Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
India, 2001. Aamir Khan Productions, Ashutosh Gowariker Productions Pvt. Ltd., Jhamu Sughand Productions. Story by Ashutosh Gowariker, Screenplay by Ashutosh Gowariker, Kumar Dave, Sanjay Dayma, dialogue by K.P. Saxena. Cinematography by Anil Mehta. Produced by Reena Dutta, Aamir Khan. Music by A.R. Rahman. Production Design by Nitin Chandrakant Desai. Costume Design by Bhanu Athaiya. Film Editing by Ballu Saluja.
Hey, let’s watch a four-hour musical about cricket! Not the standard way to start a fun night in front of a movie screen, but boy if this wonderful film doesn’t beat all expectations and prove to be a terrific adventure of excitement, tension, romance and sportsmanship. In nineteenth century India, the British captain at a village cantonment has decreed that the Indian villagers must pay double Lagaan (taxes) this year, even though they are so impoverished by weak crops they can hardly pay their regular tariff. A member of the community goes to the English captain to beg mercy, but instead inspires the captain’s snooty fury and gets him to enter a bet with the young man: if he and his fellow villagers can beat the English at cricket, they will be Lagaan-free for three years; if they lose, they must pay triple. With the help of the captain’s sister, who takes a shine to our hero, the home team works hard and practices until the big tournament happens and history goes down. Peppered by delightful songs and surprisingly breezy despite its gargantuan length, this is a delight for all ages.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film
European Film Award Nomination: Screen International Award
Toronto International Film Festival: 2001