Today it’s almost impossible to think of Lagaan as a film that was less than exemplary in all aspects. However, it was met with more apprehension than excitement in the years leading up to its production. Ashutosh Gowariker‘s script defied all the rules of mainstream cinema. It included a slow song in the pre-climax, focused on sports and had a dialect that masses were unfamiliar with. Inspite of all the itsy-bitsy nuances, the movie garnered critical and commercial success; hence becoming a landmark in Indian cinema.
This was just one of the many facts unveiled in Chale Chalo: The Lunacy of Film Making. The documentary, which had its first major screening last night, was shot during the making of Lagaan. It chronicled the journey of the film from its conception to its release. Here are ten interesting tidbits Chale Chalo told us about Lagaan. Every Indian can relate to number seven!
1. Contrary to popular belief, the Aamir–Kiran romance didn’t begin on the sets of Lagaan! Though that was where they first met, the couple didn’t get together until later. When Kiran said she had no time for romance on the sets, Aamir mischievously hinted that there was romance – just not with him!
2. Even after all these years, the cast members still refer to each other by character name. Poor Kachra!
3. Recording the reaction of thousands of people isn’t easy. So how did Ashutosh manage to elicit the perfect reaction from the crowd during the final scene? Easy-peasy! He made Aamir sing Aati Kya Khandala, which got the crowd to cheer, making for the perfect scene!
4. Since there were no comfortable hotels in Bhuj, Aamir converted a newly constructed building into a hotel!
6. The cast and crew members had to travel from their hotel to the location by bus at 5 AM, everyday. To ensure that shooting isn’t delayed, Aamir laid down a rule – If you can’t make it to the bus on time, you’re going to get left behind. What he didn’t foresee was the fact that he would become the victim too! One fine day, Aamir found himself stranded outside the hotel when he reached at 5:05 AM.
7. Sachin Tendulkar had the most interesting reaction while watching Lagaan. At a preview screening, Aamir recalls seeing Sachin look tensed during the final match. Isn’t that a feeling we’ve all experienced while watching Sachin on the field?
8. Paul Blackthorne and Rachel Shelley faced their own set of struggles during filming. Rachel, who didn’t know a word of Hindi, memorized everyone’s lines so she could understand the scenes better. Paul, on the other hand, found himself ashamed of his country after reading about the British Raj in India.
9. Paul and Rachel weren’t the only ones who struggled with their lines, though. Out of habit, Aamir found himself slipping into Hindi between his dialogues!
10. None of the extras on set had ever lip-synced to a song before. To make it easier for them, they were all asked to assemble a few days before the shoot and sing Ghanan Ghanan until they knew every word perfectly!
With all this and more interesting footage, the documentary was almost as entertaining as Lagaan itself!