20 Years of Lagaan: 10 lesser-known facts about the film
Twenty years back, this day marked the memorable release of Aamir Khan’s legendary sports epic Lagaan, a landmark movie that changed the face of mainstream Hindi cinema as we know it. The soulful soundtrack, composed by the maverick A.R. Rahman, Ashutosh Gowariker’s elaborate sets, Aamir Khan and the ensemble cast’s superlative performance is still deeply etched in our memories.
The timeless classic, which beautifully clawed it’s way into our hearts, went through a whole lot of ups and downs, but at the end conquered them all and still reigns supreme, that is celebrated till now. Much of this trivia, is still unknown to the common man, and here we have a look at it.
1. To induce a feeling of togetherness, towards the story and towards their characters, the cast members would address each other with their screen names, during their interaction.
2. To keep the cast disciplined, all the actors were asked to report at 5 a.m. or they would be left behind at the hotel. The cast including Aamir used to leave their hotel at 4:30 a.m. every morning in a bus that would take them to the location.
3. In 1998, director Ashutosh Gowarikar worked on the script of Lagaan, while he was in between his shots on the set of the tele series CID, in which he acted. It was on the sets of CID, where he noticed Yashpal Sharma, liked his work and then went on to cast him in the film.
4. Most of the auditions for Lagaan happened at Aamir Khan’s home in Mumbai.
5. Lagaan holds the record for casting the maximum number of British actors in one film. A Hindi tutor was hired in London for the lead British actors, Rachel Shelley (Elizabeth) and Paul Blackthorne (Captain Russell) so they could learn their lines. This process took almost 6 months.
6. When Amin Hajee, went on to watch a cricket match, he was adrressed as his character name ‘Bagha’, by Virendra Sehwag, Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.
7. Aamir Khan and Raj Zutshi had to sunbathe for a couple of days, to look the part.
8. During the shoot of Chale Chalo song, Aamir said no umbrellas or shade would be put on the film set, and suggested everyone to burn out bodies, in the blazing temeperature of 50 Degrees, to look authentic on screen.
9. Lagaan became the first Hindi film to be shot using sync sound which means that dialogues and sounds were recorded live during the shoot itself. Most Indian films of the time were actually dubbed in the studios. It was with Lagaan, that the concept of Call Time, started gaining momentum.
10. Ashutosh Gowarikar made sure that, he cast actors who had absolutely no cricket background and never played the sport before. So that they looked genuine on the screen learning the game. Aamir and Raj Zutshi were the only exceptions to this. Ashutosh made the actors practice the sport on the sets of the film, like making them catch hens, among others.
11. Ashutosh had planned on casting Mukesh Rishi in the film but his dates were not available. That’s when he approached Pradeep Singh to play Deva’s character in Lagaan.
12. Lagaan became the third Bollywood film to make it to the short list of Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Earlier Mother India (1957) and Salaam Bombay! (1988) made it to the elite club.
Lagaan marked the beginning of Aamir Khan Productions- the first film to be made under the banner. The production house is known to give some incredible hits to Bollywood like Taare Zameen Par, Delhi Belly and Dangal to name a few.