Sh*t happens… Who came up with the tag line?
Aamir: I did. Akshat (writer Akshat Verma) had come up with a couple too...
Imran: ‘Sometimes fate is a bad plate of chicken…’ There was also a Delhi Belly graphic against a brown paper backdrop shaped like a stomach.
Aamir: And one that went, ‘Orange juice+ chicken will never taste the same again!’ They were all funny and clever, but you need to see the film for them to make sense. On the poster, you need a tagline that connects with the audience instantly. A line that conveys something crazy happening out of the blue, outside of your control, and turning lives topsy- turvy. And that’s how ‘Sh*t happens’ happened!’
Imran: (Chuckles) I thought it was awesome but since I’ve started promoting Delhi Belly, I’ve had to field questions like, “To yeh sh*t kya hai? (So what’s this sh*t?)”When did ‘sh*t happen’ to you?
Aamir: (With a twinkle) When Imran came to me with Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008) and told me, “Mamu, I want you to produce this film for me.”
Imran: I didn’t come to you, you did!
Aamir: (Laughs) It was a joke!
Imran: Actually, I called to ask you to introduce me to your producer, UTV.
Aamir: (Surprised): UTV?
Imran: Yeah, Rang De Basanti (2006) promos had just come out. After looking at them, Abbas (director Abbas Tyrewala) and I thought maybe they’d be interested in our script. (Grins) Mamu, you are losing your memory in your old age.
Aamir: On a more serious note, I’d say sh*t happened to me during the deluge of July 26, 2005. I was in an office in Lower Parel, supposed to catch a flight that night. My bags were in the car. I drove towards the airport and was stuck on the road for seven hours.
Imran: My house is on Pali Hill and the water flows downhill. So though the phone lines were jammed and the cable TV went off, I had no idea till I read the papers the next day. Otherwise, sh*t happens everyday as I go out dousing all kinds of fires. Would you say that the projected ‘cold war’ with Ranbir Kapoor was one of them?
Imran: (Shrugs) That was just a blimp on the radar. Ranbir watched Delhi Belly the other day. There’s no cold war. What about you, Aamir? What’s the most bizarre gossip you’ve heard about yourself?
Aamir: That I was married to Preity Zinta. This was when I was separated from Reena (his first wife). Dil Chahta Hai had come out in 2001. This was a couple of years after that!
Aamir, Akshat had tried in vain to get an appointment with you and finally left the script at home. Had your wife Kiran (Rao) not picked this one up randomly and started reading, would Delhi Belly have been made?
Aamir: I don’t think so. (Smiles) I guess that’s another instance of ‘sh*t happens’. Imran, what was your reaction to the script? Like Kiran, did you also laugh your guts out?
Imran: For me, it was a dream come true. I remember the first time I saw Guy Ritchie’s 1998 movie, Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. My first reaction was, “Oh sh*t, do they make movies like this too?” After that, my best friend, Sahil and I watched the movie once a month. I wished I could be part of one such movie. But the tricky part is that it is an intrinsically London film. You can’t take it out of there. Akshat has got the style and tone right and yet written an organic Indian story.
Aamir: I enjoyed Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, but it didn’t have any ‘Oh sh*t!’ moments for me.
Imran: It’s a crime caper with blood and gore, people die… And yet, it’s still funny.
Aamir: Our film is not that violent. But yes, it has the crime element and the humour.
Imran, what’s the most rebellious thing you’ve ever done?
Imran: My parents always gave me plenty of rope so I didn’t need to hang myself.
Aamir: There were no rules for him to break. But Faisal, my sisters, Nikhat and Farhad, and I had lots set for us. No parties for the girls and that meant we’d say we wouldn’t go either. And a midnight deadline.
Imran: That’s pretty reasonable for back then.
Aamir: (Laughs) The party was on the building’s terrace.
Imran: My mom (Nuzhat) never let me ride a bike. The opportunity came up once. But when I told the director that I didn’t know how to drive one but could learn, he said, “There’s no time, we’ll change the script!”
Aamir: Reena, Kiran and I have never put any restrictions on my kids, Junaid and Ira, who are very responsible. I only want to be in the loop about what is happening in their lives.
Aamir, your earliest memory of Imran?
Aamir: Taking him for his first haircut. He was four, his mom was out of town. I told the barber to give him a clean shave. (Grins) He was sitting with his head down and only looked into the mirror after half his hair was gone. And instantly started crying, wouldn’t stop! His head as smooth as an egg. Nuzhat returned after a few days and cried out, “What have you done to my boy?” I told her I had got him a haircut!
Imran, what’s your earliest memory of mamu?
Imran: I was on this Mall Road set of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (1992) at Film City, in costume and make-up, ready to face the camera. Mamu took one look at my garishly made-up face and said, “Terrible!” He then wiped off all the paint and re-did the make-up himself.
Aamir you were supposed to do Kunal Kapoor’s role in the film?
Aamir: I wanted to, but couldn’t afford to put on so much weight and then lose it all.
Imran: I keep trying to imagine mamu in the role, but Kunal has inhabited it so well that it’s difficult.
Aamir: There’s a Tom Cruise film in which he’s unrecognisable. Fat, hairy producer…
Imran: Tropic Thunder!
Aamir: (Smiles) Now see if you can imagine me in Delhi Belly?
Imran: Tom breaks into a jig while the end credits are rolling. His film is winning Oscars and he does this hip-hop dance… Hairy arms, pelvic thrusts and ‘ganda sa’ (dirty) steps. Fantastic!
Aamir has done an item number for Delhi Belly, enjoyed it?
Aamir: Yeah, it was cool… I’ve done some weird stuff, but this was one of the weirdest.
What’s your favourite item song?
Imran: ‘Munni badnaam hui…’ (Dabangg, 2010). Without humour, a song like that could turn sleazy.
Aamir: ‘Choli ke peechey kya hai…’ (Khal Nayak, 1993).
Aamir, what’s the one thing about Imran that you envy?
Aamir: His height, I wish I were taller.
Imran: I envy mamu’s innate understanding of cinema. He can pick a random shot and tell you it would be better at this point in the story. Wow!
How would you rate Aamir as a producer on a scale of 10?
Imran: A straight 10!
Aamir, how would you rate Imran as an actor?
Aamir: 8/10. I’m not generous with marks, but Imran has shown a huge growth as an actor since Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na. I see more ease and confidence now. And I’m hoping and assuming that the improvement goes beyond this, so I can give him those two extra points soon. His best act yet is in Delhi Belly.
Imran: And mamu’s was 3 Idiots (2009). And from the Aamir Khan Productions repertoire over the last decade, take your pick...
Imran: Taare Zameen Par (2007) (TZP). It was so real, stripped down to bare bones, while the other movies, whether Lagaan (2001) or Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na, had a sense of cinema. I guess it had to do with the fact that it was Darsheel (Safary) and not Aamir who was the hero, a little boy from a middle-class family.
Aamir: I agree with Imran. All my films in a two decade-plus career have been creatively different, but TZP was the only one that changed lives across the country. It changed the way parents looked at their kids and how children perceived themselves. It altered the perception of the education system and the equation in a parent-child relationship.
Imran: I remember once I was at an airport when this guy came running up to me and told me that he’d heard I was an actor and related to Aamir Khan. When I confirmed this, he pulled out a bunch of paper napkins from his pocket.
Imran: Yeah, he said that Taare Zameen Par was his story so he had scribbled his thoughts on the film on the napkins in the form of a letter and wanted me to pass it on to you.
Aamir: Where is it?
Imran: I passed it on to one of your assistants. Maybe it’s in a pile somewhere.
Aamir: Must search for it, we might just find another gem like Akshat’s Delhi Belly script. Sh*t happens!