Aamir’s success without big daddy
The first film of a director without film industry connections can be quite a challenge and Raj Kumar Gupta knows it. He has revealed the struggle he faced while trying to get his debut Aamir financed.
Released in June 10 years ago, the film chronicled the story of a young Muslim man, Dr Aamir Ali, played by Rajeev Khandelwal, who returns to Mumbai from the United Kingdom and finds himself at the mercy of extremists intending to carry out a bombing in the city.
The film garnered rave reviews and a strong word-of-mouth. Gupta told PTI how the film with several first timers — director, music composer Amit Trivedi, cinematographer Alphonse Roy and even producer — was put together.
“I recall narrating the script to a jeweller in Zaveri Bazaar, in the hope that somebody would finance the film. That is one incident which I remember clearly. Then there was a merchant I had approached. At that point, you are just hoping that somewhere people exist who want to make a film but never got the opportunity and now might come together to make a film. I did all of that,” said Gupta, who has since his directorial venture made No One Killed Jessica (2011), Ghanchakkar (2013) and Raid.
People believed that Aamir was adapted from a Filipino film Cavite but Gupta says it was “neither an official adaptation nor inspired by any film.” The film, he said, was born in the post 9/11 era where the “world was polarised and things had changed even in India.”
“The world was looking at a particular community in a certain way. Between 2001-2004, there were so many things which were happening in India and around the world, the story was born out of those circumstances... It was a very volatile period and I was mostly inspired from the world that existed then.”
Gupta says Aamir was his sixth script and it took him eight-nine months to write it and another two years to find a producer. His vision finally resonated with filmmaker Vikas Bahl (later Queen director), then the head of UTV Spotboy, who decided to back the film as his first production. The film was shot in 22 days, between 7am to 5 pm, on a budget of Rs 1.75 crore and a “tight schedule.”
“It was all shot on real locations, those were areas which weren’t easy to shoot. To execute that was a challenge but since it was our first film, we were passionate. Everyday I went to shoot, I thought it was my privilege. So I looked forward to that challenge,” director Gupta said.
The title Aamir too had a special meaning, he said. “Aamir means a leader, someone who sets an example. As directors and writers, we are always looking at the depth of a name or a character. While I was writing the script, I was trying to find motivation for the character and his journey so the name came from there, he said, adding that he is proud of how the film has aged and is glad that he did not go with a bigger star at that time.