Success saga

Success saga

Aamir Khan is undoubtedly one of the few cerebral actors in the Hindi film industry where brainless wonders abound. With producer Tahir Hussain for a father, and an ace director Nasir Hussain for an uncle, and aided by a youthful fascination for the arc-lights, it was but natural that the one-time child actor would soon graduate to adult roles.

Realising that his calling was cinema, a young Aamir bid adieu to books before fulfilling his father’s dream — that his son should get a degree. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then and today the fair, handsome star has proved not just his incredible range as an actor but also realised his ambition of becoming a producer and a top-notch director as well.

Although by no means a biography, I’ll do it my way — The incredible journey of Aamir Khan recapitulates the actor’s journey by stringing together a number of interviews with directors, producers and co-stars who have worked with him. This book is also supplemented with extracts from newspapers and periodicals apart from interviews given by the actor to various journals. Twenty-one films have been selected for discussion and nostalgic recollections by auteurs who helmed these movies have done much to spice up the book.

The protagonist, however, has shied away from giving an interview, although his office appears to have provided valuable inputs. Objectivity, however, seems to be a casualty, as almost all the interviewees have heaped praise on Aamir. This despite the fact that the grapevine continues to buzz that he is one actor who continuously interferes with the director’s work. In fact, Amole Gupta, who scripted Taare Zameen Par and was all set to direct the film, had to step aside as Aamir, the producer, felt that he could do a better job himself. The book could have certainly struck a better balance if a maverick director like Ramgopal Varma, who had directed Aamir in one of his biggest hits, Rangeela, or even Amole Gupta for that matter, had been asked for their views.

Ketan Mehta, who gave the actor his first break in Holi and also directed him in The Rising, where he played the revolutionary freedom fighter Mangal Pandey, has not aired his views. Yet, one can hardly grudge the actor’s success, for, he has broken every stereotype and has made bold to act in films that swerved considerably from the beaten track.

The lover boy in Mansoor Khan’s Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak gave way to a dark, violent and brooding character in Aditya Bhattacharya’s Raakh and the street-smart tapori in films like Rangeela and Ghulam. The daredevil in Aamir saw him enacting a sequence in Ghulam, where he had to move away from the tracks just before a speeding train rushed past, sending a shiver down the spines of the film crew and a motley crowd of
onlookers.

The latter half of his career, which really catapulted him to centre stage, has been dealt with in detail. The making of films like 1947 — Earth, where he played the villain Dil Nawaz, John Mathew Matthan’s Sarfarosh, where he was cast as a tough-as-nails cop, Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Lagaan, a period film, easily the crowning jewel in his career, Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti, Murugadoss’ Ghajini, a remake of a Tamil film of the same name where Aamir sported eight-pack abs, and Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 idiots, where the 40-plus actor essayed the role of a 22-year-old student, have been given adequate footage. Aamir’s directorial venture Taare Zameen Par and his productions like Peepli Live, Dhobi Ghat and Delhi Belly, have also merited a mention in the book.

Quite early in his career, Aamir, stung by his being bypassed several times for awards, developed a disquiet with award juries. To this day, he has never graced an award function. This, however, did not stand in the way of his moving heaven and earth to get the ‘Best Foreign Film’ Oscar Award for Lagaan, a bid that saw the film being shortlisted, but eventually missing out by a whisker. His love-hate relationship with the press has also not been highlighted, though it is well-known that the actor has even banned film glossies from carrying his picture on occasions and has cosied up to the journalists whenever he needed good press.

The book, however, has briefly touched on his broken first marriage to childhood friend Reena, who remains his alter ego, his subsequent marriage to director Kiran Rao, and his forays into the sphere of social activism. The best tribute to the outstanding actor, reproduced in the book, is from seasoned journalist Anupama Chopra who wrote, “Shahrukh may be the flashier actor and Salman, the toy boy, but Aamir’s performances have rare depth. Shahrukh, no matter what role he plays, is always Shahrukh but Aamir becomes Raghu in Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin and Munna in Rangeela.” That verily sums up the actor’s versatility in no uncertain terms.

Stills and publicity posters from his films add allure to the publication. Christina Daniels, a long-time Aamir watcher, has come up with a comprehensive volume that does justice to the actor’s impressive body of work over the years.

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