The much-loved film Lagaan, completes 20 years today. The film had lots and lots of plusses and everything – from the plot to setting to characters to performances to the script to execution to music – everything was first-rate. Despite being a film starring superstar Aamir Khan, the other actors also got a chance to shine and earn accolades, especially the ones who played the cricket players. While everyone did well, Aditya Lakhia stood out. He played the role of a handicapped untouchable who could spin well. Moreover, his character was named Kachra and how he contributes to the victory in the match made him one of the most memorable characters not just in Lagaan but in Bollywood.
On the occasion of Lagaan’s 20th anniversary, Bollywood Hungama exclusively spoke to Aditya Lakhia about his experience. The actor is currently in Ahmedabad, where he has a house and when asked if he was aware the film was turning 20, he excitedly said, “Of course, I remember. Who from the team can forget this date?!”
So how did he bag this coveted part? Aditya shares, “I got the role after giving auditions. I knew both, director Ashutosh Gowariker and Aamir very well. I had worked with Aamir Khan in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) while I had worked with Ashutosh Gowariker in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994). I used to often go and meet them in their office. When I learnt that they are planning a movie, I began to pester them that I want to play a role in their film. I didn’t even know what roles are there in the film! Nevertheless, they took my audition and it impressed them a lot.”
This means he had no idea that Lagaan was a cricket-based sports film. “No I didn’t know about it,” says he and adds, “In fact, team mein kisi ko bhi kuch bhi nahi pata tha.”
Doing a sports film is a challenge as one requires learning the sport and performing convincingly. Thankfully, in the case of Aditya, he had played cricket in school and college and that came in handy. Here, he remarks, “Yes, as a student, I had played. But as per the script, we were not supposed to know how to play cricket. And it is the ‘gori mem’ (aka Elizabeth, played by Rachel Shelly) who coaches us. Anyway, we Indians have an inherent love for cricket and movies. Cricket is naturally born inside all of us. Everyone in our childhood, including you for sure, have played cricket. So that was not a challenge as such.”
Playing a part in the film means learning how to speak the dialect and essay the part of not-so-trained cricketers, among other things. Aditya Lakhia shares, “Everyone had to prep. Before the film started, the whole team used to go to Aamir’s office to do script readings and workshops. So we were told how we’ll bowl, how we’ll bat, our body language etc. So all these aspects were pre-decided.”
Aditya Lakhia informs that shooting for Lagaan at 47 degrees was quite draining and that it used to be “very, very, hot.” “It took around 45-50 days to finish the cricket scenes,” he reveals.
Aditya Lakhia is all praise for Aamir Khan. He tells, “He’s wonderful to work with. He’s a thorough professional and always helpful. He was giving and supportive not just as an actor but also as a producer.”
Watching Lagaan was an experience in cinemas. The audiences went crazy in the second half and the frenzy when Team Bhuvan wins the match was an unforgettable spectacle. Aditya Lakhia admits that he was privy to those scenes, “I had seen the film in Chandan cinema in Mumbai. The reaction was superb; I felt like I was in a stadium. People were reacting as if they were watching a live India vs Pakistan match!”
Moreover, audiences rooted a lot for Kachra. He’s also the one to play with Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) in the nail-biting finale. Aditya Lakhia observes, “My character had those elements that were memorable. Also, the makers made my character untouchable. So that also leads to the opposition in the village. Then my character takes a hat-trick and of course, it has a part to play in the climax. So yeah, that way, the character of Kachra did stand out.”
Even today, Aditya Lakhia’s character has a slight edge thanks to the memes. ‘Shabaash Kachra Shabaash’ and ‘Kachra bhi khelega’ are regularly shared on the internet. Aditya Lakhia states that he’s aware of it, “Yes, there are memes around my character. It's good na; I mean, it’s a proud feeling that my character has become a cult in a way. Also, it shows the character is fresh in people’s minds.”
Sadly, Team Lagaan won’t be meeting together to celebrate this milestone. Aditya Lakhia says, “Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, we can’t plan anything grand. Hopefully, 25th anniversary pe kuch karenge!”
Aditya Lakhia was recently seen in Koi Jaane Na, directed by Amin Hajee, who played the mute drummer Bagha in Lagaan. He’s looking forward to his stint as a producer. He reveals, “I have produced a Gujarati film called Khape. It’s making the rounds of festivals right now.”
More Pages: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Box Office Collection , Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Movie Review
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