Everything I Know About Cricket I Learned From Lagaan

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.

What is cricket anyway?

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).

Learning the game

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!

Practise Practise Practise

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.

You're only as good as your theme song

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.

What to wear to a cricket match

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?"


How to celebrate a win

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!

How to celebrate a loss

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.

A word to the wise, however, maybe gambling isn't your game and you should have just stuck to the ball and bat afterall.

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!?

19 Response to "Everything I Know About Cricket I Learned From Lagaan"

  1. triShie says:
    June 16, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    LOL!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this wonderful post!!! i love ur humour..AND i've learnt a thing or two about cricket; the before, during and after! :) kudos!! truly enjoying ur blog!!

  2. Shell says:
    June 16, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    Hi triShie! Namaste and welcome to my blog. You're so very welcome and I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I'm glad I could raise cricket awareness! Have you see Lagaan? If you haven't you must and then let me know what you thought of it. Also visit http://thebollywoodfan.blogspot.com for all the links to Lagaan week!

    thanks for stopping by and hope to hear from you again!

  3. hannah says:
    June 16, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Thanks for your wonderful post. Really enjoyed it! I also learnt cricket from watching Lagaan. My nephew, who's half english, tried to explain the game to me so many times without success. He did not have the patience of Elizabeth!!
    I'm from Mauritius and it's a total mystery to me how cricket was not left here by the British as it was in the empire's other colonies...

  4. Shell says:
    June 16, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    Hannah, namaste and welcome! I never understood cricket at all until I saw this film, and, while the movie uses the sport also as a metaphor, it certainly is successful at teaching how to play it as well.

    Interesting that cricket didn't make the journey to Mauritius. Maybe the British couldn't get the equipment across the ocean. haha

  5. Anonymous Says:
    June 16, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    Shabash! ( a word I learned back when i first watch Lagaan) Well done. I still have a lot more to learn from cricket, but this film did help introduce me. I love your clever post and when you see my upcoming contribution for Lagaan week, you'll notice some similar screen caps. Love your new background image here too. Looks great.
    All the best!

  6. triShie says:
    June 16, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    embarassing to admit, but i have yet to watch Lagaan (and a lot more too!)..i've always loved bollywood as a kid, but lost track for yrs! recently getting back on track. in my country, we're way behind (TV showings, vcd and dvds; almost non-existant for indian films)..
    ..any suggestions where i could possibly watch it fully online?

  7. theBollywoodFan says:
    June 16, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    The audacity with which Lagaan did what it did surprised me most. Cricket and *what*? The independence struggle?! Sure, every Indian can relate to them both (well, at least to cricket these days), as much as to food, sleep, and movies! :)

    And the cricket in the film was more than authentic enough to where even the big fans and players couldn't find much fault with how it was portrayed. So it's an unusual but fair source for an introduction, really. And as you note, it serves a great purpose, esp. if you're fond of or interested in Indian culture (which I know you are!), because most of our sports references come from there.

    Very cool post here, Shell, and I like that you mention the need for a fight song for the team. I remember reading an ESPN Magazine U.S. article once (Lagaan makes it to their Top 50 Sports films of all time, go figure), and if I recall correctly, they mentioned how music from Rocky was way more suited to sport today than Chale Chalo, because, "no one listens to that track on the treadmill." I'd agree with that, but to be mentioned in that league will have to be good enough. :)

    Again, thanks so much!

  8. triShie says:
    June 16, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    ...and yes, i do follow thebollywoodfan too!! you guys are my source of anything bollywood! :)

  9. Shell says:
    June 16, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    @Sitaji - Thank you behen! Usually I try hard to be clever and end up failing (I think), but once I decided what to write it just kind of flowed. Don't you love it when that happens? I'm looking forward to reading your post also!

    I can't believe how much into the IPL I was this past season. I actually started scheduling my stuff opposite each KKR match because I didn't want to miss them! I was surprised to find that Canada actually has a cricket organization when doing a little bit of research. I don't think it would have the same excitement though for me.

    Also, thanks for the compliment on the new look. We'll see how long it stays. Needed something with more style than the last one, but I'm already missing my Shah header! :(

  10. Shell says:
    June 16, 2010 at 7:06 PM

    @triShie - I don't know a whole lot about watching online, however, I have seen a few movies myself on youtube. They're choppy, but usually you can find a decent quality one. There must be more websites out there. I would just suggest doing a search for free onine bollywood movies and see what comes up.

  11. Shell says:
    June 17, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    @tbf - I think it was a very clever way to incorporate the independance struggle with the game. You couldn't ask for a better metaphor could you!? Also, as a person who had never before seen a match before in her life, it certainly was entertaining enough to get me to want to see an actual game and now I'm hooked - and I have never been a sports minded person in my life. You couldn't drag me to a baseball or hockey game, but give me the chance to see an IPL game and I'd be there in a second!

    Thanks a lot for including me in this week! I'm honored that you thought of me to participate, though I had a hard time trying to figure out what to write. I'm glad that you enjoyed it!

    ps. I'd totally workout on my treadmill to Chale Chalo!

  12. dunkdaft says:
    June 17, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    wow yaar. what a fantastic post!! Really really enjoyed it.
    love the humorous touch to it. Cant help laughing all the way to the ref. of KKR !! :D

  13. dunkdaft says:
    June 17, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    ah, and Naye template ki badhaaiyaan!! :) Looks great

  14. Jules says:
    June 17, 2010 at 7:06 PM

    Loved your humorous and clever post, Sis! Those chickens... hey!

  15. triShie says:
    June 17, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    hi Shell!..still have yet to find a good online Lagaan source. :( worse come to worse, i'd rather wait till i find a vcd/dvd...guess u guys gotta 'feed' me more Lagaan bites to keep my 'hunger' at bay. :)

  16. Shell says:
    June 17, 2010 at 10:14 PM

    @dunkdaft - Thanks a lot Darshit! I'm really really glad you enjoyed it!

    God, KKR need to really work on their bowling and field work. It's brutal sometimes to watch their runs slip away so easily! I think I will have to send some serious good luck vibes for next season!

    And thanks for the compliment on the blog. Looks like we both got antsy blogger feet!

    @Jules - Thanks behen! Did you even remember the movie, we saw it so long ago? Glad you enjoyed the humor!

    @triShie - That sucks. Try this link I found tonight for you. There's an option or full screen as well.


    Hopefully that works for you! Let me know.

  17. triShie says:
    June 19, 2010 at 5:25 AM

    Hi Shell!! SHUKRIYA a thousand times for the link!! I’ve just finished watching Lagaan!! (internet sucked, so took me 4hrs more to finish!) I truly had a good watch… though Bhuvan was the main character, I felt the rest of his teammates were the stars! Never faltering in their goal and perseverance together, as one! And gosh! I think by now, I have learnt a thing or two about cricket!! (and chasing chickens!!) haha!

    Been listening to the soundtrack for a few months now, and after having watched the film, it means even more! Especially “Ghana Ghana”. Never have I heard such an emotional song over rain. When I read the English translation, I cried! I will forever remember them when rain comes upon us. And I shall smile. … for the future, “Chale Chalo!!!” :)

  18. Shell says:
    June 19, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    I'm so glad it worked for you and you got to finally see it AND loved it!!!! (even if it took you twice as long as the film!)

    All the music in the film is fantastic, but I totally agree about Ghana Ghana. Beautiful and moving!

  19. triShie says:
    June 20, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    DEFINATELY a film to rewatch again and again! :) thanks!~