The hatke Khan — that’s the best way to describe Aamir Khan. Media-shy, interfering in all aspects of films that he is a part of, never happy — these allegations have always been leveled against him. Perfectionist, cerebral and in-a-class-of-his-own are certain positives that we associate with Aamir.
“He charts his own path,” is the industry’s unanimous view. But nothing has deterred him from taking chances even when he was at his peak. And this is probably what separates him from his bitterest rivals Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan.
<b1>Where he stands
His latest release is a children’s film where he doesn’t get to romance anybody. Taare Zameen Par is also Aamir’s directorial debut. Aamir has always done films he has believed in and Taare Zameen Par is another example. He took risks when he was at his prime, Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai being films in which he shed his lover-boy looks.
The films had him playing diametrically opposite characters and he shone in both while the other two Khans played safe by doing formula films at that time. Shah Rukh only stepped out of it with Swades and later with Chak De! India. Salman, on the other hand, has been satisfied with masala films.
“Honesty is his forte. Who he is working with doesn’t matter. If he believes in the script, he is game,” says adman and lyricist Prasoon Joshi who has directed a number of Aamir’s ad films and penned lyrics for his films.
And he adds, “I would not say he has taken risks since if he is convinced where does the risk factor come?” Aamir had initially given the responsibility of directing Taare…to his childhood friend Amol Gupte, but later when he was unhappy with what was emerging he asked for another director. “However, Amol insisted that Aamir direct the film himself and he agreed,” informs a member of the production house.
<b2>Aamir did films with directors such as Vikram Bhatt (Ghulam), John Matthew Mathan (Sarfarosh) and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Rang De Basanti) when they were not very established.
“He saw Mehra’s Aks and was convinced after which he signed RDB,” says a source close to Aamir. Mathan had not directed a film when he signed Aamir.
Doing one film a year and giving everything to it is Aamir’s style.
“It is usually people out of work who do such things. But Aamir does it despite being on top,” points out Mathan. “It was an experience of a kind working with him, something I had never had before. Having Aamir means he is there for the whole year for you, shooting for the film. He keeps the next two months for anything he might be required to do the film,” said Mehra.
Only five releases in six years; no releases between DCH (2001) and Mangal Pandey-The Rising (2005) clearly vindicates the point. During the same period SRK had 15 releases and Salman had around 22. And except for Mangal Pandey all of Aamir’s films worked at the box-office. As an industry insider points out, even Mangal Pandey had a superb opening because people wanted to check out the Aamir film.
Search for excellence continues
Films like the remake of Tamil hit Ghajini and Lajjo (if at all it happens) is an example of how Aamir is constantly trying to rediscover himself. Trade expert Taran Adarsh says it’s his approach to work that makes him different.
“It’s the story that matters to him and nothing else,” adds Adarsh. And this is probably why Yash Raj Films reportedly paid him Rs 8 crore for Fanaa whereas Salman was overlooked for Chak De! India when he asked for Rs 6 crore. According to industry sources Aamir has been paid around Rs 18 crore for the Ghajini remake which makes him the highest paid actor in Bollywood. Need we say more?