Aamir (2008)
Raj Kumar Gupta


AamirRaj Kumar Gupta’s breakout debut, an adaptation of the Filipino-American indie Cavite (2005), starts off like a post-9/11, Hitchcockian wrong man thriller about an expatriate physician, Aamir (Rajeev Khandelwal), who returns to Mumbai only to be swept into a terrorist enterprise. Like Ghanchakkar (2013), the film presents to us the pathetic spectacle of a self-identity progressively disappearing. Aamir is a liberal, middle-class, rather unmarked Muslim who believes that a man makes his own life through hard work, until he is shoved into a tour of underprivileged Mumbai and an acknowledgement of his privileged upbringing. Through a grim series of manipulated tasks, he is forced to see the society from the fringe, to acknowledge the existence of people who invisibly shape his existence and to be an outsider in his own country. Gupta constructs his sequences tautly, without injecting adrenaline too artificially and without any major blunder except Amit Trivedi’s score. His film’s aesthetic of surveillance resembles that of Kathryn Bigelow, with a number of POV shots of Aamir from the viewpoint of the city’s buildings and inhabitants, and broadcasts the precise feeling of being monitored. The slow-motion, too, is used very effectively, in providing the audience not only with a breather to absorb the moral gravity of a scene but also the protagonist’s experience of being in the interminable now. Gupta’s Mumbai – an infernal, indifferent piece of alienating machinery – is the abyss in which Aamir discovers faith and the film’s got one of the most uplifting images of faith in my memory: Aamir embracing a suitcase during a moment of beatitude, itself couched inside unspeakable despair. Aamir treads a very fine line between sickening moral parable and cynical portraiture and does a remarkable stunt of balancing social determinism with spiritual individualism. Its philosophical virtue almost solely lies in its ending – in the mere existence of an ending – that calls out the intellectual fraud of films like The Terrorist (1998) and Paradise Now (2005).

Q: How many TV Today Network employees does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Nineteen. 2 guys to announce the problem and postpone it to a special show. 2 to host the special show. 3 experts to talk about problems without light bulbs. 3 experts to talk about problems with screwing in a light bulb. 1 guy to announce an SMS poll about morality of screwing in light bulbs. 4 other reporters to bring in public opinions in various cities. 2 guys to host a special segment called “Bollywood and light bulbs”. 1 guy to extend it to another segment titled “Khabardar, ye apka aakhri bulb ho sakta hai” (Beware, This might be your last bulb). 1 techician to actually do it.

Just tune into Headlines Today nowadays and you are sure to find a program that talks about Aamir Khan’s blog and the supposed cold war that is growing in Bollywood. For the uninitiated, here are a few points the channel managed to drag up.

Incident 1: Shahrukh teases Aamir about his habit of not attending award ceremonies in India (The reason we find is that Aamir is skeptical about their authenticity. Well, who’s not).

Incident 2: Aamir slams Bhansali’s ‘Black’ calling it “manipulative and cold”. He pointed out that the performances were over the top. Apparently, he did not expect a child to be treated roughly in a film.

Incident 3: Amitabh takes incident 2 very personal and says that the performances were indeed over the top- of Aamir head (ooh…hot). Aamir later clarifies his respect for Amitabh.

Incident 4: Aamir writes a blog about a dog named Shahrukh that resides in his house.

Incident 5: Amitabh points out that Shahrukh’s TV show “Panchvi Pass…” has mustered a very small audience compared to KBC and suggests Shahrukh to change the format of the game.

Incident 6: Aamir writes a song “Pappu can’t dance” in his nephew’s debut film “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na” and gives an offhand comment related to Salman Khan (Yes, a new character!) and the song.

Nobody can judge the moral correctness of these incidents, especially the media. A news medium is judged by its objective reporting of issues despite clashes with their policies. Knowing that, it is but frustrating to see a news network pin the blame on Aamir Khan for the whole “cold war” that has sprout up in this “war of the words”. It’s none other that Headlines Today/Aj Tak (India’s best news channels, hmmm…) that has crafted these otherwise independent events into one hell of a battle.

I read Aamir’s post and found it quite funny and well written and whoa, below it were 4000 responses (How I wish I was Aamir!). Aamir has managed to keep the post as lucid as possible and clear of all possible controversies. Hey, not so fast. Our secret weapon, TV Today can spin gold out of hay. And thus we have frequent (read 24 hours a day) shows that point out the “Unbearable Blasphemy” about King Khan and Big-B again and again to instigate the already temperamental Indian audience. New interpretations started coming for the “Pappu can’t dance” song (even before its official release) and the channel tried to somehow fit in Salman into each and every word of the song (Yes, you are right. a special 1 hour show for that too, repeated a dozen times). They even stooped down to the level that they made a song mocking Aamir and his personal life. No offense intended (not really), the song was sickeningly cheap and hard on ears, not to mention the childishly made video made from footage.

This is a free country, they say which means that every one has not only the freedom to express their opinions freely but also the right to (authentic) information. News channels such as HT not only misinterpret and mispresent casual and harmless commens (which would otherwise be solved over a simple phone call), but also provide twisted and biased information to polarise the public. Sharp news for sharp people indeed.

P.S.: Don’t be surprised if HT manages to put this blog on air and hosts a special show (yes, repeated half-a-dozen times) called “Harmful influence of Aamir’s blog on youth of India”!