He doesn’t really care about the usual trappings of a Bollywood star — glitzy appearances, multiple movies or making headlines every day. Still, Aamir Khan is at the top of his game with the biggest money-spinners under his belt. The actor talks about his film choices, the other Khans, the journey so far, and more.
At 50, when you look back, what do you think has been your biggest achievement?
As an actor, what has been of real value and importance to me is the opportunity to live life the way I want to, to be able to make my choices freely, to be able to do the work I like and to lead my life on my own terms. Circumstances also worked in my favour. I also feel grateful for the kind of experience I have gained while working with amazing writers and directors on films such as Lagaan (2001), Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Rang De Basanti (2006), Taare Zameen Par (2007), 3 Idiots (2009) and PK (2014).
Censorship in India has been a burning issue in recent times. What’s your take?
I am against censorship. Instead, I am in favour of certification. We use the term Censor Board very loosely. Conceptually, it’s not a censor board, it’s a certification board. The body isn’t meant to cut anything. Also, we have to make things a bit clear about the certifications. For example, what is U/A for? Also, censorship has no meaning in today’s day and age. A hit film like my last release is watched by approximately three to four crore people. That’s about 2-3% of the population. But things have changed so much, thanks to things like smartphones, that 60-70% people are potentially able to see any content which is totally uncensored. Today, it (censorship) has become redundant.
Sometime back, A BJP leader, Sadhvi Prachi, reportedly stated that the films by the Khans should be boycotted as people “do not get the right sanskars (values) from the movies” starring them.
It’s her thinking. What can I say? Each one is free to have their opinions. I believe in the freedom of speech. So, I may not agree with the lady, but she is free to air her thoughts.
Farah Khan has said that even God can’t bring the three Khans together.
There’s nothing like that. In my life, I have learnt that when you want to make God laugh, you tell him about your plans. The most unexpected of things happen in our lives. If something comes up that excites the three of us, why won’t we do it? I don’t think Salman, Shah Rukh or I have decided that we won’t work together. If the right opportunity comes, we will do it. I am open [to working with them].
What do you think sets you, Salman and Shah Rukh apart?
The kind of choices I make are very different from Shah Rukh’s and Salman’s. They are attracted to a certain kind of cinema; and it’s very successful. They have a fantastic following and people love their work. But that kind of stuff doesn’t attract me.
Ever thought of doing the kind of films Salman Khan does?
I don’t think I am capable of that (smiles). You have to have a certain charm to pull them off. Plus, they don’t excite me. Sometimes, when I watch Salman doing his belt dance step (from Dabangg; 2010), I also feel like doing it, but I don’t think I can do a full film like that.
Your last film made over Rs 300 crore. Do you feel the pressure to deliver a bigger hit next?
No... The death of a creative person is when he or she starts selecting his or her work based on the business of cinema. My film choices only depend on what my heart wants me to do.
You have experimented with different genres. Do you feel other stars should also become fearless about their choices now?
Yes, otherwise, we will keep doing the same things. It is wonderful to see the younger generation trying different stuff. When I entered the industry in the ’80s, it was hard to attempt such work. Now, it’s easier.
Is it true that your new film is based on wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat?
Yes, it’s loosely based on his life. I play an ex-wrestler who has two daughters; he is training them to become wrestlers.
You’ll be playing a much older man in the film. What made you take it up?
I have never worked according to logic; I just go with my heart. It’s a great story and role.
Despite being successful, you say you are always scared about the fate of your films. Why?
I am scared about each and every film. I am very vulnerable while I am working on those films. At 44, when I played an 18-year-old in 3 Idiots (2009), I was so scared. I thought I will become a laughing stock. The process of making these films is exciting and challenging, and that is partly because there is a very slim chance of them working (laughs). But with every film, I become a beginner. I get attracted to material that is different and challenging.