Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India

Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India

4.9 31
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Cast: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley


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One of the most expensive films ever to come out of Bollywood, Lagaan tells the tale of the Indian village Champaner, beset by drought and British colonialism in the year 1893. Without a drop of rain in months, the worried villagers of Champaner decide to ask the local authorities for a temporary repeal of their taxes -- the hated lagaan. Led by the heroicSee more details below


One of the most expensive films ever to come out of Bollywood, Lagaan tells the tale of the Indian village Champaner, beset by drought and British colonialism in the year 1893. Without a drop of rain in months, the worried villagers of Champaner decide to ask the local authorities for a temporary repeal of their taxes -- the hated lagaan. Led by the heroic Bhuvan (Indian superstar Aamir Khan) they bring their plight to the military governor, Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne). But the sadistic Russell threatens to raise the lagaan threefold, unless the villagers can beat his men at a game of cricket, in which case he'll lift taxes on the entire province for a period of three years. Bhuvan accepts the challenge, but there's a problem -- no one in Champaner knows how to play cricket. A band of misfits come to the rescue, coached by Russell's soft-hearted sister Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), and the race is on to be ready in three months' time. An epic reworking of Victory with eye-popping song-and-dance routines, Lagaan was a major cinematic event in India upon its release. ~ Connor McMadden

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Seth Kaufman
The wait for a crossover Bollywood hit -- one that gives Western audiences a largely English-language story as compelling as the genre's fabulously kitschy musical numbers -- is over. Clocking in at just under four hours, Lagaan is a rousing and accessible underdog tale set in 1893 that brims with the Bollywood staples, including passionate romance and spectacular Busby Berkley-styled production numbers. A ruthless wager sets the story in motion when Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne), the racist head of the local English garrison, challenges an impoverished village to a game of cricket. If the villagers win, they will pay no tax for three years; if they lose, the levy (lagaan) will be tripled. Led by Bollywood heartthrob Aamir Khan, the villagers assemble a ragtag team that doesn't know an over from a googly. But with Kahn's drive and dignity, and some instruction by Captain Russell's Kahn-crazed sister, these humble, bad-news bowlers put up a fight that would have Rocky cheering. This simple, engaging tale is spiced with a love story between Kahn and the coquettish Gracy Singh, a subplot involving a double-dealing villager, and lots of broadly drawn characters. Straddling the line between Bollywood and the elegant period flavorings of the Ismail Merchant-James Ivory India movies, this exotic treat with a frequently thumping beat is -- as of 2002 -- the most entertaining musical this side of Moulin Rouge.
All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
In this musical-drama set in central India in 1893, farmers led by a man named Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) rise up against an unjust British land tax called the lagaan. However, rather than resorting to violence, the farmers agree to settle the issue in a cricket match. If the Indians defeat the British, they pay no tax for three years. If they lose, they pay triple the tax under a condition imposed by a haughty British officer, Captain Andrew Russell (Paul Blackthorne). Critics in the U.S. and abroad acclaimed Lagaan for the appeal of its story, characters, cinematography, and six rousing musical interludes. In America, it received an Oscar nomination for best foreign film. To be sure, the story is promising -- a kind of Gandhi-cum-cricket bat -- but the acting is generally melodramatic and even amateurish at times. Moreover, the script is too obvious in its appeal for audience sympathy for the underdog farmers. Although the cinematography bursts with color (as in a Kurosawa film, one critic observed), the oranges of the sunsets and the reds and yellows of the costumes capture only the moment, not the meaning of the moment. On the other hand, the music of A.R. Rahman and Javed Akhtar -- featuring classical and native rhythms, as well as a touch of jazz -- are enjoyable and no doubt a major reason for the popularity of the film. Unfortunately, whenever the music begins, the decibel level increases significantly, and the songs take on a lip-sync quality that impairs the film's immediacy and believability. Another problem is the length of the film: three hours and 45 minutes. The cricket practice goes on and on, ad nauseam. When the day of the big match finally arrives, there are no surprises. The viewer knows that this movie can end only one way. But at least it does end.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert
1/2 An enormously entertaining movie, like nothing we've ever seen before, and yet completely familiar.
San Francisco Chronicle
A rippingly good, old-fashioned movie epic that takes the best of Bollywood cinema ... and elevates it for an international audience.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Aamir Khan Bhuvan
Gracy Singh Gauri
Rachel Shelley Elizabeth
Paul Blackthorne Captain Andrew Russell
Suhasini Mulay Yashodamai
Kulbhushan Kharbanda Rajah Puran Singh
Raghubir Yadav Bhura
Rajendra Gupta Mukhiya
Rajesh Vivek Guran
Sri Vallabh Vyas Ishwar
Javed Khan Ramsingh
Raj Zutshi Ismail
Akhilendra Mishra Arjan
Pradeep Sing Rawat Deva
Daya Shankar Pandey Goli
Yashpal Sharma Lakha
Amin Hajee Bagha
Aditya Lakhia Kachra
A.K. Hangal Shambukaka
John Rowe Col. Boyer
David Gant Major Warren
Jeremy Child Major 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 Burton
Simon Holmes Brooks
Ray Eves Willis
Jon House North
Neil Patrick Harrison
Jamie Whitby Coles Wesson
Barry Hart Benson
Alex Shirtcliff Flynn

Technical Credits
Ashutosh Gowariker Director,Casting,Original Story,Screenwriter
Javed Akhtar Songwriter
Bhanu Athaiya Costumes/Costume Designer
Uma Da Cunha Casting
Reena Datta Executive Producer
Kumar Dave Screenwriter
Sanjay Dayma Screenwriter
Nicole Demers Makeup
Nitin Chandrakant Desai Production Designer
Ganesh Hegde Choreography
Nakul Kamte Sound/Sound Designer
Raju Khan Choreography
Saroj Khan Choreography
Aamir Khan Producer
Apoorva Lakhia Asst. Director
Terence Lewis Choreography
Anil Mehta Cinematographer
Vaibhavi Merchant Choreography
Abbas Ali Moghul Action Director
A.R. Rahman Score Composer
Danielle Roffe Casting
Ballu Saluja Editor
H. Sridhar Sound Mixer

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