Aamir Khan’s latest release “Dangal” has set the box office on the storm by collecting record crowds as well as rave reviews from the media. In a freewheeling interview, Aamir Khan tells that he is happy that he has been able to do his mite towards women empowerment by making this film which is dear to his heart.
1. What exactly does your film set out to unravel?
My film “Dangal” is about woman empowerment in our country, which is the need of the hour, as well as very close to my heart because we tend to neglect the girl child. In my family, we are two brothers and two sisters but my dad and ammi jaan did not distinguish between the sons and daughters and gave equal treatment to all four of us but not everyone is like us.
2. What is your role in Dangal?
I play the role of the real life Mahavir Singh Phogat who was determined to make his two daughters learn the art of wrestling and emerge as the national winners. The idea struck me and I decided to make the film with Siddharth Roy Kapoor as one of the producers and Nitesh Tiwari as the director. Nitesh has been working on my production team for the last ten years.
3. Has Nitesh set out to glorify Mahavir Singh Phogat?
Neither Nitesh nor I set out to glorify then the character of Mahavir Singh Phogat that I play in the film. If you remember Dangal is my fourth film on sports after Awwal Number which was on cricket, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, and Lagaan. Before Lagaan, sadly no film on sports had worked including Awwal Number and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander but after Lagaan came a number of films which worked with the theme of sports like Chak De India. It is good to have different subjects or different genres.
4. How tough or easy was it for you to essay the role of Mahavir Singh Phogat on the screen?
It was a big responsibility for me to bring Mahavir Singh Phogat alive on the screen. The best thing about the film is that Mahavir and his daughters Gita and Babita also liked the film and the way they have been portrayed in the film. I had come in contact with them for the first time when I was making the show Satyameva Jayate. It was after I and my team had done a lot of research on Mahavir Singh Phogat that we set out to make the film Dangal.
5. How do you feel when people refer to you as a superstar?
I feel amused because I know for a fact that I am not a superstar at all. I know when I enter a room, people will not notice me at all the way they will when Salman Khan or a Shah Rukh Khan enter a room and I will look like a waiter and not a superstar as I do not have that quality. Sorry, I apologize to waiters and want to clarify that I do not mean to belittle them, so please substitute the term waiter with very ordinary. I am not a superstar at all like Salman Khan or Shah Rukh Khan or for that matter Amitji. Also, there are big stars like Ajay Devgn and Hrithik Roshan amongst us and you just cannot say who is a bigger star.
6. Do you think a film will have a far-reaching impact on the viewers?
Every one of us making a film should try to convey some pertinent message to the audience. My film Taare Zameen impacted on the education that kids are imparted in the society today and made people think of letting the words pursue their own passion. My film 3 Idiots also dwelt at length about the system of education in our country.
7. Is it true that you had suggested to Nitish to shoot with Ranbir Kapoor or Ranveer Singh your younger portions in Dangal?
Whenever 80% shooting of any film of mine is complete, the dark thought always comes in my mind as to what would happen to the film if I were to die all of a sudden before a film is completed. I suggested to Nitish that he should cast either Ranveer or Ranbir in the youth portion in case I die all of a sudden when only 15% of the shooting of the film was remaining because I felt that our efforts should not go waste in case I die.
8. Is it true that you had asked Rajnikant to dub your lines in the Tamil version of Dangal?
Yes. I had actually gone to Chennai to meet Rajnikant and discuss with him the possibility of him dubbing my voice for the Tamil version but when he explained to me that since his voice is very recognizable all over Tamil Nadu, it would not gel with my voice and I too agreed with him and dropped the idea.
9. You haven’t acted with Rajnikanth for a long time!
Yes. We had acted in the film Aatank Hi Aatank. That was way back in 1995. Whether he does a Tamil film or a Hindi film, we all watch it. I’d like to collaborate with Rajnikant in a Hindi film as I am a great fan of his.
10. To what extent has Prime Minister Modi’s move to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 affected you as a person?
Demonetization has affected mostly those who hoard black money. Though I feel sad for those who are affected in their day to day life due to demonetization, It has not affected me personally for the simple reason that I deal with cheques and do all my transactions through credit or debit cards.
11. You are acting in a film with Amitabh Bachchan for the first time!
Yes. It was a cream, of mine to act with Amitabh Bachchan in at least one film. I am indeed thrilled to be working with the actor who I have admired all my life. Vijay Krishna Acharya alias Victor who had directed Dhoom 3 is directing the film Thugs of Hindostan, which is being produced by YRF. It’s for that film that I have grown this thick beard which I cannot shave till it is completed. The film is slated for release in Diwali 2018
12. You are also producing a film called Secret Superstar!
I have already completed the film “Secret Super Star” directed by Advait Chandan with a bunch of talented newcomers, like Meher Vij, Zaira Wasim, and Raj Arjun. It is about a girl from Vadodara who wishes to take up singing but her strict and conservative father is against the idea. There have been many superstars among women in our country including Nargis, Madhubala, Sridevi, Juhi Chawla, Deepika Padukone, Madhuri Dixit, Kajol, Waheeda Rehman and Priyanka Chopra. It is in stark contrast to what Dangal sets out to show. I play the role of an alcoholic musician in the film, which revolves around a teenager who saves her mother from her abusive father with the help of a musician who is alcoholic and a divorcee. It is a different role of an interesting character that I have done which is like dal in tadka.