Ever since the Lagaan Special Anniversary Edition 3-disc DVD set was released last year, fans of Lagaan have been meaning to get it. It is a limited edition set, which makes it difficult for those of us away from India, especially since the official website shipped to Indian addresses only. Getting it shipped from a friend in India was an option, but if you're like me, the shopping experience holds some value in addition to the product (the journey being as important as the destination).
When I visited Bollywood stores asking of the set (across American states and European countries), I was surprised to discover that most were not even aware of it. Several suggested it is difficult to find even the basic DVD of the film, let alone the set (I know that's true). Others confidently said the set didn't exist. My attitude to these video store owners mirrored Captain Russell's: "The old hats will teach me how to run the show. They've lost their sense of adventure. What's wrong with some fun along with the lagaan?" :o)
Then, during Lagaan week, I revisited the online store at LagaanDVD.com and was pleasantly surprised to discover that they shipped here! The package arrived last week. It really is more impressive than advertised, and more incredible than promised.
It came in this beautiful wooden case, the Lagaan XI engraved:
The film is split onto two DVDs, and rightfully so. The quality is brilliant. The first even contains a song that was recorded but not included in the film, called 'Chhutey Lagaan'.
Here is the cinemascope filmstrip from the original. The quality of the presentation is excellent. Fittingly, the frames in my set are of Bhuvan (learned quite a bit from him) in the greatest cricket match ever played:
The Lagaan coin is beautiful too, and comes with a note by Aamir Khan:
The cumulative effect is zabardast (awesome). This picture is from LagaanDVD.com:
The set also gave me a chance to debut my new home theater this past weekend with disc three of three from the set, a documentary (the first ever released in Indian theaters) on the making of the film, titled Chale Chalo...the Lunacy of Film-making. It is a narration by Satyajit Bhatkal, a lawyer who left his practice to join the Lagaan crew. I had read his book titled The Spirit of Lagaan (here is my book review), and this documentary brought its pages to life!
The documentary was spectacular, one that completely involved the viewer. It offered footage on everything from the inception of the plot to auditions, the selection of Kutch as the venue for Champaner, the apartment building in which the cast and crew lived for months, the challenges faced during the shoot, the injuries sustained by the cast, the scope creep that the film project underwent, and a whole lot more. The footage from the sets was amazing. And the bits in which the cast were shown collectively singing to Ghanan Ghanan was so well done, I started singing along with them!
What I really liked about it was that it spoke volumes of the individuals involved in the project. They gave their hearts and lives to the film, being away from their homes for an extended period (at one stretch), in the middle of a desert where communications technology was not readily available. They had to shoot in the desert heat, and often without footwear, given the script demanded it. Some sustained injuries as serious as a slip disc or a dislocated shoulder, and still kept going. Chale Chalo indeed.
The roles of the people of Kutch was well documented in The Spirit of Lagaan. The documentary did further justice to their roles, and solidified Aamir Khan's stance that without the people of Kutch, the Lagaan dream would not have materialized.
If you liked the film, you must try and watch this. If you loved the film, this is a must. And if you like movies in general (not only Bollywood movies), you will still find plenty to appreciate in Chale Chalo. The narration is brilliant, and individuals such as Satyajit Bhatkal, Ashutosh Gowariker, Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Paul Blackthorn, Rachel Shelley, Reena Dutta (Aamir's first wife), Javed Akhtar, A. R. Rahman, and several others, truly take us through a fantastic account of the film. Bonus features include over 100 Lagaan stills, and a 30-minute piece on the music of the film, including comments by Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik.
Rating: 5/5 (spectacular)
Be prepared to embark on an amazing journey through the Lagaan timeline! Here are some highlights:
Watch more at the Lagaan DVD channel on YouTube.