Bollywood Perfectionist Aamir Khan is sleepless, nervous but excited for his upcoming film, 'PK'. In a candid conversation with ClapsnSlaps, the actor talks about his character in 'PK', Bollywood's 100 crore club and his future plans.
Is it true you are playing an alien in 'PK'?
This is an assumption that I am playing an alien in the film. That is one of the rumours amongst many that are floating around. We (reluctantly) have not answered that question. We would like you to discover what my character is when the film releases on December 19.
But you haven't revealed anything about the film. Don't you agree that the lack of buzz is not good for any film?
The fact that people know the film is releasing on December 19 is enough to say that there is a buzz about PK. Marketing is supposed to create a desire to consume and that is happening with our film.
The suspense behind 'Talaash' was out on the internet on the first day itself. Don't you think not revealing much about 'PK' is like taking the same risk?
I don't think that would be the case with 'PK'. In my mind when I signed 'Talaash', I knew it would not bring in huge numbers because it is not such a film. If I had to work in films which will give me numbers only, then I would have never picked a film like 'Talaash'. When I read the script, I loved it and I wanted to do it. When we sat down to discuss the potential of 'Talaash', my judgment was that it would do a net box office of 60-70 crores India-wise, with a star like me in it who is currently successful. We made the film appropriately within a limited budget and then overseas we fetched around Rs 40-45 crore. The film went on to do 95 crores. Whatever happened on the net, I have no idea but it did 40% higher than what I expected it to do. For me, it was a happy situation to be. So if a similar thing happens with 'PK', I would still be happy! Whatever our judgment is for 'PK', if people give us 40% higher this time as well, then why would I not be happy?
While the nude poster of 'PK' created a lot of buzz, there are people who have objected to it. Your commentsâ€¦
I think that we have to be honest to our work and we hope that when people see the film they will understand why I have gone nude. I don't think Raju (Rajkumar Hirani), Abhijat (Joshi), Vinod (Vidhu Vinod Chopra) or me are the kind of people who would add a nude scene in the film to make it sensational and nor would we come up with the poster just to market our film. As I said we have been honest and if it has found adverse response among certain audiences, then, we have to take it in our stride. Also the poster is an important moment in the film and when you see the film you will immediately connect to it. I wasn't apprehensive to shoot for the poster. If you would have asked me the same question a couple of years ago before I signed 'PK', I would have said no. I would have felt uncomfortable to go nude. But when I read the script of 'PK' the nude scene seemed very natural to me.
Your character has a poker face expression in PK. What was the idea to come up with this expression?
I don't really have a poker face expression but there are several expressions that you will see in the film. I don't blink in the film and that was something which came up during one of the rehearsal shoots on camera. Vidhu (Vinod Chopra) happened to drop in one day and I had just rehearsed one part. He saw it on the monitor and told me, 'Why don't you try the same thing without blinking your eyes?' I tried it and everyone loved it. So by and large my character doesn't blink in the film. If you see I am wearing green lenses in the film which made it difficult not to blink.
Your character speaks Bhojpuri in the film. Whose suggestion was it and do you fear that people might not be able to connect to the film because of its language?
(Thinks hard) I thought that the character might get a colour and so I suggested Raju (Rajkumar Hirani). I remember we were doing 'Lagaan', a lot of people told us that the audience wouldn't understand Awadhi. But we did not keep it ghag Awadhi (with a strong vocabulary). We kept a level that people would understand. Similarly, we have kept that balance in 'PK' by using a simpler version of Bhojpuri. I remember when I was doing 'Rangeela' a lot of people said that your tapori language is such that people outside Mumbai won't get it. But it clicked with everyone.
'PK' doesn't look like a formulaic filmâ€¦
(Interrupts) I am not known to do formulaic films. People want to see something different each time and it is appealing to an audience. When they see the same kind of film, they feel they have seen it again. Something new is what attracts people.
It's not often that you have worked with a director twice. Director Rajkumar Hirani seems to be an exception.
The biggest USP of the film is Raju Hirani. In my opinion he is the number one director in the film industry right now and his track record shows that. Raju is the star of 'PK'. His ability as a writer-director is the force behind the film. I can be replaced in the film but you cannot replace Raju. He is one of the major reasons I signed on to do the film.
'Ghaijini' was the first film to earn Rs 100 crores at the box office. How do you see this trend going forward?
It's a very unfortunate trend. The moment people start thinking about numbers (referring to box office collections) then that shadow of the number influences the kind of films that an actor would sign. The moment I start choosing films which have a potential to do Rs 100 crores at the box office then my choice becomes very limited. I have always selected my films which I don't plan to break records. If I only look at numbers, then I will not do a film like 'Lagaan'. On the face of it, 'Lagaan' was a disaster. If I look at numbers, I will not make a 'Rang De Basanti' -- because it was the fifth remake of Bhagat Singh. It makes no practical sense to tell that same story again which has come four times in the previous year. If I'm thinking of numbers, I will never do 'Taare Zameen Par'. It's a film about a dyslexic child - what potential can I have of box office numbers? My choice of films is dictated by my creative instincts. I have never done films which doesn't suit my sensibilities. What moves me as a creative person or as a human being and that is what drives me in accepting films. Number is the last thing on my mind when I'm listening to a story.
But a lot of actors inflate the box office figures and pass it on in the trade circles and as press releases to various media.
It's childish (laughs). I think that for some reason various people in the film industry feel that by inflating their figures they would convince people. Also, now-a-days you get to buy editorials in a number of newspapers which is extremely unfortunate. So, what happens is that I can buy an editorial and say, 'Mera itna dhanda hua ya utna hua hai.' But it's meaningless because when you go home you know how much business the film has done. Even the industry knows exactly how much each film has done. So the market knows and you can't fool the market. You can try and fool people but how many times will you fool people also. Ultimately you are just fooling yourself.
Your elder son Junaid was an assistant director on 'PK'. How was the experience of your son being around on the sets?
It was great fun and just because he was my son he didn't get any special treatment on the sets (Laughs). He was one of the junior assistants and he was staying with the unit. He ate with them, travelled with them.
Any plans to launch him as a director?
It all depends on him. He is still young and learning the craft so ultimately when he feels he is ready to take the step and if I feel that the step that he is taking is the one I can back, then, we will surely come together.
What has been Azad Rao Khan's reaction to the teasers of PK?
Azad is about to see the film. He has loved whatever he has seen and he also dances to all the songs (Smiles).
We recently had a member of Hindu Mahasabha who said that actresses who did item songs should be called prostitutes. In the last episode of the third season of Satyamave Jayate's you spoke about objectification of women and also said that somewhere films are responsible for it. You even spoke about the lyrics of songs in the film but at the same time your film 'PK' has songs which have lyrics like Tharki Chokro and Nanga Punga.
I feel as an industry we need to stop and reflect about how we are portraying women. It is surely the need of the hour. Regarding somebody calling names to actors who are doing item numbers is very unfortunate. I think even a prostitute is a human being and she has her own reasons and problems. We are no one to judge anyone by their profession. When you talk about Tharki Chokro or Nanga Punga they are not songs which come in the bracket of item songs and when I talk about the lyrics by themselves would project bad things. When you listen to the songs while watching the film you will get the real meaning of them.
Have you signed any new film after PK?
No I haven't signed any film after 'PK'. I am reading scripts but I haven't finalised anything yet. I don't think I will have a release in 2015.
Is it because you want to concentrate on Satyamave Jayate?
No. In fact I don't think we will come up with any new season of Satyamave Jayate next year. I've just finished the third season, and my team and I feel we need to take a break, because it's emotionally very difficult for us to deal with the material and the research. Besides, this year I was only doing Satyamev Jayate with about 15 days of 'PK'. So, I was thinking maybe, I should do a film!
Any plans to direct a film?
No, not currently, as I am focussing on acting. I will direct when the time is right.