INTERVIEW: Aamir Khan on 20 years of Lagaan & more: ‘Being a producer made big difference in my acting career’

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INTERVIEW: Aamir Khan on 20 years of Lagaan & more: ‘Being a producer made big difference in my acting career’
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It has been 20 years since the release of Lagaan and the film continues to retain a special spot in the hearts of all cine lovers. Aamir Khan made the character of Bhuvan from this Ashutosh Gowariker director immortal. The actor recalls that Lagaan wasn’t an easy film to make. “We were all struggling to make a story that we believed in and tried our best to get things right. Ashu did a wonderful job and a big credit for the way the film shaped up goes to him,” he says.

Aamir informs that he met two of his industry friends, Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar just weeks before Lagaan went on floors. “It was at Anil Thadani’s party. Karan and Adi were genuinely concerned because I was planning to complete the film in a single schedule with sync sound. They advised me to take a break between two schedules as that gives time to rectify the mistakes,” he recalls and further adds, “But I had been wanting to do sync sound and a single schedule shoot from 1995 and had been telling this to Dharmesh (Darshan), Ram Gopal Varma. I wanted to do sync sound was because I didn’t want to recreate the emotions in dubbing. But my producers didn’t listen to me. When I became a producer, I introduced this.”

Karan and Adi were genuinely concerned because I was planning to complete the film in a single schedule with sync sound. They advised me to take a break between two schedules as that gives time to rectify the mistakes
Aamir Khan

The actor also introduced the concept of first assistant director with Lagaan and it was Apoorva Lakhia who was the first AD on this period drama set against the backdrop of cricket. “The experiment was so successful that 20 years since then, I have done only sync sound and all my films are single schedule with the first AD system. And funnily, even Adi and Karan follow this now. I prefer to work on a character for 3 to 4 months and then shoot the film in one go. Being a producer has made a big difference in my acting career,” he admits.

Aamir however never aspired to be a producer. Coming from a film family, he had seen his father (Tahir Hussain) struggle. He reveals that the films produced by his father never ended up making money. “He was in big debt and I had seen him go through a lot of financial crises. He was almost bankrupt and we were almost on the road. I remember, our phone used to ring with people asking for money. One night, my mother had spotted my father searching for his graduation certificate in the middle of the night because he had no money and wanted the certificate to do a job. Imagine, a man in his 40’s, looking for his graduation certificate,” he sighs. The struggles of his father, a producer, kept him away from the production aspect, however, God had different plans for Aamir, as today, he is the man behind the most credible banner of India, Aamir Khan Productions.

I believe in doing one thing at a time, but properly. In our production house, if you love a story, you make it without thinking about box-office. And touchwood, we have a 100% track record till date
Aamir Khan

“I became a producer by accident because I didn’t get anyone to back a film like Lagaan. I thought it would be a one-off scenario, but later, I realized that production gave me the levy to do things the way I wanted to. It’s a good thing for me, but I need to do it my way. If you look at AKP, we have probably produced less than 10 films in 20 years. We are not a production house that believes in quantity, we are a boutique house. I can’t free the handloom, till the product is ready. Right now, I am busy with Laal Singh (Chaddha). I will move onto the next once this is ready,” he explains and quickly adds, “I believe in doing one thing at a time, but properly. In our production house, if you love a story, you make it without thinking about box-office. And touchwood, we have a 100% track record till date. We haven’t lost money on a single film.”

June 15, 2001 is a memorable day as it saw the release of another iconic film, the Anil Sharma directed Gadar, featuring Sunny Deol and Ameesha Patel in lead. Aamir states that he was a little concerned due to the clash as Anil Sharma was a very successful director and Sunny Deol was a huge star. “I think somebody from the team of Gadar had told me the outline of their story. I had told Ashu that this one has a very strong story and it can’t go wrong. We were all prepared to face a very good film, but what I was not prepared for was the monster of a film that it turned out to be. Baap Re.. Log Tractor, Truck Aur Bus Mein Aate Thay Film Dekhne Ke Liye. It’s not a joke. Gadar was at-least 3 times bigger than Lagaan, if not more. Today, I wonder, how did we even stand in front of a tsunami like Gadar. It was a monster. I expected it to be a good film, but if someone had told me, it’s going to be this big a film, I would have thought twice (on the release date). I don’t think even Sunny and Anil Sharma knew it’s going to be so huge,” he goes down the memory lane. Aamir insists that this was a prime example of how two films can release on the same day and still emerge successful. “I always believe, two good films can do well if they arrive on the same day. Of course, one will earn more and other will earn less. Like, Lagaan, for example, may not have done as much business as Gadar, but it received a lot of love and was immensely successful. I would say, both Gadar and Lagan were tentpole films.”

Today, I wonder, how did we even stand in front of a tsunami like Gadar. It was a monster. I expected it to be a good film, but if someone had told me, it’s going to be this big a film, I would have thought twice (on the release date)
Aamir Khan

The actor signs off informing that he would love to see someone remake Lagaan. “I wouldn’t want to remake it, because I have already made it once. But if another filmmaker wants to make it, I am sure, Ashutosh and I will be happy to give him the rights. I don’t believe in being possessive about my films. I would like to see who does Bhuvan better than me. It will be charming,” he concludes. 

Also Read| EXCLUSIVE: Aamir Khan and RS Prasanna discussing the Spanish film, Campeones adaptation

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Anonymous : Proud of you, Aamir Khan!
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