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Aamir uses popularity to deliver message

His films have been boycotted, but Aamir Khan is standing his ground, using his fame to push his niche films with social messages to a wider audience.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2008 18:20 IST
Rina Chandran

His films have been boycotted and vigilantes have called for his blood, but superstar Aamir Khan is standing his ground, using his fame to push his niche films with social messages to a wider audience.

Khan, 42, a perfectionist who is compared by critics to Hollywood's Tom Hanks, has often spoken out on issues such as religious riots and uneven development, sometimes at the risk of losing his star appeal.

But so long as some of his films get a social message out, Khan won't back away from taking a stand, the veteran actor said as he made a special appearance at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

"I enjoy doing an out-and-out commercial film, and I would like to use the popularity I have as a mainstream actor and use that to tell other stories," Khan said at the weekend.

The star's directorial debut Taare Zameen Par (Stars on Earth), a film about child dyslexia, topped box offices across the cinema-mad country when released last month, backing his theory of how mainstream and niche cinema can coexist, he said.

"I want everyone in the country to see Taare, so I will use the grass-root popularity that I get from a Fanaa or a Dil Chahata Hai to get audiences to also see a Taare," he said, referring to two of his biggest mainstream hits.


Strong Opinions
Khan is no stranger to controversy. Two years ago, he supported a campaign against a dam that displaced thousands of villagers in Gujarat, also the scene of the horrific 2002 religious riots in which hundreds of people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

The reaction was prompt: Hindu groups supporting the dam tore down posters of his films and banned his movies in Gujarat.

Khan's strong opinions extend to two other issues as well -- the media and sponsored film awards in India, both of which he largely avoids, prompting charges of arrogance.

But for him, that is par for the course when making the films he wants to make.

"I think everyone -- not just actors or sportspersons -- should take a stand against things they don't agree with," he said.