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Aamir Khan’s consistent inconsistency has always worked. Could Thugs of Hindostan do it again?

bollywood Updated: Nov 05, 2018 16:41 IST
Soumya Srivastava
Soumya Srivastava
Hindustan Times
Aamir Khan,Thugs of Hindostan,Thugs of Hindostan Movie

Aamir Khan says he said yes to Thugs of Hindostan because he loved his character in the film.

On Sunday’s episode of Koffee With Karan, host Karan Johar asked Aamir Khan a question that is often asked of actors—how does he choose a project. Over the years, different actors have given different answers to this question. Some hunt for a lead role, others want a big pay cheque, while some—like Shah Rukh Khan—say yes to the director rather than a script. However, Aamir’s answer was so spot-on, it puts his entire career in movies into perspective.

Karan asked Aamir about how he always chooses to do socially relevant films. Aamir quickly corrected him that even with a film like Dangal, his priority was not to spread a positive message across society but he chose the film because it was a good project.

“My fundamental responsibility as an actor is to be excited about what I am doing,” he said, and that is essentially what makes Aamir the money-minting movie machine that the entire world has come to respect.

From small towns to metropolises, from multiplexes to single screens, from Indians to Chinese, Aamir’s films find an audience everywhere they go for their big heart and his ability to get it beating with a flawless performance every time. With four ‘most successful Indian movies ever’ titles acquired in a career spanning over three decades, Aamir appears to have decoded what it takes to make a film that speaks to people and to all the people.

However, learning to find that right spot took years of hard work and regular failure for Aamir as well. After appearing as the ‘little boy who needed to pee’ in Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Aamir made his debut in Holi, which was as uneventful a welcome into Bollywood as you could imagine. Soon he got his second chance to prove himself with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak in 1988 and the film launched him as the one star to watch out for. Over the next decade, he gave hits like Dil, Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahi, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar and Raja Hindustani—which went on to become the most successful Hindi film ever in 1996. However, there were also disappointments like Isi Ka Naam Zindagi and Daulat Ki Jung.

Up until the end of this era, Aamir was still taking the road oft travelled, the goody chocolate hero starring in romantic dramas. Sure, there were a few slight deviations from the norm here and there with roles like Rangeela or Ghulam, Aamir didn’t break out of his image until 1999’s Sarfarosh. The film earned him great critical acclaim and was the one true push he needed to shed the romantic loverboy image and hunt after more meaty roles in a variety of genres.

What followed after the slight hiccup of films like Mela and Mann, was the one film that will forever be counted as among the greatest Hindi films ever made, Lagaan. The Oscar nominated film was what Aamir needed to let the world know that he has arrived. It was quite evidently the film he was excited about the story, the script and the film as a whole and carried that thought with him in all the projects that followed it.

From the earnest Bhuvan in Lagaan, Aamir took a 180 degree turn to transform into the goofball with a goatee in Dil Chahta Hai as Akaash. A coming of age film for young men living in the urban India, it was unlike anything we had ever seen in Bollywood. Aamir knew it was the one film to give his time and energy to and it paid off spectacularly. I personally believe these two films to be Aamir’s most spectacular work.

Aamir took a break of four years from movies after his divorce with Reena Dutta. He made a comeback in 2005 with Mangal Pandey. The film also received polarised reviews but still managed to be one of the most successful movies of the year. With his new-found confidence, Aamir peddled one mega hit after another. Immediately after Mangal Pandey’s raging sepoy, Aamir transformed himself into the carefree, careless and very reluctant Delhi University alumnus in Rang De Basanti, again a film that touched a million hearts. It was again a massive hit.

His next two films, Fanaa and Taare Zameer Par also made a tonne of money and the latter—which also marked Aamir’s venture into direction—made an entire nation of grown ups cry thinking about their moms. Taare Zameen Par was sensitive, beautiful and a brilliant example of art with a purpose.

However, he was yet to take that big long soak in the Rs 100 crore club which came with his very next film, Ghajini. It became the very first Indian film to break the barrier and gave him his second ‘most successful Indian movie ever.’ The film was a romantic action film and a remake of Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Aamir gave not only his mind but also his body to the role as he gained a tremendous amount of weight and muscle to portray a killing machine out for vengeance.

Aamir broke his own record a year later with 3 Idiots, a Hindi movie that became a worldwide hit in the true sense. The Chinese fell in love with the film and Aamir and it’s an admiration they harbour in their hearts to this day. The all-in-one drama comedy romantic musical was also the first Hindi film to cross the Rs 200 crore mark.

Films like Dhoom 3 and PK continued the trend for Aamir until Baahubali eclipsed it all. The film made a killing at the box office and it seemed like nothing could come close to its success. Or that how it looked before Aamir unleashed the beast that was Dangal.

The sports drama about a strict father and his daughters saw an international success unlike any Bollywood film had ever seen before. Aamir’s devoted fan base in China and the film’s great story and performances helped it become the most successful Indian movie ever made, by a stretch. It made Rs 2,100 crore worldwide.

Over the years, Aamir has found the recipe to making the perfect film. Great, authentic performances, a story that touches hearts, served with oodles of entertainment. However, he has confessed on Koffee With Karan that Thugs of Hindostan is the only film which he says he chose because he fell for his character.

Of course, there doesn’t seem to be an underlying message to Thugs of Hindostan other than wholesome entertainment. Could this new strategy of choosing roles prove dangerous for Aamir? Or is he too well versed with the trade to know a good deal when he sees it? We will know it in just a few days.

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First Published: Nov 05, 2018 16:21 IST