Aamir, did you ever have this inkling that Lagaan will reach such heights?
No, I had never imagined that Lagaan would be such a phenomenon and I am pretty sure that others too would have thought the same. The only thing we knew was that the script was rivetting. But initially we had this notion that it was risky subject and we all were skeptical about its acceptance. In the history of the Hindi films, films based on sports have never been accepted. The trend prevalent during that time was shooting in Switzerland and shooting for their films on foreign soils and here we were about to make a film, which was to be shot entirely in a village. Instead of designer clothes were supposed to dress up in baniyan and bundi. We were also supposed to speak in Awadhi language and all in all we had so many doubts in our minds. Even the length of the film was three hour plus but while making Lagaan we had this conviction and we all were fully charged.
I guess you had rejected the script of the film in first place.
Actually Ashutosh had approached me initially only with the concept and not with the script. The film at the concept level had never appealed to me. Ashutosh had told me that the plot of the film revolves around a village which has not experienced rains for years and villages in order to get themselves exempted from paying taxes to the British they accept the challenge of playing a game of cricket with them. But when he approached me again with a proper script then it appealed to me a lot. I also requested him to narrate the script to other actors too and look for a producer for the film. But after having failed to find a producer for the film, I took the onus of producing the film in the end. Though we were apprehensive about the acceptance level of the film, we were pretty sure that we were on the correct path. A different atmosphere only had got created when the shooting of the film was on. The film was an amalgamation of people from various cultures. It had amateur actors from Bhuj theatre, actors from Britain and Canada. It was a multicultural crew.
Are you still in touch with the cast of your film, especially Paul Blackthorne who played Captain Russell in the film?
I am still touch with them and he is a good friend of mine. While shooting for Lagaan we had come very close to each other. After Taare Zameen Par got released, he had come to Mumbai for a week and then he had met everyone from the film.
Ok Aamir, I really want to know this that when was the tag of Mr. Perfectionist got attached with you?
You people only have labeled me with this tag; I cant really make any comment on it. I really have no clue that when this tag got attached to me. I personally think that no one is perfect and everyone has some drawback or the other. If you were to talk about any film then I can say the same that no film is perfect. Its more of a creative field where every individual think in his or her own manner. There is nothing called perfection.
Dil Chahta Hai
But while on Farhans show you had commented that its more like having a common sense.
(Laughs). If we were to look it from one perspective then yes its true. Film making is actually common sense, when you are telling a story then you have think about the shots, about the behaviour of the actors, how will they come, from where they will come and so on so forth. They all are basically common sense only and its not a rocket science. But by and large common sense is mostly uncommon.
Then came Dil Chahta Hai and your goatee became a rage.
Yes, it had turned into a super hit and even my hairstyle was of a different kind. It was also for the first time that people had access to such a different hairstyle in a Hindi film. I had great fun while shooting the film. DCH was a risky film too as it had no proper story and it was just a slice of life. The film dealt with three guys and their journey of life. Farhan painted all the characters of the film beautifully and it really clicked among the youths. But as far as my goatee is concerned, the idea struck me when I had gone for a hair cut for the film. At that time I had a disheveled beard and thought of removing them too. And it was then that it struck me that I should keep my goatee intact. Later on Farhan liked it and then okayed it.
After DCH you took a long gap of four years. What did you do in that period?
Actually it was a difficult phase in my personal life and I was in no position to do things mentally. I did not do anything for two years and then I opted for Mangal Pandey and since the film took almost two years in making so technically my next film released four years after DCH.
Though Mangal Pandey took an extraordinary opening but the film never clicked among the masses.
As far as I am concerned, I really liked the film. It was a well-made film and we were trying to say something unusual through that film which normally one does not finds in Hindi films. There were mixed reactions to the film. As far as its acceptance is concerned, I think the audience was bit disappointed as they had gone with a different notion only. It was not a typical fight, which Mangal Pandey had waged against the British; he won against them in a different way only. The film conveyed the message that you can kill a person but you can never kill his thoughts. Some people thought that this was not interesting enough another reason was that since the day the film got released media had decided prior to that only that the film is a flop. All the channels and newspapers reported that the film is a flop but the fact being that the film had a historic collection something, which was unprecedented.
Ok if I will ask you point blank that do you consider media responsible for the failure of Mangal Pandey?
Yes, to an extent. When I myself saw the film along with the masses then I realized that some really liked it while some were disappointed. I think it was more of a mixed response so it should have been reported like that only. The collections were outstanding and if you are saying that the film has flopped then its a wrong piece of information which you are giving out to masses.
Could this be the reason that you did not speak to media for four years, which made them take some revenge on you?
Might be possible. But for me that film was a great learning experience for me. Both as an actor and as a person I learnt a lot while shooting for this film. I learnt a lot about the history of this country. Our history is just wonderful. Ketan Mehta who had directed Mangal Pandey holds lots of knowledge about the history of our country and I got to learn a lot from him. His research really helped me, it was an experience which was enriching which I will value through out.
Who is your favourite historical character?
I would say Gandhi Ji.
Rang De Basanti
Your next film after Mangal Pandey was Rang De Basanti, it almost created a movement in the country.
RDB is a rare film and when we started shooting for the film, we were bit apprehensive if people will come and see the film or not as in a very short span some four films had released which centered on Chandrshekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh and all of them had poor response at the box office. When Rakesh Mehra narrated the film to me then I liked the story a lot. The approach that Rakesh had taken in the film was a very novel approach. You were telling the history of this country to the youths as if its their own story. The screenplay and the camerawork of the film were fabulous. Bhagat Singh and his friends were youngsters only and they too had their share of fun, were full of vigour and had some aim in their life. And the film also showed the same thing.
But dont you think that Bhagat Singh was such a revered character and now no one remembers him.
I think that people do remember him but not at the level of Gandhi Ji or Jawaharlal Nehru. I think as a country we should never forget our history. We should never forget our martyrs.
After RDB it was Fanaa and it was also a landmark film in more than one way, you worked with Yash Raj camp for the first time and at the same time you will technically paired with Kajol for the first time.
Yes, Fanaa was one such film that was a big hit. In my opinion it was a mushy romantic film where we had to suspend our logic and had to make a move to some fantasyland. I think audience comprehended well the idea of the film. People really liked the chemistry between Kajol and me.
Taare Zameen Par
Aamir, as far as TZP is concerned the panel chief of the Oscars saw the film and congratulated you on phone. That should give you reason to hope about an Oscar?
Merely on the basis of a phone we cannot say this that because all the best films from the world will go over there. I really felt happy that the panel chief of the Oscars really liked the film and called me up. I am pretty sure that he must have liked the film a lot and thats why he called me up. I still remember that I had met him first at the Oscars when Lagaan was nominated. He had organized a dinner for us and at that time I did not knew that he too was part of the jury. But this all does not mean that the film will be nominated for the Oscars. We have to wait till 22nd January. As far as awards are concerned, Oscars have been very fair, but I am always more interested in the response of my audience.
Are you jittery about the Oscars outcome of your film?
Not at all. If the Academy likes the film then I will be happy.
Thanks a ton.