Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Stars: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Paul Blackthorne, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rachel Shelley and others
Lagaan is a period sports drama/musical created by Ashutosh Gowariker. Combining mainstream “Bollywood” elements of sensationalism, music and sentimentality with cricket and historical notes, Lagaan remains one of the most larger than life and cherished films from India.
A small village in the western part of Victorian-era India is governed under the pillaging command of Captain Russell (played by Paul Blackthorne) of the British Raj. With incurring dry spells, drought takes its toll on the village. Alongside the natural calamity, heavily imposed taxes leave the whole village in utter helplessness and despair. To seek guidance and refuge, the villagers visit the king (played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda) and request him to solve their dilemma. Unfortunately for them, the king has to stick to the laws imposed by the company. During their visit, Bhuvan (played by Aamir Khan), a rebellious and righteous young man, ridicules the cricket game played by Captain Russell and his regiment as a silly childish game. Captain Russell offended by Bhuvan’s mockery, challenges him to beat his regiment in a game of cricket. Captain Russell conditions that, if Bhuvan manages to beat him in the game, he would cancel taxes in the village for three whole years. But, if Bhuvan loses, the village has to pay three times their current tax. Much to the disdain of the whole village, Bhuvan accepts the challenge of Captain Russell. Dejected and furious by Bhuvan’s decision, the whole village isolates him. Elizabeth Russell (played by Rachel Shelly), Captain Russell’s sister is moved by the plight of the villagers. She offers to coach and train the villagers, but in secrecy. Over the due course of time, Bhuvan strengthens the spirits of the villagers and unites them against his hopeful cause.
Lagaan is a very special film that breaks many barriers of mainstream Indian cinema. It manages to appear unconventional by ambitiously using the most conventional and simple minded ideas such as a good against bad scenario, typical romantic moments, collective sentimentality and heroic sensationalism. Lagaan is very similar to an opera. It is not just a film, it is a large scale dramatic event that has been created with such good taste and passion. It promises to deliver perfection in all the aspects of film making. The lush and rich cinematography captures the archaic theme of the film by maintaining high grandeur of the environments and the modesty of tradition. The flattering sets add to Lagaan’s visual beauty. As mentioned before, the story is quite simple and not extremely thought provoking. However, the fine intricacies and the caricatures representing various relevant emotions are exhibited through fine brilliance by the actors. Aamir Khan and Paul Blackthorne especially, are phenomenal throughout the film. The most prominent aspect of the film is the music of A.R.Rahman. A large proportion of the film’s spirit lies in the flamboyant score and the enriching songs, resulting in one of the greatest film music of all time.
Lagaan is a celebration which can evoke a lasting feeling of belongingness and inspiration. It is an event that has to be experienced with a proper mindset by all cinema lovers.