Wednesday, 25 November 2015
An Open Letter to Aamir Khan: Dil, Still Chahta Hai!
Dear Aamir, I completely disagree with you! We are amongst the most tolerant nation ever!
We are so forgetful and forgiving. We are willing to accept murderers, riot instigators and rapists as our leaders. We are willing to accept rash drunken drivers killing people on the roads as our Superstars. We openly embrace match-fixing cricketers and give them a second career in dance and reality shows. We still flock to and trust Dhongi babas despite their heinous crimes. Liquor barons and failed businessmen may siphon off crores of rupees from our banks, but we’d still party with them in our social circles. We applaud the audacity and oratory skills of firebrand leaders who instigate communal disharmony, cause riots and loss of public property and lives.
Look we’ve even accepted to offering bribes/donations to babus, traffic cops and schools/colleges as a normal way of Indian system!
However, it is just that sometimes we have a lapse of IQ and EQ and innocently believe in forwarded messages on social media. We get influenced by the constant hammering of TV channels that are known for creating sensational headlines and debates in their race for TRPs. We find it difficult to understand your long interviews and lofty statements, and simply pick up 1 statement and twist it around. We suck up to our elected/selected public servants (MPs, MLAs, etc.) by wishing them Happy Birthday with large ugly posters (with our names of course!) But despite having no hand in your hard-earned superstardom, somewhere we believe you owe it to us. Be grateful man, we’ve made you who you are!
Sarcasms apart, go ahead Aamir and continue speaking from your heart. Your heroism has always been more about your entire righteous off-screen persona, rather than your ‘Dabangg’ on screen avatar. Your movies touch dizzy heights (both commercially and critically) not because of our generosity towards you, but because they strike a deep chord with us. Be it Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, 3 Idiots, PK or even Satyamev Vijayte, you’ve always managed to give voice to some of our deepest frustrations.
Yes I have my grudges with you – like you encouraged us to save money by buying cheap generic medicines and not to add to the coffers of multinational pharma companies who are unethically over-pricing their branded products. However, why don’t you offer similar advice to distributors of your movies for over-pricing the ticket rates to obscene levels during the opening weekend? I also had my grudges when you tried to be our Moral Science teacher by speaking against AIB Roast (despite yourself producing a high on profanity flick like Delhi Belly with the infamous DK Bose track).
Having said that, I would never associate you with words like Traitor, Opportunist, Escapist, Timid or Hypocrite. Speaking your heart out, giving an honest opinion, caring for your family, expressing your concerns and more importantly for your countrymen’s apprehensions doesn’t makes you anti-national. It simply indicates the purity of your thoughts and clarity of your vision. A vision that doesn’t seek any endorsement from anybody and doesn’t try to appease by making politically correct statements.
Aamir, take heart in the fact that you are amongst the rare real heroes who are too good to be true or believable. You are too much of a perfectionist and we’re always trying to find ways of breaking this myth. We accuse you of shedding fake tears on TV, we accuse you of infidelity (why can’t 2 individuals naturally grow apart?), we accuse you for seeking opportunities to promote your movies (despite the fact that your next movie Dangal is about 13 months away from a release) and we even feel bad about you earning crores through a social program like Satyamev Vijayte; So while Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai’s million dollar salaries make us proud as Indians. But an Aamir Khan earning his rightful remuneration causes a debate. Why so?
We conveniently forget all the Philanthropies you are involved in. We forget all the public interest campaigns you are involved in. We forget you being a UNICEF ambassador. We forget you being on the cover of TIMES. We forget your guts to shun all popular awards for their lack of credibility. We forget your scant interest in getting yourself waxed at Madame Tussauds. We forget the fact that you’ve never endorsed any liquor or tobacco product…not even through surrogate advertising.
We forget the fact that you’ve always been a free, bold soul that has never cared for popular opinions, safe bets or milking the situation. You started doing just 1 movie a year…way back since 1996…when all your contemporaries where cashing on multiple offers. You produced Lagaan when no one would’ve dared touching such a weird, dated subject. You vanished for 4 long years after the dizzying success of Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai…and did things what you liked, because you were never insecure about your stardom. You were the first to start investing in the physicality and entire look of your roles without bothering to stick to any particular image. You played second fiddle to a kid in your directorial debut (Taare Zameen Par). You were the founder member of the 100-crore club with Ghajini. You did TV right after the humungous success of 3 Idiots. You are the only one in the top bracket of stars who doesn’t have a franchise series to keep cashing upon (Salman has Dabangg, SRK has Don, Akki has Housefull and Singh series, Ajay has Golmaal and Singham, Hrithik has Krrish, etc.). The list can go on and on, but the fact remains that constantly riding against the tide is what defines Aamir Khan!
Here is a future that I can imagine 20 years down the line - I can imagine all the 3 Khans still being around and kicking. So while Salman would continue to be known for his Charisma and SRK for his wit and charm, it would be Aamir and his body of work that would be the most credible of the lot. Knowing Aamir and his free-soul, he may be the first to bow out playing a leading man. But, most probably it’ll be Aamir who’ll end up with the proudest library of movies as an actor, director and producer…and of course for all his contributions to the society and India at large through philanthropies, campaigns, initiatives, ideas, TV shows, etc.
Aamir, just like you, I too am hopeful and positive about a better India. An incredible India that is much more tolerant than ever before. But more tolerant about the positive things than for the parasites mentioned at the start of this post. More tolerant for logical debates. More tolerant towards people asking difficult and uncomfortable questions. More tolerant towards alternative and contrarian point of views. More tolerant for self-censorship. And more importantly, more tolerant for some good ol’ self-deprecatory humor that allows us to take it on our chins rather than get so ruffled by anything that challenges our conventional thoughts and beliefs.
Aamir, I am hopeful of a more mature India that will have the IQ and EQ to go back and understand your words in their true light. An India that will realize the worth of your contributions, the depth of your solid character and of course, your love for the nation and empathy towards it people and their issues. An India that will stop questioning your genuineness once and for all!!
An Incredible India that starts celebrating Aamir Khan as one of the finest heroes (both reel and real) we’ve ever produced!
Before we end, allow me to mention about one of your iconic movies – Dil Chahta Hai. It was your Dil Chahta Hai and its so-true-to-life portrayal of friendship, bonding and camaraderie that was the raison d'etre for starting this blog. All I ever wanted to do was write a tribute for this phenomenal movie, that in more ways than has continued to represent me, my spirit and my reason for being. A movie that I would love to watch once again on my last day and die out with a smile…with the strings of ‘Dil Chahta Hai Reprise’ that play with the end-credits still ringing in my ears. What a way to go would that be!!
But may be more of Dil Chahta Hai on a separate post. For the moment, carry on Aamir…and continue pursuing what your Dil, Still Chahta Hai! And I am sure, an incredible India would feature right up there in your list of wishes!