One side effect of the success of Slumdog Millionaire has been the new interest around the world in traditional Bollywood films. While Slumdog Millionaire was produced by a British team and it is debatable if it should be called a Bollywood movie, most movie watchers are unaware of that nuance and some have started to inquire about other Bollywood movies. I had a conversation with a colleague of mine at work who had never seen a Bollywood movie and was now expressing interest. I suggested that he watch one of my favorite movies Lagaan as his introduction to Bollywood and brought him the DVD to watch. Knowing that he’s a movie buff and very aware of most mainstream American movies, I used a comparison to the international mega-hit Lord of the Rings- The Fellowship of the Ring to describe the movie. Of course, I first explained the common Bollywood movie attributes of 3 hour movie length, plenty of song and dance, usually a love story and likely a disapproving father, but then went into the specifics of Lagaan. Here’s why I think it compares nicely to the Lord of the Rings:
- Unlikely Team put together to win what looks like an insurmountable task– In Lagaan, a group of villagers, led by charismatic Bhuvan, who have never even heard of the sport of cricket, have to defeat, at extremely long odds, skilled cricket playing British officers in a cricket match. In Lord of the Rings, a small hobbit has to lead 8 others across middle Earth and overcome obstacles to destroy the ring and save middle-Earth, again against long odds.
- Overcoming a traitor within the team– In Lagaan, one of the more athletic villagers on the team, Lakha, secretly is helping the British officers due to his jealousy towards Bhuvan, who is romancing the same village girl that Lakha is interested in. In Lord of the Rings, Boromir is tempted by the power of the ring and attempts to seize it from Frodo. Frodo, however, uses the same power of the ring to escape and continue the quest.
- Turning that traitor back to the good side– While both Lakha and Boromir attempt to sabotage their group’s efforts, their attempts are overcome and then they ultimately see the error in their ways and once again continue to help the groups in their respective efforts.
- Excellent Musical Score– The music in Lagaan was produced by legendary AR Rahman, who has recently won Academy Awards for the music in Slumdog Millionaire. I personally believe his music in Lagaan was better than Slumdog Millionaire, particularly the songs, Ghanan Ghanan and Mitwa (youtube video below). The score of Lord of the Rings won the award for Best Music (Best Song) by Enya, Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan for “May It Be”, and an award was also won for Best Sound.
- Long Movie– Running time for Lagaan was 224 minutes while for Lord of the Rings was 187 minutes.
The comparison definitely worked.