I used to eschew picking a favorite movie, and when asked, would usually just offer a top five of the standards people know, or at least should know.
Ever since I first saw Lagaan (Once Upon A Time In India) in 2002, I’ve been a huge fan of it. I must have seen it about 12 or 13 times.
I was reminded today of the fact that it actually taught me how to play cricket when I read this excellent article on mental_floss.
The basics of this 3:45 epic that actually has an Intermission shot to die for, is this: poor Indian farmers can’t pay the tax (lagaan) to the British cantonement that rules over them (led by the Snidley Whiplash-esque Paul Blackthorne), and as the hero Bhuvan gets their gander up, a challenge is made: beat us at a game of cricket (which they know nothing about) and you can live tax free for 3 years. Lose the match, and have to pay triple tax.
I am eternally prepared to call this my favorite movie for many reasons. There’s only six songs, and they’re all good to great, as well as the choreography. The hero, played by Amir Khan, is superbly charismatic and studly, and you really believe the chemistry between him and every other player. But the cricket scenes, which occupy about 1.5 hours of screen time, are educational and fun to watch.
The best reason? It’s the textbook Underdog story, turned on its ear and full of life, song, dance, history and culture.