20 Years of Lagaan Exclusive: Aamir Khan reveals why he didn’t want to turn producer after his father faced financial setbacks

Aamir Khan starrer Lagaan set numerous records from the number of awards it earned to the business it did overseas and of course the fact to become the third Indian film — after Mother India (1957) and Salaam Bombay! (1988) — to be nominated at the Academy Awards for Oscars. The film has completed 20 years today. The film had talented performances of Aamir Khan, along with debutant Gracy Singh and British actors Rachel Shelley and Paul Blackthorne in supporting roles. The film also had Aamir khan turning into a producer for the first time.

20 Years of Lagaan EXCLUSIVE Aamir Khan reveals why he didn’t want to turn producer after his father had faced financial setbacks (1)

Now, as the film has just completed 20 glorious years, Aamir Khan spoke to the media celebrating the two decades of the film. When asked about his decision to turn producer with Lagaan and how risky was the venture since since his father had faced financial issues as a producer, he said, “When I became an actor – I come from a film family only – I have seen my uncle making movies, I have seen my father making movies. My father was an enthusiastic producer, a very good producer, but he didn't know how to do business, so he never ended up making money. And he only had problems, date problems and all. He made a film Locket; it took 8 years to get completed. Khoon Ki Pukaar took almost 3 years. It used to take a lot of time then. He was in big debt and I have seen him going through a lot of financial crisis. I have seen my father going through a lot of financial crisis. I don't know how many people know this.”

Talking more about his father's financial struggles, the actor said, “He was almost bankrupt and we were almost on the roads. There was a time like that when we were small that time and I used to remember the phone used to ring and they usually were from people who called up and asking their money to be returned. The money which is invested in the film. He kept saying I have invested all the money in the film, my actors are not giving me dates and I am stuck on what to do. This conversation was going on for 3-4 years. So one day my mother woke up one day at night and she saw in the middle of the night, the light was on and my father opened the cupboard and he was searching for something. So, my mother asked him ‘What are you looking for? What happened in the night, what are you searching for?’ So, he said that ‘he is finding his graduation certificate. Because money is over and I have gone bankrupt, I am losing the house, I am losing everything. So, I need to look for a job to earn money. So, I am searching for my graduation certificate.’ A man in his 40's is telling his wife that I am looking for my graduation certificate. This was our situation.”

Later in the chat, Aamir also revealed what made him decide to step in as a producer for the film. He said, "So, I had decided that I'll never be a producer. I have become an actor, I won't become a producer. I thought there was a lot of clumsiness in it, it won't be suitable for me. And that day, I realized whenever you say something that you won't do a particular thing.  Watch my old interviews whenever I was asked will you ever become a producer, I said never with full confidence because I saw my father and I'll never be a producer. Never say this line, then God will make you do that thing only. Where you say you won't do, God will be like your destiny is in my hands. So, I ended producing as a result.”

“Why did I end up producing, I didn't want to produce? When Ashutosh Gowarikar came to me with the script which I loved, I was thinking about who will produce it, which producer will give the resources correctly to make Lagaan look nice. Who is that producer who will give us these resources? So, I couldn't recall any name. Because I use to feel Ashutosh, unfortunately at this point, while I think he is a good director, has not given successful films. So any producer will say that they won't put up such a big film on Ashu’s shoulders. So, they asked us to reduce that this amount won't work 10,000 people won't be possible, 3000 would be done. We couldn't bring the British actors from abroad. The ones who come to travel to India they'll pick it from them.”

He later added, “So I was thinking about who will produce it, but this film had to be made. There was no producer I could think of at that time. So I said I have to produce. So I became a producer by accident, I had no intention of becoming a producer. I became a producer because I couldn't find someone else. So that's why and how I became a producer. At that time, I was thinking that let me just do this one film and I didn't want to do any further projects. But, what happened is when I produced Lagaan, it made me realize that now I am able to do things that I want. I realized there are problems in production and you have to deal with the market and all which I am not great at. I would be comfortable doing it but it's not my strength. But, it gives me a lot of potential creatively. That was the time, I decided that it is a good thing for me to do. But I must do it in my ways."

Lagaan revolved around the British Raj when a farmer named Bhuvan accepts the challenge of Captain Andrew Russell to beat his team in a game of cricket and enable his village to not pay taxes for the next three years. The film starred Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley and Paul Blackthorne.

Also Read: 20 Years Of Lagaan: “I had seen the film in Chandan cinema in Mumbai. People were reacting as if they were watching a live India vs Pakistan match!” – Aditya Lakhia

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