January 8, 2010

Aamir Khan: Mr Blockbuster

He quit studies after Class XII at Mumbai's N.M. College much to his parents' horror, choosing to work as an assistant director for four years. After his pin-up worthy debut in 1988, he wept every day coming home from work, convinced that the nine films he had signed in a rush would crash his career. Then in 2002, after he separated from Reena, his wife of 16 years, he drank a bottle of Bacardi every day for a year-and-a-half, except for the six hours a week and every alternative weekend he would see his children. Not what you would call the perfect ingredients for success. But Aamir Hussain Khan, all 44 years and 5 ft 7 inches of him, his wife's diamond studs twinkling in ears pierced for Lagaan, has always swum against the tide.

Only now the tide seems to be swimming with him. He's just starred in 3 Idiots, a film that has been breaking box office records at home and abroad, making Rs 240 crore in 10 days and still counting. His last four films, released over three successive years, Rang De Basanti, Fanaa, Taare Zameen Par and Ghajini, made a collective box office revenue of over Rs 590 crore. He makes an average of Rs 10 crore a year from each of the six brands he endorses. The way he marketed Ghajini will now be taught as part of a course in film marketing at IIM-Ahmedabad. The profit he is contemplating from 3 Idiots, as a result of a wise decision to forego his fees and split the profit three ways between producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, director Raju Hirani and himself, will be over Rs 20 crore. But more than that, his films have consistently hit a nerve with audiences, either getting them to participate in candlelight vigils inspired by Rang De Basanti, treat children with greater sensitivity as in Taare Zameen Par or even cause them to bulk up their bodies as in Ghajini.

In an industry ripped apart by camps, he is his own institution, working with untested new directors (Farhan Akhtar in Dil Chahta Hai) and even failed filmmakers (Ashutosh Gowariker, who had two flops behind him, in Lagaan). He's been a producer for the smash hit Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na which starred his nephew and made Rs 115 crore at the box office, a director for Taare Zameen Par and even the unofficial CEO of Ghajini Inc. He shuns the awards circus and has never been seen in public performing song and dance routines. Yet his decision to act in one movie at a time is now a mass mantra and a sure career cure. His help was sought in resolving the two-month stand-off with multiplexes last year. And equally, his move to not charge a fee for 3 Idiots could set off a trend of stars putting their talent where their mouth is in these leaner, meaner times.

Yet as he sits folded up in his favourite chair in the projection room of his home, two floors below his mother's home where he was born and brought up, it is hard to think of the word superstar. He exudes an aura, but the room is more suited to that of a messy student, with books such as Katherine Frank's Indira to Abraham Verghese's The Tennis Partner sharing shelf space with PC games and Bob Dylan and Sufi qawwali CDs. The make-up room is stacked with the tools of his trade, from spare costumes to a wigmaker's dummy. And the terminal above his computer has chronologically labelled scripts. The actor himself is on his fourth coffee, talking about how he lost weight for his role of Rancho in 3 Idiots, which director Rajkumar Hirani rewrote for Khan. He speaks of how he modelled the 17-year-old on the boyish director of Ghajini, A.R. Murugadoss, and his 14-year-old nephew Pablo, who can never sit still. He jumps up to demonstrate, as he often does in his exuberance, contorting his body like an over-active teenager. "But Rancho was also dangerous because he is without a flaw. The audience's heart doesn't go out to such a guy. So I made him curious rather than cocky," he says.

Read more HERE.


Pardesi said...

"And equally, his move to not charge a fee for 3 Idiots could set off a trend of stars putting their talent where their mouth is in these leaner, meaner times. "

Hahahaa - can someone tell me what he charged for Ghajini and Fanaa? I think they were record breaking numbers! Maybe he only charges for crappy films that he does?

Doga said...

He did not charge for 3 Idiots, its true but he has charged 25-30% of worldwide profits, that will be like in the tune of 30 cr.

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