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Laal Singh Chaddha is a film that celebrates hope: Aamir Khan

Headlined by Aamir Khan, Laal Singh Chaddha, directed by Advait Chandan, is an official Hindi adaptation of Forrest Gump (1994).

Laal Singh Chaddha is a film that celebrates hope: Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan at Sathyam Cinemas, promoting Laal Singh Chaddha/Twitter
  • S Subhakeerthana

Last Updated: 10.17 AM, Aug 11, 2022

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Aamir Khan returns to the big screen after a hiatus of four years with Laal Singh Chaddha. We saw him last in Yash Raj Films’ Thugs of Hindostan, a period saga, alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh. According to reports, the Bollywood actor waited a decade to acquire the rights to the 1994 Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump. In 2018, Aamir Khan started work on the film, which opened in theatres on August 11.

Aamir Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha
Aamir Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha

The team behind Laal Singh Chaddha wanted to pay “respectful tribute to the original while taking it in an exciting new direction”. Many Korean, European and Hollywood films have been adapted in India. But the Aamir Khan-starrer is special, filmmaker Karan Johar stated on his show that the remake of “such an iconic English film has never happened before” in Bollywood.

Aamir Khan and his team Laal Singh Chaddha were recently in Chennai, and their film's Tamil version is distributed by Udhayanidhi Stalin's Red Giant Movies.

Aamir Khan seen with Udhayanidhi Stalin/Twitter
Aamir Khan seen with Udhayanidhi Stalin/Twitter

The actor-producer-politician said he skipped school several times to watch Rangeela. “I had no idea that I would be distributing an Aamir Khan film someday. I realised I had been distributing many Tamil films and wanted to slow down and take a break. I was about to decline the offer when I was first approached to distribute Laal Singh Chaddha in Tamil, but Aamir sir called me and said I had to buy it. I decided to go ahead even though I hadn't seen the film.”

Team Laal Singh Chaddha at Sathyam Cinemas/Twitter
Team Laal Singh Chaddha at Sathyam Cinemas/Twitter

Udhayanidhi Stalin added he's a huge fan of Aamir Khan. “We have been opposed to imposing a language, but learning a new one isn't a bad thing at all. Laal Singh Chaddha will discuss Indian history, similar to how Forrest Gump covered various aspects of American culture, which I had the opportunity to discuss with Aamir sir. He persuaded me on a few points and even listened to my suggestions at times. Working with him is a dream come true for me!”

Aamir Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha
Aamir Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha

Director Advait Chandan said, “Laal Singh Chaddha, like the original film (Forrest Gump), begins with a shot of a feather fluttering in the wind. We hope that the audience feels the same way that the feather touched us while we were working on this!”

Further, Chandan added that the journey of Laal Singh Chaddha started 14 years ago with Atul Kulkarni, who wanted to adapt Forrest Gump. The filmmaker said Aamir Khan internalised his character (Laal) so much that it immediately came out quite organically. “Khan lived with this character for about a decade or so,” added Chandan. Just as Gump, a good-hearted simpleton in the Hollywood version, travels through landmarks in US history: the Vietnam War, and the Watergate scandal; Chaddha's life takes him through the cultural and political turnpikes of twentieth-century India.

According to the makers, the film has tweaked the original Forrest Gump story and added elements that make it Indian. In the Bollywood remake, the bus stop has been replaced by a train station, and Chaddha tells his story to a group of passengers on a train journey. Gump's well-known metaphor, “Life is similar to a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get” is replaced by a reference to golgappa, a popular Indian street snack consisting of crisp, round balls, stuffed with chickpeas and potatoes and dipped in sweet and spicy water.

Aamir Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha poster
Aamir Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha poster

Chandan spoke about how the railways play an important role in human lives. “These are long journeys; sometimes lasting 24 hours, and you end up making new friends. You share food and water with them and bond with them. As a child, I used to make friends on trains; then write to them on their birthdays.”

Aamir Khan on a chat show (Image via Disney+Hotstar/Screengrab)
Aamir Khan on a chat show (Image via Disney+Hotstar/Screengrab)

Aamir Khan, on his part, thanked Udhayanidhi Stalin for distributing Laal Singh Chaddha in Tamil. “The film is a celebration of hope. We put a lot of love and care into the making. We hope it touches your hearts as much as it did ours. We had a vision of how we wanted to proceed, and the film is very close to what we envisioned. I hope you enjoy the film, and I'm looking forward to seeing it.” The Bollywood actor said he fell in love with the story when he first heard the narration. “It took me two years to accept it, and another eight years to sort things out. I never imagined adapting Forrest Gump in my wildest dreams.”

Aamir Khan stated Laal Singh Chaddha was also an exploration of India. “Chaddha, like Forrest Gump, is shown running across the country. We shot the film in over a hundred different locations. I felt like I was exploring many beautiful unknown facets of India. I ran through different terrains, from cities to mountains. In a way, pulling off Laal was kind of physically demanding.”

Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha
Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha

The challenge for Aamir Khan was to put himself in the shoes of the character. “Laal Singh has a lot of innocence, and playing him was difficult. Furthermore, despite being in my 50s, I play this role at various ages, beginning when he is 18.”

Also starring Kareena Kapoor, Mona Singh and Manav Vij, Laal Singh Chaddha was released on Thursday in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

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