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Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)

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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 »
3,670 ( 143)
Top Rated Indian Movies #34 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 44 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bhura (as Raghuveer Yadav)
Shri Vallabh Vyas ...
Ishwar (as Sri Vallabh Vyas)
Ram Singh
Ismail (as Raj Zutshi)


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:





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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
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Did You Know?


During the final cricket match, one of the British players, Smith, gets run out. As the actor ran back to the crease he fell, landing on his cricket bat and dislocating his left shoulder. See more »


When Kachra takes his first wicket he hits the OFF Stump. Later in the next scene it shows that he hit the MIDDLE stump and the OFF Stump is not at all moved. See more »


Yashodamai: [to Bhuvan] You talk like your father. He was just as spirited; always spoke the truth.
See more »


References A Passage to India (1984) See more »


Radha Kaise Na Jale
Music by A.R. Rahman
Lyrics by Javed Akhtar
Performed by Asha Bhosle, Udit Narayan, Vaishali and chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

the theatre cheered
18 August 2003 | by See all my reviews

This is actually the first ever film I have seen where the audience clapped cheered and booed effectively as if they were a part of the actual proceedings in the film. I heard someone say that they felt that they were really at a cricket match. I loved the movie even though admittedly at the time (surprising for an Indian) I didn't know cricket at all...I learned while watching it with the help of a friend but also found I didn't need to! It certainly renewed my interest and made mea cricket fan soon enough, the next match that year I watched with grave interest.

About the fikm, the acting was good. Rachel Shelly and Paul Blackthorne were impressive and unlike in other Hindi films where they are usually clichéd versions of foreign characters, they were very drawn out believable characters. Aamir Khan was definitely the star attraction (obviously) as in any case it was 'his movie' but honestly he was very good, one of hsi best performances i'd personally say. Gauri was given very little to do in the movie but she did stand out in her own way. The supporting cast were all excellent in each of their roles, although some characters were a bit too starkly depicted. The British cast on the other hand had precious little to do except look foreboding.

The setting in the Gujrati village and country was beautiful. The sets were historically accurate I've been told and the backdrop just right for the match and one would it imagine it fit into the time frame suggested. The costumes were also appropriate. I especially liked that scene where Elisabeth imagines Aamir in a suit, it worked because being who she is of course shed see him like that.)Some historians might nitpick on small points, but they were so minor that the rest of the story overshadowed these errors.

At first I wondered whether foreign viewers would understand it what the unusual concept of musical numbers, but most seem to have understood the game of cricket (non cricket playing countries I mean) and the historical context as well and seem to have also taken the musical numbers in their stride.

The only thing that got to me was the length of the movie. I really wish that they had done some serious editing, it just ran too long and the cricket match was too dragged out. It should have either focused more on the cricket match for the majority of the film, or reduced the footage of the rest of the film to balance it out. I saw many scenes that could have been edited out and were totally unnecessary.

The songs were enjoyable and only one or two were unnecessary and could have been cut down or deleted entirely, like the 'Radha Kaise Na Jale' and the song where both girls sing. Honestly this movie was one Hindi movie that did not require many songs at all if at all. A background score maybe but not 6 songs. It got tedious and it gets on the nerves especially when you've been sitting in the theatre for 2 hours and you know that there is 1 more hour to go. Luckily people with DVDs will be able to fast forward!

Although Predictable in places with characters being over-drawn or under-drawn and everyone knew the ending that was inevitable, ending, (it isn't much of a long shot at all) but we watched it for the thrill of it anyway.

The overall effect the movie was so good that I fully believe that it deserved a nomination and I never say that about most Hindi movies. Even though it did not win I'm very proud of this movie.

32 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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