Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India | Chicago Reader

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This 2001 historical piece, set in 1893, revolves around the languorous game of cricket, which makes the nearly four-hour running time appropriate. The title comes from a tithe paid by villagers to the local raja and to the British for protection. Indian superstar Aamir Khan, also the producer, plays a tempestuous villager who offends a British captain, then agrees to a cricket match between the British soldiers and the reluctant villagers, none of whom knows the game. If they win the lagaan will be dropped; if they lose it will triple. The film, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, isn't as lavish or flashy as the typical Bollywood product, and cricket aside, there's little to distinguish the plotting and wide-screen visuals from more traditional Hollywood musicals—though few recent American musicals are this fluid or engaging. The traditional-style songs, combining northern Indian folk music with classic Western motifs, were written by noted composer A.R. Rahman. In English and subtitled Hindi and Bhojpuri. 224 min.

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