20 years of 'Lagaan': Aamir Khan recalls not winning the Oscar, says 'I was disappointed'

Ashutosh Gowariker directed 'Lagaan' was nominated for Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film in 2002, but unfortunately didn't win it.

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20 years of 'Lagaan': Aamir Khan recalls not winning the Oscar, says 'I was disappointed'
Aamir Khan | File photo


June 15 marks 20 years of the iconic film 'Lagaan' starring superstar Aamir Khan, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. Released in 2001, 'Lagaan', set in the pre-independence era -- the late Victorian period of India's colonial British Raj -- revolved around the inhabitants of a small village who were burdened by high taxes, and several years of drought. The villagers find themselves in a situation when a British army officer challenges them to a game of cricket and promises to waive off taxes they owe if they win. 

The film received an enormous response and was even nominated for Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film in 2002, but unfortunately didn't win it. 

Reflecting on the same, and revealing how he felt when India couldn't win the Oscar being so close to it, during a virtual press conference which DNA was part of, on the occasion of 20 years of 'Lagaan', superstar Aamir Khan said, "Of course, I was disappointed. We would have liked to win."

He added, "What I have been trying to tell people over the years, is that at the Oscars, it's such a difficult process that to get nominated is so difficult that if you are nominated it means the members of the foreign language committee -- a huge percentage of them -- have loved your film. They have loved it so much that you are in the top 5. In Los Angeles, they consider when you are a nominee, you are all coming and standing at the finish line. So, all are equally good. Then, one person is told, you go ahead, so that person/film becomes the winner. But the other four are only 1 step behind the winner. What we fail to appreciate is that the members of the committee actually loved our film. The fact that you reached the top 5 is a very big thing."

He also explained how one film can be liked by a jury and another by another panel of jury members, adding that 'cinema is subjective'. 

"You have to understand you cannot compare films. Can you compare Lagaan and Dangal? Both are good films. It just means that a certain jury found another film better. Sports doesn’t have subjectivity. Either you’ve run the fastest or you have not. Cinema is subjective," he said.

When asked what is that one thing that remains with him even today with respect to the film, Aamir said, 'The one thing that particularly remains with me is the way Reena, my ex-wife handled the film. She was the producer of the film and she was someone who had no understanding of cinema until then. Though she was married to me for a number of years, she was not interested in films and so she did not know anything about filmmaking. So, when I requested her one night, to help me produce the film, she told me 'I don't know anything about filmmaking, what can I help you with?'. So, I told her you can try and learn and be there as someone who I can trust completely, on who I can depend on. She was very sporting and said 'ok, I'll learn'. She completely immersed herself and learnt everything from processing, printing, lab process. She met producers, directors and technicians to understand what is filmmaking. I had told her 'I won't tell you anything, you learn on your own'. So, she learnt on her own, cracked it and produced a film as if she's a veteran. That is something I'll remember my entire life."

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