20 years ago, on 15th June 2001, the ‘Lagaan’ team won hearts, awards and etched themselves as a team for keeps, making their way into the Movie Hall of Fame for its timeless appeal. Blending India’s two favourite pastimes – movies and cricket – ‘Lagaan’ is a wholesome entertainer one never tires of watching and re-watching.
A group of villagers challenge their feudal lords to a game of cricket so as to get relief from ‘Lagaan or the tax’ as Bhuvan , Aamir Khan’s character, said angrezon ka gilli danda – the rag tag eleven won hearts – addressing selected members of the media on the film’s 20th anniversary, the actor admits that the cast has a dedicated WhatsApp group, he shares, “We have a Lagaan 11 WhatsApp group where we connect with each other every year without fail. Till date, I don’t address Dayashankar Pandey by his name, I still call him Goli. In fact, I call Lakha Lakha. I am not exaggerating. I never address anyone in the team by their real name. It just comes naturally because we used to call each other like that back in those days when we were shooting the film.”
Can ‘Lagaan’ ever be recreated? The actor admits, “I don’t think I can do it again”, admitting it took him two years from when he first heard the story from Ashutosh Gowarikar to finally come on board as a producer, since if he wanted to act in it he had to produce it, since no one else was up to the challenge. “Some films are just made brilliantly without a plan. If you try making more like those, perhaps it won’t be possible. Lagaan is one such film. However, I always attempt at making films that could potentially receive a response such as Lagaan did and render themselves timeless,” says Khan. “Be it Dangal, Taare Zameen Par or PK, we attempt at making films with similar excitement and unique qualities,” he adds.
Talking about his favourite scene, the actor says is when the villagers find out that Lakha is the traitor and has been working against them. When he is caught, he runs to the temple to hide, as the village hunts him down banging on the door to kill him for his betrayal. Bhuvan stops them and confronts Lakha. He says, “That’s my favourite moment. For me Bhuvan was a hero, he gives Lakha the ne chance to correct himself ,despite the fact that Lakha was the ultimate betrayer and if in real life someone had done this our instinct would be to punish them. But, Bhuvan decides to gives him that one chance to redeem himself, this moment of forgiveness in the entire film teaches us a lot, if you can tap the good in a person what’s better than that, this was the key scene for me and still is”.