Lagaan – **1/2

Posted: January 9, 2012 in 2001, Drama, Historical, India, Sportsdrama, XX1/2

I planned to go to India, but the voyage has been delayed. In the meantime, I thought of finally watching a Bollywood movie as some kind of preparation and the first one I could think of was this award winner. Sure, I’ve seen other ‘Indian’ movies like A Passage To India, Ghandi, Slumdog Millionaire, The Guru, Monsoon Wedding, etc… But Lagaan is my first real Bollywood production and… I liked it! At least the first half.

Lagaan is a synonym for a tax that was introduced in India some hundred years ago by the British occupiers. In one particular area the British consul decides to double the lagaan just for the fun of it as he challenges the local raj to eat some meat knowing very well he’s vegetarian by religion. When he refuses to do so, he raises the tax. The villagers are in despair as it hasn’t rained for ages and there is no harvest. When they march to the consul to ask him to reconsider, the consul comes up with a new challenge. One of the villagers was heard saying that cricket was a ‘silly’ game, so if the villagers can defeat the British in a game of cricket, they don’t have to pay the lagaan at all. If they lose however, the tax will be tripled in stead of doubled.

It goes without saying that they will win the game of course. So why watch a movie for four hours if you know how it will end?

Well, the interesting thing about this movie is that it’s all very accessible. The story is very universal. The humor as well. There’s obligatory romance and treason. The setting is relatively exciting. And the typical singing and dancing scenes that make Bollywood movies a turn off for some, are actually well incorporated in the movie. Yes, the whole village suddenly starts dancing and singing when they see clouds appear and hope for rain. And the voices from the songs don’t correspond with the voices of the actors who are supposed to sing it. But it’s fun.

The movie is way too long however, especially the second half when the game of cricket starts. It made me lose interest. But in the end: worth checking out!


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