Director Gowariker has stated that it was almost impossible to make Lagaan. He went to Khan, who agreed to participate after hearing the detailed script. Khan had initially rejected the idea of a "sporty" film, but was "himself in tears" upon hearing the full dialogued script. Even after securing Khan, Gowariker had trouble finding a producer. Producers who showed interest in the script wanted budget cuts as well as script modifications. Eventually, Khan agreed to Gowariker's suggestion that he would produce the film. Khan corroborated this by saying that the faith he had in Gowariker, the story and script of the film, and the opportunity of starting his own production company inspired him to produce Lagaan. He also said that by being a producer himself, he was able to give greater creative freedom to Gowariker. He cited an example:
Yashpal Sharma was chosen by Gowariker for the role of Lakha, the woodcutter, after his portrayal in Samar (1999). He said it was a good experience working with Khan and Gowariker during the film. Amin Hajee earlier worked in a film with Gowariker. The friendly association brought Gowariker to him with the script, which he liked, and thereafter he successfully auditioned for his role of Bagha, a mute drummer. His knowledge of mute people and some assistance from a music band helped him better prepare for his role. Gowariker, who believed that Amin was like Sylvester Stallone, would refer to him as Stallone during filming. Aditya Lakhia's association with Gowariker in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993) and Pehla Nasha (1993) brought him the role of Kachra, the untouchable. He read the book Everybody Loves a Good Drought by P. Sainath to better understand and portray his character.
Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars and wrote, "Lagaan is an enormously entertaining movie, like nothing we've ever seen before, and yet completely familiar... At the same time, it's a memory of the films we all grew up on, with clearly-defined villains and heroes, a love-triangle, and even a comic character who saves the day. Lagaan is a well-crafted, hugely entertaining epic that has the spice of a foreign culture." Derek Elley of Variety suggested that it "could be the trigger for Bollywood's long-awaited crossover to non-ethnic markets". Somni Sengupta of The New York Times, described it as "a carnivalesque genre packed with romance, swordplay and improbable song-and-dance routines". Dave Kehr, another New York Times film critic, called Lagaan "a movie that knows its business -- pleasing a broad, popular audience -- and goes about it with savvy professionalism and genuine flair." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times argued that the film is "an affectionate homage to a popular genre that raises it to the level of an art film with fully drawn characters, a serious underlying theme, and a sophisticated style and point of view."
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described the film as "a lavish epic, a gorgeous love story, and a rollicking adventure yarn. Larger than life and outrageously enjoyable, it's got a dash of Spaghetti Western, a hint of Kurosawa, with a bracing shot of Kipling." Kuljinder Singh of the BBC stated that "Lagaan is anything but standard Bollywood fodder, and is the first must-see of the Indian summer. A movie that will have you laughing and crying, but leaving with a smile." 2b1af7f3a8