It is considered a game-changer in Hindi cinema and even went on to earn an Oscar nomination but Aamir Khan today revealed that he rejected the initial idea of “Lagaan” as he thought the story was “bizarre”.
Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the 2001 sports drama was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.
“When I heard ‘Lagaan’, in five minutes of its narration, I rejected it.. I was like it is a story of people who are not able to pay ‘Lagaan’ as there are no rains and they play cricket with British people! I was like ‘What a bizarre thought is this? I told Ashutosh, ‘This is a strange (ajeeb) story. I told him to get me a different story,” Aamir said on the sidelines of the second edition of Indian Scriptwriters Association.
Gowariker approached Aamir again after three months with the same story but he had a complete script by then.
Aamir says he initially felt irritated that Gowariker had kept working on it. “But when I heard the story, I was into it. I loved the final script of ‘Lagaan’ and found it unbelievable. I told him, ‘It is a fantastic script and it does break the record of mainstream cinema. But I am scared to say yes. I can’t do it’.”
The 53-year-old star advised Gowariker to approach other actors and the director would often return with interesting anecdotes like someone suggesting him changes in the final scene, which should end with Bhuvan picking up the stumps and stabbing the English officer, played by Paul Blackthorne.
A year went by but Aamir’s uncertainty about the story was replaced by the doubt that he was perhaps letting go of a good film. “I would often think why am I not doing the film?”
Aamir said as someone who is inspired by the works of Bimal Roy and Guru Dutt, who had the courage to take risks, he decided to come on board. “I told Ashutosh to narrate the story to my parents. They heard it and were crying. They told me I should do it.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
(With PTI inputs)