Friday, February 10, 2006

Lagaan B+

Aamir Khan

Ashutosh Gowarikar

Star Cast
Aamir Khan ...... Bhuvan
Gracy Singh ...... Gauri
Rachel Shelly ...... Elizabeth Russell
Paul Blackthorne ...... Captain Andrew Russell

Here’s the oh-so-dry summary from Yahoo Movies : Farmer Bhuvan and his love Gauri live in the small village of Champaner in North India in 1890s. They, like the rest of their community, struggle to live off their harvests. When a brute-like British army captain challenges the locals to a cricket match, they fail to realize just how high the stakes are. One of the conditions of the game is that the loser will be burdened with a heavy, if not crippling, land tax. Although poor, the villagers are people of self-respect. Led by Bhuvan they are ready to take on the Britons despite their ignorance of the game.

I prefer, “Amidst abject poverty and the toil of heavy labor, a revolutionary spirit is planted in the parched land of a small Indian village. Watered by the tears of overburdened farmers, and cultivated by the relentless Bhuvan, its roots grow unnoticed by the ruling British until they are forced to eat the bitter fruit of their demise.” [No applause necessary. Thank you.]

Ratings Breakdown
· Story - A
The story was really tight! That was a surprise. It took a few minutes to kick off but the second half was extremely focused. [After watching the deleted scenes on the DVD, they definitely made the right choice.]
· Acting - A
I loved the guys in this. There was definitely a depth of emotion that doesn’t get expressed in very many films, Indian or otherwise. There was a palpable sense of agony over every loss during the match.
· Songs - C+
To be fair, I should probably go back and listen to them again. It’s just that, aside from the temple song that began with the women and the song during the performance, (which only got my attention because of the performance), nothing grabbed my attention. I may have even fastforwarded…
· Dancing - B
I did see a few technically surprising moves in there but I do mean “a few”…
· Visual Stunning - B+
The visual elements in this film weren’t so much stunning as they were honest. If things are dry, they’re dry. There wasn’t a whole lot of overly self-conscious cinematography in this film and for that I am thankful. At the same time, it left me longing for a little more Bollywood luster.

Western Mind Rating - A+
Lagaan is probably one of the easiest Bollywood films for the uninitiated Western mind. It focuses on sports, features the underdog “sticking it to the man” (very American), and has lots of white people. It’s no wonder this film was nominated for the Academy’s Best Foreign Language Film! Even the transitions into song and dance are more Broadway than Bollywood: characters sing because they’re in a play, or because they’re worshipping, or as they begin a “Rocky-like” fitness routine. This the Western mind can understand. Besides, am I the only one who thinks that Aamir Khan looks like a really tan white man…

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