There are not many movies in Indian cinema where you can name each and every character of the ensemble. It has been 10 years since the release of LAGAAN, and even so, the excitement and enthusiasm as well as the anguish and misery of the many characters of LAGAAN is as fresh and graphically vivid in my memory as it was when I finished watching it the first time. The only other movie that can claim to have attained such a feat is (no points for guessing) the immortal blockbuster – SHOLAY. So why not reflect upon these colourful members who complete this massive painting of LAGAAN with their various shades.
Outside the LAGAAN XI:
Aakshvaani – Sutradhaar (Amitabh Bachchan)
The voice which introduces us to the world of Champaner, and also concludes the tale with the words – “Itihaas ke Panno mein kahin kho gayi hai” [ Lost somewhere in the pages of history ]
‘Maa’ – Yashodamai (Suhasini Mulay)
“Hey Ram! Bakhat se pehle hi khushiyaan!” [ Hey Ram, premature celebrations ]
The quintessential mother, but not Bollywood-ish. She sees the reflection of her lost husband in the courage and daring nature of her son.
[WARNING: Image heavy post ]
The King – Raja Puran Singh (Kulbhusan Kharbanda)
“THAT’S called Kicking The Horse!”
The vegetarian King of Champaner, he is reduced to being a mere diplomat by the bullying forces of the Raj. The only thing he can do is comply to ever taxing demands of the Raj and deal with the arrogant Capt.Russell. The King’s jubilance in the villager’s victory is brilliantly depicted in his gesture, when he impulsively attempts to take off his pearl necklace to gift it to the villagers. Such a Royal!
The Old Man of the village – Shambhu Kaka (A.K.Hangal)
“Ye Tu Ne Kya Kar Diya Bhuvan” [ What have you done Bhuvan! ]
As the old man of the village, Shambhu Kaka has seen the ups and downs of life. He is very sceptical of the decisions made by Bhuvan, and hence questions him to reason his impulsive decision.
The commentator – Ram Singh (Javed Khan)
“Hum Jeet Gaye” [ We have WON! ]
He is the translator of Coach Elizabeth’s cricket lessons in English to Hindi. And when he is thrown out by Capt.Russell, he has a change in career to the loudspeaker holding first Indian commentator. His moment of jubilance gleams in his eyes and that mixed expression of happiness, celebration, disbelief and euphoria is one of the ‘moments’.
DESI-GIRL: Gauri ( Gracy Singh )
” Bharosa hai mohe… tujh pe… tohri himmat pe. ” [ I trust .. you.. and your courage ]
She’s not the damsel in distress. She can very well take care of herself. She steers clear of the letches (Lakha) and knows how to go for her hero (Bhuvan). Although she does show lady-like characteristics ( as in being jealous when Bhuvan spends more time with memsaab Elizabeth ), but when it comes to love, she’s damn serious about it. She won’t let the memsaab hit the bell before she does, and can effortlessly make everyone jealous with her Raas Leela dance as Radha. Her undying love for Bhuvan is her strength as well as her weakness.
The coach – Elizabeth Russell (Rachel Shelley)
“Tum khel ke baare mein kya jaante ho” [ What do you know about the game? ]
The lady with the golden heart – she is what angels must be like. Even if it meant betraying her brother, her decisions are solely based on morality. She supports the right, and this meant that she’d give cricket coaching to the villagers, sometimes in a very secret service kinda way. But she remains unlucky in love. What a tragedy!
THE LAGAAN XI
Sardar Sodhi aka Deva (Pradeep Singh Rawat, aka Ghajini) – here’s something which sums him up:
“Agar gend phenkoon toh teeno lakdiyan di dhajjiyan udha doon. Aur jo agar kheloon toh gend nu cheer ke rakh doon” [ If its balling, then all three wickets should be destroyed. If its batting, then tear through the ball ]
~ On second thoughts, do you think that Deva is a bit violent. All he can talk about is tearing and destroying.
The jealous Lakha (Yashpal Sharma), who’d go to even betraying his own village to put down Bhuvan, but then he has a change of heart and eventually becomes a convert to Bhuvan’s goodness.
The angst driven Arjan (Akhilendra Mishra) whose only medium to vent out his frustration is to hit the ball as hard as possible.
The naggy neighbour in Ismail (Raj Zutshi) who is troubled by Bhura’s (Raghubir Yadav) poultry. Bhura is the guy you wanna consult about fielding – LAGAAN XI’s Jonty Rhodes. [Thanks to Darshit for the heads up]
Ismail, Bhuvan’s bachpan-ka-dost, who is as competent in Gulli-Danda as Bhuvan himself.
Goli (Daya Shankar Pandey) – Weird bowling action, but gives away the surprise with a grunt.
The ever-colorful Baba Guran (Rajesh Vivek) with his signature full toss deliveries and prophecies.
Bagha (Amin Hajee) – The mute drummer; catching is not his forte’ but he eventually overcomes his own fear. Has a thing for prematurely declaring rain as well as air-drumming. He’s as angst-driven and impulsive as Arjan. Calm down boys! Shaant Gadadhari Bheem…Shaant!
Sasurjee – Ishwar Kaka ( Vallabh Vyas) – lacks in stamina but he’s also the health specialist of the team.
Spin baller Kachra (Aditya Lakhia) – Bhuvan predicts that the team will win because of his ‘phirkee’.
Mukhiya (Rajendra Gupta) who is always sceptical of Bhuvan’s decision, but also secretly believes in his vision.
And finally, the young and restless no.12 runner, Tipu (Amin Gazi) who gets run-out.
And the captains of the two teams: -
Captain / Apna HERO – BHUVAN (Aamir Khan)
” Toh phir saari alag-alag ungliyan ki muthi ban jaaye Mukhiya ji” .
He is the dude. He’s the leader with a vision and in whom the village of Champaner rely upon. He is a bit impulsive when it comes to making decisions, but at the same time, he is level headed and knows how to achieve the goals. A charmer by nature ( C’mon he swooned both the Desi-Girl and Videsi-Laundee!), he is got exceptional leadership skills. He knows how to influence people and manage them. Not to forget his ‘Udit Narayan’ vocals and excellent choice in Dhotis. He knows his Hindu mythology very well (remember he explained how Lord Krishna and Radha weren’t married to each other). He is also progressive in mindset and hence, opposes irrational and orthodox cultures such as caste-division and stands by his decisions. Even the Mukhiya knows that Bhuvan is his successor.
Mr. BAD MAN – Captain Andrew Russell ( Paul Blackthorne )
” Dugna lagaan doge ki shart manzoor hai ? “
He is the arrogant British oppressor. The intoxication of power resides in his head, and he sees everybody as his slaves. He takes his cricket seriously, and would go to any length to winning it – especially when the stakes are high. So be it hitting opponents with bodyline deliveries to make batsmen out with hit-wicket, or employing moles to participate in the opponent’s team, Capt.Russell would do it all to win. A protective brother, and an even more proud person, it was indeed his excessive pride in his own talent which saw his downfall.
[ This is a post celebrating 10 years of LAGAAN. There is yet another post in this series to come, so watch this space . Special Thanks to TheBollywoodFan for his imense enthusiasm over the years for organising this annual blogathon event. Re bhaiya.... Chhoote Lagaan! ]