The lone ranger

Aamir Khan recalls struggle with film choices & picking roles he believed in

  • Published 25.05.18
As Bhuvan, who beats the English at their own game and helps villagers get reprieve from paying tax, in Lagaan

His box office credentials are unmatched but Aamir Khan says despite facing initial scepticism from the industry, he has always been someone who believed in experimenting with film roles.

The actor, who has completed 30 years in Bollywood, walked down memory lane to reflect on the film choices that set him apart from the crowd and made him feel like a “lone ranger”.
“When I came into the industry, I was a minority, I was a lone ranger who was trying to do films that I believed in, but the market did not believe in them and a host of people also did not believe in them,” Aamir said.
Aamir, the alien, in PK

With hits such as Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Dil, Raja Hindustani, Sarfarosh, Lagaan, 3 Idiots and Dangal under his belt, Aamir has come to be known as one of India’s most-bankable stars but the actor said it has not been an easy ride to stardom.

“I was constantly swimming against the tide to do the films I believed in. Now the tide has changed. So the films that I believed in then and no one else did, have actually become more mainstream today.”
Aamir, 53, believes audience sensibilities are changing and had Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar released today, it would have had better chances at the ticket window.
Aamir as Sanjay, the carefree young man who competes in the prestigious bicycle race and emerges winner, in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar 

Asked if the risk has paid off now, he said: “I don’t know if I can say that, I was not doing it for a pay-off, I was just doing it. I was not concerned if it will pay off or not, my focus was to do films that I believed in. When I do a film like Talaash, I know it is not going to be the biggest hit of the year but I want to do it.”

The actor has bridged the gap between commercial and content-driven cinema but insisted he is not searching for social content in a film. “I am not setting out for what the next social issue (should be). I have had a mixed range of films like Delhi Belly, Thugs of Hindostan, Dangal, etc, I am getting drawn to stories which I like.”
Aamir as tycoon Sanjay Singhania out to avenge his fiancee’s murder in Ghajini

The actor said he reacts to a script like an audience member. “It has to be something that excites me, engages me, sometimes it might have a message, sometimes it might not. I don’t think whether it is commercial or not. I am not able to think like that. I feel my cinema should be good and I want it to be loved by as many people (as possible).”

As tough dad and wrestler Mahavir Phogat, who vows medals for his two daughters at the Commonwealth Games

“The first time I sensed I had become popular was after Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. I did a successful film, but I didn’t have the money to buy a car. I used to travel by autorickshaw, bus or a train but after a point, I couldn’t. I used to ask my uncle, ‘Can I borrow your car? There are just people everywhere I go’,” he added. Aamir said he earned Rs 11,000 for his debut.