An Indian modern classic. "Lagaan" lives up to its huge hype with a spirited and well crafted story that could become actor-cum-producer Aamir Khan's magnum opus.
The year is 1893. The farmers of a small village in central India have been waiting for the evasive monsoons to rain on their dusty crops but to no avail. On top of their woes, the local British ruler Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne) has demanded double tax - Lagaan. The angry villagers confront their masters, only to be faced with the arrogant Russell who issues them with a challenge: a game of cricket.
The unlikely heroes are led by enigmatic farmer Bhuvan (Aamir Khan), who slowly wins the hearts and minds of the village, inspiring them to learn the game and climaxing in the most lively and tense cricket match witnessed on the silver screen.
Director Ashutosh Gowariker captures the beauty and simplicity of rural life in India at the turn of the century. The vast landscapes and majestic palaces make for enchanting settings to tell the story. As a musical, the film also captivates with well choreographed dances.
Rajesh Vivek, who plays fortune teller Guran, steals all the scenes he's in with an animated comic performance. From the British contingent, theatre actor Rachel Shelley perfectly delivers an English rose who loses her heart in India, while Paul Blackthorne lights up the screen with his ruthless arrogance.
"Lagaan" is anything but standard Bollywood fodder, and is the first must-see of the Indian summer. A movie that will have you laughing and crying, but leaving with a smile.
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