A League of Unorthodox Gentlemen

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A League of Unorthodox Gentlemen

Illustration: Mandar Mhaskar

T

here’s profound joy in watching Lagaan, even 16 years after its release. Apart from “our home bwoys” going all “Ghanan Ghanan” on our colonial masters in what is one of the finest films on underdog resilience made in this country, Lagaan is the victory of the unorthodox over the traditional. Over its three-hour plus runtime, it builds the utopian ideal by unifying scruffy-looking men from all castes, religions, and professions – a cobbler, poultry farmer, and fortune teller – all scampering across 22 yards giving the traditionalists a run for their money.

As I watched the last match of the Border-Gavaskar Test series between India and Australia and the serene flux of unorthodoxy at play from both ends of the cricket pitch, I was reminded of Lagaan and its argument for unorthodoxy. The fidgety Australian captain Steve Smith stood tall against a spell of brilliance from India’s first-ever “Chinaman” bowler – Kuldeep Yadav. If Lagaan’s Jack Russell was watching, he would have needed a lot more than just “teen guna lagaan” to swallow what the modern game has become.

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