Happy Birthday Aamir: Bollywood actor Aamir Khan relaxes at a studio in Bandra, Mumbai.
Two tiny holes in the ears were filling out from four years of under-use. So, two earrings have come up, lest the detail is lost. Nor would the background children slip away unnoticed. Director of one film and clandestinely, they say, of many, Aamir Khan speaks of them as more than just detail.
<b1>"The background kids have done extremely well. For a scene to work, the background action has to really come alive," the actor said on Friday about his directorial debut Taare Zameen Par, which will release on December 21, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.
The film is about an eight-year-old who does so poorly in studies that his parents pack him off to a boarding school. Here he meets an art teacher, played by Aamir, who brings colour back to his drawing-book world of fishes, dogs and kites.
He says his biggest learning and experience as a director has been working with children. "They are intuitive, natural. The flipside is they have very short attention spans. By the time you have caught attention of one child, you have lost the other," said Aamir, who names Steven Spielberg and Guru Dutt among his favourite directors.
"In filmmaking, you take a shot for the umpteenth time to get all angles. But children, after the first shot, think the scene is over."
The father of a teenaged son and a daughter a year older than the film's protagonist Ishaan Awasthi said the script made him look at his children differently .
He took the decision to take over the direction from scriptwriter Amol Gupte within 48 hours after following, what he calls, "creative differences".
Not before giving Gupte the choice to go to another producer, which he declined.
And just as his 2002 hits Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai were followed by intense personal disquiet and subsequent divorce, Taare Zameen Par has been followed by another private storm, with his mentally ill brother Faisal publicly accusing him of ill-treatment.
Instead of hitting back, he responds with a fiercely private silence. "I am not comfortable discussing it at a public platform. And quite frankly, I don't think it is anyone's business," said the 42-year-old.
"The media, by just writing about somebody's mental illness, has only damaged him and aggravated his condition."
Did he have a problematic relationship with the media?
"Did I? I am not quite sure it is in the past tense. I think very few journalists today live up to their primary responsibility of reporting facts accurately and responsibly. About 90 per .cent stuff written about me is made up. I see interviews which I have not even given appear," he said.
He terms the controversy over him disrespecting the national flag at the inauguration of a car showroom in Indore "cooked up".
"It is part of someone's plan to get some publicity This is not the first time celebrities have been dragged to court with false accusations," he said.
And he remains the Aamir Khan who redefines superstardom as an involved recluse, and smilingly trades serious temptation for utterly personal choices.
Turning down a Rs. 20-crore acting offer recently because there was no script, for instance, or refusing to have his bust at Madame Tussauds (now home for a couple of India's other superstars).
"Being at Tussauds does not really interest me," he said. Plain vanilla-speak, for desserts.