Best movie of all time

For ages people have been telling me that I have to see Lagaan. Well, now I have. And everyone’s right. It is the best movie of all time. No contest.

It has everything that should be in a movie: cricket, the British are the baddies, more cricket, dancing, singing, a love triangle, and more cricket. Lagaan is perfect. (Well, it could have been longer with a wee bit more cricket and a few more songs, but other than that—perfect.)

At least seventy minutes of the movie is a cricket match. How did that make any sense to American viewers? Cause most of the folks who’ve recommended it have been yanquis who know nothing about the noble game. How did you keep track of the balls and overs? How did you even realise


that Bhuvan wasn’t out at the end cause the evil bastard captain had stepped over the boundary when he took the catch?

Also what was it like not getting all the cool little cricket history references?

I mean the actor cast as the big baddie captain even looks like Douglas Jardine (or at least he looks like Hugo Weaving playing Douglas Jardine in Bodyline—same thing). And he certainly behaves like Douglas Jardine. Right down to stretching the ethical limits of the game to breaking point. And then there was the fabulous homage to Baloo Palwankar with the untouchable spinner. Fabulous stuff.

Sigh. And now I believe I will watch it again.


  1. Lori S. on #

    Because Lagaan is structured as a beginner’s lesson in cricket. You learn as you watch, and by the end you know enough to understand the end.

    It’s even more fun if you know something about cricket before you go in (I did, so did Steven — has he hooked up with you as a fellow cricket fan yet?), but trust me, it also works brilliantly if you don’t know a thing about cricket before you begin. I always recommend Lagaan to my friends who want to learn more about the game. There is no better primer.

  2. John H on #

    Not all Yanquis are self-centered and myopic – some of us have even been abroad! 🙂

    My uncle was a cricket umpire for two decades and the park across the street from my grandparents’ house is host to cricket matches throughout the summer.

  3. Rebecca on #

    lagaan is the reason i even know what cricket is. all my cricket knowledge (prior to reading your blog, of course) came from that movie. my mom loves indian culture, so she checked it out from the video store, and then my brother and i got it for her for mother’s day. my mom thinks the cricket segment is a bit long, though. crazy americans. 😉

  4. Rebecca on #

    ya’ll spell “yankees” weird. 😀 😀

  5. Justine on #

    Lori S: Really? Cause it sure didn’t seem like a primer to me. I’m extremely impressed by anyone who could work out the rules from watching Lagaan.

    John H: Yours is a very unusal experience. All the yanquis who recommended the film to me said they knew nothing about cricket, but that it didn’t matter to their enjoyment of the film.

    Rebecca: That’s the Spanish spelling, you ignorant yanqui 🙂

  6. John H on #

    I should have mentioned that my uncle was a Scotsman and my grandparents lived just outside Cambridge…

  7. janet on #

    The significance of the catch at the end is clear from context.

    I presume that there’s a whole coterie of English actors in Bollywood who specialize in playing evil colonials.

  8. Justine on #

    John H: That’s cheating! Though most Scotts I’ve known have been pretty sneering about that English game, cricket.

    Janet: Maybe, but everyone in Lagaan was cast in England. The actor who places Elizabeth is a regular on the L-Word.

  9. Malcolm on #

    Surely those Americans who truly know their sports history will be up to speed with the famous Canadian-USA matches from the mid-19th century (the oldest international cricket fixture on record). See, for example, for one of the scorecard. Very low scores; apparently it was a bowler’s game in those days. Yeah, okay, maybe they won’t remember those days.

    The wikipedia article on the US cricket team mentions that it John Adams used cricket clubs as a justification for calling the leader of the new US nation “president”, too.

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