Title: Lagaan (2001)

(Lagaan is the Hindi word for "tax".")

Lagaan has been nominated for an Academy Award (2002) in the Best Foreign Film category

Writing/Directing Credits (www.IMDb.com)

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Screenplay: Kumar Dave, Sanjay Dayma, Ashutosh Gowariker
Story: Ashutosh Gowariker
Dialogue: K. P. Saxena

Acting Credits (www.IMDb.com)

Aamir Khan -- Bhuvan
Gracy Singh -- Gauri
Rachel Shelley -- Elizabeth Russell
Paul Blackthorne -- Captain Andrew Russell
Suhasini Mulay -- Yashodamai
Kulbhushan Kharbanda -- Rajah Puran Singh
Raghuveer Yadav -- Bhura
Rajendra Gupta -- Mukhiya
Rajesh Vivek -- Guran
Shri Vallabh Vyas -- Ishwar
Javed Khan -- Ram Singh
Raj Zutshi -- Ismaeel
Akhilendra Mishra -- Arjun
Pradeep Rawat -- Deva
Daya Shankar Pandey -- Goli
Yashpal Sharma -- Lakha
Amin Hajee -- Bagha
Aditya Lakhia -- Kachra
A.K. Hangal -- Shambhukaka
John Rowe (I) -- Col. Boyer
David Gant (I) -- Maj. Warren
Jeremy Child (I) -- Maj. Cotton
Ben Nealon -- Lt. Smith
Anupam Shyam -- Namdeo
Raja Awasthi -- Ramprasad
Pramatesh Mehta -- Harikaka
Bhim Vakani -- Kazi
Amin Gazi -- Tipu
Anu Ansari -- Jigni
Parveen Bano -- Kesarya
Chris England -- Yardley
Howard Lee (I) -- Burton
Simon Holmes (II) -- Brooks
Ray Eves -- Willis
Jon House -- North
Neil Patrick (I) -- Harrison
Jamie Whitby Coles -- Wesson
Barry Hart (III) -- Benson
Alex Shirtcliff -- Flynn

What kind of movie is this?

Hindi movies are often difficult to classify; they are epic in scope. This movie is: a musical, a love story, a romantic comedy, historical fiction, drama, a slice-of-life story, and a sports flick.

What happens in this movie?

In Lagaan, a small village in colonial Rajasthan, India, suffers a great drought. The villagers, led by Bhuvan (Aamir Khan), the young hero of the movie, go to the local Rajah (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) for help. The Rajah, under British control, is unable to help. The local British ruler, Captain Andrew Russell (Paul Blackthorne), is a cruel and spiteful man, and insists on challenging the villagers to a game of cricket--of which they know nothing. If they win, they are free from the tax that cripples them, especially in this time of drought. If they lose, they must pay triple tax--something that would devastate them. The Captain's sister, Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), feels compassion towards the villagers (and is attracted to Bhuvan), and she in secret volunteers to help the villagers learn to play cricket. Captain Andrew finds out, and is not happy about the fact that his sister would help "the enemy." Gauri (Gracy Singh), Bhuvan's love interest, is also not enthused by the idea of having an attractive and enchanting British woman around, competing for Bhuvan's attention. I won't give away how the movie ends, but I can tell you it's nothing profound.

What I liked about this movie . . .

The premise of this movie was rather interesting, and the themes of oppression and unjust taxation were explored in the context of British rule over India. The movie also depicted village life in an interesting (and I believe authentic) way. I never lived in an Indian village, but I know some who have. The acting was good, and the music was very good. What really delighted me about this movie was its simplicity and sincerity; too many Bollywood movies are full of massive choreographed dances, vulgarity, the latest new stars, big budgets, loud cheesy manufactured music, etc.; but when it comes to plot, dialogue, or meaning, they are totally empty.

What I did not particularly like about this movie . . .

Lagaan was a great film overall, but it had its shortcomings. The primary shortcoming was its length (about four hours), but I would not hold a grudge about this, as many Hindi movies are excruciatingly long by American standards. While most of the music, including the lyrics, was excellent, the songs in English were embarassingly corny. I found it really hard to watch the screen at these moments; I just looked at my shoes and wanted it to go away. Finally, the ending (which I will not directly give away) was flat and predictable. Overall, I enjoyed this movie (and remember: I am someone who despises most of the movies that come out of Bollywood).

Where it played, and how to see it

Lagaan was of course released nationally in India, but it was also widely released in England and Australia, and limitedly released in the US (where I saw it, at a Regal Cinema fifteen minutes from my house). It received great reception, was number one in India for many weeks (it still may be), and reached the top ten in the UK as well! (I think that's a first for a Hindi film). It was also nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film category. Although it is out of most theaters now, Columbia/Tristar has released a DVD with seventeen minutes of additional footage. The soundtrack (which I highly recommend) was released by SonyMusic (India).
If you liked this movie, I recommend Mother India.
I was just told you can rent Lagaan at Blockbuster.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.