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Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Musical  |  8 May 2002 (USA)
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The people of a small village in Victorian India stake their future on a game of cricket against their ruthless British rulers...



(story), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 44 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gracy Singh ...
Elizabeth Russell
Suhasini Mulay ...
Rajah Puran Singh
Raghuvir Yadav ...
Bhura (as Raghuveer Yadav)
Rajendra Gupta ...
Rajesh Vivek ...
Shri Vallabh Vyas ...
Ishwar (as Sri Vallabh Vyas)
Javed Khan ...
Ram Singh
Rajendranath Zutshi ...
Ismail (as Raj Zutshi)
Akhilendra Mishra ...
Daya Shankar Pandey ...
Yashpal Sharma ...


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


Once upon a time in India

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





| | |

Release Date:

8 May 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lagaan  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Model turned actress Sonali Bendre was interested in playing "Gauri" but Aamir Khan rejected her, felt that she looked much like a Westerner. See more »


The game of cricket is a test match. Bhuvan's team can't lose the match if the stipulated time is over. The match should end in a draw. See more »


Bhuvan: [singing] Listen, O, my friend... what's this fear you have? This earth is ours and so is the sky...
See more »


Referenced in Namastey London (2007) See more »


O Rey Chhori
Music by A.R. Rahman
Lyrics by Javed Akhtar
Performed by Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik and Vasundhara Das
See more »

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User Reviews

A Magnificent and Overwhelming Fairytale – An Oscar Deserving
15 July 2004 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In 1893, India was a colony of England. The starving native farmers had to pay an imposed tax to the British soldiers for the protection of their lands, delivering most of their harvest to the British Queen. In those years, the lands were very dry due to the lack of rain, and the inhabitants of Champaner decide to request to their Rajah Puran Singh (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) to waive the taxes. While waiting for the Rajah, Bhuvan (Aamir Khan), the beloved friend of Gauri (Gracy Singh), comments that the silly game of cricket was a stupid game, comparable to the Indian child game 'gilli-danda'. The nasty and arrogant Captain Andrew Russell (Paul Blackthorne), who had had a previous discussion with Bhuvan, listens to his comment and challenges Bhuvan to play a match against the British team, imposing the following condition: if the natives win the game, they would not need to pay Lagaan for the next three years. Otherwise, they would triplicate their payment in that year. Bhuvan accepts the bet despite of the opinion of his people. The sister of Captain Russell, Elizabeth Russell (Rachel Shelley), finds the competition unfair to the Indians and decides to help Bhuvan and his friends, teaching them how to play cricket.

This movie is a magnificent and overwhelming fairytale. It really deserved an Oscar nomination! The nice and well-directed story has wonderful songs and interpretations, romance, treason, dispute, drama, beautiful messages, outstanding choreography, being a stunning film indicated as family entertainment. The expensive Brazilian DVD is a shame, showing a total lack of respect of the 'Columbia Tristar Home Video' with the Brazilian costumers: the important songs do not have subtitles in Portuguese. I changed the option in the 'Menu' to 'English', and there were subtitles in English. At least in the opinion of the ridiculous Columbia representatives, Brazilians shall learn English first to understand the wonderful lyrics sang in Hindi. I feel really sorry for those who cannot understand English, since they will miss the meaning of these songs. It is amazing how 225 minutes running time passes so fast when you see such a marvelous movie. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): 'Lagaan – A Coragem de Um Povo' ('Lagaan – The Courage of a People')

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