Aamir Khan is unquestionably one of most hardworking figures in Bollywood. Just days after being mobbed in Toronto at the premiere of new film Dhobi Ghat, the superstar is in London on the promotions trail with Aamir Khan Productions’ current release Peepli [Live], which finally hits the box office in the UK. In his characteristic faded dark jeans, black boots and a grey top with the number ‘5‘ emblazoned on the sleeve, the effortlessly young 45-year-old looks no different to his 3 Idiots engineering student character Rancho. We chatted with the actor on everything from awards to audiences to accents, and raised the question of a possible sequel. We also asked our followers of @BollySpice on Twitter to send in their questions to the Aamir. Were you one of the lucky winners to have your question answered by the star? Read on to find out.
Congratulations on the National Award earlier this week for 3 Idiots. Are you hoping for similar recognition this time next year with Peepli [Live]?
That would be nice. It is always good to get recognition for the work that you do, especially for a film like this. Let’s see what happens.
Is the film based on a real place?
The film is located in central India, and the director has changed the name of the state from Madhya Pradesh to Mukhya Pradesh, to make the story more universal. By not fixing it to a real geographical location. The village of Peepli represents the many thousands of villages like in Madhya Pradesh, Chatisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and all over central India.
So within India, who do you feel is the intended audience for this type of film?
The intention is that we appeal to audiences in urban areas and rural India. Peepli [Live] has done that, it has been a success in both markets, and audiences have appreciated the films at multiplexes. But it has also done well in those other areas outside the cities, and these are the people we want to see it.
It has been said that Indian viewers from urban areas have found the dialect difficult to follow.
Well, the film is from a dialect which is used in central India. So while it is Hindi, it is a dialect of Hindi, so while people who are not used to the dialect would find it a little hard, though not too hard to understand. They would follow it but they would have to be alert.
Where you ever tempted to get involved other aspects of the filmmaking process?
No, not at all, as a producer I attended some of the acting workshops but most of the work was down to director Anusha Rizvi.
You are known for working on one project at a time, but last week you were in Toronto with Dhobi Ghat and this week London with Peepli [Live].
Yes, that was down to the marketing strategy. Both films are now finalised though. Peepli [Live] has already released in lots of places and now releases in the UK, and we have just had the premiere of Dhobi Ghat in Toronto at the TIFF last week, so work has finished on them both. But I do prefer to work on one film at a time.
Without giving too much away, the end of the film seems like a good place to begin a sequel. Do you have plans for a follow up?
It was written as a one off script. I don’t think Anusha has any plans to make a sequel, not that I know of.
You have the reputation of being an ‘actor’s actor’, have you thought about opening up an acting school like perhaps Anupam Kher or Barry John have done?
I don’t think I have the bandwith to take on that kind of responsibility, not at this point of time. Maybe in the future.
When are we going to see you starring opposite nephew Imran Khan?
That’s a question I have been asked a number of times of late. I would be happy to do a film with him when the right script comes along. Let’s see. When I get back I am going to start reading scripts. If something does come up which is good for the two of us, I’m sure we’ll be both happy to do it. I’ll look forward to working with him.
Did the superstar answer your question on Twitter? Here’s the moment of truth!
@asimburney Why did the UK get a delayed release date for Peepli [Live]?
The film released elsewhere in August. But here in the UK the film is being promoted as more of an art-house film, the type of film you might see at a cinema like the Curzon. We are working with Artificial Eye. It is the first time they have tied in with an Indian production, and they felt that August was not a good month to release the project. Maybe a lot of people are away then, so that is why the film is coming out in the UK in September, later than India and the rest of the world.
@tk_towhid Q 4 Aamir. Who does he think is the queen of Bollywood now?
I suppose Kareena, Katrina, Deepika and Priyanka Chopra. These are the three or four actresses who are fairly popular. I don’t know who is the most popular though.
@motihariwala Ask why he is away from Twitter?
Well, you know Twitter is a great platform for communication but I find that you also need to be frequent or regular in your communication and find that I’m not able to do that because I am lost in my own world, so I find it difficult to do on a daily basis
@enstacy Question for Aamir: What was the most surprising thing you discovered/realised about yourself during the making of Peepli [Live]?
Oh (laughs), the most surprising thing I discovered about myself? (Long pause) I don’t think I discovered anything startlingly surprising about myself.
(BollySpice: As this was only half an answer, we thought it only fair that we ask Aamir another question from @enstacy)
@enstacy Question for Aamir: When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
I guess it will have be to during the film Withnail And I which I saw some time back, which was really funny.
If you are not following @BollySpice yet on Twitter, join us now – and keep an eye out for more chances to interact with Bollywood’s biggest actors. We would like to thank Aamir for taking the time to answer not only our but fan questions! It was great to catch up with him while he was in the UK. Aamir has many more exciting events planned as part of this promotional tour for Peepli [Live]. You can find out where he will be in the next week and perhaps get your chance to see the star by clicking here. Peepli [Live] is currently on release in India and worldwide, and opens in the UK September 24th.