I was a witness to a small but a very substantial role of Aamir Khan in Kiran Rao‘s Dhobi Ghat on a Monday evening at YRF studios in the company of the actor and his fellow colleagues from the film fraternity. That’s off screen. When Aamir Khan is on screen, the movie comes alive; when he isn’t, it feels laboured and ludicrous. It is like one of those flabby novels with one terrific character, where you find yourself skipping pages in the hunt for his next appearance. Aamir is a superstar in his own right, without losing his sanity of course. I’d perfectly describe him as a ‘valiant defender of the film’. In the final part of the two part exclusive, Aamir Khan gets into a serious conversation with UK’s Harrow Observer columnist about some wrong decisions he took for Peepli [LIVE] , his disappointment with the widespread piracy, his take on the overseas audiences of Dhobi Ghat, the need for casting directors and auditions in our film industry and his big plans to launch the music of Dhobi Ghat.
Your decision to not showcase Peepli [LIVE] at the London Film Festival and not releasing the film on the same day as in India proved fatal for the film…
With Peepli [LIVE] , we were trying and experimenting a lot. That’s why we released the film two months later in the U.K. But if we would’ve waited for the London Film Festival for the launch of Peepli, it would’ve taken very long. As it is we were late. In my opinion, we should’ve released the film simultaneously day and date all over. And if you don’t release the film on the same day around the world, pirated DVD’s come out and people watch it on sites by downloading it. That’s what happened with Peepli [LIVE] . The distribution company called Artificial Eye was very keen on distributing Peepli [LIVE] . They said that they couldn’t be ready for day and date release and thus wanted to release in the UK in September. They also clarified that they wanted to aim at not-the-traditional audiences who watch Indian films. Artificial Eye has an audience who aims at the art house kind of films and stated that we might lose out on the traditional Indian audience. We tried in experimenting but we didn’t succeed.
And to make matters worse, you have the piracy still prevailing.
It’s very disappointing to know that science has got its fair share of disadvantages as far as cinema is concerned. We take two long years of hard work to make a film and a lot of money and effort is invested in it. It’s most disappointing for the creative team to be robbed in such a manner.
Do you think Dhobi Ghat will work for an overseas audience as it lacks entertainment?
I don’t know if Dhobi Ghat will appeal to the traditional Indian audiences and the NRI’s. You see, Peepli [LIVE] was more engaging a film because of its dark humour and appealed to a larger section of the audience. Dhobi Ghat is not a film that makes you laugh, it’s not a film that make you cry, it’s not a film that has any message but it’s a delicate film about characters and small little moments and it’s about lot of the things which are unspoken. It’s about how sometimes you realise, much later, what the importance or value of somebody else was in your life, sometimes, after you’ve lost the person. Dhobi Ghat is a slice of life film and let me tell you that we aren’t used to watching such kind of films because we don’t make them anymore. I am also trying to be a part of such a film for the first time. Dhobi Ghat is not for people who like watching comedy, action, thriller or any fast paced film. It is more for an audience which like music, one who reads a lot and for a more niche audience.
The trailer music of Dhobi Ghat is so mesmerising. Why aren’t you releasing it?
Firstly, there are no songs in the film. So we decided not to release the album. And then comes the ‘score’ and historically, people in India hardly know or listen to background score of themes from the film. Unfortunately, Dhobi Ghat has got no songs but in the last ten days I’ve got so many messages about people liking the trailer music of Dhobi Ghat. Now that you too are telling me, you’ll be pleased to know that just two days ago I spoke to Bhushan Kumar and told him that we need to make the score of Dhobi Ghat available on the net or i-tunes or on mobile.
So when will India adapt to ‘casting directors’ and ‘auditions’?
In all my films as a producer, we do have casting directors who look after only casting for the film. Then there are auditions too. We follow as certain protocol for films. A lot of filmmakers now-a-days are using casting directors. So yes, we definitely should have casting directors. Auditions and casting process are most important. It throws open lots of new talent and more importantly, hidden talent. Kriti Malhotra was a costume assistant and not an actress. But she is in Dhobi Ghat because of the auditions she was a part of. She was outstanding as an actress. As you rightly pointed out, Monica had no clue what acting is all about because she was a singer. But both are a part of our film. The casting is done based on your ability as an actor and your suitability for the part and that’s how it always should be. I had to do an audition for Dhobi Ghat too, can you believe it?