Why do people still love Aamir Khan
portrait : The wealthy
Nice people, these Indian multimillionaires. Smart, polite, humble. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan was at last year's Berlinale. And so this time jury member Aamir Khan is there. The fact that the messy-haired jeans guy with the heavy earrings in the conference room of the Hyatt Hotel is a powerful member of the world's largest film industry can only be seen in two things: in the heavy Indian boys in suits standing in front of the door. And the one-word commands with which the superstar directs his assistant.
Aamir Khan is the man who, as an emotionally emaciated western moviegoer, cannot be thanked enough. It feels like Bollywood started with him in Berlin, yes in Germany. It was in 2002, when Indian film left the arthouse corner, which has been sporadically referenced at festivals and on television in this country since the sixties, and the most expensive Indian mainstream film ever saw its German theatrical release: "Lagaan - Once Upon a Time in India", produced and with a flash View played by leading actor Aamir Khan.
Finally seeing something different than the usual small and small psychologizing family dramas and measly life longings! The wonderfully immoderate four-hour “Lagaan”, on the other hand, showed off all the force of Bollywood: history, images, music, dance, we-feeling, love, stereotypes, cricket - everything included and not at all stupid. The nomination for the Oscar followed immediately. And in Germany a wave of Bollywood films on private television.
“We just have no inhibitions about painting emotions with broad brushstrokes,” says Aamir Khan. That is the unique power of Indian cinema, which he considers indestructible despite the noticeable economic tendencies in Bollywood towards shorter, more western, more world-marketable films. He is very aware that the Indian art house films like “Gandu” or “Patang” at the Berlinale look like indie films all over the world. “That's why our identity is still in the Bollywood mainstream.” The blockbusters produced in Mumbai's Filmcity entertained cross-class and reached both the still poor majority and the growing new middle class in the economic wonderland.
It is Aamir Khan's first visit to the Berlinale and his second visit to Berlin. In 2009, at the invitation of Unicef and the Audrey Hepburn Children's Foundation, he showed his directorial debut "Taare Zameen Par", shot in 2007, in the Babylon cinema and shyly sang a song into the microphone in front of a few hundred female fans. Of course they were blown away. And of course Aamir Khan praises the fans, the city and the festival.
Just like my colleague Shah Rukh Khan usually does, who shot a thriller in Berlin last autumn. He would like to do that too, asserts Aamir Khan, “but only if the script is right”.
Stop! An inconspicuous but significant addition that says a lot about the actor and later producer and director, who was born into a Bollywood film family in 1965, was discovered as a child star. Asking about the quality of the script before accepting a role or a film production does not come to mind for every Indian cinema star. In Bollywood, many people work on several films at the same time, while Aamir Khan only ever concentrates on one project. He is a perfectionist, extremely picky at that. But with an astonishing range.
From the unusually political mainstream drama “Rang De Basanti” (2006) to thigh-beating Pennälerhumor in the UK hit “3 Idiots” (2009) to the Arthaus film “Dhobi Ghat”, which has just started in India and the USA. Aamir Khan's wife Kiran Rao, who has traveled to Berlin, is directing the film. He himself produces and plays a painter in the episode drama about four people in the megacity of Mumbai. No other Bollywood great manages the balancing act between indie film and blockbuster like Khan, who is also known for his political and social engagement.
With his “very own profile”, Aamir Khan stands for intellectual Bollywood, says Dorothee Wenner, the Berlinale's India representative. “He's not only a highly revered star, he's also interested in developing unusual film ideas as a producer.” You and Dieter Kosslick have Khan, whose production “Peepli Live” - an Oscar-nominated media satire - was shown here last year , long courted for the Berlinale and ended up having better luck than the Madame Tussauds wax museum in London. There, the star, who avoids luxury parties, rejected a copy of himself in contrast to the more glamorous Shah Rukh Khan. Aamir Khan does not want to be immortalized in the pale shine of global wax celebrities.
We have no inhibitions
Broad brush emotions
to paint, says Khan
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