On a scale of 10, Kiran Rao gives Aamir Khan a 9 ½ as an actor and as a director. As a producer, it’s a 10.
For Aamir, Kiran rates a 9 as writer-director. He gives her a 9 as an actor too. Is Kiran an aspiring actor? “I’m not,” she retorts. “Never say never but I have no intentions of facing the camera at the moment even though I was into dramatics when in school and college.”
Sighing regretfully, her husband says, “She was reading Yasmin so well that I tried to coax her to do the role. But ziddi hai ladki (the girl is stubborn), she wouldn’t agree. Eventually, Kriti (Malhotra) played the part beautifully. But it would have been fun to romance Kiran on screen.”
Kiran was coaxed by a friend to join the Lagaan team as assistant director even though she had barely watched 10 Hindi films in her life before that. Qayamat Se Qaymat Tak was the one movie she watched from beginning to end on her new VCR. She met Aamir on the Lagaan sets. He was still married to Reena Dutta at the time. But after the film’s release, they amicably ended their 15-year marriage.
That was in December 2002. Three years later, on December 28, Aamir married Kiran under the Special Marriage Act. “Reena and I had run away together and got married in the courtroom. I had a civil registered marriage with Kiran too, but after that, we went off to Panchgani for a four-day ‘personalised’ wedding. The New Year revelry stretched to a marriage and a honeymoon that involved around 200 family and close friends. And the honeymoon continues,” says Aamir, running a gentle finger down his wife’s cheeks, drawing a smile.
More recently, his nephew Imran Khan married steady date Avantika Malik in a similar wedding that continued to a Thai honeymoon with family and close friends. It must have brought back fond memories though Aamir and Kiran didn’t accompany the couple to Thailand?
“I don’t think there were any similarities,” says Aamir. “When I married Reena, I was only 21 and not really ready for marriage. And with Kiran, it was a second marriage and both of us were sensitive to that fact. Imran and Avantika have been together for eight years now. They are mature, strong individuals with minds of their own and were ready for a commitment. That’s how it should be.”
Kiran admits that she plans to catch up on sleep now, and hasn’t started work on any new projects. “Aamir is the one who’ll start work on a new film soon.”
It’s a thriller, written by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti. Kagti is directing it too. “It’s an exciting script and brings me back with my 3 Idiots heroine, Kareena (Kapoor) and Rani (Mukherji) with whom I’ve done Ghulam and Mangal Panday,” he says shortly, running a hand through his short crop.
It’s time to leave Dhobi Ghat behind but before we do that, I have to ask Kiran for one never-forgotten memory from the shoot. “Going back to Masjid Bandar to film after the attacks on Taj and Oberoi Hotels and VT station. It gave me the shivers because two days earlier, we had packed up around 6 pm. Many members from my team took the train home,” she narrates. “They caught trains between 7 and 7.30. Half an hour later, Ajmal Kasab entered the station and began spraying bullets everywhere. We could have lost some friends. I’ll never forget that.”