16 Must-Watch Movies Like Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India has set the bar high for epic dramas, combining drama, music, and sport in a captivating story. If you're craving more movies that transport you to different worlds and cultures, where the underdogs rise against all odds, then you're in for a treat. Here are 16 must-watch movies that share the same charm, heart, and spirit as Lagaan, taking you on exhilarating journeys of triumph and resilience.

1) First Rank

First Rank (Awwal Number) takes a different approach to the theme of cricket compared to Lagaan. While Lagaan focuses on the Indian freedom movement and the villagers' fight against their British oppressors through a game of cricket, First Rank delves into the realm of action and thriller as the Director General of Police uncovers a terrorist plot by a disgruntled cricketer to blow up a stadium during an important cricket match. Although both movies revolve around cricket, they explore different aspects of the sport. Lagaan beautifully captures the spirit of hope, courage, and fighting against injustice, while First Rank takes a more intense and suspenseful route. While Lagaan received critical acclaim and multiple nominations, First Rank may not be considered a favorite among viewers. However, it holds a special place in Bollywood history as one of the early movies to pioneer the theme of sports-based jealousy, passion, love, and the spirit.

Release date: June, 2023
IMDB Rating: 4.5

2) Wondrous Oblivion

Wondrous Oblivion is reminiscent of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India in its portrayal of the power of cricket to bring people together. While Lagaan is set in Victorian India and tells the story of a small village's cricket match against the British rulers, Wondrous Oblivion takes place in 1960s London and follows the journey of eleven-year-old David, who is passionate about cricket but lacks skill. When a Jamaican family moves in next door and sets up a cricket net, David's dreams come true. Both movies explore themes of discrimination and racism, using cricket as a means to bridge cultural divides. However, while Lagaan delves into the Indian freedom movement and the fight against injustice, Wondrous Oblivion focuses more on the coming-of-age story of its young protagonist.

Release date: April, 2004
IMDB Rating: 7.1

3) Iqbal

Iqbal is reminiscent of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. Both movies share the common theme of cricket, but they approach it from different angles. While Lagaan showcases a village's fight against their British rulers through a cricket match, Iqbal tells the story of a deaf and mute farmer's son who aspires to become a cricketer. Both films highlight the determination and resilience of the protagonists, but Iqbal takes a more personal and intimate approach by focusing on the individual struggle of the main character. Additionally, Iqbal touches upon the corruption in the selection system and the commercialization of cricket, shedding light on the darker side of the sport. Overall, Iqbal provides a refreshing take on cricket and is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys heartfelt stories of triumph against all odds.

Release date: August, 2005
IMDB Rating: 8.1

4) Victory

Victory is reminiscent of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, but with a twist. While Lagaan takes us back to Victorian India and tells the story of a small village's fight against British rulers through a game of cricket, Victory brings us into the world of an overconfident cricketer who must start his career all over again. Both movies revolve around the sport of cricket, but Victory explores the theme of redemption and second chances. While Lagaan is a cinematic masterpiece with a gripping storyline and stellar performances, Victory may not reach the same heights but still offers an enjoyable watch. With Harman S. Baweja's improved performance and the inclusion of real-life cricketers, Victory provides a fresh take on the sport. So, if you loved Lagaan and want to see a different perspective on cricket, give Victory a shot.

Release date: January, 2009
IMDB Rating: 3.8

5) Dil Bole Hadippa

"Dil Bole Hadippa" puts a fun, comedic spin on the sports genre, reminiscent of the engaging "Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India." While "Lagaan" captivates with its historical setting and intense cricket matches, "Dil Bole Hadippa" takes a lighter approach by introducing a cross-dressing female protagonist who disguises herself as a man to fulfill her cricket dreams in a village where girls don't play. Both movies use cricket as a central plot element, but "Dil Bole Hadippa" adds a touch of romance and comedy to the mix. Despite their differences in tone, both films celebrate the spirit of determination and the power of dreams. So if you enjoyed the gripping cricket matches in "Lagaan" and want a more lighthearted take on the sport, "Dil Bole Hadippa" is the perfect choice to keep you entertained.

Release date: September, 2009
IMDB Rating: 4.7

6) Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!

Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! is reminiscent of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India in terms of its impact on Indian cinema. While Lagaan showcased the spirit of Indians fighting against British oppression through a game of cricket, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! marked a turning point in Bollywood by moving away from violent films and embracing family-oriented romantic stories. Directed by Sooraj Barjatya, the film stars Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit as Prem and Pooja, who fall in love amidst a wedding but face obstacles when Pooja's sister dies, leaving behind a baby. With its focus on family values and emotions, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! captivated audiences and broke numerous records. It paved the way for a new wave of romantic and creative films without traditional villains.

Release date: August, 1994
IMDB Rating: 7.5

7) Chori Chori Chupke Chupke

Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, released in 2001, is reminiscent of the main movie, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. Both films share the theme of going against societal norms and challenging the status quo. However, while Lagaan focuses on the Indian freedom movement and a game of cricket as a means of resistance, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke takes a different approach and explores the unconventional relationship between a prostitute and a couple who want to have a baby. Despite their different plotlines, both movies touch upon the power of love and the strength to fight against injustice. Chori Chori Chupke Chupke offers a unique perspective on the complexities of relationships and the impact they have on individuals. With its catchy music and heartfelt performances, especially by Preity Zinta as the prostitute, this film provides an entertaining and thought-provoking experience for viewers who appreciate unconventional love stories.

Release date: March, 2001
IMDB Rating: 5.5

8) Daddy Cool

Daddy Cool, released in 2009, is a movie that reminds me of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. Both films share the key topic of cricket, but that's where the similarities end. While Lagaan is an epic drama set in Victorian India, Daddy Cool takes a lighter approach with its simple thread of comedy and family drama. The lazy police officer and his son in Daddy Cool get caught up in a series of incidents involving a cricket player linked to betting and match fixing, which escalates when the son is kidnapped. The second half of Daddy Cool is surprisingly enjoyable, making it worth watching despite the lackluster first half. Mamooty and Biju Menon deliver brilliant performances, while the selection of the child actor playing Mamooty's son is a bit of a letdown. The movie also features impressive stunt scenes and a group dance at the end, which adds a fun Bollywood touch to the Malayalam film industry.

Release date: August, 2009
IMDB Rating: 5

9) Ghajini

Ghajini is reminiscent of Lagaan in its ability to captivate the audience with its thrilling narrative. Both films showcase the determination of their protagonists in the face of adversity. While Lagaan focuses on the struggle of a small village against their British rulers through a game of cricket, Ghajini tells the story of a short-term memory loss patient seeking revenge for the death of his beloved. Aamir Khan's exceptional acting skills are showcased in both films, with his powerful performances drawing the audience into the respective worlds of Bhuvan and the memory-impaired Sanjay Singhania. The similarities between these movies lie in their ability to evoke emotions through well-developed characters and engaging storylines.
However, Ghajini differentiates itself from Lagaan by delving into the action genre. With its fast-paced sequences and intense fight scenes, it keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout.

Release date: December, 2008
IMDB Rating: 7.3

10) Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm, released in 2014, is reminiscent of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. Both films revolve around the theme of sports, with Million Dollar Arm focusing on baseball and Lagaan on cricket. While Lagaan is set in Victorian India during the Indian freedom movement, Million Dollar Arm takes place in present-day America. The main characters in both movies are determined individuals who face challenges and overcome them with the help of their teams. Lagaan's Bhuvan, played by Aamir Khan, fights against the oppressive British rulers to save his village, while Million Dollar Arm's J.B. Bernstein, portrayed by Jon Hamm, stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to find talented Indian cricket players for Major League Baseball. Both films showcase the spirit of determination, the power of teamwork, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Release date: May, 2014
IMDB Rating: 7

11) Ferrari Ki Sawaari

"Ferrari Ki Sawaari" is reminiscent of "Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India" because both movies revolve around the sport of cricket. However, while "Lagaan" focuses on the Indian freedom movement and the villagers' fight against British oppression, "Ferrari Ki Sawaari" takes a different approach. It tells the heartwarming story of how the pursuit of an Indian cricket legend's Ferrari makes a young boy's dreams of playing cricket at Lords a reality. The movie explores the relationships between a father, a son, and a grandfather, emphasizing the importance of forgiveness and positive thinking. With flawless performances by Sharman Joshi and Boman Irani, "Ferrari Ki Sawaari" is a delightful family film that will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired.

Release date: June, 2012
IMDB Rating: 6.4

12) Kai Po Che

Kai Po Che! is reminiscent of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India due to its focus on cricket as a central theme. Both movies delve into the world of cricket and explore the passion, struggle, and dreams of their characters. However, while Lagaan is set during the British colonial era and revolves around a cricket match against the oppressors, Kai Po Che! takes place in contemporary India and follows three friends who want to open a cricket training academy. The execution of Kai Po Che! stands out with its magnificent direction and excellent performances by the cast. The film is intense even in its lightest moments, providing a different experience compared to the outright feel-good vibe of movies like Dil Chahta Hai or Rang De Basanti. The climax of Kai Po Che! is short, fitting, and delivers a powerful message without getting into disputed territories. If you enjoyed Lagaan and want to see a refreshing take on cricket, Kai Po Che! is a must-watch.

Release date: February, 2013
IMDB Rating: 7.8

13) Jeeva

Jeeva is reminiscent of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, as both movies revolve around the sport of cricket. While Lagaan is set in Victorian India and depicts a small village's struggle against their British rulers through a game of cricket, Jeeva follows the journey of a talented cricketer named Jeeva and his determination to overcome various obstacles in his career. Both films capture the passion and dedication of individuals who are willing to go against the odds for the love of the game. However, Jeeva focuses more on the personal journey of the protagonist, including his love life and team selection politics, while Lagaan delves deeper into the historical and social context of the time. With its engaging storyline and relatable characters, Jeeva is a must-watch for cricket enthusiasts and anyone who appreciates stories of perseverance and triumph.

Release date: September, 2014
IMDB Rating: 7.6

14) Dear Comrade

Dear Comrade is a captivating movie that will remind you of Lagaan. Both films revolve around the sport of cricket and highlight the struggles faced by the protagonists. While Lagaan focuses on the Indian freedom movement and the villagers' fight against their British oppressors, Dear Comrade tells the story of a hot-blooded student union leader who falls in love with a state-level cricketer. Both movies portray the characters' determination and courage in fighting for what they believe in. However, Dear Comrade adds a twist with its exploration of anger management issues and a violent streak that threatens the couple's love story. With its gripping plot and compelling performances, Dear Comrade is a must-watch for those who enjoyed the spirit and intensity of Lagaan.

Release date: July, 2019
IMDB Rating: 7.3

15) Swimming Upstream

Swimming Upstream is reminiscent of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India in its portrayal of an underdog fighting against adversity. While Lagaan tells the story of villagers in Victorian India challenging their British rulers through a game of cricket, Swimming Upstream follows the inspirational life of Australian swimmer Tony Fingleton. Both movies capture the spirit of determination and resilience, showcasing individuals who defy the odds and rise above their circumstances. However, the settings and sports differ significantly. Lagaan transports us to 19th-century India, immersing us in the world of cricket, while Swimming Upstream takes place in 1950s Australia, focusing on the sport of swimming. Despite these differences, both films captivate the audience with their compelling narratives and powerful performances. If you enjoyed the uplifting story and emotional depth of Lagaan, Swimming Upstream offers a similar experience of triumph against all odds, this time in the world of swimming.

Release date: February, 2003
IMDB Rating: 7

16) Hattrick

Hattrick is a movie that might remind you of Lagaan, but in a completely different way. While Lagaan is an epic tale set in Victorian India, Hattrick takes a lighter approach by focusing on the lives of three individuals in present-day India and England. Dr. Satyajit Chavan dislikes cricket so much that he doesn't allow anyone in his home or hospital to even mention it, while Kashmira, recently married to Sarabjeet Singh, resents the sport because her husband is obsessed with it. On the other hand, Hemandra Patel, who has been living in England for over a decade, pretends to be a customs officer and is eagerly waiting to become a citizen. However, his fate lies in the hands of an immigration officer who despises Patels. The movie revolves around how the cricket World Cup influences these characters and the surprising revelation that awaits Hemandra.

Release date: March, 2007
IMDB Rating: 4.3

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