Bollywood seeks boost with ‘Forrest Gump’ remake
Aamir Khan’s “Laal Singh Chaddha,” an adaptation of the 1994 U.S. classic starring Tom Hanks, hits cinemas today ahead of India’s 75th independence celebrations.
Disappointing takings for other Bollywood A-listers have cast a pall over an industry still recovering from COVID-19 lockdown losses when many in movie-mad India turned to streaming giants like Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar.
The adaptation keeps several iconic scenes from the original, which netted six Oscars, including for Best Picture, such as a floating white feather, ping-pong playing and lots of running.
The film promises to take people through India’s history in the same way Gump stumbled through and influenced major U.S. events like the Vietnam War.
This could irk Indian right-wing critics who have already called for a boycott of the film because of comments made by Khan in 2015 that were deemed to be unpatriotic.
Khan, the star of megahit “Dangal” (2016), and screenwriter Atul Kulkarni were coy in sharing what Indian historical settings would be featured.
Kulkarni would only say that his script was a “beautiful story about a beautiful country called India through a beautiful person called Laal Singh.”
Khan, 57, admitted that he initially put off reading Kulkarni’s script, uncertain it would be possible to adapt such a “cult classic.”
“It’s like saying we are remaking ’Mughal-e-Azam’ and ’Mother India.’ It’s not a wise thing to do,” he said, referring to two Indian classics.
“But when I heard the script, I understood he’s done it. It was a moving experience for me. I really loved it. The moment I heard it I wanted to do this.”
Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor, 41, who plays Singh’s lifelong friend Rupa, based on Robin Wright’s Jenny Curran, said the plot was “timeless” with a love story at its core.
“I wondered how they would play around with such an iconic film,” added Naga Chaitanya, a Telugu-language star from the southern film industry “Tollywood” who plays Bala, an adaptation of Gump’s shrimp-fishing Vietnam comrade Bubba.
“But the way they have conceived the film for Indian cinema is unique.”