Starring Aamir Khan, Gracie Singh, Rachel Shelly, Paul Blackthorne

Music by A.R. Rahman            

  Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker

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LAGAAN is a movie that raises high hopes, and thankfully it does live upto all those for it is a movie that Aamir has worked on with full passion and confidence, and certainly he has done everything possible to make sure that he has a successful commercial movie to please the crowds.

And boy, the big surprise is the theme of the movie. A cricket match!!!

Where else would a movie like this sell except in the subcontinent where cricket is more than a game, but rather a religion. And Aamir, the shrewd businessman, seems to have tapped on that passion and mixed it with a period drama to give Bollywood viewers something they have never seen before.

Director Ashutosh Gowarikar gets full credit for a wonderful idea, script, and great narration and control over the whole thing, and then for Aamir Khan for taking the risk and going ahead with it.f

So LAGAAN is a period film dating back to the British rule of 1890, and mainly focuses on the struggle a village community puts up against the arrogance and brutality of the British rulers. 

The movie is set in a village in Central India called Champaner, where lives normal village folk who depends on agriculture as their primary source of living. And things have been bad with very little or no rain for their crops. And to make things worse, Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne), the man representing the British empire and the one who has the village under his control takes the villagers by surprise by announcing double tax from this year.

And so in such grave circumstances, the villagers decide to plead their case with the British generals. But they are instead challenged to a cricket match by Russell offering them no tax for the next three years for the whole province if the villages manage to win.  And an optimistic Bhuvan (Aamir Khan)  agrees to the challenge, the curses of his fellow villages notwithstanding. And so, slowly he learns this alien game of cricket, and goes about the task of finding the right 11 players for his team. 

And then it is ordinary men becoming extraordinary hopes for a rather underdog of a team. 

Bhuvan is aided by the trust that his lady love Gauri (Gracy Singh) has in him, but more importantly from Russell's own sister Elizabeth (Rachel Shelly) who soon develops a crush for this village guy. So Elizabeth decides to teach the villagers the trick and trade of the game.

And then it is off to the big battle on the cricket pitch - a three day cricket match!

Shot in one solid schedule of 5 months, with nearly an year of post-production, the movie deserves the applause. 

To begin with the soulful music of A.R. Rahman and the breezy lyrics of Javed Akhtar that has already created waves, the masterful camerawork of Anil Mehta, the amazing set designs by Nitin Desai and Bhanu Athaiya's costumes. Even the choreography of the movie was good with Saroj Khan's work in Radha Kaise Na Jale standing out! And to top it all, we have the narration provided by none other than Amitabh Bachchan

Aamir once again proves what a fine actor he is, and there is definitely not much that he is doing wrong here even though takes on the double burden of the actor- cum- producer. Gracie Singh is a wonderful discovery, and is certainly refreshing and splendid in the role of Gauri. And boy, is she a good dancer or what?

 Even Paul Blackthorne has done one impressive job in the movie. 

Even the supporting cast has put in the best most notably, Aditya Lakhia, Yashpal Sharma, Raghuveer Yadav and many other newcomers and new faces. The only disappointment was Rachel Shelley who seems to be extremely uncomfortable, be it dialogues in hindi or even in English.

The running time is a staggering 3 hr 40 mins, but the beauty of it is such that for for a change, the narration in this Bollywood film is so well paced that you would never know. Trust me!

The only major flaw in the pace is the inclusion of the prayer song in the climax "Paalanhare" which slows down the tempo and the pace. It would be better to chuck that out. 

Otherwise neither does the songs seems to be crammed in, nor does the love triangle between Bhuvan-Gauri-Elizabeth ever come in between the narration, nor are the various moments in the movie seem unwanted.

Then another big problem is that if you ain't interested in the sport of cricket....you are not gonna like the movie that much. And then as the cricket match progresses, the surprises stop, and then the formula takes over, and then the rest from there rather too predicatable. But then then again, in a country, where the whole team depends on one man called Sachin, I think it is very much possible.

A very different Hindi movie, a very sensible movie, and a movie worth all the bucks you spend for a change! 

Some people may simply love the movie, others might not and crib that it is in one way another remake of the Aamir Khan starrer - JO JEETA WOHI SIKANDER

But then again, a truly outstanding movie, that needs to be watched only in a house full theatre, otherwise the excitement is lost!


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