'The Idea That I am Selfish is Absurd' - Aamir Khan

Your Ghajini pumped up look is the buzz of the nation now. So is everyone as conscious as I am of my sagging gut when they meet you nowadays?
(Laughs) You look fine to me ya. You shouldn't be! Just to make you more comfortable, I haven't worked out in the last seven months because I have to become totally non-muscular for Raju Hirani's film Three Idiots next month. It was quite hard; once you work so hard to get there, you don't want to lose it!

What attracted you to Sanjay's character in Ghajini?
When I saw the Tamil film, I was really excited. It was a great watch; so many twists and turns. But I still hadn't made up my mind. When I met the director (Murgadoss), I did. He mentioned that when he does make the remake, he wants to change the last 30 minutes. I felt we were on the same page. The other thing is his personality. He is child-like, a lot of innocence in him. He's like a kid who has got a toy to play with. Murgadoss's energy attracted me to the project. The short-term memory factor was the novelty. The catch of a patient who can't remember beyond the last 15 minutes looking for someone; that's an impossible, monumental task.

Did you know it was similar to Memento?
Actually it's not. Have you seen Memento? There have seven-eight films with short-term memory loss like 50 First Dates.

But looking for a killer with a short-term memory loss?
But in Memento, it turns out he himself killed his wife; it's a very confusing film. There's absolutely no similarity except for the concept. Ghajini's story is different, as is the screenplay; Memento moves backwards, but Ghajini is linear, even though it's in flashback. I can't remember one scene similar between the two.

The tattoos?
That's not a scene; it's the concept. I didn't even feel I was doing a remake of Memento; it's not an adaptation of it.

Do you feel you are alienating children audiences with the U/A rating and violence?
Ghajini is straight after your Taare Zameen Par.Maybe, but I don't think of all that when I do a film. It's a script I've fallen in love with and in my opinion, after a long time, here's a film with a universal appeal. It has the potential of entertaining the length and breadth of the country; big cities, towns, small villages.

What do you feel about the idea of revenge? Are you vengeful?
By and large, I'm not. But like every human being, I too feel upset and angry about someone who's harmed me or played dirty with me. At that time, I feel like revenge (grins). Like you do with the media?(Laughs) No, no. I feel mad, but because my parents have brought me up well, I don't do anything. But a good revenge film is satisfying for the audience because none of us can really go out there and start beating up people. We can live out our fantasies.

One of your profiles called you ambitious. Are you?
I'm not sure what you mean by ambition, because people have different connotations of ambition. I think I'm really ambitious about doing stunning work. I want to outdo, reinvent myself and reach new levels of performances. I want to better myself. Surprise myself. And to take cinema to higher and finer levels in entertaining people.

You recently did an interview with Karan Johar for a magazine. But Karan has said that he'd called you on his show several times. Why didn't you want to do that?
(Thinks, then laughs) Just. I didn't feel like.

Isn't it like a regular interview?
There were certain aspects of the show I didn't like. It had a certain format and sensibility. It didn't appeal to me. That's why I didn't do it. But I'm happy to talk to him – he's very intelligent and we have regard for each other.

What's next with Aamir Khan Productions?
Delhi Belly, an English-language film directed by Abhinay Deo. That's the first film I'm producing in which we're targeting international audiences. Of course, we'll release it in India.

And your wife Kiran Rao's film Dhobhi Ghat?
No, that's produced by Kiran. My other film is untitled; it's being made by Anusha Rizwi.

The one on farmer suicides?
It's not. That was misreported. This film is about rural India. It's about life in a village. How the local politics connects with the politics at the Centre, the role the media plays. It's essentially a satire. It takes a humourous look at all this.

You had a ban with the media once. At the time, you said you couldn't get your head around how the media had exploded. Now you're seen aggressively promoting your films. Do you know better and how to work it?
I can understand it better and work it, but that doesn't mean I fully agree with the way it functions even now. For about two-and-a-half years I didn't speak to the media. In that time, two-three things happened. My friends in the media told me not to look at everyone the same way. That's true. Secondly if there's a problem, by shutting it out, it doesn't go away. Instead engage yourself with the media. When you're unhappy, don't disengage. Bring about a change. That made sense. I still have issues, but the media will reach a level of maturity soon.

There's something difficult to understand. For a couple of stories, we got no responses from you. One was while you were filming Mangal Pandey and we did a story on the anniversary of the Sepoy Mutiny. Another was after TZP, asking you to write a letter for children as there was a rising number of children committing suicide. Do you talk only at the time of the film's release?
No. Do I increase the number of my interviews near a release, yes I do. Because I've worked really hard for my film and I want people to know it's coming. I tell my entire team to publicize the film. But this allegation that I only talk at the time of my film and that Aamir Khan is a selfish guy is totally absurd. I didn't talk for Rang De Basanti and Fanaa — they were my films! On a certain level, the media has to understand that I'm a creative person and I'm working on something. I can't stop my film shoot and start giving interviews. Have some understanding of the work I'm doing. I'm not sitting in an office and signing papers — my head is in something. At that time, I can't disengage myself. That's the kind of person I am. I don't meet my family! If my people say he can't talk, then you have to understand, he's not meeting his children! So where's the interview ya? That's how I am. I get completely immersed and can't pull myself out.The other thing is that after TZP, I was inundated with people wanting me to do things for children. Write a letter, come here, do that. All valid requests. I can't do everything. It's not possible. Just stop and think — I'm asking him to write a letter, he spent two years making a film on it for chrissakes. How many people do that? As a creative person, it's not possible. The fact is I'm not available to even the film industry (laughs). I'm famous for that! Aamir ki film chal rahee hai, there's no way we're going to get through. I'm perhaps one of the few guys who opens myself out. I never say, 'You only ask me about Ghajini.' If I'm doing that, I'm selfish. I'm doing the interview and deciding what goes in it. Nor do I make phone calls and get stuff written about me or ask for a good review. I don't do that. I don't get favours out of the media. I'm aware other actors get good things written about them and bad about others.

You read reviews?
Some of them. Honestly, I'm concerned about three things – my opinion, my audience's opinion and the opinion of certain close family and friends. My own opinion matters a lot; whether I'm happy. There are a few critics that I think write well. I look out for their reviews.

Talking about the short-term memory idea in Ghajini, what is your own memory like?In real life?
My memory is very selective.

Oh, that's the best kind!
(Laughs out loud) In certain areas, it's very strong. I rarely forget faces, but I'm very bad with names. As far as my films are concerned, it's strong. When I hear a script, it's encoded in my head. If you change three scenes, I'll know about it. As far as my professional side is concerned, I remember dates. In my personal life, I'm absent-minded. I can never remember birthdays and anniversaries.

What about your kids' birthdays?
That I do. May 8 and June 2.

By: Shradha Sukumaran
Source: Mid-day

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