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'Laal Singh Chaddha', the Musical Experiment That It Could Have Been

Here's why Laal Singh Chaddha's music is not as good as the iconic soundtrack of 'Forrest Gump'.

Published
Bollywood
3 min read
'Laal Singh Chaddha', the Musical Experiment That It Could Have Been
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I am not sure why Aamir Khan, when he set out to remake Forrest Gump, didn’t go the whole hog with Laal Singh Chaddha. Just to be clear, I am talking specifically about the music of the film. It just pales in comparison to the music of the original film.

There’s only one word to describe the soundtrack of Forrest Gump – EPIC, but Laal Singh Chaddha’s music sounds like just another Pritam score. When I first heard the music of Laal Singh Chaddha, I felt as if it has a Barfi hangover.

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I am not saying that the soundtrack of Laal Singh Chaddha is bad, but it’s not great either. Aamir Khan’s first film in 4 years deserved a timeless and more popular soundtrack, something like Shershaah, which is dominating the air waves even a year after its release. The music of that biopic played a huge role in its success; it was a musical hit.

Why didn't 'Laal Singh Chaddha' Use Existing Superhit Songs Like 'Forrest Gump'?

The epic soundtrack of Forrest Gump was a unique combination of Alan Silvestri's heart-touching original score and iconic anthems of 60s, 70s and the early 80s. In Laal Singh Chaddha, Pritam has tried to find the emotional core of the film with his music but did the makers miss out on a fantastic opportunity to experiment with some timeless and iconic Hindi film songs?

I am not a Bollywood insider, so I wouldn’t know; maybe they had the thought but getting the rights of the songs may have been an expensive proposition. Or perhaps the bigger problem with hits of yesteryears is the fact that they have been already filmed on other stars.

The makers of Forrest Gump clearly didn’t have any of these typical ‘hindi-filmy’ problems. The songs they used were not film songs but iconic songs spanning many decades. In Laal Singh Chaddha, Pritam and Amitabh Bhattacharya do all the heavy lifting; and you can’t question their effort and sincerity.

There are two outstanding tracks, ‘Phir Na Aisi Raat Aayegi’ sung by Arijit Singh and the duet ‘Tere Hawale’ by Arijit and Shilpa Rao.

The harmonium interludes are just beautiful in the latter; haven’t heard the instrument used so beautifully in a Bollywood track for a very long time.

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But the rest of the album is the regular Pritam stuff, we have heard the composer in similar musical vein earlier. Whether it strikes a chord with the audience or not, is something very subjective. Personally, for me it’s not a timeless Pritam classic like Barfi or Ae Dil Hai Mushkil or even Aamir own Dangal.

The Iconic Soundtrack of 'Forrest Gump'

In Forrest Gump, the popular songs seamlessly play in the order of their release years to signify important events in the world and how they affect the main characters’ life. So, when young Forrest with leg braces meets Elvis Presley, he’s singing 'Hound Dog'.

His moves inspire Elvis to incorporate it as a dance step. The film follows a similar trajectory peppering the screenplay with timeless hits which perfectly fits the happenings in the film. Tracks such as 'Turn! Turn! Turn' by The Byrds, 'California Dreamin’' by The Mamas & the Papas and 'San Francisco' by Scott McKenzieare are used to depict the love and longing.

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'Sweet Home Alabama' by Lynyrd Skynyrd plays in the background during the happiest moment of Forrest’s life. Some of the finest tracks are also used during the Vietnam war scenes; 'Fortunate Son' by Creedence Clearwater Revival and 'For What It's Worth' by Buffalo Springfield.

Even Laal Singh Chaddha tries to use some timeless Bollywood tracks but it’s a bit of a hit and miss. While the opening overture of 'Mehbooba Mehbooba' from Sholay works beautifully in one of the most magical scenes in the film, the use of 'Hawa Hawai' from Mr India and 'Main Aai Hoon UP Bihar Lootne' from Shool is just not as impactful.

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To drive home the point that these songs have been deliberately used to convey a certain time period and its mood, perhaps the filmmakers should have used the device throughout the film, but they don’t.

They experimented with it in certain places and then they gave up, there's no pattern. Now that’s a miss, more so when the original soundtrack is not superhit material.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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