I’m powerful from within said Aamir Khan
As a birthday treat to himself, I think, Aamir Khan took two evenings off from work this week and drove into town to catch the classical music concerts of Zubin Mehta and the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra with virtuoso Chinese pianist Lang Lang. I met him after the
second show on Thursday night, over salad and coffee at India Jones, that’s all he was having.
It’s not that Aamir has eclectic tastes in food as well as music, he’s in the middle of Raju Hirani’s film 3 Idiots and needs to keep his weight down. So he’s got into the General Motors Weight Loss Diet which is designed to help the faithful lose between seven to ten pounds in seven days and detoxify the system. He was on Day 2, the diet here is strictly vegetables; Day 4 is even worse, it’s bananas and milk, so Aamir will cut a birthday cake today… but he’s not going to be having any. The irrepressible killing machine of Ghajini has gone. In his place is a pulled down, more passive and pensive man to whom birthdays and age and top spots and polls in Bollywood are just numbers.
“Age is a number,” Aamir reminded me, “what matters is how old or young you feel.” Ditto the No 1 position in Bollywood as an actor, producer and director that he has been credited with by Filmfare — which makes him the most powerful man in the film industry. “I’m happy with the fact, of course,” he modestly admitted, “but power comes from inside you, it’s got nothing to do with fame and wealth, and it does not matter how powerful you are… how you use what little power you have in trying to contribute to society is where your strengths lie.” He has no idea, nor does he care either, whether Bollywood perceives him as a powerful player of the industry. “My relationship with my audience cannot be defined by a number, it cannot be changed no matter what anybody says, and that relationship is proved on a Friday when my films release,” said Aamir. But, yes, he is happy to be in a position where he has the freedom and strength to do the kind of work he enjoys doing. “And I wish for that to continue,” said Aamir fervently, “because to me, what is of prime importance is that I enjoy the scripts I am working on… then only something good will come out of the film.”
At this stage of his life and career, he’s working with Raju Hirani (“for the first time as an actor I’m doing a film with the No 1 director of the industry”) in 3 Idiots, he’s doing wife Kiran’s Dhobi Ghat, and there’s his home production Delhi Belly. “I’m not in the numbers game, and I don’t think filmmaking is a race, it’s an art form, an emotional connect with work. My thrill lies in breaking barriers, in doing unusual stuff, I lead with my heart. If I like a story, I do it. That’s how it was with Lagaan, the first film I produced, I went ahead because I liked the script and nobody else was willing to produce it. Yes, I take risks, but I’m not calculating — that’s how I’ve always been. I work with newcomers, I like experimental filmmakers, my power — yes, you can say that, lies in bringing about change. My popularity, the faith that the market and my colleagues have in me, the love, support and respect of audiences… these help me do things that are challenging and which excite me. They encourage me to go into areas as an actor, as a creative person, that I haven’t been before. Yes, the last year has been good for me. And I’m
grateful. But I want to take my work to another level not seen before. I have no long-term dreams for myself. When I pick up a story, I want to achieve it to its full potential. I live for the moment and in the moment I am in. What excites me is what I am doing now.” That I could see and believe. At midnight, there must be few men who would enjoy a raw salad and black coffee with no sugar. But Aamir Khan was. And asking for seconds!