Two decades ago, director Ashutosh Gowariker gave us the perfect blend of history, Bollywood and cricket in his epic period drama Lagaan, that went on to become the third Indian film to earn an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film in 2002. Though the film didn't win the award, it became one of the cult-classic movies of all time. But did you know that Aamir Khan wasn't convinced with Lagaan's storyline? He had rejected the film within 5 minutes of narration and told Gowariker that it was a bizarre thought.
"When I heard Lagaan, in five minutes of its narration, I rejected it. I was like it is a story of people who are not able to pay lagaan as there are no rains and they play cricket with British people! I was like, ‘What a bizarre thought is this!’ I told Ashutosh, ‘This is a strange story.’ I told him to get me a different story," Aamir had told Pinkvilla in his 2018 interview.
Lagaan is set in 1893, during the late Victorian period of India's colonial British Raj. The story revolves around a small village in Central India, whose inhabitants, burdened by high taxes, accept a challenge to play a cricket match against a team of British officers. It they win the match, their taxes would be excused, but failing to win would mean having to pay triple taxes.
After three months, Gowariker approached Aamir again, but this time with a complete script. Aamir was irritated that Gowariker kept working on it and rejected the film the second time. "But when I heard the story, I was into it. I loved the final script of Lagaan and found it unbelievable. I told him, ‘It is a fantastic script and it does break the record of mainstream cinema. But I am scared to say yes. I can't do it’,” he had said.
Later, when Gowariker narrated the story to Aamir's parents, they were moved to tears and told the actor to do the film. He broke his own promise and decided to produce Lagaan. And the rest is history.
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