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He isn't a Secret Superstar but he sure knows how to make one - Aamir Khan

By Armin S. Friday, Nov 10, 2017 06:43: PM

Aamir Khan is fondly called Mr. Perfectionist by all Bollywood aficionados. Why? He completely hits the nail on the head and gets into the head of every character he plays. He is also completely unselfish as an artist. He has time and time again taken a step back in order to allow another actor to shine, and that takes a world of courage not to do where egos and stardom run rampant. With Secret Superstar, he again takes the backseat and Zaira Wasim shines. Here’s our conversation with the superstar himself, Aamir Khan.


You are known for delving into your character completely, be it emotionally or physically. The physical transformation you go through for Shakti Kumar – how much does it help you to get in the zone of the character?

Actually, I have gone overboard with the character, in the sense that he is an over-the-top character. So I have tried to play him like that. Sometimes in life we meet people who seem to be caricatures of themselves; in real life also they have drama happening around them. It’s very difficult to figure out which is the real him because he is constantly performing in real life. And that’s the kind of character Advait wrote and that’s what I tried to play. He is an over-the-top character, someone who is too full of himself, very arrogant, very rude, someone who is very politically incorrect I would say at most times, someone who is not bothered. He is self-centered. He will ask you a question but wouldn’t be interested in the answer. He will cut you off in the middle and start talking, and he is not really interested in listening to people. He wants to hear his own voice. That’s the kind of a guy he is and that’s the character that I tried to play.


Shakti Kumar is so unlike who the audiences associate Aamir Khan to be. How do you portray a character that you cannot relate to on any real level?

I really loved doing this, Shakti Kumar’s character in the movie is totally crazy. All the bad qualities that you can imagine in a person are all in Shakti Kumar. As I said he is not a nice guy, he does a lot of things which are very obnoxious - one of them is that he is a big flirt. To draw the line he never forces himself on anyone, he never does that. He is clearly a flirt. He wears his heart on his sleeves and is happy to try his luck with any woman. That’s how he is, he doesn’t have reservations about flirting with women. The way the character has been written and I hope the way I have played it, is that though he is doing things that are obnoxious, people will be laughing at him as opposed to getting upset with him. You’re kind of laughing at him because he is stupid and crazy.


We have seen you, on multiple occasions, take a backseat to allow another actor to shine in your films, be it Lagaan, Taare Zameen Par, Dangal, and now, Secret Superstar. We don’t often see a leading actor take a step back. Where does that sense of security come from?

Well no, I had no issues at all. I think in fact the fact that the story is told from a young girl’s perspective, a fourteen year old girl, a teenager, the fact that it’s told from her perspective is what is the strength of the film and that is the unique feature of the film because usually the films are not made from a point of view of a fourteen year old girl.


Finally, while I absolutely loved Dangal, on some level, I found that it was still a male directing their female daughters on what to do in fulfilling a dream. With Secret Superstar, I feel that there is a bigger narrative of female empowerment here, because it is not a male directing his young daughter to fulfil a dream. It is her mother. Do you agree?

I’m comparing to Dangal now, because Dangal is also a film about female empowerment. But in Dangal you have a very strong male character who is actually leading the whole thing, I’m the protagonist to the film, Mahavir Phogat is, and it is through his support and encouragement that the girls achieve what they do. He is still the driving force of that film. So while it is a female empowerment film, there is a strong male character driving the story forward. But in this case I think it goes ten steps forward because it’s the girl’s story and she is driving it. There is no other male character who is driving it at all. She does get some support but that is again from another female character - that’s her mother. So it’s the females who are driving it here. So in that sense I feel it’s much more of a larger story, therefore I had no hassles playing the cameo and allowing the lead characters to bloom. I think that’s how it should be in the story.


What according to you is the point that differentiates Dangal and Secret Superstar for an audience point of view?

Dangal speaks to parents, Dangal tells parents not be biased between a girl and a boy. And Secret Superstar speaks to kids, it is telling the kids to follow their dreams, it’s a film talking to the fourteen-fifteen year old teenagers; in this age a teenager has a lot of aspirations, dreams, fears, and sometimes they find themselves to be constricted as to what they want to do and they aren’t being able to do it. Those challenges are faced in this story.


What was your reaction when you heard the script of Secret Superstar for the first time?

I really loved the script of Secret Superstar, I was moved by it, very touched by it. The spirit of the girl just took me by surprise, what is this girl, she is just fourteen, but she has a never say die kind of a spirit. Whoever comes to her life, that person’s life changes after that.  She affects the people’s lives that are around her. Fantastic character Advait has written, for the girl, for the mother, for the father, all the characters are very well written. Also it’s a very uplifting film, very inspirational film. I really loved the first narration.


This film talks about internet saga. Apart from Secret Superstar, today we see a lot of people coming up through Instagram, YouTube. What do you think of this new trend?

Well I think it’s great, I think the internet has really opened up things for a lot of people. It’s given access to a lot of people and the whole world. You no longer, in order to showcase your work, your talent, anything, you don’t have to break into the elite club of producers, distributors and that whole chain. You just have to by-pass that and reach the rest of the world and that’s what internet allows them to do. I think it’s great and it’s an opportunity for a lot of people, especially for people who are not living in cities like Mumbai, larger cities where they have access to these platforms which could do that for them. So the story as you know is about a girl from a small city, the film is set in Baroda. It’s a story of a lot of young kids across the country today and how the internet has dynamically changed their lives.  

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