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Last Updated 06.12.2021 | 9:02 PM IST
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“I follow collections of my films for 25 weeks. I cry a lot when my film flops. I lock myself in a room and weep” – Aamir Khan

Bollywood News

NOTE - This interview was published in the printed edition of the Film Information trade magazine in the issue dated 16th November 1996

In this interview taken in two sessions (and this had nothing to do with Aamir being slow) — one in the afternoon and the other, the same night — at Aamir’s house, the actor talks on a variety of subjects including his career, his style of working, his likes and dislikes, his contract with ABCL, his views on star ceiling and on the ever-increasing star prices etc.

With the kind of approach you have towards your films, don’t you feel frustrated when things go wrong?
Yes, I do feel frustrated, but I don’t change because of that. I was the first actor who stopped signing films indiscriminately, much before the star ceiling system was introduced. I had announced in an interview in 1988 that I would not be signing new films till my old lot was cleared, and I stuck to my guns. I reduced my number of assignments and everyone thought, I was a fool, that I was committing suicide. But I firmly believed that somewhere, somebody has to take a stand. My stand brought about a change. Today, there are so many artistes who’ve realised the advantages of doing a limited number of films at a time.

What do you think of the star ceiling system which had been introduced some years back?
You cannot impose anything on anybody. The realisation has to come from within. Legally also, the ceiling stood on shaky ground. It amounted to restriction of free trade. When the ceiling was on 12 films, I was doing 6 films; today I’m doing 3 films at a time. Maybe, tomorrow it will be only one!

Do you insist on bound scripts before shooting?
I don’t, because I believe, every director has a right to his creative licence. Every director has his own style of working. What I do insist on is complete narration. If I were to sign a film which is to be completed in 3 months flat, I’d definitely insist on a bound script, not otherwise. Things change, ideas change, and the director, who is the boss, has a right to incorporate new ideas.

When do you get tensed up about something?
I am always tense before my release. Like I am now, before the release of Raja Hindustani. The tension starts three to four weeks before release and I lose my appetite completely. Like, I’ve eaten just one plate of bhel puri in the whole day (it is 10 p.m. when Aamir says this). I don’t get my sleep either. I keep awake for hours together, reading a book or watching television.

How do you react to your flops and hits?
I cry. I cry a lot when my film flops. I lock myself in a room and weep. Even a hit makes me cry, but they are tears of joy. I begin to cry quite easily. Once, I even cried on a set. It happened when we were shooting for Dil and I couldn’t get a dance step properly. I was disgusted with myself and was sulking when Saroj Khan came up to me and tried to re-explain the step. That did it! I could control my tears no longer and there I was, crying in front of the whole unit…..

Why are you known as an interfering actor? It is believed that you love to interfere in the director’s work.
This is the impression which was created by the media at the beginning of my career. You can ask the directors I’ve worked with, I’ve never over-ruled any of them. There are actors who over-ruled their directors but nothing is written about them. You will notice, I don’t work with directors who are weak. I work with people like Indra Kumar, Raj Santoshi, Mansoor Khan, Ram Gopal Varma and Dharmesh Darshan, who are all strong-headed. I do give suggestions but, eventually, do what the director wants. It is entirely up to the director to decide how much involvement of mine he would want.

What was the controversy about RANGEELA? Why did Ram Gopal Varma give an interview to say that you were not good in the film? Have you met him after that interview?
No, I haven’t met him thereafter. Even if I meet him now, I’ll ignore him because I’m not a hypocrite. With that interview, he has made me realise what kind of a person he is. Of course, he is free to have his own opinion as I am to have mine. I still feel, he made a good film in Rangeela, that he extracted a good performance out of me, that he wrote a very good role for me. Let me tell you, my performance in the film was greatly helped by his clarity of thought. What has hurt me are his statements in that interview. I’m surprised because he had no grouses against me (just as I didn’t have against him) during the making of Rangeela. Ramu kept a celebration party at Sun N Sand three days after the film’s release, and he had tears in his eyes when we met there. He told me, “I’ve learnt so much from you.”

It is felt that you cannot take failures in your stride.
On the contrary! I’m a very realistic person. I’m the first person to become aware of the faults in my performance, and the second person to become aware of the faults in the film — because the director is the first person in that case. I’m a practical guy. Others may be following the collections of their films for one or two weeks, but I follow collections of my films for 25 weeks. I talk to the distributors of my films, I see every film of mine with the public.

Then why couldn’t you accept that AKELE HUM AKELE TUM did not run?
I admit, we went wrong in its scripting, and I’ve also said in my TV interview that the film did not run. But, believe me, there were some college guys, I met in Delhi, who said, they did not like my saying so on television because, according to them, the film did run and was very good. What I don’t agree with is the reason why AHAT did not run. It is generally believed that it did not fare well because it was a class film but I don’t think, that’s right. According to me, unlike in a class film, there was no horizontal divide for AHAT, there was a vertical divide. Some people from the classes loved the film, others didn’t like it. Similarly, some from the masses liked it, others didn’t. I was shooting for Mela one day near China Creek and I was surprised when a truck driver came up to me and said in Punjabi that he had loved my AHAT. When he complimented me before naming the film, I thought, he was talking of Rangeela or Dil! So even though the film may not have worked at the box-office, I feel, it has worked for me. My fans will remember this film for a long time. What also went wrong with the film was that the hangover of Rangeela was still very strong when AHAT was released, and my role in AHAT was a complete contrast from my role in Rangeela.

To be continued…

Also Read: Throwback: “David Dhawan is a talented director. Yes, I may not agree with some of his films but that’s a separate issue” – Aamir Khan 


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