/ Midas Man

Midas Man

Jun 15, 2013

Insights from the superstar with the golden touch, Aamir Khan

At 46, superstar Aamir Khan is known around the world as one of India’s most commercially viable people in the cinema industry today, as an actor, director and producer. Three major movies he’s acted in, Lagaan (which he also produced), Rang de Basanti, Taare Zameen Par and his 2010 production Peepli Live were all selected to represent India at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film.

Having captured the hearts of the masses with his roles in 3 Idiots, Ghajini, Fanaa, Dil Chahta Hai, 1947:Earth, Rangeela, Raja Hindustani, his first major hit Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and his debut film, Holi, Aamir Khan is a testament to the fact that quality far surpasses quantity. Born into a film family, his uncle (director Tahir Hussain) and father (producer Nasir Hussain) indubitably imbued the culture of films into him. He married his friend and colleague, Kiran Rao, making him part of one of Bollywood’s most famous power couples. His appeal crosses boundaries, rather like the man himself. Here, we share excerpts from chats with the insightful perfectionist in our exclusive interview.

On being classed a child star
I was never really a child star; rather, I was dragged by my uncle onto the sets. I didn’t have experiences as a child actor to draw from in my acting career.

On his Oscar-nominated production house
I didn’t want to produce ever in my life as I’ve seen what my father went through—I was happy to just act. It was the last thing on my mind, but when you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans, as they say. I Ironically ended up producing films that no one else would touch. I have a few productions to my name now and they’ve been successful, but I don’t know why. I tend to like a film, which has a script that is somewhat unusual for the market, and I go in with full fervour and give it my all. As a producer, I’m not in the business to make money; I already make enough money as an actor. This allows me to do stuff I believe in, things that really excite me. All I want is to be part of good cinema.

On Delhi Belly and his nephew Imran Khan
It is a film that I have produced, a rare English-language film to come out of India (the last one was Being Cyrus, I believe). It is a commercial caper comedy and my nephew Imran, who was launched via AKP Films in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, plays the lead as a very colourful character. Poorna Jagannathan and Shehnaz Treasurywala are his co-stars. Its director Abhinay Deo has done a good job. We are targeting the youth. Delhi Belly is essentially about these three kids living in a rented apartment in Delhi. They get in trouble with the mafia, but they have no idea why. I would say that it’s like Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, aimed at the international market. It is about Indian characters and is a take on our Indian culture.

Delhi Belly

On Zakhmi—the working title for the suspense cop thriller he is working on
Well, its genre can be classed as a suspense-drama-thriller written by Reema Kagti (who also directed and worked on Lagaan) and Zoya Akhtar. Needless to say I really like the script, which was most unusual, very intriguing and emotional at the core and in a genre that no one has attempted in a long time. I have a moustache and my character's name is Soorjan Singh Shekhawat. I’m working with Kareena Kapoor again after 3 Idiots, and also with Rani Mukerji—it’s been too long. It’s difficult to concentrate on my work being surrounded by beautiful co-stars around [Winks]. I am an obsessive actor and I’m totally preoccupied with this film.

On Dhoom 3
Dhoom is a great franchise, most entertaining and full of fun. Every time I hear the theme tune of Dhoom it brings a swing to my step. Vijay (aka Victor) Krishna Acharya’s script really won me over and I look forward to working with him sharing screen space with Abhishek Bachchan (Jai) and Uday Chopra (Ali). It will start to roll in early 2012. I’m working on building my physique for it. It is indeed a pleasure to be working with Yashraj films once again.

On Dhobi Ghat and working with his wife
When Kiran told me that she was working on a script, it got me really nervous. I felt ‘What if I don’t like it?’ I can’t hide my feelings about things well. I am very choosy with scripts. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings but I heard it and really loved it. I was moved and impressed with her writing, her character sketches and all the nuances that came through. It was like falling in love with her again. I didn’t know she was such a fine writer. I offered there and then to produce it for her. I have worked with her as a co-producer, but this was a different experience. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Dobhi Ghat

On free time
Yes, I do have free time! I love sports and playing board games with my kids. I enjoy reading; I have very wide tastes in books. Kiran recently gifted me a painting set, complete with canvasses, paints and brushes. I will return the gift to her by creating a painting. I wanted to learn swimming and have enrolled in lessons with Mickey Mehta, as I have to swim in Reema’s movie. I enjoy watching offbeat Indie films and I love documentaries. I enjoy past-times that encourage intellectual engagement. I am also learning Marathi with my teacher Suhas Limaye. Cooking is something I’m keen on learning, but I am yet to start with that.

On newcomers
Over the years of my career, I’ve worked with new people, from directors to actors. It is a joy to work with a young, energetic, passionate crew, like in my recent productions. Their sense of cinema is very evolved. It doesn’t matter their ages, what matters to me are that they are excited about it and that they have a positive and happy work ethic. I love cinema and it is not work to me, but my passion. That’s not to say that people in the game for a long time don’t possess these qualities, they also do and those are the people I choose to work with.

On introducing Prateik, who is on everyone’s hot-list right now
He’s a very talented kid; I’m really fond of him. We worked together on Dhobi Ghat, and Kiran and he requested for me to work with him during rehearsals and we disappeared for a few weeks to work on his diction. He was receptive and a good learner. It was a joy working with him because he applied himself. He has lots of potential and I’m happy my production house helped launch him. Acting is his blood; from his family. I was a big fan of Smita Patel ji and had she been here, I believe she’d have wanted this for him.

On testing his material
I like to screen my films well in advance. I test and get responses and see if any changes are needed. I call friends of friends, friends of family and people who have nothing to do with cinema. After the screening, I spend a few hours with them and it helps me correct editing, subtitles and much more. In the edit stage, we don’t usually need to re-shoot, but we’ve had instances in the past when we’ve needed to re-shoot scenes.

On music
I love Hindi film music from ’50s, ’60s and Pink Floyd, Elvis, Simon & Garfunkel—stuff from my generation. I like Indian and western classical music and I love jazz. I don’t get to go to a lot of concerts and I do have an iPod, but I rarely use it. I still prefer to play CDs in the car. I’m bad with gadgets.

On his favourite place
It’s got to be Panchgani, a hill station in Maharashtra—I have a home there.

On his favourite Khan
Yusuf Khan aka Dilip Kumar. Dilip Kumar and Daniel Day Lewis are actors I want to match.

On winning best playback singer award in the film Ghulam
I’m totally tone deaf when it comes to singing, but luckily people have loved it and I have been asked to give playback singing a few times.

On the Internet
I was an early adopter to blogging, as it’s a great way to communicate and express your feelings, and also listen to people’s thoughts. I’ve not been regular for a while, for no specific reason, but I do connect via my Facebook page from time to time.



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