Aamir Khan: An actor with a character | Sunday Observer

Aamir Khan: An actor with a character

17 May, 2021

Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan is an Indian actor, director, filmmaker, and television talk show host. Through his career spanning over 30 years in Hindi films, Khan has established himself as one of the most popular and influential actors of the Indian cinema. He has a large global following, especially in India and China, and has been described by Newsweek as “the biggest movie star” in the world. Khan is the recipient of numerous awards, including nine Filmfare Awards, four National Film Awards, and an AACTA Award. He was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri in 2003 and the Padma Bhushan in 2010, and received an honorary title from the Government of China in 2017. For years, he has been regularly listed as one among The 500 Most Influential Muslims of the world.

Khan first appeared on screen as a child actor in his uncle Nasir Hussain’s film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). As an adult, his first feature film role was in the experimental film Holi (1984). He began a full-time acting career with a leading role in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). His performance in Raakh earned him a National Film Award in the Special Mention category. He established himself as a leading actor in the Hindi cinema in the 1990s by appearing in a number of commercially successful films, including Dil, Raja Hindustani—for which he won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor—and Sarfarosh. He also played against type in 1947: Earth.

In 1999 he founded Aamir Khan Productions, whose first film, Lagaan (2001), was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and earned him a National Film Award for Best Popular Film and two more Filmfare Awards (Best Actor and Best Film). After a four-year absence from the screen, Khan returned to appear in leading roles, notably in Fanaa and Rang De Basanti. He made his directorial debut with Taare Zameen Par (2007), which won him the Filmfare Awards for Best Film and Best Director. Khan’s greatest global success came with Ghajini, 3 Idiots, Dhoom 3, PK, and Dangal, each having held the record for being the highest-grossing Indian film, while Secret Superstar held the record for being the highest-grossing Indian film featuring a female protagonist. Khan won his third Best Actor award at Filmfare for Dangal. His films are known for dealing with social issues in Indian society, and they often combine the entertainment and production values of commercial masala films with the believable narratives and strong messages of parallel cinema.

Activist and humanitarian

Khan is an activist and humanitarian, and has participated and spoken out for various social causes, some of which have sparked political controversy. He is the lead donor of the IPS media foundation that has funded Indian news websites like Scroll.in, The Wire and many others. He created and hosted the television talk show Satyamev Jayate, through which he highlights sensitive social issues in India, occasionally influencing the Indian parliament. His work as a social reformer, tackling issues ranging from poverty and education to abuse and discrimination, earned him an appearance on the Time 100 list of most influential people in the world. Khan was married to his first wife, Reena Dutta, for fifteen years, after which he married film director Kiran Rao. He has three children—two with Dutta, and one with Rao through surrogacy.

In the Media

In a 2009 interview, Khan stated that he tends to take an independent approach to the world of filmmaking, noting that he does not “do different things; I try to do it in a different manner. I think every person should follow his/her dream and try and make it possible to create an ability to achieve it backed by its practicality.” He also said that he is more interested in the process of filmmaking than in the end result: “For me, the process is more important, more joyful. I would like to have my entire concentration on the process right from the first step.”

Khan has a reputation for avoiding award ceremonies and not accepting any popular Indian film awards. Although he has been nominated many times, Khan has not attended any Indian film award ceremonies and has stated that “Indian film awards lack credibility”. When asked about the selection procedure and authenticity of popular Indian film awards, he replied, “Fact is that I have no objections to film awards. I just feel that if I don’t value a particular film award, then I won’t attend it either. Apart from the National Film Awards, I don’t see any other award ceremony that I should give value to. My personal experience about these award ceremonies is that I don’t trust them. I have no faith in them so I would prefer to stay away.”

In 2007, Khan was invited to have a wax imitation of himself put on display at Madame Tussauds in London. Khan declined, saying, “It’s not important to me ... people will see my films if they want to. Also, I cannot deal with so many things, I have bandwidth only for that much.” Khan also endorsed brands including Coca-Cola, Godrej, Titan Watches, Tata Sky, Toyota Innova, Samsung, Monaco Biscuits, and Snapdeal.

In April 2013, he was among Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Khan was featured on the cover of Time’s Asia edition in the September 2012 issue with the title Khan’s Quest – “He is breaking the Bollywood mould by tackling India’s social evils. Can an actor change a nation?” In addition to being highly popular in India, he is also highly popular overseas, particularly in China, the second largest movie market. He is the most followed Indian national on the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo, above Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Khan is also popular in Turkey, Hong Kong, and Singapore, among many other countries.

In February 2015, Khan stated his views on a popular online comedy group All India Bakchod for its celebrity roast episode. He said, “I completely believe in freedom of speech, no issues. But we have to understand that we all have a certain responsibility. When I heard what was being described to me I felt it was a violent event.” He further said violence is not just physical but it has verbal aspects to it. He called the roast a shameless act, and even called out his friends from the film industry—Karan, Ranveer, and Arjun.

Mr. Perfectionist

In Indian media, he is often referred to as ‘Mr. Perfectionist’ for his dedication to his work. In Chinese media, he is often referred to as a “national treasure of India” or the “conscience of India”, due to much of his work tackling various social issues that are pervasive in Indian society, some of which are also relevant to Chinese society, in a way that domestic Chinese films often do not portray. His work is highly regarded in China, with films such as Taare Zameen Par (2007), 3 Idiots (2009) and Dangal (2016), as well as his television show Satyamev Jayate (2012–2014), being some of the highest-rated productions on Douban. In China, Khan is known for being associated with quality cinema and committed to social causes, and is often seen as an activist-actor. In the past, Chinese media used to refer to him as ‘India’s Lau’but as Khan gained more familiarity with mainstream Chinese audiences, younger fans have often referred to him by the moniker ’Uncle Aamir’ or ‘Mishu’. He has become a household name in China, where he is currently the most famous Indian. His book I’ll Do it My Way is commonly found in bookstores across China, while Chinese retailers sell merchandise ranging from ‘Uncle Aamir’ smartphone cases to Dhoom 3-style black hats. His effect in China has drawn comparisons with previous Indian cultural icons in the country, including the Buddha, Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore, and actors Raj Kapoor and Nargis.