The Rise And Rise Of Aamir Khan
Nobody in Bollywood knows how to use and manipulate better than the most ‘perfectionist’ of all stars, Aamir Khan who recently made his small screen debut in a gigantic manner with a serial called Satyamev Jayate. The run-up to it in early May 2012 was so important to him that he concentrated so much on its marketing strategy that he had to even skip a cricket match between Bollywood and under-privileged children of the neighbourhood organised by 19-year-old son, Zunaid, warranting buddy Salman Khan to do the rescue act. The initial response has been mixed—bordering on the hyperbole, whatever way one looks at it.
No matter what the eventual outcome of Satyamev Jayate, a lot of planning went into conceptualising the very idea. He reportedly travelled extensively, meeting and interacting with people. He has been quoted as saying: “It was during my travels that I came across the real India and it became my ambition to bring all these Indians together, something like a Bharat Jodo like someone called it and that is just what I have tried to do in Satyamev Jayate and nothing but the truth about India and its needs to bring all Indians together if we really have a Mera Bharat Mahaan.” His detractors feel there is nothing new about the ‘idea’ or ‘concept’. Producer-director-lyricist-media man, Amit Khanna toyed with the idea of linking India together on Doordarshan with Namaskar India in the late 1980s for Plus Channel. It tried to connect the country through a link, which was also a sort of quiz. But public memory is short. Television and documentary producer, Siddharth Kak extended the scope of linking India through a programme called Surabhi during mid-1990s. Both served a unique purpose, though the ethos of the two differed substantially. Satyamev Jayate has been made in eight languages, watchable on all Star Plus-owned channels, though his voice has been dubbed for the four southern languages, has 13 songs (one each for every episode) penned by Prasoon Joshi, set to music by Ram Sampath.
Making a sensational debut in Mansoor Khan’s Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), though he had worked as a child artiste in uncle Nasir Husain’s Yadoon Ki Baraat (73) and Madhosh (74), and done a cameo in Ketan Mehta’s Holi (84) when barely 19, and has since worked in another 34 productions in a career spanning 24 years. The last being Delhi Belly (11), and next, yet another home production, Talaash slated for release later in the year. He is no longer the shy, tentative introvert one came across more than two decades ago on the sets of Dev Anand’s disastrous, Awwal Number (90), though he did show a rebellious streak when he refused to report for shooting realising he had little to show by way of acting prowess, which came to the fore when he forced producer-director Mahesh Bhatt to pass on the baton to nephew Vikram Bhatt if Ghulam had to be completed because he felt the senior, working simultaneously on half-a-dozen productions, lacked concentration.
Summing up the persona of Aamir Khan, a die-hard admirer, Bengaluru-based Christina Daniels has authored a book, I’ll Do It My Way, chronicling the life and times of the actor. Reportedly, not only the actor but many of his colleagues and second wife, Kiran Rao went through the text several times over before approving it, but without any interaction with him, though the actor did, reportedly, engage many of his directors like Mansoor Khan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Indra Kumar, Asif Noor, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, AR Muragadoss, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani and Mahesh Bhatt who said Aamir was “a very brave actor”, having earlier questioning her approach towards the subject by stating matter-of-factly: “You are beginning on the assumption that there is an evolution. If there is no evolution, there is no book.”
There have been no linkages, romantic forays with his leading ladies. And unlike many of his equally illustrious colleagues hardly any fights or showdowns, even shying away from unnecessary controversies seems to have been his motto. If his first commercial venture, QSQT (as it came to be later known as) “changed the course of cinematic history” the next successive turning points would seem to be the frame-by-frame copy of Frank Capra’s Hollywood classic, It Happened One Night (34) in the form of Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin (91) directed by Mahesh Bhatt with daughter Pooja as the heroine; Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar (92) directed by Mansoor Khan, Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke (93) with Mahesh Bhatt again wielding the megaphone, Andaz Apna Apna (94) co-starring Salman Khan, directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, Rangeela (95)—an early romantic flick by later hard-hitting, violent productions by Ram Gopal Varma, Dharmesh Darshan’s Raja Hindustani (96) and Indra Kumar’s Ishq.
It would be interesting to know that it is with only two directors, Mansoor Khan and Indra Kumar that the actor has worked in three films each, while those who got at least a second chance include Dharmesh Darshan, Mahesh Bhatt, Aashutosh Gawarikar who also directed the actor’s first home production, Lagaan (01) which was also India’s official entry for Oscar in the best foreign language film category, followed immediately by Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut Dil Chahata Hai which since its release has assumed an iconic status. After this he went on a literal five-year sabbatical, only to return in Ketan Mehta’s take on 1857 revolt against the British, The Rising (05) also known as Mangal Pandey in some circuits. And there has not been any looking back once again, one hit after another: Rakeyesh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti (angry young man), Kunal Kohli’s Fanna—both 06 – (in which he essayed the role of a terrorist), Taare Zameen Par (07) with which he also turned director, Ghajini (08) playing a psycho-somatic killer, 8-pack abs, close-shaven head with a single razor stripe which Indian Express went on to describe: “This is an Aamir Khan we haven’t seen before- fronting frame-filling physique, flaunting matter over mind” , 3 Idiots (09), Dhobi Ghat and Delhi Belly (11).
Christina Daniels sums up Aamir Khan’s eventful cinematic journey as: “Aamir defies every attempt to fit him into a type, remaining among India’s most popular youth icons for over two decades…The last ten years in Indian cinema are dotted with films driven by path-breaking themes that he has rescued from the sands of anonymity with his participation…For him, today’s peak becomes tomorrow’s sunset. Aamir Khan follows the eternal sunrise.” A new turning point is round the corner—the home production, Taalash that will hit the screen soon.
By Suresh Kohli