Laal Singh Chaddha: Mona Singh, as Aamir Khan’s mom, is the film’s strongest, best written character

A single woman in the 1980s Punjab not only brought up her son single-handedly but also nurtured the child with such positivity that he exudes optimism in the worst situations throughout his adult life. Rarely does a Hindi mainstream film etch a powerful role for a woman without attaching any villainous traits to the men around her. Aamir Khan’s latest film manages to do it. Mona Singh plays Aamir’s mother in their latest film Laal Singh Chaddha, directed by Advait Chauhan. (Also read: Mona Singh defends playing mom to Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha)

The beginning of the film focuses a lot on how Mona Singh’s character Gurpreet Kaur Chaddha fights against the world to ensure a decent education for her son. She even opts to wash dishes at the principal’s house so Laal gets admission in the school. She is not the strong woman who literally goes about fighting people, or wields a dumbbell. She is the desi strong woman winning many fights as she paves her way through life. The best thing about it all is how there is just one passing mention of Laal Singh Chadha’s father. Gurpreet mentions the father with no emotion at all – neither hate, nor longing, nor love.

Laal Singh Chaddha’s Gurpreet is not strong because her husband deserted her. That just happens to be one of the many aspects of her life. It is not the struggle – the struggle is getting money for her child’s education and for usual household needs. She does not have to paint a negative picture of the husband to assert her strength of character and persona. Gurpreet happily does the heavy-lifting around the house, drives her tractor (quite common sight for Punjab, though) and maintains a self-sufficient and self-reliant persona throughout her life.

Mona Singh as Gurpreet Singh when Laal Singh Chaddha is in college.
Mona Singh as Gurpreet Singh when Laal Singh Chaddha is in college.

Much is being said about a 40-year-old Mona playing mom to 57-year-old Aamir. While she has defended her casting, we must also look at it from an actor’s perspective. While many actors play characters younger to their real age and don’t do a convincing job of it, some do perform well. Hindi cinema saw one of its best performances as an old person in the 1984 Mahesh Bhatt film Saaransh. Anupam Kher played the role of 65-year-old man in Saaransh when he was just 28. Mona ages really well in Laal Singh Chaddha and she is the last thing you’d be bothered with .

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