7 lesser known facts about Aamir Khan’s Lagaan: when the British team beat the Indian team


20 years ago, on June 15, Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan hit the screens. The film swept across the nation and even made it to the Academy Award list in the Foreign Language category. It’s hard to imagine now, but Lagaan was a huge risk for producer-actor Aamir Khan, because back then the period movies, the cricket stories, were all a big no-no in it. traditional Bollywood film industry.

Director Satyajit Bhatkal, who was also the driving force behind Aamir Satyameva Jayate’s TV show, chronicled Lagaan’s achievement in a two-and-a-half-hour documentary titled Madness in the Desert which details the hoops the team has. had to jump in to get the movie done.

Madness in the Desert aka Chale Chalo: Cinema Madness won the National Film Award for Best Exploration / Adventure Film. Here is all the interesting information we found about the film via the documentary.


1. The highlight of Lagaan was shot with a crowd of 10,000 people

The match between the villagers and the British was meant to be a spectacle and the climax of the film required the kind of crowd that would make it extraordinary. The directors roped 10,000 people from neighboring towns and villages and brought them in to shoot the crowd scenes. Dressing and feeding them was a logistical challenge, but the team managed to pull through. To encourage the crowds and get them to react happily as the home team wins the match, Aamir Khan sang “Aati Kya Khandala” and the director captured the crowd reaction, which was included in the film.

ashutoh gowariker lagaan Ashutosh Gowariker gave Aamir Khan several narrations before he boarded. (Photo: Express Archives)

2. Ashutosh Gowariker spent a month in bed rest while making the film

In the middle of filming, Ashutosh suffered a back injury that left him in bed for a full month. At this point, the film was already overdue and well over budget, so the production couldn’t imagine coping with another delay. So, Ashutosh decided to perform while lying on his back. He looked at the monitor and continued to work.


3. Rachel Shelley and Paul Blackthorne’s date with Hindi

British actors Rachel Shelley, who played Elizabeth, and Paul Blackthorne, who played Capt Russell, had most of their dialogue in Hindi, but they didn’t know a word of the language. To master the language, the production gave them a Hindi tutor in London and the language lessons lasted almost six months. In the documentary, Rachel shared that she wanted to learn the intricacies of the language so that she could play with a co-actor and understand what they were saying and so, she ended up learning a lot more Hindi than her dialogues, much like his character. in the movie.

lagaan making Rachel Shelley and Pradeep Rawat on the set of Lagaan. (Photo: Express Archives)

4. The British team won the real match

Lagaan’s premise has Indians taking on the British team and winning the cricket match against all odds. The UK cast members were convinced that if they actually played a cricket match with the Indian team they would win and so a match was put on and unlike the movie they actually won.

5. Reema Kagti, Kiran Rao, Apoorva Lakhia worked on Lagaan

Director Ashutosh Gowariker was the ship’s captain, but he was ably supported by assistant directors Reema Kagti, Kiran Rao, and Apoorva Lakhia. The three ADs went on to become renowned directors later in their careers. Reema Kagti has directed films like Talaash, Gold and Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. Apoorva Lakhia, who was hired on this film due to her Hollywood background, went on to direct Hindi-language films like Shootout at Lokhandwala, Mission Istaanbul, and the recent Crackdown web series. Kiran Rao directed the 2011 film Dhobi Ghat.

lagaan making Lagaan’s team had a start-to-end program in Bhuj. (Photo: Express Archives)

6. Residential apartments in Bhuj

The cast and crew had to move to Bhuj but the whole town only had three hotels with only a few rooms and that would not have met the demands of the production. So the production team rented a building and began to fit out residential apartments with air conditioners and geysers for the comfort of the team. The team ended up living there for six months.

7. Strict discipline on the set

The entire film crew had to leave at dawn from their residential complex by bus to reach the set. The rule of leaving at 5 a.m. was so strict that one day lead actor and producer Aamir Khan was left behind. Aamir shared in the documentary that when he reached the set late, he received stares from other team members and felt guilty for being late.


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