Aamir Khan is a rare phenomenon in Dubai. The last of his public appearances was during the promotions of PK that coincided with the Dubai International Film Festival. This year too, Aamir chose to come during the festival time with no association to the film festival. Among a string of biopics based on sports, Dangal seems to be a sincere film and the promos look very powerful, very rural, very daughters-of-the soil genre. Manju Ramanan recounts moments from the press conference and the interview later.
Among the three Khans, Aamir is the least seen in Dubai. His films are rare and not all of them have had the Dubai leg of promotions. So, when he is here, the phone doesn’t stop buzzing. Everyone wants to have a peek of the Khan, they love and respect immensely. Dangal comes at a time to wind up the year that has seen a lot of ups and downs internationally. The film, to me, brings hope amidst struggle. A powerful promo that traverses into rural India, the film is a biopic on the life and times of Haryanvi wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat and his two daughters Geeta and Babita.
Glimpses from the promotions – the songs are endearingly irreverent, especially Haanikarak Baapu written by Amitabh Bhattacharya. When asked if the family accepted the song, Aamir states that they were very pleased. “It is endearing. Daughters often rag fathers like that and it is light-hearted,” he says. The tagline of the film “Mhari Chhoriyan Chhoro se Kam Hai ke” though clichéd, evokes a sense of liberation. The poster – four girls in short hair looking boyish, backed by a man who clearly dominates the screen and tells the world that his daughters are like his sons. Behind the veil of what could be considered clichéd, is a story that is real, raw and earthy and if you Google real interviews of the real girls, the film inches very close to reality.
Another biopic based on the world of sports? It is something that we have gotten used to seeing. However, Aamir decides to take that risk and still create it, despite several films of this nature in the past two years. “Yes it is a biopic and it is space that has been visited before but it is a human story that moved me and here I am with it,” he says matter-of-factly.
The camaraderie shared with two of his co-stars is friendly, bordering around the paternal. During the Dubai press con, Aamir smiles easily and answers all questions with a great amount of ease. The girls, similar to the characters they play onscreen, aren’t exactly reverent and ‘too goody’ to him, which is a huge relief. They trio have an easy camaraderie. They rag him continually about how he broke the news about their selection in the movie too casually, without a hint of drama.
The girls have lived the film and their roles for the last two years and their next film might not give them that kind of indulgence. While the girls are happily ready for that kind of challenge, Aamir pensively replies, “Yes, the second film is usually a challenge.” Short, precise, edited and to the point!
A lot of talk about Aamir’s weight gain and loss has been written about, and it is interesting to see how easy he makes it all sound. He has an empirical formula with a weekly count of the pounds lost. Despite all, the attention to the film is still the story and does not meander at any point into watching Aamir fat to Aamir fit.
Fatima who plays Geeta Phogat admits that she was very nervous during the first shot and panicked, even dropped a glass. She and Sanya auditioned for Geeta’s role and bonded since then. “After several auditions we were summoned to Aamir Khan’s house where he told us without any drama that we were chosen. It was very plainly said,” complains Fatima. Aamir recounts his first scene with Sanya and the role required him to scream at her. “My character of Mahavir Phogat is in a bad mood and shouts at his daughter and it was her first scene with me. I felt very bad. I felt very mean when I looked at her face and as soon as the scene got over, I said sorry.”
Aamir also recollects how he met the girls Geeta and Babita for his television show and how impressed he was by their confidence and candour. He met their father Mahavir Phogat much later. “The girls were smart, bright and self-assured, it was lovely to meet them,” he adds.
Aamir had loved the script and wanted to do the film much later. “I had just played young people in my previous films be it Dhoom 3 and PK and suddenly I just had to jump to play a guy who was 55 years of age – almost my real age (laughs). I thought maybe I would be written off; it would be the end of my career. But then I couldn’t get my head off the script and now it is here for you all to see.”
That is also why we want to watch Dangal. The film releases on December 22nd in Dubai. Send us your reviews at info @saffronme.com