Welcome to Champaner in 1893

Champaner, the fictitious village that served as the primary setting for Lagaan, was created in Bhuj, Kutch (in the state of Gujarat). I am rather privileged to have an obvious connection to Kutch, for my ancestry lies there. How's that for yet another reason to love the film?! :)

Champaner is a lively village. Complete with some interesting homes and hard-working people...


...and a temple atop a hill...


But the people of Champaner are struggling to make ends meet. Their lands are barren, for it has not rained in the longest. For a community that survives on its agricultural output, this is devastating.



Maai struggles to feed her prized possessions (will she have to sell them?):


What makes matters worse is that the British Empire takes away a significant portion of whatever little they earn. This is done in the form of lagaan, i.e. tax:


The village was created from scratch, especially for the film, and torched upon the its completion. If it looks like a real village, it is because it was created by villagers, with most homes and articles of clothing being handmade.

This picture is from the book The Spirit of Lagaan -- a few months after shooting for the film was completed, the building in which the cast lived for months during the shoot looked like this, following a massive earthquake in 2001. Several people died in the building too. In all, the earthquake claimed over 20,000 lives:

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

... but Champaner is a real place
:-/

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi, Anonymous, and thank you for stopping by. You're right. There is indeed a place in Gujarat called Champaner. But it's not *this* Champaner! ;)

The Champaner in Lagaan was fictitious and man-made. Makes me wonder what people of the 'real' Champaner thought about the use of their town's name in a popular film...

Darshit said...

Your ancestry lies in Kutch?
Hey, nowadays i m working in Gandhidham.
True, i got more connected to Lagaan after visiting this place. And especially while visiting Mandvi, i felt crazy as hell.

theBollywoodFan said...

Kem chho Darshit? You're right there! Isn't Mandvi where the British headquarters in the film was! Did you get a chance to visit?

Darshit said...

I had visited Mandvi long ago. Felt great walking on the terrace where Rachelle danced.
Have you visited Kutch?

theBollywoodFan said...

That's awesome! Must've been memorable. I have not visited Kutch, but hope to soon (i.e. over the next couple of years)!