Don’t Laugh. While it is not often that movies offer more than entertainment, ever so often there comes a film which can make a deep impact and teach us a few things. This week’s Tech Talk takes a different path as I share what I learnt from the movie. It is about Bhuvan and his team, who, against all odds, fight for pride, land and country – and win. It is how one single person with a passion can make a difference. It is about the triumph of human spirit, the Indian spirit.
As a movie, Lagaan (you can read the review here) is something we can all be proud of, made to perfection by Aamir Khan (producer) and Ashutosh Gowariker (director). It is different in many respects from the regular stuff churned out by our film industry. It is a period film. It was shot in one schedule in Bhuj last year over 4 months. It is long, very long – 3 hours, 40 minutes. It has British actors who mostly speak English. It has little romance and no fights. It even has a song in Hindi and English. Lagaan as a movie is innovation personified. The movie’s heart – the hour-plus cricket match – was not even disclosed in the pre-release publicity.
Lagaan is set in the village of Champaner (somewhere in Central India) in the late 19th century. Yet, it does not seem too far removed from us in the 21st century.
Each of us has someone we know in some Indian village. Many of us still pay a visit to our native place every once in a while. It is about the unchanged reality of India – the wait for the rains every year. It is also about the only sport which matters in India and which each of us has grown up with – cricket.
Above all, Lagaan is about people. Ordinary, average people, who are going about their lives – like each of us. Who, when the moment demands, do extraordinary deeds. It is about the power of a Team – the muthi (“closed fist”). As a team, they were fighting for the future of tens of thousands of their countrymen against a heartless enemy (the British). They had few resources, and little knowledge of the game of cricket. What they did not lack was fighting and team spirit, and the will to win. They were not playing a game; they were fighting a war.
The India of today, too, faces a lot of challenges. If we can learn from Bhuvan and his bunch of motley cricketers, the New India that is being built can be a different place, one which occupies pride of place in the world economy, one which is respected and feared but not ignored, one in which the community and nation come before self, one which Bhuvan’s XI would have been proud of.