20 Years Of Lagaan: 'It will be easier to make Lagaan today technology-wise, arranging 10,000 villagers in Kutch was a challenge,' says Aamir Khan

Aamir Khan's Lagaan was iconic in many ways. Be it songs, production value or acting, everything was top notch. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the Oscar-nominated film was no mean feat. Today, as Lagaan completes 20 years, Aamir spoke to the media at a virtual press conference. During the interaction, Aamir opened up about the challenges the team of Lagaan faced 20 years ago and why making the film, technology-wise, will be easier now, 

"Making Lagaan now would be much easier. Technology has improved and if you want to show 10,000 villagers watching a cricket match, you can do the multiplication easily. At that time, we actually had to get 10,000 people. It would be easier to achieve now, technically. But in its essence, I have realised a film has its challenges. No matter when you make a film, you are faced with those challenges. How you respond to those challenges will decide how the film will turn out. Every film, every day is a new crisis," Aamir told.

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Recalling an incident when the team had to cancel a day's shoot because of the lack of villagers in a scene. "One day, during the shoot of Lagaan, Ashutosh and Reena (Dutta, Aamir's former wife and producer) came to me in the makeup room. They were always at loggerheads and I was the peacemaker. We were to shoot a scene with villagers. Ashutosh assumed 500 villagers would be enough. However, when people turned up, he felt they were too less to create an impact. He came up to me and told me about the situation. When I went to see, even I felt there were not enough people. That's when I took the decision to cancel the day's shoot and resume with around 1500 people the next day. If we would have continued with that, the scene would have turned out to be different. Though we lost 1 day of shoot and money too, it was worth the efforts," Aamir revealed. 

Talking about shooting the final cricket match scene, Aamir said, "Area-wise Kutch is very wide but the population is less. Initially, I had told the team to get 5000 villagers. Then, I heard some rumbling in the production team that they aren't able to arrange 5000 people. I called for an emergency meeting after pack up and I wanted Rao Sahab (now-wife Kiran Rao), Reena and the entire crew to be present at the meeting. Rao Sahab said they can arrange only 2000-3000 people. That's when I told them that I want 10,000 people. They were shocked. Then I spoke to a person called Danabhai Ahir who was our local person from Kutch. He, along with locals, built the village shown in the film; Nitin Desai had designed the sets. Those 300 villagers then joined the unit and also feature in Lagaan. In that same meeting, I called Danabhai and asked him to help. The next day, he went to nearby villages and convinced people to come for the shoot. Surprisingly, on the day of the shoot, people started coming in trucks at 4 am in the morning. Over 100 trucks landed up and we had a huge crowd. At that time getting 10,000 people was a big problem." 

He added, "Apart from this, all those 10,000 people had to wear dhoti, kurta and pheta. We asked them to take out their watches, modern footwear etc. So, right from costumes to taking them on the sets. we had to make arrangements for 10,000 people." 

Aamir said that he wouldn't like to make any changes to the story of Lagaan even if it is made today. "I don’t think I would have made any changes. Today, if Ashutosh would come up with a slightly different script, maybe I would have liked that only. Lagaan would have been more or less the same irrespective of when you made it," he shared. 

(Transcribed By: Tanmayi Savadi)