I am Slave for you – Aamir Khan !
Aamir Khan, whose idiotic cinematic venture has grossed a record-breaking Rs 300 crore-plus already, says the who’s-the-badshah game doesn’t matter
Vidhu ko kaise thanda kiya press conference mein finally?
I snatched his mike, usse thanda karne ka aur koi tareeka nahi hai! Woh toh out of control ho jaata hai. Pehle maine uska sweater kheencha, par koi farak nahi pada. Phir maine socha, mike kheench lo, shayad chup ho jayega!
He is a difficult, volatile guy, isn’t he?
So one had heard, but I have to say, he has been a pleasure to work with. Uss din jo hua woh uska jazbadi reaction thaa, and that was because jo ungali uth rahi thi woh Raju ke khilaf uth rahi thi, Abhijat Joshi ke khilaaf uth rahi thi. Raju and Abhijat – woh kuch bolte nahi hain. Raju has made three super hits. Woh aaj ki date mein industry ka number one director hai. Bhayankar kaamyaab jisko bolte hain naa, woh hai. But he is such a shy guy, he doesn’t say anything, keeps a low profile, prefers to stay in the background. So when it was said about him that he is snatching someone’s credit, it was bizarre – arre, woh kiska credit chheenne waala aadmi hai? It is difficult to make him take the credit for anything!
And he does not even protect himself… That is why Vidhu got so upset. He later felt bad, we told him we should be responsible for our behaviour. And he apologised the next day.
Chetan also apologised….
I don’t even want to get into that, anymore. He knows what he is doing.
So basically you and Vidhu have been talking on Raju’s behalf, right?
See, when a film touches people’s hearts, it succeeds on a larger level. That is rare. Many films make money – and this has made money beyond what any Bollywood movie has made – but 3 Idiots’ big victory is that it has touched hearts. Why is it doing unimaginable business? The obvious things – I am a big star, Rajkumar Hirani is a big director, I and Kareena coming together for the first time, Sharman, Maddy and I coming together after RDB, Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s own goodwill – yeh saari cheezein hain. All this can bring you a great opening – the first 3 days. After that, it is the film that talks.
The entire credit for it thereafter goes to the director. It is Rajkumar Hirani, and not me, to whom the primary credit for this movie’s success goes. Just compare: No movie in the preceding five years, or the year since it opened, had come close to the first week collections of Ghajini. And the second week’s collections of 3 Idiots has been more than the first week of Ghajini!
Raju ke andar ek innate goodness hai which reflects in the cinema he makes. It comes through in the Munna Bhai movies, it comes through in this. Raju, as a person, as a director, he shows you even negative characters with warmth. He cannot even show you Virus and Chatur in a really harsh, negative light.
From school education to college education – from TZP to 3I – are you looking to rewrite a new charter for education in India?
An issue like this connects with the youth, it connects with parents – because for parents the education of their children is perhaps the single most important thing. A lot of films are successful, a lot of films are very entertaining. What I am thrilled about is the impact it is having. Every day I am meeting people saying, thank you, now we can speak to our parents and get them to understand what we have been trying to convey. Parents say, hamaari aankhein khul gayeen.
Whose idea was this trans-India journey of anonymity?
It was completely my idea.
How complex was the whole exercise? Sach mein Banaras mein ghar hai?
Haan, sach mein ghar hai, sach mein I was searching for it, sach mein I wasn’t sure ki mujhe milega. Ek mahine pehle se maine ammi se poochha thaa, ki Banaras mein aap kahan rehti theen? She would say, ‘Teliya Nala, Khwaja Manzil – bas itna yaad hai.’And woh ghar toot-taat gaya hai,’ she told me, so I thought, ghar milna mushkil hai, lekin mohalla dekh kar aa jayenge. I went by road from Delhi to Banaras. It took me two days, I had to stay overnight at Kanpur.
You went only to the ‘B-towns’.
I went within, deeper into our own society. There is a massive audience that we don’t even touch. I know that the A-town multiplex audience has bought into the brand equity of Aamir Khan and Raju Hirani and the like. But what beyond? Somewhere we have forgotten that there is an audience beyond. You will be shocked at the number of people who have switched from watching Hindi movies to Bhojpuri movies. In my own way, I was trying to connect to those towns, those audiences – not just as a promotion but as an attempt to understand them, to connect to them. On the one level it is a marketing exercise, but on the second level it was a journey of personal enrichment and growth for me, even if I don’t use it in any practical way later.
Sachin, Saurav, and all the rest – who all were in the loop?
Saurav was also very nice to me – though, unlike Sachin whom I know for the last 20-odd years, I don’t know Saurav. I have only met him fleetingly. Despite that, his entire family was so warm and welcoming.
On the whole, this way, I met 25 people, out of which 24 came to the premiere. The only exception was this elderly gentleman – Nawab sahib – at Banaras. A lovely, quaint old man. He said, Bhaiya, hamein maaf karo, hum Teliya Naala chhor ke kahin jaate nahi, hum aapke premiere pe nahi aayenge.
How come none of the 25 leaked the news?
None of them knew I was coming – so there was no question of anything getting leaked or anyone telling the media in advance. And not much of it was ‘planned’ in the sense of who I would or would not meet. In Banaras, finally the whole mohalla was helping me find the place – but they all were helping someone searching for his mother’s house. Till I left, nobody knew who I really was. In Faridkot I went as a foreigner interested in seeing how Punjabi weddings are. These things helped in explaining the couple of people with me, their cameras – in Banaras we were shooting to show my mother how the area looked, in Faridkot we were filming how a Punjabi wedding is, and so on.
The biggest thing about it?
Anonymity. Bees saal, nahi, baaiees saal ke baad, mujhe apni country mein, apni zindagi mein anonymity mili hai. You can have no idea what it meant to me. Yeh anonymity mujhe sirf Germany aur France mein milti hai ab. UK mein bhi nahi milti. 22 saal ke baad Hindustan mein main kahin baith ke, chai ki dukaan pe, bande ke saath baat kar raha hoon aur woh mujhse normally baat kar raha hai – usey kuch pata nahi ki main star hoon. Just talking, one person to another. I haven’t been able to be that way, from the day QSQT released, two decades back… It has been a priceless experience for me.
At the premiere, we saw pictures of Salman glaring at SRK, Aamir stepping in, standing between them, smiling, clearly defusing the tension – a sense of déjà vu?
Arre…! Let it be na! Let me just say I was very happy that so many of my friends from the industry came there, yaar. Almost everybody was there.
He texted me, saying main aa nahi paaonga, since he had to travel somewhere suddenly. He was meant to come. Those who couldn’t make it, sent their best wishes.
Ok. So, after TZP, Ghajini, 3 Idiots,who is the current Badshah?
Yaar, kyun wahaan ja rahe ho…! I am only competing with myself. I have said this earlier, I will repeat myself. I genuinely don’t compete with anyone. I want to learn from my previous work and do better than it each time, bas. I am most happy when I see good work happening. When I see a superb film, no matter who the star and who the director is, I am thrilled. When I saw Munna Bhai, I hugged Sanju, I said, yaar, kya kaam kiya hai!
Yeh number one, number two, these are very chichora things, not to be taken seriously. As far as the pack of cards goes, I am neither the badshah nor the ikka. I am the ghulam – of my audience. My job is to please my audience. To make sure that when you have bought a ticket, you must have a good time. Baaki sab, yeh faltu chhota stuff hai. Each star has a different relationship with his audience, and that is to be respected – it can’t be compared!
Peepli Life. It’s written and directed by a Delhi girl, Anusha Rizvi. It is her first film. I am producing the film. It’s already been selected at Sundance, which is a first for Indian cinema.
Been a long journey, fresh faced boy in QSQT, crooning away Papa Kehte Hain, wondering what to do after college, to today, anchoring the biggest grosser in Indian cinema, talking about what actually to do after college…
Yeah… I was 20, 20 years ago, when QSQT released…. And now I am 21!