EXCLUSIVE: Secret Superstar director Advait Chandan: The difficult part in managing Aamir Khan is that he doesn't get tired at all

Secret Superstar director Advait Chandan gets candid about his experience of working with Aamir Khan.

Updated on Oct 16, 2017   |  11:29 AM IST  |  277.2K

Advait Chandan, director of Secret Superstar and former manager of actor Aamir Khan, has created his own path to success. We got a chance to have a conversation with Advait and he got candid about the transition from managing Aamir Khan to finally directing the superstar. 

The director calls the experience of working with Aamir Khan a surreal one. In his own words - "To grow up watching his films to managing him, it was sort of surreal. Even today for the fact he is producing my film and acting in it, sometimes I am like sitting alone and thinking that it's too good to be true."

Excerpts from the interview:

From being an assistant director to managing the biggest superstar's career, to finally directing him, how did the transition happen?

It all started with me being Aamir Khan's fan-boy, then I was his production assistant, then started managing him and now finally directing him. But, in all the ways, I am still a fan-boy. And that's why it has been exciting. I grew up watching Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar when I was in school. To grow up watching his films to managing him, it was sort of surreal. Even today for the fact he is producing my film and acting in it, sometimes I am like sitting alone and thinking that it's too good to be true. 

Talking about Secret Superstar, what made you pick such a topic, which is so simple and relatable?

I have tried to make a film which I would like to watch or my mom would like to watch. 

Did Zaira Wasim come on board Secret Superstar before Dangal? Did she audition for it?

Dangal found Zaira Wasim for me. I was looking for a girl and it was the Dangal team who had found a girl. One day, Aamir Khan met Zaira and then he called me said, 'We have found a girl for Dangal, she might be right for you as well'. I met Zaira for about 15 to 20 mins and I was clear that she is the one. I called Aamir sir and said, 'Let's cast her for Secret Superstar, she is amazing', to which he replied that 'She is in Dangal right now'. I told Aamir sir to take her out of Dangal, as she had a small role there, and that I was giving her a full-fledged role. I went to Nitesh sir (Dangal director Nitesh Tiwari) and said you will get a better girl for Dangal's role, but it didn't happen. Post that, I directly went to Zaira and told her not to do Dangal. I said, 'Tu meri film mein hero ka role karegi' (You will be the hero of my film). All the three said NO and I had to wait for a good seven to eight months at home!


Coming back to you directing Aamir Khan - as we all know he is a perfectionist, was working with him an easy bet or a difficult job? How was directing him different from managing him? 

To be honest, it was really easy to manage him and direct him. He is an easy person and he has got clarity in his head. The difficult part managing him is that he doesn't get tired at all. The volume of his work is overwhelming and there are times that I have fallen asleep while working. I couldn't keep up with his energy levels. 

What challenges did you face while working on Secret Superstar? 

Look at the Aamir Khan Productions' track record. They have made Dangal, Taare Zameen Par and Lagaan. The pressure of the quality control that Aamir Khan brings to his films - that he won't accept a mediocre film from his director - living up to that was a little scary. I never wanted to disappoint him.

Did Aamir Khan give any inputs to you while filming a scene? 

Yes, he did, of course. Throughout the film, I had a lot of guidance from him. I had access to Aamir Khan and I could go to him for everything. 

Can you reveal something about Aamir Khan that a lot of people don't know?

You know if he falls asleep, it's really impossible to wake him up. Once we were in New York and I really wanted to see a circus and it was an expensive ticket. I was really excited and he fell asleep and he refused to wake up.

Your film Secret Superstar is clashing with Ajay Devgn's hit series Golmaal Again. Would you like to comment on that? 

Frankly, it's Diwali time. People will get to watch two different films. I will also watch both the films.  


Are there any sort of jitters, as Secret Superstar nears its release date?

I am getting nightmares. A couple of nights back, I had a dream that I am watching the film in theatre with the audience and there is this one small scene which has no VFX. I am a bouncing ball right now and yes, I am jittery.  


After the filming was done, what was Aamir Khan's reaction upon seeing the rushes? How involved was he in the post production?

He saw the first cut of Secret Superstar and he really liked it, and that was a big moment for me. Two and a half hours of him watching the film were the scariest two and half hours of my life. I was very nervous, but when the film got over, he got up and gave me a hug. It was an emotional moment for me. He is involved entirely in Secret Superstar and that's the best part. Aamir and Kiran Ma'am (Kiran Rao, filmmaker and Aamir Khan's wife) were a constant support.

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