Shah Rukh Khan
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Lagaan was Aamir Khan’s first production, which went on to create history. It was nominated in Best Foreign Film category at Oscars 2002. Lagaan is a story of an oppressed villager who decides and wins over an uptight set of British officers. Ashutosh Gowarikar’s ‘Lagaan’ reflected patriotism for modern India. Lagaan is an epic saga which has completed 15 glorious years. Here are some things we bet you did not know about the film.
Aamir Khan had rejected director Ashutosh Gowarikar’s 6 drafts before loving and accepting the 7th one. However after Aamir gave his nod to the script, Gowarikar was already facing another hurdle. He couldn’t find a producer who could back his vision and film. It was on the director’s behest that Aamir Khan decided to turn producer for the film. Lagaan (2001) was the first film made under the ‘Aamir Khan Productions’ banner.
Shah Rukh Khan was apparently offered the role of Bhuvan but he had rejected it. After SRK rejected the film, director Ashutosh Gowariker went to Aamir, who agreed to even produce the film. It took almost five years for the film to hit the theatres. Even Abhishek Bachchan was offered a role in the film, but he turned it down. As for the female cast Sonali Bendre, Nandita Das, Rani Mukerji and Ameesha Patel were considered for the role of Gauri. But Ashutosh selected Gracy Singh, who was a then famous for her role as Dinky in TV serial Amanat.
Aamir Khan is known to undergo drastic transformations for his movies. Even for Lagaan where he plays Bhuvan, a village boy from British India, he decided to actually get his ears pierced and walk around in the harsh sun, just to get the perfect tan he needed for the character. He had borrowed the silver rings that he wore from Kiran Rao, who was an assistant editor on sets.
The climax of the film had a cricket match between the British officers and Bhuvan’s crew of village folk. But shooting it with around 20,000 people in the background made it all quite the feat. Not only did the film’s production team coax villagers living around the location to turn up for the shoot, they also provided the entire crowd a set of dhoti kurta for this scene from the period film. They would sit patiently in sun the entire day while the film was shot. In the film, Bhuvan scored the winning shot and was not out throughout the innings. In reality, while filming the climax, Aamir Khan admitted to have gotten bowled out once. During shooting, a cricket match was organised between the British actors and their Indian counterparts. British team won the match!
Lagaan became the first Hindi film to be shot using sync sound which means that dialogues and ambient sounds were recorded live during the shoot itself. This required creating absolute sound proof environments while filming indoors and maintaining complete silence during outdoor scenes. All this was done with over 300 people on the sets every single day.
Before the worldwide release of the film, Khan screened the film especially for the villagers of Bhuj, where the film was shot. The cast and crew were present during the screening of the film in Bhuj. It was screened at a local cinema hall which was packed with eager viewers. During the screening, there was a load shedding but the screening continued with help of generators.
Ashutosh suffered from a slipped disc and had to rest for 30 days during the filming of Lagaan. However, the director continued working by having his bed next to the monitor. He used directions lying on his bed.
Since there were no luxury hotels in Bhuj, Aamir Khan had taken up a newly constructed apartment complex and furnished it completely for the crew. Security was set up and a special housekeeping team was brought to take care of the crew's needs.
The movie was shot in villages of Bhuj, Gujarat. Bhuj was later majorly effected in an earthquake on 26th January 2001, six months after the movie was shot. The crew, including the English, contributed to their cause by donating a huge sum. Aamir adopted a village in Bhuj and sent tents for the homeless and also collected funds for relief operations.
The first cut of the film was 7 hours and 30 minutes long. Eventually, the film that was screened in the theatre was 3 hours 44 minutes long.
By Ketaki Khedekar
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