Q. Hi Aamir, your reaction on Taare Zameen Par being selected as India's official entry for the Oscars. A. I am feeling very happy that our film TZP has been opted for, to represent India at an international forum like the Oscars. I am very happy about that. I sincerely hope that this film will surely leave a very strong impression on the members of the Academy Awards. Whether this film is nominated or not, or whether it reaches the top five category or not, we cannot say anything at this stage but I am pretty sure that this film surely appeal to the members of the jury.
As Taare Zameen Par is chosen as Indias official entry for the Oscars, Producer-Director Aamir Khan answers Rajan Singh on his promotion plan for the Oscars
Hi Aamir, your reaction on Taare Zameen Par being selected as Indias official entry for the Oscars.
I am feeling very happy that our film TZP has been opted for, to represent India at an international forum like the Oscars. I am very happy about that. I sincerely hope that this film will surely leave a very strong impression on the members of the Academy Awards. Whether this film is nominated or not, or whether it reaches the top five category or not, we cannot say anything at this stage but I am pretty sure that this film surely appeal to the members of the jury. In any case it is a film about which I am really happy and proud of. I am very happy that it has been selected to showcase Indian cinema to the world. Whatever I am capable of, I will surely do for this film so that it gets a better platform. Whatever it is needed for this film to showcase it in front of the members of the jury, I will surely do it. I will fulfill all my responsibility and obligation towards this film. Lets hope for the best. Its a film from India which would be going to the Oscars and I think media too will play a big role in it. Prior to this, even when the film was released theatrically, media had supported us a lot and I am very thankful for it. I think it left a very strong impact on the Indian audience. In this journey too, media will play a very important role in supporting this film and I am looking forward to that support. For me the most important thing, which I have also said before, is that I only make films for my audiences. When audience sees my film and appreciates it, for me that is the biggest reward. For me any international forum be it BAFTA or Oscars or the Cannes, are secondary. Its just an opportunity to showcase Indian cinema in front of the world. Our film Lagaan was nominated for the Oscars and so too was Mother India and after that if TZP is nominated in the top five category, then it grabs attention of the world audience. This is a window of opportunity to reach a larger audience.
Taare Zameen Par
Have you chalked out any strategy for the film?
Well, what needs to be done is very simple. Some amount of awareness needs to be created in LA and NY as its in these two places maximum members of the Academy are based. Few Academy members are also based in London. In a nutshell we will try creating awareness about this film at all those places where Academy members are based so that its able to grab their interest and they are able to view it. Post that, its up to them to give the film whatever marks they deserve. Well, you cant have control over this procedure so its only logical to make this film available and create awareness about TZP. The very fact that this film has successfully left a very strong impact on the mind of the Indian audience should be put forward and conveyed to them. We can only keep additional screening for the members so that if one member is busy for that day or has some appointment that day, they can always catch the film in its next screening. But the rule is that I physically cannot be present there. There is nothing I can do; I want the film to win on its own merit. I will have to keep extra screenings. I will also write to the academy and will ask them that what I am supposed to do, what are the rules and if I am not breaking any rules. We will also publish ads in the local newspapers.
How do you judge the potential of a film, whether it will appeal to the viewers or not?
Actually before I release my film theatrically, I show my film to many people. We call for test audiences and they include my friend, my relatives and also many people whom I dont know. I personally feel that the film has appealed to almost 99.99 per cent audiences. Even after the release of the film, people called me up to say that the film is very good and it should represent India at any international film festival. All shared this feeling that it has the capability to win awards at international forums too.
Will you be trimming out the length of the film?
No we will not cut the length of the film. One of the rules, which the academy specifies, is that you cannot alter the length of the film. The film will be shown to the jury members in the same way as it was released.
When Lagaan lost to No Mans Land at the Oscars in 2001, many people had said that it lost because of its length and too many songs.
Well, actually the fact of the matter is that Lagaan did not lose and I have said this so many times. When Lagaan lost at the Oscars people said that the length was just too much or the film had too many songs or the musical format of the film did not appeal to the members. Some people even went to the extent and said this that the reason Lagaan lost the statue was because of the fact that it had Cricket in it and Americans are not aware of this game. All these notions stand no validity only because had these notions been true the film would have never managed to reach the top five category. The common perception among members of the Academy is that if you have managed to reach the top five its almost like you have won. Its like all the five films are on the winning line and one film is asked to take one step ahead. When I had attended Oscar ceremony for Lagaan and after No Mans Land was declared the best film in the foreign language category, some 30 to 40 members who never knew me but could recognize because I was there in the film, told me that they had voted for my film and they were disappointed when Lagaan lost.
Why is it that Aamir Khan shuns Indian award function and laps up international awards?
Well the fact of the matter is that its not a question of India or outside India. Just a few weeks back I was in Chennai to receive Kolhapuri awards so its inaccurate to say that I shun Indian awards. Its also not the question of how many I shun. I went to Chennai to receive the award with lots of pride and humility. I felt honored of having been selected for the award. I have attended national awards and they too are Indian awards. I have nothing against Indian awards. Oscar is a platform, which gives you an opportunity to address a larger audience. It gives you a platform to create an opening and exposes the film further.
You were also moved to tears at the same function in Chennai.
I was moved to tears because Mr. Balachander who is like an institution himself in Indian cinema said some many things about me, which really moved me. What he said meant a lot to me and I could not control myself. Someone of his stature saying something about me was very moving for me. I have that speech with me, once you read it you will know why I cried.
Some also said that you did not do enough lobbying for Lagaan when it was nominated?
You should know that there is no lobbying I did for Lagaan. You have to understand it. I dont know whats the concept of lobbying in your head, but as far as this term is concerned I wont be calling members of the Academy saying that please vote for my film. I wont be doing that. The way to create awareness could be multiple. I will hold additional screening for the members, hire a good publicist who is able to show the film to as many members and journalists as possible so that its talked about in a positive manner. It creates awareness and then the members feel that the film, which has come from India, is very good and we should not miss it.
Now when the film has entered into a business tie up with Disney, it might help you in your cause.
Disney has the home entertainment rights for USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I will certainly be talking to Disney people so that they are able to create an awareness about the film and in supporting the film in any way they can. If the film gets nominated, it will also benefit them. I will surely be talking to them to get their inputs.
Do you think that the fact that Lagaan had been there before will help TZP in getting place in the top five category?
There would be surely a positive effect of Lagaan. Most of the jury members have seen Lagaan. After Lagaan managed in the top five-category lot many people saw the film. Now since they have seen Lagaan, they carry some good impression about my films and me. When they will get to know that Aamir Khan is back here with his second film then they will surely try to see the film and it will help me a lot. Let me also add that Rang De Basanti had reached the top five category at BAFTA. If I am not mistaken it was the only Indian film to be nominated at the BAFTA ever.
Why is it that even after so many years, Indian films have failed to score at the Oscars?
The reason is very simple and its only because of the fact that they liked other films better. There cant be any other reason.
Now when the film has been nominated as Indias official entry, do you think the release of Ghajini will in any way hamper the extra effort you need to put in for TZP?
Ghajini is releasing on 25th December and its a Christmas release. I dont think that I will have to find time to do it also I dont think I need that much of time to do it. I will go to LA once and will try to find the right publicist over there. When Lagaan was nominated I was completely free at that time and I was not doing any work at that time. I had taken a four-year break so I devoted much time on it.
Who is happiest - the director of the film or the producer of the film?
I would say that the director is the happiest.
There is also this Amul Butter campaign these days, which portrays you and SRK as secondary to Akshay Kumar, whats your take on the ad?
Hey if SRK were to hear it he will get upset. I think Akshay is really doing well and he has worked hard to reach here. I feel very happy for him that he is getting this huge amount of success from his films. His hard work is now paying off. I feel very good about it.
There was also news that Saif and Kareena got married on the sets of 3 Idiots. You were there on the sets, is it true?
Kanyadaan main kar raha tha. You are asking me, didnt you get any other person to ask this question. When I was in Ladakh, I too had heard that Saif was supposed to come on the sets but he never turned up. Post that when we packed up, Kareena left and after that, where they met I have no clue and even if some marriage took place, I have no clue about it.
Lastly Aamir, whats this Marathi connection in your film, Ashutosh Gowarikar was at the helm of affairs when Lagaan went for the Oscars and for TZP its another Marathi guy Amole Gupte who is being highlighted in a very prominent fashion?
I too am a Marathi, born and brought up in Mumbai.
Thanks a ton.