by Mrigank Dhaniwala: Aamir Khan has been variously dubbed by the media as ‘Mr. Perfectionist’ and ‘The Man With The Golden Touch’. The Bollywood actor-producer-director is known to make sure that his films get made in the best possible manner and in a way in which they appeal to the target audience.
Aamir’s track record in the last three years is enough to prove this point. When director Rajkumar Hirani approached Aamir for 3 Idiots, in which the actor was required to essay a character 20 years younger than him, Aamir took many days to decide if he wanted to do the role. Finally, he went with the director’s gut instinct. But not before he did everything that he could to look like the college-going boy, Rancho.
Yes, while shooting for 3 Idiots at IIM Ahmedabad, Aamir made it a practice to play badminton every time before shooting so that his face would look flushed and younger. When the audience accepted Raju’s film and Aamir’s likeable character with open arms, making 3 Idiots the biggest blockbuster in Bollywood history, Aamir’s conviction and efforts paid off.
So why does Aamir think twice before choosing to do a film? Why does he take the extra effort to edit and re-edit his own productions? How has he achieved the high success rate with his films and maintained his status as the intelligent viewer’s hero even after doing so few films? Here’s a lowdown…
#5 Aamir Khan’s Single-Minded Dedication
When Aamir finally decided to make his television debut, many years after his contemporaries like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, with an issue based show – called Satyamev Jayate – Aamir made sure that he co-produced the show so that he would have creative control over it. Not just that, the actor also personally toured many remote parts of India talking to people about their problems, ensuring that these stories were told in his show.
So much is Aamir focused on the TV show that he did not think twice about postponing two releases in order to devote his full energy for the show. Which other Bollywood star would do such a thing?
To be sure, Aamir’s film producers are confident that the actor will give his single-minded attention to their films when he is done with the TV show. Hence, they readily agreed. Aamir’s focus to one thing at a time is very unlike many other Bollywood actors who juggle not just multiple projects at once but also keep themselves busy in handling different business ventures and charities.
#4 Aamir Khan’s Impeccable Judgment
When newbie director Abhinay Deo locked the final edit of the Hinglish film, Delhi Belly, Aamir wasn’t very happy. The fact that the film had content, the kind of which had never been seen in Indian films for the longest time, made the producer nervous. But instead of going with the director’s edit, Aamir put the film on hold for the longest time. Because he knew what the film could be, if it was edited the way he thought it should be.
But instead of firing the director and taking on the reigns himself, Aamir took his team into confidence and asked them to rework the film, as he paid his attention to releasing his two other home productions, Peepli Live and Dhobi Ghat. When Aamir finally got around to Delhi Belly, he made sure that it turned out to be a project that would click with the target audience.
#3 Aamir Khan’s Marketing Genius
So how did Aamir make Delhi Belly, a film with hundreds of four-lettered words and no big star cast to speak of, into an overnight sensation? Marketing. What Aamir did with Delhi Belly almost makes for a case study in movie promotions.
Realizing that there was little meat that he could show in the TV promos of Delhi Belly – as TV promos in India have to be U or UA certified – Aamir thought up a brilliant strategy – music. Aamir went ahead and included as many as six songs in what was basically a song-less, two-hour movie. Along with maverick music director Ram Sampath and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya, Aamir create DK Bose, a song that almost became the Indian youth’s national anthem.
One cannot forget that the lyrics of DK Bose referred to one of the most-commonly used expletives in the Hindi language. So how did Aamir really convince the audience – youth and otherwise – to come and watch an expletive-laden film?
#2 Aamir Khan’s Don’t Lie To The Viewer Attitude
We all know that advertising, for the most part, is lying. But when Aamir realized that he was producing and releasing the kinds of films – Peepli Live, Delhi Belly and Dhobi Ghat – which did not have the elements of a typical Aamir Khan film, the actor made sure that he told the public the truth. He did not, like the rest of the industry, go ahead and promote the film brazenly anyway.
With Delhi Belly, he released an almost apologetic, but humorous, promo of how the film contained abusive language and references to sex. For Peepli Live, he used a promo to criticize himself as a producer who was making a film which would not be accepted by the audience. And during the promotions of Dhobi Ghat, in which Aamir acted as well, he made sure that the moviegoer did not come into the theatres expecting a masala Bollywood entertainer.
One way or the other, he made sure that his fans knew what to expect, so that they did not feel cheated when they saw the films. If it takes guts to make unconventional films, it takes even more to market them as they are.
#1 Aamir Khan Knows His Audience
This is legendary. When Aamir is in a script session, which usually goes on for many hours at a time, he is known to react to the script like a lay viewer would – he laughs and cries, applauds and raises his brows in a question – just like the average Indian spectator would. He reacts to the script. And he agrees to do a film only when he knows that his fans would love it too, and not just because he likes a meaty role or because he is partial to a certain producer.
This is the star-actor’s biggest asset; he might be a celebrity, but he does not forget who watches his films.
So, when people complain that Aamir does too few films, and that when he does them, he ‘interferes’ and takes a lot of time and effort, they must appreciate the fact that it is his single-minded focus that has stood him in good stead over the years. And we hope that that is something Aamir Khan will not let go of for the years to come.
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