The first Bollywood movie I ever saw was Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. After seeing that movie I fell in love with Indian film and popular music. But Lagaan's soundtrack, by A.R. Rahman is still my favorite. Last week his new movie Slumdog Millionaire, from the director who brought us Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, was released in the United States. The soundtrack also features M.I.A.'s Grammy 2009 nominated single "Paper Planes."
In 2004, TIME magazine declared Rahman the "Mozart of Madras" and has sold over 150 million records, placing him among the 25 highest selling music artist of all time. He has composed over one hundred film scores in the last 25 years and is also involved in various charitable causes.
Watch this clip from the 2002 Oscar nominated film Lagaan, staring the fabulous Aamir Khan. The film takes place in Victorian colonial India. During a drought, the English colonizers have placed a double tax (lagaan) on the local Indian farmers. Feeling the injustice of the situation, Bhuvan, Khan's character, bets the English Captain that he and his farmer friends will beat the English in a game of cricket (a game that Bhuvan has never played before). If the farmers win, they will never have to pay lagaan again, if they lose, they must pay triple lagaan.
In this clip, Bhuvan and his friend Gauri, must convince their friends and fellow villagers that while the task might seem impossible, the earth and the sky belong to them and are worth fighting for.
Listen, O my friend,What is this fear you have?The earth is oursAnd so is the sky.
The song is called "Mitwa."
This is just one of the several fantastic songs and dance sequences from this movie. If you are interested at all in Bollywood (and good foreign flicks in general), I highly recommend Lagaan. It's long though, as are most Bollywood films, but I wouldn't be ashamed in you if you wanted to fast forward through much of, what seems like a 45 minute cricket game toward the end of the movie.
Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman's new release, is the story of the impoverished teen Jamal Malik who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who wants to be a Millionaire." The film jumps back and forth through time presenting the viewer with life tales that lead Jamal to possess the answer to every question.
Read this in depth review of the soundtrack. Thank you to Manu at t-Shirt Junkie for turning me onto this movie.
Don't count on seeing much singing and dancing in traditional Bollywood style in this film, I hear that doesn't come until the credits.
I'm super excited to see this movie. It's not often that I am able to see a Hindi film on the big screen.
I've also added some Bollywood tunes to my playlist. Enjoy!