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Laal Singh Chaddha A Film Every Indian Must Watch

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Laal  Singh Chaddha

Laal Singh Chaddha

Starring Aamir Khan,  Kareena  Kapoor Khan, Naga Chaitanya, Mona Singh

Directed by Advait Chandan

Rating: *****

Once in a while in this imperfect  world we get a near-perfect film  about flawed characters trying to stay on the  straight and narrow path. Actor-turned-screenwriter  Atul Kulkarni’s adaptation  of  Robert Zemeckis’ 1994  classic Forrest Gump is  every bit as charming  disarming and  enchanting as the original, and then some  more.

Some characters specially that of  the heroine is  re-written to  suit current  times. But the spirit of innocence and faith remain  intact.  Through the  naïve uncorrupted eyes  of Laal Singh Chaddha we get a  world-view of  history as  it unfolds from the Partition  to  the demolition  of the  Babri Masjid.

Each time communal/ethnic   riots erupt ,  Laal’s mother(Mona Singh, yesterday’s Jassi today’s  Mataji) warns her son to stay indoors, “Baahar mat jaana malaria  phaila  hua hai.”

Braving “malaria”( code for  riots)    Laal befriends  a Pakistani  infiltrator( Maanav Vij) . Soon they become partners in a chaddhibanyan factory. Watching Aamir Khan  sewing  reams of underclothing, rescuing wounded  soldiers  during the  Kargil war   or  wooing the love of his life, we are transported  to  a universe  of  unconditional arcadian innocence.

 If Atul Kulkarni’s  writing is  lucid and lyrical, director Advait Chandan  treats every  sequence as poetry in  an ocean. The  characters   caught in  an immediate  crisis,  are  enrapturing in their emotional resonance,  none more  so than Laal Singh, who is so innocent  that when  Rupa reveals  her  child’s father is  Laal Singh Chaddha he  exclaims, “Oh, his name is also Laal Singh Chaddha!”

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The film never makes  you laugh out loud. It isn’t meant to. The humour  is subtle  the mood is warm and  the  dramatic conflicts are identifiable  within and germane  to  their  socio-historic context. The  narration spins a  magical web of  hope, heartbreak and reconciliation.

 Aamir though a little  exaggerated  in his expressions of  innocence,  succeeds in  making his hero’s characters prepossessing in his  credulousness.

 But is  Kareena Kapoor Khan who  imbues  her character and  the  film with a looming incandescence. Playing the  over-reaching doomed  small-town girl with  extra-large dreams  Kareena gives a heartbreaking honest performance. With her rare  blend of  beauty and  performing  acumen  she proves herself   far ahead  of her contemporaries.

Where  do I  place  Laal Singh Chaddha in the phalanx of  mediocrity in Hindi cinema? Far  ahead of all that you have seen in recent years, Laal Singh Chaddha  should be  on your must-see list even if you watch  only two  films  a year.

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