Why The Indian Forrest Gump Remake Had To Change The Bus Stop Setting

We often give a lot of grief to Hollywood when they decide to remake well-received films from around the world, but that ignores the fact that the rest of the world is just as willing to remake American films too. Case in point: "Laal Singh Chaddha," the upcoming Hindi language remake of Robert Zemeckis' Best Picture-winning "Forrest Gump."

While the opinions on "Forrest Gump" in the United States have certainly soured over the 28 years since its release in our ever-growing rejection of Baby Boomer nostalgia, the story still finds ways to resonate for plenty of people out there. One of those people is Aamir Khan, the ultra-successful actor and producer who currently has the distinction of being the star of the highest grossing Indian film in history, "Dangal."

"Laal Singh Chaddha" stars Khan as the simple guy we all know who stumbles into one historical event after another and is in love with his childhood best friend, here named Rupa (Kareena Kapoor). Much like "Forrest Gump" did with American history, Khan sees taking on the role that won Tom Hanks his second Oscar as an opportunity to traverse India's past, transforming a story built on America into something "obviously Indian," as he puts it in the August 2022 issue of Total Film. That means the classic bus stop bench framing device we know so well had to go. Instead, he regales the tales of his life to passengers on a train. As Khan puts it:

"In India you can't have a conversation at a bus stop. It's too noisy and crowded, it just won't happen."

Of course, that is just one small piece of the story. The real adaptation comes from how it uses Indian history of the last half-century.

An Indian cover song

As for what moments of Indian history "Laal Singh Chaddha" will cover, we do not exactly know. The film's trailer only gives brief glimpses of things, and not being an expert on Indian history myself, it would be difficult for me to say anyway. Most notably, we do know there will be a military conflict, with "Forrest Gump" having a large section take place during the Vietnam War. Based on the timeline of this film, I expect that the we shall see Aamir Khan's Laal in the Kargil War, which was a conflict between India and Pakistan that took place in 1999. Instead of meeting American presidents, he will interact with Indian prime ministers like Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

And, of course, there is the replacement for the box of chocolate. In "Laal Singh Chaddha," his mother's saying is based around a gol gappa, which is a small, fried puff ball filled with chickpeas, potato, onions, and spices. What is interesting about the two similes is that in "Forrest Gump," the box of chocolates represents the randomness life throws at you. In "Laal Singh Chaddha," the gol gappa represents the longing for more. It will interesting to see how that ant and desire affects the story we know so well.

Director Advait Chadran, making his sophomore feature film with this project, describes how he wants the film to feel "like a cover song ... With an Indian flavor." As a person a bit fed up with the romanticization of America's past, which "Forrest Gump" certainly indulges in, I am interested in seeing that through the lens of a culture and country I am not intimately familiar with. Will I find it just as cloying, or will it transcend its source material? I doubt it will be as insane as the "Forrest Gump" sequel we never got would have been, though.

We shall see when the film opens worldwide on August 11, 2022.