Sometime during the latter half of the 19th century, a small village in North India is facing drought conditions. Captain Andrew Russell, the British captain of the nearby cantonment, demands double of the usual land tax (Lagaan) from the villagers. When the villagers' representatives go to meet Captain Russell to discuss the situation, Capt. Russell challenges them to a game of cricket with his team after three months. A young villager Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) accepts the challenge and starts to build his team of villagers for the showdown with their colonial rulers.