This film was my first experience of Bollywood and I would like to say how pleasantly surprised I was. It has an air of innocence about it that Western cinema has lost. A bit like those old Fred Astaire musicals of the thirties. Sadly films of today have lost a lot of the simple joy that the early cinema bought to the public. But thankfully it is still alive and well in India. I had the pleasure of watching with my Pakistani friend who patiently explained to me matters such as the caste system which is relevant in this film. An added bonus for me!
"Lagaan" stands for land tax. The evil British commander threatens the impoverished nearby villagers with triple tax unless they win a game of cricket. As a keen cricketer this was the carrot that drew me to watch the film, and I am pleased to say that the film demonstrated a sound knowledge of the subject. The spin bowler was unable to exert turn until the ball became old and rash shots were often punished with the loss of a wicket. If you do not understand cricket it does not really matter. You will have a better knowledge by the end, but it is not necessary to enjoy the picture. Sorry if I have made you yawn. The films star Aamir Khan plays Bhuvan who leads the village team who resemble the dirty dozen. They are a very mixed bag of characters including one who is an untouchable and another who can only be described as a complete and utter raving looney. Can Bhuvan turn them into a team in time to face the evil British? I am pleased to report that they are not all rotten to the core as the attractive sister of the evil Officer proves. There is of course romance in the air between Bhuvan and Gauri a very pretty village girl.
The game of course goes to the last ball. For the British it is just a game but for the villagers it is a matter of life or death.
This lovely film is deserving of a tenth anniversary tribute. I would like to make special mention of the dancing which was particularly good fun. Lots of vivid colour and fluid motion. A joy to behold. The film has a long running time which is something I failed to notice until the end. A good sign! I suggest a tasty curry halfway through as I did and you should have a great experience.
Oh, and I was pleased to see that the British umpires remained impeccably neutral. Good no ball call at the end. As you see from this film we are definitely not all bad! Have fun.