa told him that he couldn’t keep saving her throughout her life and that he would have to let her be. Rupa knew that Laal was the only person who loved her unconditionally, and the others were just there to take advantage. She loved him too, but she wanted something very different from her life. She wanted to be rich at any cost.
Laal finally opened that production business for innerwear, as Bala had wanted. He stitched undergarments together with two other tailors, but they didn’t know how to market their product. That’s when Mohammed Baaji joined the team. Mohammed was the same Pakistani commander whose life Laal had saved. He had lost both his legs and didn’t know whether to thank Laal for saving his life or curse him for subjecting him to living a life of such misery. He told Laal that he was destined to die on the battlefield. He wanted to kill Laal, but how could he? Here was a pure soul who did not understand what hatred meant. He didn’t understand that you shouldn’t save the life of an enemy and let him die. For him, every human was equal, and he didn’t know how to differentiate between them. Mohammed Baaji knew that he owed his life to this mad man who only saw good in others. He had an idea that instead of Bala, if the brand was named after a girl, then maybe their sales would increase. Laal knew of only one girl. So his company was now called Rupa(a funny take on the knitwear giant). The sales started to grow exponentially, and soon the company was selling underwear to the whole of India. After a while, Mohammed Baaji decided to go back to his country and open a school. Laal’s mother also passed away, leaving him alone. He used to think about Rupa every now and then. He dedicated his whole time to agriculture as somebody had to look after his lands after his mother passed away. Rupa did come back to him one day, but the happiness was short-lived. The police came searching for her as she had links to the gangster. She was sent to prison for six months, and Laal was once again left alone. Rupa had gone without telling him. There was a lot of anger inside him. There was a lot of resentment, pain, and sadness that he was not able to deal with. So he started running. Maybe he was running from his past, from his loneliness and from his regrets. He thought that he might be able to escape it all. People on the other hand thought that he might be running for some great purpose.
The media started covering his journey. He ran from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari. He ran from the desert in the west till he reached the Bay of Bengal in the east and covered almost every inch of the country on foot. After months of running, he suddenly stopped. People had started following him. They had started running with him. They asked him why he stopped. They waited for some philosophical answer. They waited for the truth about the bearded man to be revealed. But Laal was a simple man who only understood simple things. He said that he was tired and that he wanted to go back home.
When Laal reached home, he was pleasantly surprised to know that Rupa had written him a lot of letters. She had served her sentence and was now living in Chandigarh. Laal couldn’t wait to go and meet her. Laal met Rupa and found out that she had a kid named Aman. He thought that she would have married some other guy, but Rupa told him he was the father of the kid. Laal couldn’t express his joy. Rupa was suffering from an illness, and she knew that she didn’t have much time left. Laal decided to marry her, something he had been wanting to do since his childhood. Before Rupa left, Laal had already created memories for a lifetime. Laal took Aman to the same school that he had gone to. When he went to drop him off on his first day, it felt like he had opened a magical box of memories and nostalgia. He still remembered how his mother waited for him on the bench the whole day. He remembered how he met Rupa for the very first time. The circle of life had completed one revolution, and it was time for a fresh chapter to begin.
Final Words: Is The Hindi Remake Of ‘Forrest Gump’ Worth Watching?
The music by Pritam fills in the gaps and elevates each and every scene. Mona Singh, as Laal’s mother, and Kareena Kapoor, as Rupa, put up a great show. Mona Singh is convincing even when she is not playing her age. She brings out the protectiveness, care, and warmth of a mother almost effortlessly. “Laal Singh Chaddha” works best when it is dealing with some tragedy or mishap in the life of the protagonist. It is not able to bring that quirkiness and comic timing that was the backbone of the 1994 cult classic, “Forrest Gump.” The intriguing social commentary of the character Gump was the most important aspect of the film. The essence of the film is to see the man-made systems and their absurdities through the eyes of a man who had a pure soul and who took life as it is and kept it simple.
“Laal Singh Chaddha,” in its essence, is a love story, and that I think is the biggest miss of the movie. There are historical events happening in the backdrop, but Laal is not a social mediator, but just an onlooker. We have loved Amir Khan over the years and his body of work too, and that is why it feels strange to say that he probably misjudged the pitch of his character and the tonality of the same. Maybe Mr. Khan performed his character a notch too high intentionally, and tried to idiot-proof it for the gallery. But it does not have the desired impact. It is cringeworthy and, at times, too uncomfortable to watch him put in that effort, and you completely get disconnected from the narrative as a result. Overall, Laal Singh Chaddha has its moments. It’s a sweet film that will make you emotional at times and will take you on an innocent joyride.
“Laal Singh Chaddha” is a 222 Indian Drama Romance Film directed by Advait Chandan.