Friday, December 21, 2012

Aamir Khan, the chocolate hero: a tiny retrospective.

All the pictures from this post are sourced from the wonderful tumblr titled umbartha - not sure where the runner of said blog gets all the magnificent scans but the place is well worth visiting, tons of gorgeous 90's-80's Hindi film stars, as well as amusing fashion and rare photographs. 

There's been a lot of mischaracterizations of Aamir Khan going around in the past half a decade or so, during the entire time I've been consuming these wonderful films. I've always known Aamir better as the post-Dil Chahta Hai Aamir, the one who meticulously pours over details of the stories, gets deep into method acting, rehearses and who is rumoured to hang over his directors' shoulder, ghost-directing the films he stars in. He's been called a snob, a perfectionist, a meddler, a holier-than-thou figure. 

I usually scoff at these accusations, because even if Aamir's genuine character hadn't convinced me in interviews, it's not like Fanaa or Ghajini are high-minded art films - they're entertainment, and not even flawless scripts, far from it. 

Whatever the case may be, though, there's another version of Aamir that I've only discovered in retrospect - the young, fresh-faced Aamir Khan.

Aamir the chocolate hero seems to have done the same kind of romantic films, comedies and family dramas that most stars did in the 90's. A lot of the films are of course classics, from his debut with Juhi Chawla in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak to the Ram Gopal Varma direction, Rangeela. Then there's the comedy classic and one of my all-time favourites, Andaz Apna Apna (featured on many posts in this blog, but primarily in this post) and Raja Hindustani, a romantic classic despite some questionable infant-handling.

I interrupt this post to take note that yes, in the above picture, Aamir is in fact dressed like a pirate.

Let us savour this for a moment.

Good, now we can continue on..

There were a lot of bad films, too, and a lot of films that are memorable but perhaps a bit dated. Would anybody remember Ghulam had it not been for "Aati kya Khandala?" - probably not. Then there's trainwrecks like Ishq, that some people, like me, just won't let die in its sad infamy.

And nobody's asking why Parampara wasn't on most people's "best of Yash Chopra" lists..

But like this outfit, Aamir didn't stop, and then we got to gems like Earth 1947 and Lagaan, DCH etc. There's still plenty of Aamir's 90's filmography that I've not seen - partly because I've not heard good things, and partly because I felt like I'd seen all of the must-see flicks from that era of his career. 

Still, I'm always open to recommendations, especially as Aamir is definitely a favourite, so if you've got any, send them my way!

I especially like this shot of Aamir looking pensively off into the distance, next to a collage of director Guru Dutt's film stills. I am not making a comparison between the two, but I wouldn't be surprised if film makers like Guru Dutt inspired Aamir to move his career into pretty risky ventures, starting with Lagaan. I do like the fact that Aamir played his own part in changing what mainstream Hindi cinema would be in the first decade of the new millennium, shaping it partly with his own choices in films, partly in choosing to go into directing as well. 

Our chocolate hero moved on.

And will be in Dhoom 3 next year, proving that he's definitely still swimming in the mainstream, and not as much against the tide as his detractors like to believe.

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