While Aamir Khan is busy shooting for his next release, Ghajini, and acquiring an indeterminate number of packs (six? eight?) through an intensive fitness regime, his gut-wrenching last release just refuses to let go of him.
This time, the actor was in Delhi for a special screening of Taare Zameen Par for President Shrimati Pratibha Patil, along with Darsheel. The prez apparently liked it enough to meet Aamir again, the day after the screening.
“She saw the film on Sunday evening, she liked it and spoke very warmly of it. And today, she said that, I need to continue making films that have a social impact, to take up some more socially relevant topics,” Aamir said.
After the socially relevant TZP, the movie that’s been talked about for a variety of reasons, has been Aamir’s friend Ashu’s Jodhaa Akbar, and not everyone thinks it could do justice to Akbar or to that era.
If Aamir “now wearing the hat of a proven director too” was tempted to make a period film, which topic would interest him?
“I have been actually thinking of something like this. If I had to make a period piece, I would make a movie a series of movies, actually on the Mahabharata.”
“The idea interests me greatly, for if India is to ever entertain the world on a scale when you can say, iske aage aur kuch nahin, it’s the ultimate, it has to be the Mahabharata. That would be one definitive thing India could give to world cinema. It has the potential to be the baap of Lord Of The Rings!”
But an Lord Of The Rings analogy implies a series, right?
“Yes, you can’t possibly look at it as one film. It has to be something like seven or maybe even 10 films, for a global audience, with the potential for all the spin-offs that make such huge products commercially viable games, products, all of that. The idea both excites and scares me. But it is only an idea as of now. If I were to actually attempt to make this, it would take 10, maybe 15 years of my life.”
“Yes, for the first five years will go to research alone, for the material is mammoth.”
Purely as a speculative exercise, if he were to play a role in that, which one would he chose?
“I find Karna, Arjuna, Krishna, to be the central characters. Karna fascinates me as the most charismatic character, someone who finds the dice loaded against him from day one. But I would probably be better cast as Krishna because in my mind the actor who plays Karna would be maybe someone 6 feet two, of a warrior’s physique. I would be able to carry off Krishna well, I think. And Arjuna’s character fascinates me for the primary reason that he is the only one who questions war. It’s only Arjuna who has self doubt, and he admits it. That is a very brave thing to do.”
But since Aamir hasn’t taken up that challenge yet, and is therefore not lost to us for a decade and a half, what is he doing?
“After Ghajini, I am doing a new project directed by Raju Hirani. It’s tentatively titled Idiots!”
“Yes, and the story began as something that was loosely along the lines of the track that Five Point Someone was about, but now it is a film that is simply about life.”
Now that the awards are beginning to roll in as well, what’s the best compliment he’s got?
“It’s no one thing, actually. I get a lot of satisfaction from the fact that every time I do a film, people forget my previous work. When Sarfarosh came out, they forgot everything before that. The same happened with Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti and with TZP, is all-consuming.
It makes me feel that I have managed to travel as an actor, convincingly etching different people. People remember me as the character, rather than as Aamir. They think of me as Bhuvan, or as Nikumbh sir, or Aakash, or Mangal Pandey, or DJ, or even ACP Rathore. When people remember your characters, it is extremely satisfying.”
Yes, Nikumbh Sir!