Engaging mind and heart
26 October 2012
Aamir Khan has, from time to time, been branded arrogant and childish but that doesn’t rob the actor of his talent. Interview by k ashwin
As a clean-shaven Aamir Khan walked into a banquet hall for the music launch of ‘Talaash - The Answer Lies Within!’, after shooting in Chicago for two and a half months, actress Rani Mukerji couldn’t help but comment that Khan looked as handsome as he did when they worked together in ‘Ghulam’. As more things change, the more Aamir Khan remains unchanged. Excerpts from an interview…
l After ‘3 Idiots’, ‘Dhobi Ghaat’ and ‘Satyameya Jayate’ how come a film like ‘Talaash...’?
Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar are the writers of this film. I loved the story at the time of the narration. This is a different genre of a suspense drama where I play an inspector. It is not a thriller! The trigger point for this script is an urban legend. Zoya was returning from a party and she got this story idea – then they developed it. Being a cop is my professional preoccupation but there is a personal aspect too. The character Shekhawat hasn’t come to terms with his past. Emotional angle and drama have their own attraction and lure! I don’t want to reveal much but as far as the suspense is concerned, the end will surprise you. I feel that viewers will flock to see a good story, a drama and discover new things about the plot each time they see it. There will be a lot of repeat viewers. I feel anything that engages the mind, heart and conscience or attention is entertainment.
l What is Aamir’s ‘Talaash...’ all about?
Wish I knew what I am searching for! Perhaps I’m looking for happiness or prosperity for all around us. I am certainly hungry for good work and good opportunities! I want to work with good talented people. As actors, our job is to portray different characters. Good true-to-life characters! And as a performer, my eternal quest is to give my creativity its full expression and my audiences sheer joy and value for their money.
l Are you playing a cop simply because Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar have played cops recently and delivered huge hits?
All superstars have played a cop at some point of time in their careers! I am not competing with Ajay or Salman or Akshay in playing a cop. My character is not as colourful as ‘Chulbul Pandey’ was! In ‘Talaash’, Shekhawat grapples with his past. ‘Talaash’ is not an entertainer in that sense but the overall story is gripping and entertaining in its own way. This genre of a suspense drama has been attempted after a long time and I’m sure audiences will love it. We ended the shoot in November but took a lot of time in editing. We wanted to make it the way we had envisioned it!
l How is it working with a female director after such a long time?
‘Talaash’ is not the first time I have worked with a female director because I have worked with Kiran Rao and Deepa Mehta earlier. It’s irrelevant whether the director is male or female. My experience with Reema Kagti has been absolutely fantastic because she is very clear about what she wants! As an actor, I was guided by her observations. She was a friend, philosopher and guide who was open and demanding, which I like! I could completely trust her instinct. This means a lot to me. I was respectful of her vision of the film. I understood what she wanted to do and helped her achieve her goals.
l Who is your favourite actress – Rani or Kareena?
I don’t think anyone but Rani or Kareena could have portrayed these characters as well as they finally did. Someone told me that Reema had approached Shah Rukh Khan for the film initially but things didn’t work out! But the same Reema Kagti says that she can’t imagine any one else but Aamir Khan doing this role. So ‘favourite’ is relative but in the final analysis after the film is shot-released, the star becomes synonymous with the character and vice versa!
l What kind of research did you do for the characterisation in this film?
Research depends on the script and the demand therein. In the case of ‘Sarfarosh’, research was necessary but in this film, the inputs are different. No role is easy. All are difficult. We try hard to understand dynamics of every character. The writing of Reema and Zoya may appear effortless but a lot of effort went into it. There are many characters in this film - every person is different and their story is different too. When I read a story I respond if it touches my heart. I follow the character. I don’t have character already etched in my mind. I don’t work this way. If I decide to portray a character in advance in a particular way, then the film starts on wrong footing. I love organic way where the story is already in place and we all join in as characters contributing to the story and bringing it alive.
l Do you feel the pressure of your past successes weighing heavily on ‘Talaash’? What makes ‘Talaash’ different from them?
The pressure of past successes is always there. My effort is to ensure that it doesn’t affect my work. It’s good that people have high expectations and this propels us to excel ourselves. Talaash talks about a world where faces are not what they should be! For eg., Ram Sampath’s compositions are very different and original. The tune of ‘Mushkanein Jhoothi’ is like a collage. I can’t think of any other song that has this kind of composition. One of the strengths of the film is the casting. The type of characters and the respective choice of actors such as Nawazuddin and Raj. Every actor was picked very carefully.
l You were supposed to organise the music launch in Kamathipura area of Mumbai where the sex workers reside. Comment?
This was an idea suggested but we don’t want to use anyone’s misfortune to promote our film. Our film is about the underbelly of the city and Kareena plays a streetwalker. But we don’t want to use real-life situations to portray the entertainment aspects of the film. So we recreated Hotel Lido at the music launch venue to give a feel of what’s in the film. And it has worked really well.