The Kunariya team practices
on the same ground
where Lagaan was shot
Aamir and his cricket team left Kunariya village in Gujarat soon after the shooting of Lagaan was over in 2000. However, the Lagaan XI still play cricket here.
The villagers of Kunariya have formed a cricket team, Lagaan XI, led by their very own Bhuvan, Suresh Chhanga. This Sunday, the team was getting ready for a match in Dhrung, 20 km away from their village.
It was practicing on the same ground where the cricket match of Lagaan was shot. Reward for villagers
The team was formed in 2003 after the village was rehabilitated after the earthquake disaster and has already become one of the best in the area.
In the film, Bhuvans team not only brings glory to the village by defeating the British at their own game but also saves poor villagers by getting their taxes waived for the next two years.
Similarly, the Kunariya team too does its bit by handing over all their cash rewards to their club, Kunariya Khel Kendra, from where it is lent to needy villagers. Drought vs quake
In Lagaan, it was severe drought that led Bhuvan and his team to play the mighty English; the Kunariya team too had to overcome natures fury.
Captain of the team Suresh Chhanga said, When the earthquake destroyed our village, we could not play cricket for over two years till 2003. Then we started some friendly matches with the neighbouring village. But since last year, the cricket fever has reached all 32 nearby villages and more than two tournaments are organised every month.
The reward in each tournament is around Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000. Since last year, the team has won 15 matches.
Talking about their club and loan-giving facility Chhanga added, We give loans of up to Rs 5,000 from the club funds. This year we gave notebooks to all 42 students in our village. Role model:
Suresh ChhangaKunariya ka Bhuvan
Suresh Chhanga wants to develop his village and change its economic status. I chose to graduate in rural studies so that I could learn ways to improve my village. After my post-graduation, I will open an NGO, which will work for the development of villages in Kutch, said Chhanga.
Suresh is the most intelligent person in the village and all villagers seek his advice. He is the brain and heart of our village. Not only youngsters, but elderly people also follow his example, said Nathu Gagoo Kohli, the sarpanch of Kunariya village. Voices
When Lagaan was being shot, we used to come to the ground early in the morning and watch the shooting. Thats what inspired us to play and today it is our profession as the rewards are good
Bowler Initially not many encouraged us to play the game, but once we started winning, the villagers started coming to cheer us
Eldest member of team
Ramesh Gagal (Guran)
Hes the Guran of the team as he has a funny stance and bats aggressively.
Ramchhod Chad (Bhura)
Hes called Bhura as hes the best fielder in the team.
Munji Gagal (Goli)
I am the only one in the team who has a unique bowling action, so I got the name of Goli, said Munji.
Vikram Shekhaw (Ismail)
Hes called Ismail as hes the most reliable person in the team and always rescues the team from difficulties. I am the rescuer and in Lagaan, in spite of being injured, Ismail helps the team win, so I have got his name, he said.
Rajesh Gagal (Bagha)
Hes the worst fielder of the team and we always have to hide him somewhere in the field, but hes good with the bat, said captain Suresh.
Bhavesh Khushan (Tipu)
Hes the youngest and everyones favourite. Hes a very good boy and he never lies. We all love him and so he gets the name Tipu, said the captain.
Hari Kerashiya (Lakha)
Hes our most mischievous player and the worlds biggest liar. Lakha had the same characteristics so we gave him this name, said the captain
Ashok Kapdi (Ishwar Kaka)
Like M S Dhoni, this wicketkeeper is also a very good batsman. I have been a wicket keeper since day one and as I am the eldest in the team, they call me Ishwar Kaka. Nowadays they also call me Dhoni because of my built, said Kapdi.
Suresh Chhanga (Bhuvan): Captain
He is the only educated boy in the village. He graduated in rural studies from Saurashtra University and is presently doing his post graduation. Though hes the youngest in the village, the village panchayat always consults him before taking any major decisions. He is an opener who bowls occasionally.
Vishram Gagal (Deva)
A hard-hitting opening batsman, hes also a very good bowler. As an all-rounder, he is the backbone of the team. Vishram said, Tournament organisers give good rewards for the man of the match, so I always try to win that.
Rajesh Kerashiya (Kachra)
Hes the best spinner of the team and turns the bowl like Kachra did in Lagaan.