Tuesday, March 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

‘Lagaan’ loses to ‘No Man’s Land’

Indian actor Aamir Khan and director Ashutosh Gowarikar arrive with unidentified guests
Indian actor Aamir Khan (2nd from left) and director Ashutosh Gowarikar arrive with unidentified guests to the 74th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood on Sunday. — Reuters photo

Los Angeles, March 25
‘Lagaan’, the Indian entry for the prestigious Oscar award, was nudged out for the coveted prize for the best foreign film by ‘No Man’s Land’ from Bosnia and Herzegovina here last night, dashing the hopes of millions of Indians.

‘Lagaan’, a period film based in 19th century Champaner, depicting a cricket battle between a group of villagers and the cricket team of British colonialists, was a runaway hit in India and considered a front-runner among the foreign film nominations.

Produced and directed by Aamir Khan and Ashutosh Gowarikar, respectively, the film was the third Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar after Mehboob Khan’s ‘Mother India’ in 1957 and Mira Nair’s ‘Salaam Bombay’.

It was an anti-climatic end for ‘Lagaan’ in the race for the Oscar as the patriotic anti-colonial film lost to the anti-war entry from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In one of the most closely fought contests for the Academy Awards of Merit, as the Oscars are officially known, Aamir’s champions from Champaner failed to impress in modern times when the world was crying out against war.

Dressed in Indian sherwanis, the ‘Lagaan’ team, represented at the star-studded show in Kodak Theatre by the producer-director duo of Aamir and Ashutosh, stoically applauded Tanovic for an award that had eluded Bollywood for more than half a century.

The only two Indians to have won the Oscar are master film-maker Satyajit Ray for lifetime achievement and Bhanu Athaiya for costume design in Richard Attenborough’s classic ‘Gandhi’.

Critics of the decision to send ‘Lagaan’ and not Mira Nair’s ‘Monsoon Wedding’ to the Oscars had said the latter’s distributor in the USA was better equipped to lobby for the film among the members of the academy.

In fact, Nair had said in an interview shortly after ‘Monsoon Wedding’ won the Golden Lion at the Berlin Film Festival that the film had the campaign, the presence and the pure euphoria and that ‘Lagaan’ had no presence in America.

But Aamir and Ashutosh made up for the weakness by positioning themselves in Los Angeles for months together in the run-up to the event, ensuring that all academy members got to see the film.

Oscar or no Oscar, the period film set new standards of success for Indian films overseas. Breaking into the top 10 chart in the UK and grossing over $ 2 million in the UK and the USA, the film had won appreciation at international film festivals.

Setting new standards of success for an Indian film overseas, the film, nonetheless, had won the People’s Choice Award at the Lugano Film Festival. UNI, PTI



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