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23 Years of Lagaan: “A famous painter heard ‘O Paalanhaare’ and told me, ‘Tum jhooth bolte ho. Ek atheist aisa bhajan nahin likh sakta’” – Javed Akhtar 23 : Bollywood News FSalinks





One of the greatest films of all time, Lagaan (2001), completed 23 years on June 15. Starring Aamir Khan and Gracy Singh, it was a fictional period drama about a group of villagers learning cricket, a game alien to them, and playing it against the British. In the pre-climax, when the villagers fear defeat, they collectively pray to God. This is when ‘O Paalanhaare’ is played and it leaves viewers teary-eyed. The song took a life of its own and is one of the most loved film devotional songs of all time.

23 Years of Lagaan: “A famous painter heard ‘O Paalanhaare’ and told me, ‘Tum jhooth bolte ho. Ek atheist aisa bhajan nahin likh sakta’” – Javed Akhtar

Many are surprised to know that Javed Akhtar, an atheist, penned this track. At a show ‘Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaaon’, the legendary songwriter opened up about this song and confessed that he got this surprising reaction often. He also revealed how he responds to such comments in his trademark humourous style.

Javed Akhtar said, “A famous painter, Chanda, called me and said, ‘Javed, tum apne aap ko atheist kehte ho. Tum jhooth bolte ho. Ek atheist aisa bhajan nahin likh sakta’. I told her, ‘Fir tum yeh bhi samajti hogi ki main dacait bhi reh chuka hoon kyunki maine Gabbar Singh ke dialogues likhe hai’!”

Javed Akhtar then explained, “A lyricist or a dialogue writer is also a latent actor. Even he has to get into the skin of the character and think like that character. Only then he can get it right.”

‘O Paalanhaare’ was composed by A R Rahman and was sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Sadhana Sargam and Udit Narayan. 2001 saw several films boasting of hit soundtracks. Yet, Lagaan became the biggest audio hit of the year by topping the music charts and selling 3.5 million records within a year. Further, it was the third and last Indian film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film after Mother India (1957) and Salaam Bombay (1988).

Also Read: 23 Years of Lagaan: Ashutosh Gowariker credits writers of Aamir Khan starrer: “A big thank you”

More Pages: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Box Office Collection
, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Movie Review

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