His own man
Aamir Khan on the choice of topics for his films.
Cinema is largely an escapist medium. its main aim is to entertain and not to inform or educate.
In the late 1980s, Aamir Khan’s chacha jaan (paternal uncle) and veteran film director-producer Nasir Hussain wrote a story meant to be made into a movie. Titled “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak,” it not only became Aamir’s launch pad but immortalised his image as the most promising lover boy to have arrived in Bollywood. And now over two decades later, by putting his star image behind the promotion of his nephew and Nasir Hussain’s son, Imran Khan (who made his debut with last week’s release ‘Jaane Tu …Ya Jaane Na’), Aamir is in a way trying to “pay tribute to him in whatever way” he can.
But the actor also hastens to add, “I am not directly involved in the making of ‘Jaane Tu…’ that’s why I can give a lot of time for its promotion. ‘Jaane Tu…’ was already complete by the time my (directorial venture) ‘Taare Zameen Par’ was released. So I had time to relax. I have utilised that time in highlighting Imran’s film.”
This single point dedication of Aamir is indeed showing. Imran is all over the audio and visual media. On a few channels, Aamir has even allowed Imran to overshadow him, and in some, Imran was seen listening carefully to each of his famous uncle’s words.
Aamir on his part is busy playing the benevolent elder, hailing Imran for his natural ease in front of the camera, and the film’s heroine Genelia for her spontaneity. “I like their confidence. They are so new. For Imran it is his first film. Genelia has done a few films but career-wise it is still very early, yet they seem certain about what they want.”
So, is the college romance as depicted in ‘Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na’ here to stay?
“It always does,” quips Aamir, adding “any story which is well presented works. It’s not just college romance. Such films do a little better because a lot of college-goers watch them not only because they relate to this age group but also because they sometimes tend to imbibe a few naughty things shown in the film.” Referring to his own debut, he states, “See, the song ‘Papa Kehte Hain’ is not just it. Now it is a mischievous statement used to respect or mock at the father. It depends who is saying it. As the importance of college education is growing even in the remotest Indian villages, such films, if handled carefully, are bound to work.”
But have not our Bollywood films becoming more and more urban-centric? How many filmmakers take up real village problems in their films?
Aamir responds, “See, it is right that we should take village-related themes too. We should also make films on rural India and small town problems. My film ‘Lagaan’ highlighted the problem of drought and heavy tax on poor villagers. But let’s accept it, films should be made for auniversal audience. Situations may be different but emotions are the same every where. And cinema is largely an escapist medium. Its main aim is to entertain and not to inform or educate.”
So, with global market in mind, is the film industry now aiming more at the NRI audiences?
“Certainly not,” he says, adding, “The first choice is the Indian audience, because filmmakers make money because of them. If NRIs also like and watch our films, the money made out itis profit. Take any hit film such as ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge,’ ‘Sarfarosh’ or ‘Taare Zameen Par,’ they cater to both Indian and NRI audiences.”
Continuing the conversation you fill in about one-off films like “Summer 2007” which highlights the issue of farmers’ suicide in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. And Aamir, suddenly interested, asks, “Which film?...what is it about?...Who has made it?” You name the film’s director Suhail Tatari.“ Who is he?... I haven’t seen it…” He blames the media for being celebrity-driven. Personalities, not issues make headlines, he rues. “We find more articles on who is seeing whom in the film industry than on farmer suicides in newspapers. And most channels don’t even report news. They seem to be there just for entertainment. Of course, there are honourable exceptions but you cannot blame the people from the industry for it.” Well said. But probe a little about the much-talked about ongoing blog war between Big B and the rest and he claims to be computer shy! “I am not much of a computer person and doesn’t have an email id,” he states but has to eat his words as soon as he is reminded of the fact that he used the medium of blogging to promote his last film! Flashing that infectious smile, he says, “Okay, take my mail id from my PRO. I will answer your queries on mail.”
Really, Aamir is his own man. You know that? We know that.
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