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Lagaan - Once Upon a Time in India

4.4 out of 5 stars 288 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Queen Victoria's India. The year is 1893. Champaner... a small farming village in Central India. Onthe outskirts of the village stands a British cantonment, commanded by Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne)- an arrogant and capricious man who wields the power of life and death over the villages under his jurisdiction. LAGAAN - a story of a battle without bloodshed. Fought by a group of unlikely heroes led by Bhuvan (Aamir Khan), an enigmatic young farmer with courage born of conviction - and a dream in his heart. Helped by Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), an English rose who came to India and lost her heart, and Bhuvan's pillar of strength, Gauri (Gracy Singh), the young and perky village girl who dreams only of a home with the man she loves. A story of extraordinary circumstances thrust upon ordinary people.

Would you believe the most enchanting musical of the year is an almost four-hour-long epic about a ragtag group of 19th-century Indian farmers who form a cricket team to take on an arrogant British captain? The old-fashioned Hollywood musical is alive and well in India's Bollywood industry, where the joyful explosion of music and dance and innocent romance abounds in sweeping epics. In this infectious tale of bloodless revolution, the underdog outcasts and oddballs of a fractured village pull together into a unified team to take on the oppressive colonial Brits at their own game. Think The Longest Yard meets The Seven Samurai by way of Rudyard Kipling, with cricket bats, choreographed dance numbers, romantic triangles, and a rousing call to solidarity. There are no surprises, but what spirit, what color, what good fun! --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes
  • Weblink

Product Details

  • Actors: Rajesh Vivek, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley
  • Directors: Ashutosh Gowariker
  • Producers: Aamir Khan
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 1, 2002
  • Run Time: 224 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (288 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005U124
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,311 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lagaan - Once Upon a Time in India" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I know nothing about the Indian culture or music, and I was a bit skeptical that a 4-hour subtitled movie filmed in India about CRICKET would be of interest to me. I loved every minute. Not only was this movie visually beautiful and well paced, it also has a "good heart." Although a classic tale of courageous common folk rising up against oppressors, the story is told with humor and affection and with an infectious joy and innocence that is very appealing. One example of the director's skill is that even though most of the film is concerned with cricket, a sport about which I know absolutely nothing, the movie never lags or slows down, but keeps an active pace.
The singing and dancing were very enjoyable. Even though I had never been exposed to Hindi singing before, my "Western" ears still found the music very beautiful.
I can see why the actor who played Bhuvan is a big star in India--very charismatic and charming, as well as very good looking.
I will definitely watch this again and again. We made an "Indian Evening" out of it, getting recipes off the Internet for Indian food, and munched on Tandoori chicken and vegetable curry while watching the DVD at home. Great fun!
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Format: DVD
Despite the fact that I bought the DVD some time ago, it took me a couple of months and 2 tries to actually get into it enough to watch. Knowing that it's approx. 4 hours long, the first time I popped it in and started struggling through the subtitles, that baby was out of the recorder about 2 minutes later! Well, it took being held up in bed sick to finally motivate me to try again.
Lagaan is an enchanting film that works on several levels: as an exciting sports film, as a poignant triangular love story and as a social and political drama. I like all of the above-mentioned genres with the major exception of sports films. However, I found myself thoroughly caught up in the big game, which actually adds at least one hour to the film's length. It is through this game that so many of the wonderful characters that are introduced throughout the film get their moment to shine: the fortune-teller, the crippled low-cast outcast, the village "idiot", the reformed Judas, etc.
I also appreciated the film's attempt to be fair: it would have been very easy to make the Brits all look like "bloody colonial twats", and the Indians smell like roses. We get to see Brits who where appalled by the way that their fellow countrymen behaved towards the Indians, and Indians discriminating amongst themselves due to their cast system. These areas of grey add layers to what might have been a fairly one-dimensional, Indian version of Mighty Ducks! That said, the very clear lines between good and bad help one cheer the underdogs on and ultimately make this a warm and fuzzy, feel-good-movie.
The cast, lead by Aamir Khan - a wonderful mixture between Tom Hanks and Elvis Presley (!) - is wonderfully diverse, and the films length allows us to get to know each and every one of them.
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Format: VHS Tape
As the parched earth waits for the rain, the village girl Gauri (Gracie Singh) waits for the young village farmer Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) to discover her heart. Together they fight for freedom from tyranny as Gauri encourages Bhuvan in his quest to take on the most important challenge of his life.

This is a story of triumph over oppression. A story of how the human spirit rises to new heights to overcome injustice. The plot is uncomplicated, which leaves room for fascinating choreography, discussions of cultural issues and moments of pure abandon. The dance sequences tell stories only dance can tell. It brings together the thoughts and feelings of the characters and creates a sacred space where the characters enter the realm of spirit.

Set in the 1890s, the residents of a small farming village in rustic Gujarat, India are waiting for the monsoon when they discover they will now have to pay twice the amount of lagaan (agricultural tax) they normally have to pay. With just enough food to survive they are literally going to have to fight to survive.

Captain Russel (Paul Blackthorne) almost overplays his part as the colonial officer (of the cantonment which rules over the neighboring villages) to emphasize the absolute absurdity of the situation. He demands complete obedience with no regard to the human suffering his laws will produce. He challenges Bhuvan to a game, knowing he has never played Cricket. If the village loses, they must pay triple the tax (lagaan). Bhuvan must not only gain the support of the terrified villagers, he must rally a team and train them within a few months.

It is completely unfair and the officer's sister, Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), takes pity on the farmers.
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Format: DVD
This was my first full-fledged trip into Bollywood and I couldn't have asked for a better entry. While there were some inconsistencies in sound, overall I loved the picture. Some of the songs and dances were breathtaking and emotionally charged. In particular the number where Bhuvan and the young boy are sitting on a hill and they're shrugging their shoulders, soon getting the village into the act. The other number where Bhuvan and Gauri re-enact the love of Krishna and Radha in exquisite dancing. Also there were many moments of stunning, breathtaking images, including the women of the village seated in the temple praying for salvation. Absolutely stunning.

While I feel some judicious pruning could have trimmed the nearly 4 hour long version I watched (the DVD of which included an additional 17 minutes cut from this version) the picture did not seem nearly as long as it really was.

Aamir Khan creates an instantly likeable presence, handsome, engergetic and full of great promise and self-assuredness. I welcome the opportunity to see more of his work.

Gracy Singh is simply irresistable as Gauri - who could not fall in love with this slightly wacky, but ultimately wise in matters of the heart. She moves with an easy grace and elegance and charm befitting a princess. Her contribution to the song and dance numbers was exquisite. More Singh, please!

Paul Blackthorne was a hilarious, old-school villain; over the tope and right out of a penny dreadful melodrama - and I mean this as a compliment. His unrelenting arrogance made him so oh so easy to hate I almost hissed at his every appearance. I love a good villain!

Rachel Shelley's Elizabeth was a perfect blend of Victorian reserved beauty and free spirit and noble in her heartbreak.
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