The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rising fast: Aamir’s tension
- ‘Scared’ before release, star looks forward to city visit

Calcutta, Aug. 11: “I am very scared,” says Aamir Khan, just hours before he screams, “Halla bol!” on big screens across the country and leads The Rising against British might.

The star is only too aware of the huge advance bookings that Mangal Pandey ' The Rising has registered across the country.

“As the release date comes closer and closer, I have become more nervous and tense,” Aamir says. “I don’t know what people are expecting from the movie. We have gone out there and made a film we believe in' It’s turning out to be the biggest opening ever for a film in India.”

The Ketan Mehta-directed The Rising will be Aamir’s first release in four years. The diminutive super star was last seen in 2001 in the Oscar-nominated Lagaan and Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut Dil Chahta Hai.

Once the nation’s chocolate boy hero, Aamir now rises in the avatar of the nation’s first revolutionary sepoy, long hair, handlebar moustache and all.

The moustache will be missing, however, when he comes to Calcutta on Saturday as part of The Telegraph’s Ticket to the Stars promotion.

The SMS contest that concluded on Thursday will throw up 50 couples who will watch the film with the man of the moment on Saturday evening, 25 Calcuttans who will get autographed audio CDs of The Rising and 20 lucky couples who will dine with their hero on Saturday night.

“I have always loved coming to Calcutta since I find the people there extremely emotional in nature,” reveals Aamir. “So I would particularly be interested to check out how they react to Mangal Pandey.”

The Rs 40-crore film looks at the first war of Independence through the friendship between sepoy Mangal Pandey and British commanding officer William Gordon, played by Toby Stephens, and the social realities of the time through prostitute Heera (Rani Mukherjee) and widow Jwala (Amisha Patel).

Although the Bobby Bedi-Deepa Mehta co-production is set in Barrackpore and Behrampore, the film could not be shot on original locations owing to the logistics. “So much has changed between 1857 and now that we thought it was better to recreate those locations here on the sets of Mumbai,” says Aamir.

“Nevertheless, since the film is set in Barrackpore, people in eastern India would be more curious to know how we have portrayed the mutiny' We have even taken some exterior shots in Calcutta.”

The historic advances have already ensured a bumper opening, but Aamir’s one-day visit to town is set to boost the prospects of the film further. Says Calcutta distributor Pritam Jalan: “The Rising shows he is slated to visit were among the first to be sold out. And there will be an added buzz surrounding his visit that should continue through the extended weekend.”

All that remains is for The Rising to rise to the occasion.

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