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Reflections On Lagaan
Suyash Poddar

The movie Lagaan represents a unique Bollywood style amalgamation of India Colonial past with the sport of cricket to deliver a thoroughly entertaining and insightful piece of cinema. The film depicts the oppression faced by peasants in “Champaner” by its colonial rulers who demanded a higher tax rate from the peasants despite the economic hardships they were facing. To oppose this harsh tax the peasants are challenged to a “winner take all” Cricket match against the British, setting up a true underdog sports story where the inexperienced Indian peasants rise up to face the mighty British empire on a Cricket pitch.
Through the lens of a glorified Cricket match between Indian peasants and the British Officer’s Lagaan broaches a wide variety of issues that plagues colonial India. Issues like the economic dependence of peasants on “baarish” to ensure a good crop have been prominently displayed in the film.
The film also carefully brings up the subject of segregation based on caste, when the villagers consider the Character “kachra” (which means garbage) as “achoot” ( untouchable) because he belongs to a lowly caste. The film attempts to denounce this notion of segregation by providing “kachra” the support of the protagonist who is able to rise beyond the caste system and include “kachra” to become an integral part of the team.
Although the premise of the film is quite improbable, it does well to show the true oppressive and whimsical nature of the British in India. By challenging the peasants to a against the odds cricket match, the film showcases how the British viewed the peasants just as a resource to exploit while caring little about anything else. Being a Bollywood film there is the inevitable song and dance, which the filmmakers who use to show the religious beliefs of the peasants with references to “Lord Krishna” and calling upon the gods to deliver rain. In summary although the movie is quite akin to a formulaic underdog story, the colonial setting and issues brought up during the film help provide a unique flavor to the movie, while appealing to an audience that is “cricket crazy”.

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