On Aamir Khan's 55 birthday, listing 10 films I couldn't help loving, even as a non-fan of the accomplished actor
Growing up in the '90s, I had to show my loyalty towards only one star, and it was not Aamir Khan. But it could not stop me from loving the actor he is.
When I was a child in the '90s, you could not have two favourite actors.
Everything forced you to choose; the cola brands with Coke, Pepsi, and Thums Up picking one actor each as a brand ambassador; the gossip magazines with stories like “This movie was going to be signed by X but Y is doing it instead”; and the movies with each of them building a clear image of the actor: The bad boy. The king of romance. The thinking man. You could not say “I love Shah Rukh Khan and….” You had to pick a side.
The side I picked was not Aamir Khan’s. “It’s not so cool to be a perfectionist also,” was the motto throughout my childhood. I was probably annoyed the Aamir film of the year was again the undoubted box office hit as well as the one which won critical acclaim.
Going through his filmography now, I am shocked (yet again) by how many great movies are on that list. How am I supposed to narrow this down, I wonder, to a list of his most memorable performances?
On his 55th birthday today on 14 March, here is a non-fan’s tribute to some of the films I have tried very hard to dislike but could not.
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander
Who does not love an underdog story, right? I am a sucker for them. Whether it was Aamir intensely cycling or his version of the chocolate boy, aspirational romantic hero, I lapped it all up, and still do every time it plays on TV. Plus, this movie had 'Pehla Nasha.'
Taare Zameen Par
As the out-of-the-box empathetic Ram Shankar Nikumbh, Aamir was the teacher most of us wished we had. He was the one who would advocate our desires and interests to parents, one who would somehow find the talent even we did not know we had. By the way, Aamir directed this film also (after having “creative differences” with original director Amol Gupte).
Dil Chahta Hai
As I grew up, I realised and read about how Sid was the most perfect of the three Dil Chahta Hai boys but when I saw the movie (aged eight), Aakash was the cool funny guy I wanted to be. Aamir had such great comic timing in this movie that he made Aakash so likeable, It took me years (and several failed relationships with Aakash-like boys) to realise Aamir was actually playing a pretty flawed character.
I have been told I do not need to say anything about Lagaan, and Aamir in Lagaan. Really, everything seems to have been said already but I will say it again: he was perfect as the rebel villager-turned-leader of the team.
Aamir as the intense Ajay Singh Rathod or as the fanboy of a famous singer or just in crush with Sonali Bendre was adorable. Trust Aamir to be at his romantic-hero best in a movie that does not even classify as romance technically.
Andaz Apna Apna
Talking about comic timing. Aamir as Amar, was fabulous in this classic comedy, showing a side of him we do not usually get to see.
Ghulam was the first Aamir movie I remember watching. I was probably five. I do not know who let me watch it but I remember being stunned by how good Aamir was. Aamir really killed it in the boxing scenes, his perfectionism coming to the fore yet again.
Rang De Basanti
DJ was the funny, lovable university kid we all knew. Whether it was getting drunk during 'Masti ki Paathshaala' or playing Chandrashekhar Azad in a docu-drama or leading a rebel movement to assassinate the defence minister of the country, Aamir played all aspects of the character with so much aplomb.
Aamir was outstanding as Munna in this iconic Ram Gopal Verma film. The songs, the dialogues, and the character became history. His fans still consider it to be his most underrated performance.
More college-boy Aamir. Aamir as Rancho, in this Rajkumar Hirani classic, really changed the way people looked at… well, life. 'All iz well' became a cult saying, engineers stopped being cool, people considered delivering babies with vacuum cleaners… No they didn’t but you get what I’m saying about the impact.
All images from Twitter.
Produced by Bhushan Kumar, Allu Arvind and Aman Gill, Shehzada will be released theatrically on 4 November, 2022
Amitabh Bachchan's office released a statement stating that the actor has withdrawn advertising the pan masala brand and has returned his fees
"It's a deeply stirring subject, and we have made it on a scale that only theatres could do justice to," says Kangana Ranaut on Dhaakad.