26th Jan, 2009 is the day, when I learnt success being by-product of zeal, passion, preseverance and most important team-work. 26th Jan, I went to IIMB to watch documentary on “Making of Lagaan” followed by experience sharing and Q&A session by Aamir Khan himself. For my non-Indian blog followers, ‘Lagaan’ is one of the major blockbuster Indian movie released in 2001. It was phenomenal success and got multiple Indian awards. Movie also got nominated for ‘Best Foreign film category’ at Oscar.
Coming back to the topic, watching documentary was awesome experience. It started with the story conceptualization by Ashutosh Gowarikar (movie director) alias ‘Aish’ and outright rejection by Aamir Khan (Famous Indian movie star & chief protagonist in the movie) . He likes the plot but wasnt sure concept as movie theme per-se. ‘Aish’ felt dejected but determined to overcomethe obstacle. This is what belief & visibility is all-about. Passionate ‘Aish’ spend few months seating at home, pen-down the entire script. That was humongous task, but belief is all about ‘moving forward’. ‘Aish’ went back to Aamir few months down the line and seeked few hours of his time to narrate the script. This time once Aamir listen the script, he knew the game is on. Not only Aamir liked the script, he planned another session with larger team including Jhamu Saughand. Lesson #1: “Believe what you want to achieve. Failure is always first step towards success”. Then together they start forming the core team-members right from financing, (pre)-production activities, music, rest of the crew & star cast. Few of the key team-members were ‘Reena Dutta’ (Aamir ex-wife), Jhamu Sughand, A.R. Rahman, Anil Mehta, Bhanu Athaiya (costume designer – 1st Indian to recieve oscar for ‘Gandhi’ movie), Apoorya Lakhiya & Kiran Rao (assistant director), Javed Akhtar (Lyricst) and of course remaining star-cast.
It was clearly evident phenomenal effort went in building the right team. As right team & mind-set is pretty much required for such large events. Lesson# 2: “For any mission, there is always right team required. Once the right team with right skills & commitments is in place, half of the mission is accomplished”.
There-after it comes the operational issues/modalaties, which were as:
- Location hunt (Chambal valley MP vs. Kutch, Bhuj). Kutch, Bhuj was the eventual selected location
- Star cast selection (critical part was selection of british cast who were cricketers)
- Pulling up 10,000 villagers as audience for the match shoot
- overly budget. There were certain decision points to decide to go-ahead with the shooting or not
- Most of the Indian star-cast didnt have any knack of playing cricket. Cricket was the soul of the movie and had to be reflected in shots in most natural manner
- Accomodation issue, no appropriate hotel. One building was rented and setup as base for the entire cast & crew
- Extreme temperature: scorching sun & 45 degree + temperature
- setback such as A.K. Hangal fracture & ‘Aish’ slip-disk, still the ‘Show must go-on’ approach. Notable was A.K.Hangal commitment to shot inspite of fracture
- synchronization among 10K villagers for the appreciation shot, once Indian team won the match. On that day, Aamir sung song “Aati kya khandala”…and villagers went extremely happy, clapped, smiled, went bizarre & that was the moment captured as the winning apprectation shot
- Continous assistance by Mr. Dhanabhai (local villager) to co-ordinate among villagers for the movie support
- Tremedous planning & paperwork to manage the large crew (11 indian + 11 English players, along with the other key characters – Gauri, English Mam, Raja G and so on)
- budget issues: 12 to 16 to 18 to 20-22 crores
- Preseverance of entire team from April 1988 until June 2000, notably by ‘Aish’, aamir & core team-members
End is inevitable and eventually this movie got completed as well. Not only completed, but completed to make history. More-over it gave us lesson, nothing is impossible as long as one has vision, passion to fulfill the vision, preserverance to overcome obstacle, zeal to work together as great team. Success eventually is the by-product of the mentioned points. Before i end up, let me share few interesting quotes & artifacts shared in the documentary
- Aamir to ‘Aish’ during conceptualization phase: “Dont compromise, dont tell later I could have this, done that. Do what is the best, no compromise at all“
- Apoorv Lakhiya “I can write in my profile that I manage crowd of 10,000 people” This will be highly regarded statement in US movie industry. Do note, Apoorv join the crew after his initial stint in the hollywood
- Two english crew members – Jimmy & Catherine got married on the set of lagaan under hindu rituals. Aamir & Reena did the kanyadaan (formally handing over bride to the groom)
- Aamir, Reena & Kiran Rao all three were part of core lagaan team. It is said, during Lagaan only aamir & Kiran got attracted towards each other, leading to aamir marriage to Kiran Rao. Intersting world!!!
- Paul the english team captain never played cricket 🙂
Overall a fantastic experience. Aamir also shared on the finer points how he live character, his stance etc. Please look into the video-shoot for his character portray of Bhuvan of ‘Lagaan’ vs. Aakash of ‘Dil Chahta hai’
I am posting one picture with Aamir khan (during 3 Idiots movie shotting).