One of the most striking features of Lagaan is its group staging of songs. A film about the spirit of the community could never have done with songs staged through an individual hero’s POV. Ashutosh Gowariker‘s ensemble staging of his songs never ceases to amaze.
The two happier songs are staged in the harsh daylight- ‘Ghanan Ghanan‘ and ‘Chale Chalo‘. These two are when society is in high spirits. Gowariker stages it in a way that covers the basic theme of community- in unity, we are one single unit. That oneness of community isn’t just metaphorical, AR Rahman‘s music and Gowariker’s staging tells us that when together, a group of people are hardly separate. The songs become the occasion to show that literally happening.
Look at Ghanan Ghanan for example, that wonderful flow of music where the lyrics and choreography and camerawork flock in separate notes, before settling into the soothing notes of “Mann dhadkaaye badarwa” as the camera pans out to film them together. Wow, it’s like everyone sings out their happiness separately first, trying to stick their voices together as the music & lyrics fumbles through them before they settle into a singular, united note and with them, so does the music and the camera at the final “Mann dhadkaaye badarwa”. Their spirits join into a single unit, and so does the music and the staging. Genius ensemble staging! As the clouds will fade away at the end of the song, they’ll stand stunned, as some of them break away running- the energy of unity is slowly eroding, and they move on to their separate lives.
Then there is “Chale Chalo, where they spur each other into action. How beautifully they flock into unison like bees as they sing “Dharti hila denge…”, the music soaring further into confidence with each verse. Kachra, who stays aloof until the end, joins in by voicing the highest point of the music- “hum logon ka darja Kya hoooo…”. He is Gowariker’s final bolt of dramatic energy- the one at the bottom of this society finally singing about identity at the peak of the music. Watch how Kachra sings his line turning away from them- even his cry of joy is made hiding in some shame, the last bit of doubt that Laakha breaks in the next beat. Genius choreography.
Courtesy- Fables Of Film