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Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)

The people of a small village in Victorian India stake their future on a game of cricket against their ruthless British rulers.

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(story), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Top Rated Indian Movies #47 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 44 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
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Yashodamai
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Bhura (as Raghuveer Yadav)
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Mukhiya
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Guran
Shri Vallabh Vyas ...
Ishwar (as Sri Vallabh Vyas)
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Ram Singh
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Ismail
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Arjan
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Goli
...
Lakha
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Storyline

This is the story about the resilience shown by the Indians when they were under the British Rule. They are already taxed to the bone by the British and their cronies, but when Jack Russell announces that he will double the Lagaan (tax) from all villagers, they decide to oppose it. Leading the villagers is a handsome young man named Bhuvan, who challenges them to a game of cricket, a game that is to be played by veteran British cricket players, versus villagers, including Bhuvan himself, who have never played this game before, and do not even know a bat from a piece of wood. As the challenge is accepted, the interest grows and attracts Indians from all over the region, as well as the British from all over the country - as everyone gathers to see the 'fair play' that the British will display against their counter-parts, who are aided by none other than the sister, Elizabeth, of Captain Rusell. Written by Sumitra (corrected by Sonia)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Once upon a time in India


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

| | |

Release Date:

8 May 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lagaan  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£91,281 (UK) (17 June 2001)

Gross:

$70,147 (USA) (16 June 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Matangi Mixtape" by M.I.A. sampled the song "Ghanan Ghanan". See more »

Goofs

Approximately 13:27 into the movie, in the background there appears to be orange plastic fencing. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: And so, not just Champaner, but all the villages in the province did not have to pay Lagaan for three years. Captain Russell had to pay for his capricious behavior. Besides having to pay triple Lagaan, he was transferred to the Central African Desert. Elizabeth returned to England, holding Bhuvan in her heart. She did not marry and remained Bhuvan's Radha all her life. Bhuvan and Gauri had a splendid wedding. Raja Puran Singh himself came to bless the newly-weds, enhancing Champener's status ...
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Connections

Referenced in Central Tonight: Episode dated 18 September 2013 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Ghanan Ghanan
Music by A.R. Rahman
Lyrics by Javed Akhtar
Performed by Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sukhwinder Singh, Shankar Mahadevan,
Kishori Gowariker, Shaan and chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

Perfect First Time Bollywood Treat
3 September 2004 | by (Portland, Maine) – See all my reviews

This was my first full-fledged trip into Bollywood and I couldn't have asked for a better entry. While there were some inconsistencies in sound, overall I loved the picture. Some of the songs and dances were breathtaking and emotionally charged. In particular the number where Bhuvan and the young boy are sitting on a hill and they're shrugging their shoulders, soon getting the village into the act. The other number where Bhuvan and Gauri re-enact the love of Krishna and Radha in exquisite dancing. Also there were many moments of stunning, breathtaking images, including the women of the village seated in the temple praying for salvation. Absolutely stunning.

While I feel some judicious pruning could have trimmed the nearly 4 hour long version I watched (the DVD of which included an additional 17 minutes cut from this version) the picture did not seem nearly as long as it really was.

Aamir Khan is such an instantly likable presence and Gracy Singh is simply irresistible as Gauri.

Paul Blackthorne was a hilarious, old-school villain right out of a penny dreadful melodrama – and I mean this as a compliment.

Rachel Shelley's Elizabeth was a perfect blend of Victorian reserved beauty and free spirit and noble in her heartbreak.

So many other performances ran the gamut from old school "b" stereotypical characters to some original ideas.

The blending of melodrama (in its purest sense) true comedic moments (the hen keeper), self and enlightenment culminated in the scene where Bhuvan shocks the village by touching an untouchable; his stirring, heartfelt speech about brotherhood and putting away castes shaming the village into enlightenment.

Some of the criticism leveled at Lagaan is (I believe) unduly harsh. This is a charming movie and a perfect introduction into the joys of Bollywood.


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