Considering the Roar that The Sunday Roar caused last week we have the pleasure of introducing another segment to our Magazine: "Movie Time with Griz Jones". As you may be aware, Griz is a well known Hollywood critic and his reviews are highly appreciated. Unfortunately this week there were no 'foren fillums' showing, so Griz went on to see a Bollywood film. Lets see how he deals with it.
“Is it finally over?” Well those were my exact thoughts when I saw the end credits roll on the screen of this Bollywood splendor called Lagaan. I mean I have seen some long movies before but this one was one big cricket test match and guess what... It depicts the very same thing. I won't deny the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, but being a Hollywood critic, I am not used to being seated for 4 hours and have more than one genre thrown at me now and then.
The Director, Mr Govarikar is a patiently patient man I must say. It must have taken him ages to make this movie considering the fact that it is so damn long. I almost embarrassed myself by trying to leave the theater during intermission. Well I thought the movie was finished till the words “intermission” flashed onto the screen. Meekly I sat down again to watch the rest of it, which was an action-packed and nerve wrecking telecast of a cricket match.
Lagaan (Tax) is the story about a man in pre-independent India, his struggle to live a free life, his love for a village belle, and his unbelievable talent in a game that he learns at breakneck speed.
Its starts with a village in India parched for rains. A bleak view of dark clouds sends the whole village in song and dance frenzy. I looked around the theater and was surprised to see other patrons swinging to the music and lip syncing the song. I guess I was the only one who was alarmed at the sudden rush of song and dance. I make a note to myself that I need to beware of these Indian movies. I have already heard that actors (or heroes as they're called) get shot in the beginning of the movie and still manage to live throughout the movie without any medical attention. Meanwhile they kill villains with just a deadly stare. But for this young man named Bhuvan, the weapon of choice is the cricket bat.
The movie has lots and lots of characters including British officers who try to speak ‘owfull’ Hindi and succeed; the hero's mother without whom any Bollywood movie is incomplete, 10 different blokes who make up the cricket team, each weirder than the other; two beautiful ladies trying to win over our boy Bhuvan and countless other villagers. Each character plays his part dutifully and adds variety to the movie. Funnily, being a Hollywood critic, I didn’t even know these many characters could exist!
The lead actress is Miss Gracy Singh who plays the love interest of our Hero. She prances around, in and out of the movie at the director’s will. Obviously Indian Cinema has to grow up and start having Women-oriented movies now. As usual there is no firm role for the actress. All she does is dance around trees, and feel jealous of the white lady who falls for boy wonder! There is no going out, no dating and definitely no sleeping around like Hollywood movies. This goes on to prove the popularity of cricket in India. People will come to watch a movie even if there is no hanky-panky but a good deal of cricket in it.
No Bollywood movie is complete without the presence of the Quintessential Maa or Mother. The Mother of the lead actor has to play a part in the movie. Otherwise Indians do not relate to it, call it an Art film and trash it. The Mother is not allowed to wear anything other than a white Saree. She is supposed to be worried about her son 24/7 and she is supposed to pray to God for most of those 24 hours. In this movie too, the mother follows all these rules to the T. I would rather not mention the motherly characters of Hollywood over here.
The most hilarious part of the movie is the casting of the team. It is agreeable that the village is shown to be small, but the creative director has succeeded in putting maximum number of jokers in the team. The selection is done by Captain Bhuvan himself and that too without any trials. I must salute the observatory powers of this actor. He has an eye for talent. The drummer becomes the fast bowler. The crippled guy becomes a spinner. Bats are carved out of wood by the carpenter and everything simply falls into place.
The second half(!) of the movie revolves around the cricket match. I have come to know that Indians are fast learners. Well they seemed to learn the sport very fast. The weird words that they used for cricketing terms were funny I guess as the other patrons were rolling with laughter. Meanwhile I had surrendered to the mercy of subtitles. A religious song was pushed in too at end of day’s play in order to get blessings for the team. I strongly suggest no one look at the subtitles during songs because they are plain crazy. It is better to sway and hum along.
Most of the credit of the movie goes to our Hero Bhuvan. It has to! After all, he played his first match, directly as a captain, made a century, and hit a winning sixer (home run) to win the match and relieve his village from paying Tax for three years. Well now I know why they call him the Hero.
The story, screenplay and music has been top notch. Trust A. R. Rahman to do a good job. The camerawork is great too. Only thing missing is the Swiss backdrop that is usually used in Bollywood movies. But as this one had to be made in a village, maybe the director decided to shoot it in India itself (which happens very rarely)
But the movie also touches the Indian-ness of Indians. It showcases their respect for others, their belief in god, their attitude to dare beyond, and mostly prominently it shows their faith. And this faith is not only put across to the viewer, it is almost imbibed on the mindset of the viewer. The director and the crew end up doing a splendid job. I would highly recommend people to watch this movie albeit with a small instruction – Take a bathroom break before it starts!