The Bollywood Film: An Analysis Of The Film Lagaan

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The American Academy Award nomination garnered by the Bollywood film Lagaan in 2001 focused worldwide attention on this parable of the fall of the British Raj that unfolds in the drama of a cricket match between colonizers and colonized. The entire film is an irresistible underdog fantasy with gratifying post-colonial implications. The ordinary rural villagers in Lagaan manage to internalize the spirit of this archetypal colonial import so deeply that, even when armed with hand-carved bats and pads made from bundles of sticks, they are able to hold their own against the sport 's ostensible standard bearers, toughing it out right down to the final wicket. Lagaan is set in 1893, and tells the story of Champaner, the fictitious “every-village” of India that is oppressed by drought and by the cruel demands of a captain of the British colonial army who oversees the cantonment. The officer doubles the villagers’ yearly tax—“lagaan”—on a whim. Infuriated by the defiance of the impetuous peasant Bhuvan, the captain challenges the Indians to a cricket match. The tax would either be tripled or cancelled for three years depending on the outcome of the match. With the very survival of the village at stake, Bhuvan manages to overcome the initial skepticism, ignorance of the foreign game, as well as caste and religious differences, leading the Indian villagers to victory and freedom. Hindus and Muslims, Untouchables and Brahmins unite to defeat the British

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