“Once upon a time – in British India” – what are the first thoughts come to the mind of a movie lover? Of course, its the first words we see and hear when we start watching the Hindi movie Lagaan. I think it would be better to call it an epic.
The movie which made history in itself. The movie which make its writer, director Ashutosh Gowarikar a prominent figure in the film industry. The person who was being avoided or rejected by many, after approved as a genius director by this film, started taken seriously and respect came to his way. The movie which made Aamir Khan producer, and took out the potential of his then wife and now friend, Reena Dutta’s management skills. The movie which made Satyajit Bhatkal to shift his career direction from being a lawyer to being a production team member. The movie which represented Indian cinema as an official entry in its release year.
Why am I remembering this movie which was released a dacade ago, now? Well, there are several reasons
- The movie is still having its own impact in the people’s mind, after a decade of its release
- I watched “chale chalo…” a documentary about the journey of the film making for Lagan, recently which makes the memories refresh; and I couldn’t stop myself from sharing the joy with you.
- Aamir, Aashutosh, Reena and all other crew members are celebrating 10 years of this remarkable movie http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Revisiting-Lagaan/804780/
I will provide you just highlights of the documentary “Chale Chalo”, as I don’t want to ruin your experience when you (re)watch the same. It all starts with how Satyajit Bhatkal (known as Satya) put his feet forward in hindi film industry.
After two films he directed, “Pehla Nasha” (a murder mystery) and “Baazi” (an action thriller), Ashutosh Govarikar was not seeing any hope for the third film he could direct. The reason is both his films are flopped on the box office. It made Ashutosh think what went wrong in those films. It came to him, that he have tried mixing all the masala people love to enjoy it in a typical Bollywood film, whether he liked or not, with the hope people will love it; the idea was a boomerang. So he thought to write a story which please him, entertain him and loved by him.
If he couldn’t love his story then how could the audience? He started working on a story by having people from a village in British India, and the British rulers as the opponents, the game of cricket as the battle, bat and ball as the weapons, cricket ground as the battle field and forfeiting tax (Lagaan) for the year(s) as the trophy. An idea which was novice in itself. A movie like this was not made on Indian silver screen before. He wrote the briefing and went to meet Aamir, who after hearing the basics, refused to work in the movie and advised Ashutosh to write something which could be loved by the people and play safe.
Getting hurt by being refused, Ashutosh started working with full intensity on the story. To make the story from a briefing to a well-written, complete script for a film. He have no other place to work at, hence he started working on the script at his home. This way he spent months at home and even his children started thinking that why our daddy is always found at home as the parents of their classmates (especially fathers) used to go for some job or business during the day. After a few months when Ashutosh completed the story he met Aamir once more.
He asked Aamir that “I have a story I want to narrate you”. Aamir asked “is it the same, you came with before a few months, the story with bat and ball and cricket and lagaan..?” Ashutosh replied “Yes”. He requested Aamir “Hear the story once, I know you are not going to work in the film, but at least hear the story and then say No”. Aamir refused, but when insisted by Ashutosh, he finally agree to let him narrate the story.
As the story started making progress in narration, Aamir started liking it. And at the end he was completely convinced that it is a mind-blowing story. Though, he didn’t think it will work at the box-office and hence refused to become a part of the film. On the other side, heart-broken Ashutosh met several producers who all praised the story but feared to make film on this unconventional story, said no to produce the film. Aamir was also thinking on this story however. He than thought, a film should be made on this story.
The story should not be compromised in any way of film making; it must fulfill the vision of the story writer and director. He decided to produce the film with this reason. Then he have asked Ashutosh to narrate story again, these time he was not the only one who was the audience. He got his parents, his wife and Jaamu Sugandh also accompanied. They all heard the narration and Aamir have seen the same reactions for each incident, each scene, on everyone’s face, which he had, when he heard it first. His father then insist him to go ahead and be part of the film.
- How Reena Dutta who was having no previous experience in the film making or film production by any means, became the production manager?
- How they decided to go with sink sound, in stead of dubbing the same later?
- How they finalized the actors for each character (including the british actors)?
- How they search for the village Champaner, through Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and other state? And what finally make them to prepare artificial village set in neighbourhood of Kunariya, a village near Bhuj-Kachchh (Kutch) in Gujarat?
- How one of the aparment is converted into hotel for the crew?
- How the tight schedule of the shooting is made and how everyone became punctual?
- What were their experiences while shooting?
These and many more questions will be answered when you watch this seat-gluing documentary about the epic called Laggan. It is recommended to go and watch it, you will love it definitely.
Keep reading, keep watching, keep walking the emotional path with a memorable journey…