Dipen Guhawrote on Aug 11 2009 12:17AM
"Lagaan" is set in late 19th century India in the village of Champaner. Captain Andrew Russell, the vicious commanding officer of a British Cantonment in India , oppresses the people of the region with high taxes (Lagaan) while they are also suffering an unusual severe drought. The poor villagers wait for the monsoon to come but the ground remains dry and infertile. Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) interfares with Russell's plans to shoot a bird , and in order to punish him, but also to display his power as the ruler of these conquered people , he offers the peasants a wager: he will cancel the taxes of the whole province for three years if a village team can beat his men at cricket. The villagers know nothing about the game and it seems a safe bet . But Bhuvan take up the challenge and helped by the officer's good-hearted sister Elizabeth, the villagers begin to learn the English game.
The center piece of the story is the match, which is both a game and a battle of wits between the Indians and the English . The English bat first and make 323 runs. The villagers, despite Bhuvan's personal excellence, seem destined to lose. If the British are shown in poor light during the film and the cricket match, the ending shows that the Indians still believe there is English fair play. With one ball left in the match, Indians need six to win. The ball is bowled, the six is not hit and the English think they have won . But then the English umpire, to the fury of Captain Russell , calls no ball; the ball is bowled again and Bhuvan hits this high and wide. Captain Russell catches the ball, but then finds out that he has stepped over the boundary rope, giving the Idians a six and victory . And, as if on cue, the overdue rains pour down in tremendous cascades, causing the villagers to rejoice. Captain Russell is sent away, the British flag is hauled down, the troops depart, Elizabeth returns to England and spends the rest of her life as a spinster, mourning the love she cannot have , while Bhuvan and Gauri marry. The narrator ends the story with the words , "The name of Bhuvan vanishes from history".