Maverick actor-filmmaker Aamir Khan, Bollywood’s master of film marketing and publicity gimmicks, has not really been going the whole hog to promote his latest film PK. A nude poster here and a cute song there and a thing or two about his character PK is all he’s been revealing. Compare that to the promotions of his blockbusters 3 Idiots and Ghajini, and maybe even his last film Dhoom 3, and you would feel that the buzz around PK is quite average. But Aamir Khan begs to differ.
India.com spoke to Aamir Khan in a tête-à-tête, and here’s what he had to say about PK, about his method of selecting films irrespective of their box office potential, and how his TV show Satyamev Jayate has changed him as a person. Here’s how the mind of the creative genius works.
3 Idiots, your last film with PK director Rajkumar Hirani, had the famous punchline ‘Aal Izz Well (All is well)’. What is PK’s punchline?
(Smiles) There are quite a few of them in PK. It depends on which one becomes more popular.
Your character PK speaks the Bhojpuri language. Is there some ‘alien language’ also in the film?
To which Aamir says with a twinkle in his eye, “No, it’s Bhojpuri. No alien language. This is an assumption that I am playing an alien in the film! That is one of the rumours amongst many that are floating around.”
So you’re not playing an alien in PK then?
“We (reluctantly) have not answered that question…we would like you to discover on the 19th (December, the release date of PK),” is Aamir’s non-committal reply. (But guess what, we remember Anushka Sharma saying that Aamir speaks a special kind of language in PK!)
Did you suggest the use of Bhojpuri language in order to capture the lucrative audience of Bhojpuri films?
(Animatedly) Yeah. There’s a big market of Bhojpuri cinema, so… (we could tap into it). But I thought that if we had Bhojpuri, it would add a certain colour to the character of PK. Language does that. When we were doing Lagaan, a lot of people told us that the audience wouldn’t understand Awadhi. But we did not keep it Ghag Awadhi…we kept a level that people would understand. Similarly we have kept that balance in PK by using a simpler version of Bhojpuri. I remember when we did Rangeela; people said that your tapori language is such that people outside Mumbai won’t get it. But that didn’t happen. The accent added a colour to Munna’s character.
PK is starkly different from the formulaic films of Bollywood…
I’m not known to make formula films. That doesn’t bother me, as people want to see something different each time and it is appealing to an audience. When they see the same kind of film, they feel they have seen it again. Something new is what attracts people.
What is PK the film’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
The USP of the film is Raju Hirani (director). In my opinion he is the No.1 director of the film industry right now. He has made amazing films, whether it is Munna Bhai M.B.B.S., Lage Raho Munnabhai or 3 Idiots. For me, Raju is the star of PK. His ability as a writer-director is the force behind PK as well. He is the hero of the film and one of the major reasons I signed on to do the film.
Which genre of filmmaking does PK belong to with its quirky sense of humour?
The genre is very much Raju Hirani’s genre, that of Drama, because he always has something important to say. All his films are essentially dramas, but the vehicle he uses each time is that of humour. The same is the case with PK.
So then what is the important message in PK the film? Any hints?
You should see the film for that. No hints! (Smiles) Comparison (with earlier films) will always happen, but that’s something that does not bother Raju, me or any of us. Essentially, Raju as a creative person has something to tell. And each time he is telling (exactly) what he wants to tell. I don’t think he is thinking of box office numbers when he is writing a story. It’s something he wants to tell. And that is the charm of Raju. He’s not following numbers, he’s following his heart, and the numbers will come. It’s like the thought of 3 Idiots, ‘Don’t chase success, chase excellence, and success will follow’.
But isn’t your character PK being given so much importance that the message might be lost?
No, on the contrary, I think humour is a lovely vehicle for people to get a message. People appreciate humour; it’s important to be entertained and along with that comes the message. 3 Idiots is a classic example where the message went home to such an extent that people actually changed their careers to follow their heart. That’s how strongly the message went through, but humour was also there throughout in the film. Humour does not disturb but enhances the message.
With PK, are you not feeling the pressure of the box office collections?
I don’t feel any pressure. Box office numbers are a possible indicator of how much people have liked a film, but they are not the only indicator. Sometimes, numbers can be misleading By and large, the number forms a yardstick that if this film has garnered so much then a lot of people have liked it and seen it again and again. So numbers are some sort of a yardstick for appreciation of a film.
But what I am really looking forward to with PK is that…the script when narrated to me, made me feel something. And Raju Hirani has a certain vision in his mind about what PK is. So what concerns me is not the numbers, but whether we have managed to achieve Raju’s dream. Will it touch the hearts of people as it has touched our hearts? The numbers will happen if the film is good.
So you’re not planning or aiming to break the all-time box office record of your own film Dhoom 3?
No! I don’t plan to break records. (Sounding a bit hurt) I’ll tell you how it works for me. If I only look at numbers, then I will not do a film like Lagaan. On the face of it, Lagaan was a disaster. If I look at numbers, I will not make a Rang De Basanti – because it was the fifth remake of Bhagat Singh. It makes no practical sense to tell that same story again which has come four times in the previous year. If I’m thinking of numbers, I will never do Taare Zameen Par. It’s a film about a dyslexic child – what potential can I have of numbers? So, it’s not like I’m thinking that Taare Zameen Par will make Rs 300 crore, so let’s do it. I’ve done it because I love it.
How do you go about choosing films then?
My choice of films is dictated by my creative instincts. What moves me as a creative person or as a human being…that is what drives me in accepting films. Number is the last thing on my mind when I’m listening to a story. But after I have accepted a film, it is my responsibility to see that it is economically viable. Again, that is different from box office numbers. In Taare Zameen Par, we didn’t spend more than Rs 15 crore. That it went on to do bigger business than Dhoom 2 is something which we had not expected. You cannot predict that. So, my choice of films is dictated by my instinct, by my heart. The day I start choosing films based on numbers, it’s my death as a creative person.
But why is PK lagging behind in marketing and promotions although the release date is close?
The fact that people know the film is releasing on December 19 is enough to say that there is a buzz about PK. Marketing is supposed to create a desire to consume (and that is happening).
When will we see you on screen again after PK this December?
Not until 2017. By the time I sign a film and we start shooting, I don’t think it will release in 2016. I’m not even doing TV (Satyamev Jayate) in 2015.
Why are you not doing Satyamev Jayate Season 4 in 2015?
I’ve just finished Satyamev Jayate Season 3, and my team and I feel we need to take a break, because it’s emotionally very difficult for us to deal with the material and the research. Besides, this year I was only doing Satyamev Jayate with only 15 days of PK. So I was thinking maybe I should do a film…so that comes in 2017!
Has hosting and producing Satyamev Jayate made you deeply spiritual?
I would like to feel that I was always spiritual. I think Satyamev Jayate has made less judgemental at some level. It’s made me more humane, more sensitive to other people. It’s made me more humble, and appreciate so many different people I come across.
And we took that as a parting shot from the spiritual host of Satyamev Jayate, whom we shall see humour us in PK on December 19, with a unique message to go with it, of course! Here’s wishing success to the virtuoso actor-filmmaker.