5 Unknown Facts About Lagaan: Ashutosh Gowarikar Wanted Abhishek Bachchan To Play Aamir Khan's Part, First Choice For Lead Heroine Was Rani Mukerji And More

As Lagaan completes 20 years of release, Subhash K Jha deep dives into the iconic film and shares 5 remarkable unknown facts about the film that had a brush with the Oscars.

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5 Unknown Facts About Lagaan: Ashutosh Gowarikar Wanted Abhishek Bachchan To Play Aamir Khan's Part, First Choice For Lead Heroine Was Rani Mukerji And More
1.     Aamir Khan had never worn a dhoti before.  He learnt  how to tie  it in just one  day.When  I had asked  him  how audiences would react to their hero in a dhoti his sensible reply was, “Whether  I wear a  dhoti  in Lagaan  or whether it is  a period film, all that  is irrelevant. Audiences  will come if  they  like the story.” And they did!  Aamir was  right.

2.     The  first choice to play Bhuvan was Abhishek Bachchan. Director Ashutosh  Gowariker  waited  almost two  years  for Abhishek to say yes. Finally  Gowariker gave up. It was by chance  that Aamir saw the script of Lagaan.He jumped  at  it. The rest as they say, was more  hysteria than history. Gowariker and Khan had worked  together earlier in Baazi  where Aamir had dressed  up in drag for the  first and last time. Recalling his  association  with Gowariker Aamir said, “Ashutosh and I were friends to begin with.I found him to be so sure about Lagaan.The script came from within him and he was perfectly in tune with the theme.I found myself depending on his judgment for a whole lot of things rather than the other way around.We did argue sometimes.But nothing major.You must remember that we  had been discussing and taking decisions about the film long before the shooting actually began.” Also read: Aamir Khan's Lagaan, Sunny Deol's Gadar Released 20 Years Ago On This Day; Here's What Made Them Historic Hits

3.     The  first choice for  the heroine’s role  was Aamir’s  favorite Rani Mukerjee. But then Rani was busy . Lagaan needed  two months’ dates at a stretch for the  shooting in  Bhuj. Rani  didn’t have them. Aamir and Gowariker than decided  to  cast a newcomer. More than 40 fresh faces were  shortlisted before Gracy Singh was  chosen. Also read: Aamir Khan’s Production House Urges Fans To Join Them In ’20 Years Of Lagaan’ Celebration; Asks All To Showcase Their Artwork And Emotions For The Film

4.     Nitin Desai was  given  the task of building  a set in Bhuj to resemble  a village  from  Colonial India.Aamir told me,   “We built a whole village set in Bhuj.The  locals were extremely helpful.We used a lot of local people to build the set.Though Nitin Desai designed it we used the local labour force to  construct the set.We liked certain local architectural designs in Bhuj.We  used them so that our  village didn’t  look like a  set.The  land that we used belonged to the local people.It was agricultural land.We rented the land for one year and paid them what they would have earned  by farming during that one year.We had to give them back the land as we had found it.”

5.     Two  of  the British actors  in Lagaan got married in Bhuj while shooting. Recalled Aamir, “Actually we had  forty junior artistes  of which twenty came from London.One of the actors Jamie  had come with  his girlfriend.They mentioned to us that they planned to get married  in India following Indian customs after shooting.One of us suggested that they get married right there in Bhuj.I happily agreed to the marriage in the temple on our sets with elaborate sangeet,mehndi,etc.



Image source: IMDb/ SpotboyE archive