Set in 1893 in a fictitious village called Champaner, Lagaan is about a group of villagers who decide to challenge their oppressive British rulers to a game of cricket as a wager for their taxes. Aamir Khan, who also produced the film, plays Bhuvan, an enigmatic young man who convinces the villagers to take up cricket, a sport that was completely alien to them. The film also boasts a talented ensemble cast featuring Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley, Paul Blackthorne, Suhasini Mulay, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and others.
This was director Ashutosh Gowariker's third film – his first two, Pehla Nasha and Baazi had not done well at the box-office. The film's screenplay was written by Gowariker, Abbas Tyrewala and Sanjay Daima with dialogues by K. P. Saxena. This was Aamir Khan Productions' first venture. Academy Award winner Bhanu Athaiya designed the costumes for the film. Legendary composer A. R. Rahman was the music director on this film. With a running length of 3 hours and 44 minutes, it is amongst the longest Bollywood films ever made.
Lagaan premiered in 2001 and was the third Indian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It lost out to the Bosnian film No Man's Land. In his review of the film, celebrated film critic Roger Ebert wrote, "Bollywood has always struck a bargain with its audience members, many of them poor: You get your money's worth. Leaving the film, I did not feel unsatisfied or vaguely short-changed, as after many Hollywood films, but satisfied: I had seen a movie."