One of India’s biggest stars is banking on a remake of Hollywood feel-good hit Forrest Gump to revive the fortunes of Hindi-language Bollywood, after a string of weak box-office showings.
Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha, an adaptation of the 1994 US classic starring Tom Hanks, hits cinemas on Thursday 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.
But there are several changes, with Gump’s “box of chocolates” line becoming “Life is just like a golgappa. Your tummy might feel full, but your heart always craves more.”
Golgappa is a popular Indian snack, while the second half of the saying – “you never know what you’re gonna get” in the original – draws from a common Hindi phrase.
The film promises to take people through India’s history in the same way Gump stumbled through and influenced major US 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.