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Lagaan is a Bollywood epic set during the British Raj in India. When the residents of a drought-stricken small town cannot pay their taxes (lagaan) to the British, a young man, Bhuvan, is offered a bet by the British Captain: if they can win a cricket match against the British team, he will cancel their taxes for three years. If they lose, they must pay triple. Bhuvan, to the horror of his fellow villagers, accepts the challenge- pointing out that without rain, the taxes would ruin them any other way.

Bhuvan must then make a competent cricket team out of a rag-tag group of villagers. In the meantime, he catches the eye of the captain's good-natured sister, Elizabeth.

A rare example of a sports story about Cricket, and in 19th-century India at that.

Has nothing to do with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, although one character is named Guran.

Tropes used in Lagaan include:

  • Accidental Athlete: Who knew farming could prepare some people to play cricket?
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Russel, and how! Mostly averted with the rest of the higher-ups - Elizabeth is genuinely upset with her brother's actions (and in love with The Hero), the Raja hates Russel as much as anyone (but takes pains to conceal it), and the rest of the Brits graciously applaud the natives when they win the match.
  • Authority in Name Only: The Maharaja definitely gives off this vibe due to British Imperialism. Regardless his people still love him.
  • Big Game: The last third of the film. For a movie running a quarter shy of four hours, that's saying something.
    • To extrapolate, this game not only wagers taxes but an Empire's control over a substantial region of a very large (and valuable) country.
  • Betty and Veronica: Guari is a farm girl from Bhuvan's village and has been friends with him since childhood. Elizabeth is a high class lady from England. They are both in love with the protagonist.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Guran, of course. Also Bagha, the mute drummer, who turns into this on the rare occasions he opens his mouth.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Russel takes advantage of Bhuvan's team's inexperience during the game. He's not above making people cry or bleed either.
  • Crowd Song: Essential, being a Bollywood film.
  • The Dragon: Technically Russel's entire team, but special mention goes to Yardley, who bowls the ball straight at his opponent's body head. Twice.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Or rather, guy - Elizabeth realises she's the odd woman out, and returns to England where she remains unmarried for the rest of her days (considering this is Victorian England, that's saying something).
  • Down to the Last Play: The game comes down to a final bat. Interestingly, thanks to Cricket Rules, the villagers win because Captain Russell catches the ball out of bounds.
    • It even happens before then. The crippled Kachra is batting on what is supposed to be the final ball. He fails to hit the ball over the boundary, meaning they've lost the game. The umpire then declares "no ball" because Yardley the bowler stepped over the line, but it's never clear whether he actually did or if the umpire was lying in favor of the Champaner team. This puts the much-more capable Bhuvan at bat for the actual last ball.
  • Fighting For a Homeland: A major theme is the deep conflict between the British and the Indians being resolved not with a war, but a simple cricket game.
    • Which is Truth in Television - a lot of European and Asian citizens view cricket tournaments as a ground where their countries can put aside their political and dogmatic differences and compete on a sportsmanly field.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: When Bhuvan explains how the game is like Galli-Danda, a child's sport, Elizabeth smiles then tells her translator "he has absolutely no idea how the game is played."
  • Happy Rain: Once subverted then played straight.
  • Improvised Training
  • Kick the Dog: In Russel's first appearance, he shoots a rabbit just to make a point.
    • Russel does this roughly once an hour.
  • Large Ham: Guran is pretty much the Indian version of Brian Blessed. He has No Indoor Voice, a beard that would make Hagrid proud, and most of his dialogue consists of very creatively cursing the British. To their faces. In fact, GURAN deserves the capitalization as much as BLESSED.
  • Love Triangle: Bhuvan, Gauri, and Elizabeth.
    • Also Lakha, Bhuvan, and Gauri.
  • Mean Brit: Russel is pretty unlikeable for the most part.
  • Miracle Rally: What happens after the first day of play. 322 runs is a lot of ground to cover.
  • Mood Whiplash: Of a very peculiar kind - during one song, we cut from Bhuvan and Gauri singing in Hindi, as per regular Bollywood, to Elizabeth singing in English. Her song, and the entire setting for it, is very reminiscent of a Disney movie.
  • Never Give Up Speech: Or rather, song.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Although Bhuvan is the hero of the film and by far the MVP of the game, his play isn't flawless. Notably, he bats the ball into Deva's wicket, and pushes Isar Kaka beyond his endurance limits (each time resulting in a lost wicket).
  • Pet the Dog: Captain Russell's love for his sister is one of his few redeeming qualities.
  • Opposing Sports Team: A bunch of mean, racist British soldiers.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The team of villagers Bhuvan puts together include a mute drummer, a wild Fortune Teller, a poultry farmer, a Muslim potter, a Sikh who is a former Sepoy, the village doctor and father of Bhuvan's girlfriend, a woodcutter, the rich guy, and the town cripple.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The higher ups threaten to send Russel to a desert in Central Africa if he loses. Ouch.
  • Recycled in Space: It's every sports movie you've ever seen, IN COLONIAL INDIA! With SINGING!
  • Save Our Team: However, instead of a coach, the villagers get the opposing team captain's sister, who helps them learn how to play the game (because she has the hots for Bhuvan).
  • Shout-Out: On the British cricket roster you have lieutenants Smith and Wesson...
  • Training Montage: Done straight, but including yoga on mountaintops.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Sort of, although the villagers already have some knowledge of cricket, having played a similar Indian game as children.
  • Type Caste: The villagers threaten to quit the team entirely just because Bhuvan wants Kachra, an Untouchable who can spin the ball when bowling, to join the team. In a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, Bhuvan touches the Untouchable and then lectures the villagers until they relent.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Naturally.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: Lakha performs a Heel Face Turn and they let him back on the team.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend Gauri
  • The Big Guy Bagha (the dumb-mute drummer). Also a Gentle Giant
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