What does it take to be different – instinct, guts, conviction? Actor-director-producer Aamir Khan shows he has it all in abundance with his off-beat production ‘Dhobi Ghat’ – the latest in a 23-year-long career – getting rave reviews.
Directed and written by his wife Kiran Rao, produced by Aamir Khan Productions, the film shows new avenues of scripting and filmmaking and it seems only a thinking actor-filmmaker like Aamir could have done justice to this unique cinematic concept.
‘Dhobi Ghat’ is surely not for the masses as clarified by Aamir when he said, ‘I have to inform them that if you are looking for an entertaining film, a lot of dhamaal, action, thrill and fast pace, then this film is not that. I believe the film is made for an audience who are maybe more interested in music, art, painting, poetry, reading or people who want to try something different.’
This is not the first time Aamir has shown confidence in a budding talent – just a few months ago, he had presented another simple and real story by newcomer Anusha Rizvi. Titled ‘Peepli Live’, it was a satire on farmers’ suicides told in a humorous way. Directed and written by Rizvi, the film had no frills, no glamour and no known name in the cast, but still it swept the nation off its feet.
The film was India’s official entry to the Oscars but is out of the race. Another Aamir film, ‘Lagaan’, had made it to the top five nomination list in the best foreign film category at the Academy Awards.
Perhaps Aamir had it in him since the beginning.
After starting his acting career with the super successful romantic drama ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ and giving hits and flops, Aamir in between tried to do something different with movies like ‘Raakh’, ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’, ‘Baazi’, ‘Rangeela’, ‘Sarfarosh’ and ‘Earth 1947′.
But he came on his own after his resolution of doing only one film a year. His first offering after that was the 2001 period drama ‘Lagaan – Once Upon A Time’. The film was written and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, who knocked on many big actors’ doors with the script before approaching Aamir. The actor not only agreed to play lead in the movie but also decided to venture into production with the Oscar-nominated drama about farmers turning cricketers to bat out tax (‘lagaan’) from their lives.
It was perhaps the first film that turned movie theatres into stadiums where audiences clapped and cheered as the movie progressed to the climax.
If with the stupendous success of his maiden production venture Aamir broke the jinx that there are no takers for period films, he dispelled another myth that children-centric don’t work, with his directorial debut ‘Taare Zameen Par’.
Revolving around a child suffering from dyslexia, the film’s success established that if a story is narrated intelligently and interestingly, even an issue-based movie can bring glory.
It’s not that Aamir always makes ‘zara hatke’ film.
The Mumbai-based Hindi film industry, which alone produces more than 200 films every year and primarily focuses on glitz, gloss and glamour, got another surprise from Aamir when he launched his nephew Imran Khan with ‘Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na’ in 2008. A puppy love story that also had Genelia D’Souza was Abbas Tyrewala’s directorial debut. Also written by him, it was seen like a coming-of-age romantic movie and hit the jackpot at the box office.
Aamir says ‘it’s only on merit’ that he produces a film.
In an industry where creativity is usually confused with grandeur, Aamir has tried to give new meaning to filmmaking. He is expected to keep people’s expectations intact with ‘Delhi Belly’, another venture from Aamir Khan’s stable that once again has first-time director Abhinay Deo helming it.
Last year about 198 Hindi films were made and only five could spell good business. The Rs.587- billion Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry perhaps needs such a creative and daring filmmaker-actor to keep the cash registers ringing and viewers satiated.
(Arpana can be contacted at email@example.com)