"I really want honesty in a relationship"-Aamir Khan
He spoils the party. He rips through our lulled senses, bringing our merry dance to a halt. He won't let us revel in our celebrated mediocrities. Aamir Khan is right when he says he's of no use to us. No superstar stance, no swagger, no sweeping statements. He's a strange creature who talks about things like excellence, commitment, value and integrity... who decides to mentor a project about a dyslexic boy... gives an unknown nine-year-old actor the top role and the top billing... and puts together the best and the biggest film ever. This is surely not the stuff our superstars are made of. This is a lot more than that. A lot more.
Here’s what Aamir Khan has to say after a long silence of nearly 15 years.
Did you imagine this kind of response/impact to Taare Zameen Par?
No, I did not. Not to this extent. When I saw the film I was really happy with it. I felt that we've managed to make what we had set out to. And I believed that people were going to like it. But I didn't know that it would have such a huge impact. I thought probably very little kids might not connect with the film and the other fear I had was that, by and large, people stay away from films that make them cry, that's the trend over so many years that I have noticed. 'Arre nahi yaar yeh rone dhone wall picture hai, avoid karo yaar', you know, people just don't go to the theatres. I had these concerns, so in that sense it has gone way beyond what I had imagined. And it's not just the commercial success or the fact that so many people have seen it so many times. It's the extent to which it has connected with each viewer.
As an actor the outcome of a film does not impact you directly. But as a director you are out there in full view. The onus looming large. Must be scary.
Oh yes, that was scary no doubt. In fact, let me be very honest with you. I've always wanted to direct a film right from the start of my career. But over the years, as I became more and more successful as an actor, it became more and more scary for me to think of directing a film. I used to feel that if I direct a film and if it doesn't work... there's so much at stake over here. I'm already a successful actor. I don't need to put myself out there. Somehow it is much more important now than before that I pick the right film. You know? There's a lot more expectation, which is also scary and unnerving and as a director it is even more. But in this case, I did not plan to direct, it happened overnight so I didn't have time to get scared. There was a crisis. One week into the shoot I saw the rushes that Amole had shot and I didn't like them. I spoke to Amole. I told him since I had lost faith he should take over the project. You've written it so you have the first right on it, I'll step away, which is what I did. I stepped away as producer and actor. The next day he came to me and said no, you stay producer and actor, I'll step away because I think you can provide the platform that the script requires.
Then why is Amole sounding so upset?
That is something he has to answer because the decision not to direct was entirely his. I had backed out of the project. So after he came back and said that he would rather that I stay on as producer and actor, I was wondering who should direct it now, and the only person who could start right away was I.
Did the director and actor cross paths? Did you feel, at any time, that one is getting the better of the other? Or since you were directing for the first time, did you find the director overwhelming the actor? Did you feel maybe the actor was perhaps neglected a bit?
Not really, I don't think so. For example, Vinod Chopra told me that this is clearly one of my best performances ever. So I am not so sure because it is a little difficult for me to judge my own work. I can't be objective about it. I think it is good and I think it is right. When I look at it now, I feel maybe I could have pitched it a little lower. There were times in the film when I could have held it down. Just a touch. Like there are two, three scenes actually...
When Nikumb Sir goes to meet Ishaan's parents?
Yes, when he comes to meet the parents. I felt that maybe I could have pitched it down a bit. You see, what happens is that at that time you don't know that Nikumb was also dyslexic, it is only later that you realise that, 'Oh maybe Nikumb had a traumatic childhood', which is why maybe his reaction seems stronger than it should be. I could have pitched it a touch lower and still kept it wet. But anyway these are very minute things. I don't think I neglected myself as an actor. No, I didn't. If I had done that then I would not have been doing my job as a director. And, as a director, I'm quite happy with the work of the actor who played Nikumb.
Talking about your personal life what do you think was your toughest trial as a parent?
I think it would have to be my separation and divorce with Reena. That would have to be the toughest trial as far as my kids are concerned.
Talking to them...letting them know...
Yes. And dealing with that situation...
Do you think you fared well in this trial?
I don't know. I know I did my best. I know I tried my best and I know that I have a very deep and strong bond with my children.
Would you say that you are caring and compassionate in your relationships? You are very demanding professionally. Are you like that with people around you too... your family and friends?
I am not sure. I think you need to ask this question to people around me. I won't be able to answer this question, honestly. I think I am caring, I think I am extremely sensitive and caring but (laughs) I don't know how other people perceive me. You know? Maybe they don't think I am... No, I think I am fairly caring and concerned. Demanding, I don't know what you mean really. Am I the kind of person who says you have to be here when I want... no, I'm not like that. But yes, I mean I definitely want love and caring. And if it's not there then I need to know it's not there. I really want honesty in a relationship. That's very important to me. And I want people who are close to me to be forthright and honest with me, even if it means or might mean me getting upset or hurt.
People normally say that you are a great actor and a star but perhaps Shah Rukh, Hrithik, Salman or Akshay are considered to be more 'hot'. Perhaps you walk away with most of the respect and admiration but enjoy a less colourful form of stardom...
I think Salman and Shah Rukh or Hrithik, for that matter, are doing really well for themselves. They have great personalities, they are very magnetic, are extremely charming. When I watch Salman on screen, like when I saw portions of Partner I was, like, this guy is amazing yaar. I am quite mesmerised by that. I am a big fan of Govinda too. Seeing them do all that with such flair, I feel kya baat hai yaar.
Do you wish sometimes that you could be more flamboyant and dashing... that deadly superstar stance, the swagger, the air-kissing... a dude?
No. (Thinks) Not really. I think I have been fortunate enough...I may not have the negative trappings of a star but I think all the positive ones are in place...I think my audience...I mean I don't want to say all this... (laughs) but I think I have the stardom that I want...I am the person I am and I can't be someone else and I can't suddenly start behaving like somebody else...and I am happy the way I am.
Do you ever find yourself being caught under the huge expectations you have built around yourself? Do you feel compelled to make decisions that comply with the great expectations?
No, I don't get hassled by that. It doesn't at all make me shy away from films which are perhaps not seen as my type at all. Like there have been a number of people who said, why did you do Fanaa - it's just another mainstream film? Arre, but I enjoyed doing it yaar. At the end of the day I have to be happy with what I'm doing. I might like Mills and Boons, yaar. I'm not some intellectual who doesn't like something just because it is popular. I loved No Entry. I'm producing a film called Delhi Belly that has language which I don't think is right for kids, so I'll apply for an Adult certificate, but the fact is that I find it very funny, it's a very humorous film. So I'm not going with pre-conceived notions; I'm not afraid of what people might think. I don't try to second guess the audience. I'm just going with my instinct and what I like. So if I like something, I do it. I'm sure that there will be times when I go wrong, but filmmaking is too difficult yaar and I want to be part of something that I enjoy doing first of all. I can't be stuck to that one year process of making a movie only because of some professional calculation. I just cannot. I have to enjoy the process.