Hibernated for most of the day today, reading The Spirit of Lagaan by Satyajit Bhatkal. An amazing read, and one I would highly recommend to anyone who is a fan of at least one of the following:
1. Lagaan (2001)
2. Aamir Khan
3. Bollywood films
4. Film-making in general
The only way I would describe this book in a nutshell is that it is genuine and sincerely written. Mr. Bhatkal does not waste his and the readers' time on petty matters. There is a method to the madness, and the texts are clear and candid, not merely an account of the positives that went into the making of what I believe is the greatest movie ever made.
There are numerous pictures throughout the book that add significant value to the text. The text even describes a few shooting sessions to give one an idea of the painstaking efforts of everyone involved. Add to that the detail-oriented approach to filming even a seven-minute song (one would expect nothing less from Aamir Khan), and one begins to realize what an amazing battle the film-makers fought in getting this three-hour and forty-two minute film to us.
In addition, one must appreciate the diversity and the multi-cultural melting pot that was the driving force behind the film. The roles of the European cast and crew and of the people of Kutch are well documented. I rather enjoyed the depictions of the culture of Kutch. See, my ancestry lies there. The books absolutely offers an accurate depiction of the values and mores that the people of Kutch subscribe to. And I found it very interesting to note the connection between these values and the making of Lagaan!
From a professional standpoint, the book is littered with examples of teamwork, bonding, sacrifice to realize one's vision, the upholding of one's values and the trade-offs one is often confronted with. Read it from the viewpoint of a consultant or a project manager, and you will realize that the art of cinema-making in Lagaan's case at least was no different from the art of executing a mammoth project involving over 10,000 people over a couple of years in multiple geographies, all with a single schedule and of course, within a defined budget. Amazing. And intimidating to even the best of Project Managers. Moreover, I was touched by the piece in which there is a discussion around how the profession often works -- people who do not know each other work in one team for a certain amount of time, form friendships, and leave, not knowing whether they will ever meet again. Such is the nature of film-making. Such is the nature of consulting!
Hard to believe I had any more room to appreciate Lagaan (I already refer to it as my favorite movie of all time), but there is no question I appreciate it a lot more after having read the story behind its making.
Consider it a must-read!