Lagaan - Once Upon a Time in India (2001)
(Released: Jun 15, 2001)
Circa late 1800s, India is ruled and governed by the British. A small rural town is asked to pay it's annual taxes to a British army captain. The Rajah of this town, Puran Singh (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), pleads before Captain Andrew Russell to reduce the levy as monsoons had not been adequate and as a result crops had suffered. But the Captain does not agree. Taking advantage of the simple-minded townspeople, he magnanimously makes a offer to play cricket with their team, if they win then there will no taxes levied, but if they lose then they will end up thrice the amount of taxes. The Rajah returns to confer with his subjects. A young man by the name of Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) tells the Rajah that he will make up a team and that the Rajah should accept the Captain's challenge. The Rajah delightedly does so, much to the glee and amusement of the Captain. Then begins the task of selecting a team. Bhuvan finds this to be a real challenge, as no one has really played cricket, they do not even own a bat or a ball. The selection of the team is marred with problems as to religion and caste, with some men saying that they will never play in the same team with a person of a lower caste. Nevertheless, Bhuvan pushes on, and does manage to come up with eleven men. Then begins the practice, and Bhuvan finds an ally in Elizabeth Russell (Rachel Shelley), Captain Russell's sister, who agrees to coach them on the sly. The team uses a large stick in place of a bat, and a round stone as a ball. Each player is assigned certain tasks, and the tension reverberates as the day of the actual match draws closer. News get around, and people from miles around flock to watch this match. They are joined by several senior ranking British Officers. This match now has become a prestige issue, and the British High Command makes it known that it not stand to lose face at any cost. Finally, the day arrives. The match begins. Bhuvan and the Rajah hope that they have covered all potholes, and hope for a miracle. But what the two had not banked on was treachery at the hands of one of their very own players, who had accepted a bribe from Captain Russell, to ensure that the Indian team loses.