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Films, especially Bollywood play a really important role in my life. I find comfort in Bollywood and more than that Bollywood is my biggest teacher. When we were asked to write a blog on teamwork or whenever teamwork is mentioned anywhere, there is only one film which comes to my mind; LAGAAN. Even though there have been a lot of iconic films based on the struggles and journey of teams which have definitely inspired me; there is something about Lagaan so unique and realistic that it is my ultimate guide to teamwork and values in any case.

Lagaan, which means taxation in English, is a 2001 Indian epic sports drama film. Lagaan received critical acclaim and awards at international film festivals, as well as many Indian film awards. It became the third Indian film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It was one of the biggest box office hits of 2001. In 2010, the film was ranked No. 55 in Empire magazines “The 100 Best Films of World Cinema”. In 2011, it was listed in Time magazine’s special “The All-TIME 25 Best Sports Movies”.

The film is set in the Victorian period of India’s colonial British Raj. The story revolves around a small village whose inhabitants, burdened with high taxes, find themselves in an extraordinary situation as an arrogant officer challenges them to a game of cricket as a wager to avoid the taxes. The narrative spins around this situation as the villagers face the arduous task of learning the alien game and playing for a result that will change their village’s destiny. Here is what I learned in from Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India.

ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM: Bhuvan and his team entered a challenge which sounded impossible but only because they saw 0.001% chance of winning, they agreed as it was their only way to get out of the miserable condition. Each member wanted to give in whatever it takes to win and bring an end to the exploitative tax policy.
Key Takeaway: A team is different souls, one mind. Staying focused on fulfilling the team goal should be of utmost priority only then can a team go together and triumph through the most impossible of situations.

Imperfections make the best team: none of the villagers knew how to play cricket. While forming a team; villagers were invited to test their cricket skills. Every individual’s natural style of bowling or batting became the strength of the team. The most inspiring of all is the story of Kachra, who played the role of a crippled litter picker and belonged to the untouchable section. But this time kachra’s disability actually became the team’s strength.
Key Takeaway: both individual strengths and weaknesses have to be embraced to make a team powerful. Each member should be free to express themselves and opinions of each member should be respected to make a team stronger and lasting in the long run.

The ideal team leader and structure: from agreeing to the challenge to being the guiding force while preparing for the match, even though decisions were taken after everyone’s consensus; it was then the protagonist who dealt externally with the opponents or other villagers. Each player based on their strengths and weaknesses were assigned different tasks. Bhuvan being the captain made sure the team was together and strong.
Key Takeaway: no matter how democratic you want your team processes to be, a team won’t be able to function for long if there is no formal structure or a set hierarchy guiding the team. It is important to have a clear structure to avoid repetition of efforts and employ expertise to achieve the set team goals.

A team is all about strong will and motivation: from convincing villagers to fight for their rights to what every villager goes through during the testing times; the film truly captures the true emotions every real team goes through. But at each step, the team rises to fight it all and win the battle for their rights.
Key Takeaway: Be it any challenge a team has to persevere through all the failures and tough situations in order to achieve what they are meant to. There will be a time when a member would be less interested in being a part of the team than others, in those times it is important to resolve issues or simply talk it out to raise the motivation level of all the members and rise along.

For more lessons on teamwork I recommend you to watch this timeless gem of Hindi Cinema and enjoy every bit of it.


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