When The Bollywood Fan asked me if I wanted to do a guest post as part of his epic annual Lagaan week, of course I said yes. It is, after all, one of my favorite Aamir Khan films, virtually housing everything that is good and beautiful about Hindi cinema into it's lengthy but lovely film reels. I struggled for a while with what I was going to write, but then it became so glaringly obvious, every thing I think I know about cricket I learned from Lagaan.
You'd think that cricket would be played as a game of fun or sport, for entertainment or perhaps exercise, but na, it is actually a bartering tool, in this case between the British and the residents of the villages of Champaner. Accept the wager and the entire province doesn't pay taxes for three years. However, lose and it's triple lagaan. An enticing option for sure, if you can play, and I say why not. I think that waging bets on such important aspects of one's livelihood should indeed be common practise. "I'm sorry gov't, I can't afford to pay my taxes this year, but how do you feel about hockey" (I am Canadian after all).
Your best bet to successfully learning how to actually play cricket properly is to get yourself an "insider" - someone who has an in depth knowledge of the rules and is willing to go behind their family's backs or their country's rule to help the opposing team.
Yes, don't ask don't tell policy. Very smart Memsahib! And no one shall ever suspect anything either.
So now what? Language barrier? No problem when you have a translator and a parasol. In fact, the aspects of the game are quite simple.
Batting, bowling and fielding are too hard to understand? What are you going to do when she starts telling you about pitches, wickets, creases, overs, etc etc. Strap on your thinking caps, boys, it's going to be a bumpy ride!
Okay, so knowing how the game is played and actually playing it are two different things. Follow these simple steps and you will be successfully playing in no time:
#1 - Learn how to catch
Why just throw a ball back and forth to each other when you can chase chickens? I think someone should enlighten the MLB to this technique, what say?
#2 - Learn how to bat
Rule No. 1 when batting - own the bat; become one with the wood and envision a hit!
Rule No. 2 when the above does not happen, best not to come up with excuses. Slipped out, my foot!
Rule No. 3 focus, keep your eye on the prize and try again!
Now, it's not always necessary to whack the ball so far that the temple bells ring, but if it was me playing, I'd want all the help from the God's that I could get, and if they could give me a 6, then so be it!
#3 - Learn how to throw
Now, not everyone is blessed with a good throwing arm, but if Charlie Sheen can do it in Major League, surely there are several good men out there that have it in them too. Use life to motivate you - even if the end result is a chicken war. (I'm starting to think these chickens are the 12th player in this game!)
Then again, some people are naturally gifted!
#4 - Learn how to run
It seems easy enough to run, but it's imperative that you have speed when playing cricket. It could make the difference between a single and a double run, and when you're playing for the livelihood of an entire province those feet better be given 'er. Practising on stairs, however, probably not the easiest way to improve your speed. Maybe we should get the hens out again.
Oh, it's true. A team is nothing if they don't have a good theme song to back them up. Something that the crowd can sing as they cheer for their favorites to take home the cup! Plus nothing puts the spirit back into a group of men as they hear their song being chanted back to them! CHALE CHALO Champaner farm team! Plus you know when you have a song that an "I love you Bhuvan" poster isn't far behind.
So you're going to see a cricket match in the middle of the dusty and dry Champaner, what do you wear? Well, if you're British you dress up in Sunday's finest of course. After all, you are the elite, especially amongst the masses of common native residents and must stand out, especially if it means wearing your very best frills. "Winston, pass me my finest hat so I can show the people we are trying to crush just how civilized I can look, will you?"
So, you've just beaten the odds and came out of a seemingly impossible situation as the victors! What do you do now? I encourage you to invite the spectating masses to crowd the field thus increasing your chances for numerous amounts of high fives and butt slaps.
Of course, your journey probably wasn't done just on your own, so, if you have a loved one that has supported your cricket playing dreams, now is the time to show them your appreciation. Keep the pda's pg rated though, after all, you never know who could be watching.
And what would a celebration be without a little comraderic singing and dancing in the rain? You've learned a lot about yourself and of your fellow teammates, so let them know that you appreciate the journey that you've taken together!
You know that sometimes you just can't win them all, and, unfortunately there will always be one winning team and one losing team when it comes to gambling on sports. If you find yourself on the losing end, feel free to release your frustrations on whatever furniture finds itself in your way. After all, when the stakes are so high that you need to cover the other team's loss and you end up being transferred, you have to get rid of those frustrations somehow.
So there you have it, the ins and outs of cricket according to the gang from Lagaan. I have since happily taken my newly found knowledge and applied it to even more cricket watching, so not only did this film help me learn of a fascinating sport, but has since instilled a newly formed love with the IPL! Now can someone please lend the KKR some chickens to catch!?