Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Aamir and the media — the 180 degree turn
The transformation is amazing. Aamir Khan was known as one of the most reclusive stars in Bollywood – he shunned film magazines, rarely gave interviews and was generally unavailable.This year, he appeared on the cover of a film magazine, granted interviews to all and sundry for a film that didn’t even star him (nephew Imran Khan’s debut film “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”), and is now one of the most media savvy stars in the country.Take Monday, for example. A day after his directorial venture “Taare Zameen Par” was chosen as India’s entry to the Oscars, Aamir addressed a press conference, seeking suggestions from the media on how to promote the film to the Academy. He asked for their support and talked about everything from SRK to Raj Thackeray. All of it, with a smile on his face and twinkle in his eyes.When he was referred to as the “King of Bollywood” by a gushing journo, he laughed and said, “Don’t say that, you will upset Shah Rukh Khan.”That was not all. He had a go at Ashutosh Gowariker, saying he preferred ”Mumbai Meri Jaan” over the “Lagaan” director’s epic “Jodha Akbar”.Raj Thackeray wasn’t spared either. “Politicians who divide us are not speaking for the country, they are speaking for themselves. We should vote for those who unite us,” Aamir said, referring to the politician’s campaign against the Bachchans.He was even sporting enough to answer a question about whether Saif and Kareena had gotten married over the weekend, saying “didn’t you find anyone else to ask this question”.The one question he didn’t answer was about younger brother Faisal, telling a reporter firmly that it was a personal matter and he didn’t want to answer it.At the end of it, I came away smiling and impressed. Here is a star who can utilise the media to his advantage (I don’t want to get into what that says about us in the media), and one who is not afraid to speak his mind. Yet, he does know where he wants to draw the line. He has my grudging admiration.