India and Aamir… Relationship Status: “It’s Complicated!”
A lot of negativity is floating around on social media, labelling Aamir Khan ‘anti-national’ in response to his latest film, PK, which mocks mindless following of religion. The simple message of this film that I walked away with, was simply to believe in the God that made us all. That none of us come branded with religious labels, so these industries that thrive on our human instinct of fear should not be allowed to mock the very essence of religion any more. I have to say, I am extremely saddened and disappointed at this negative response to the film, not because I am an Aamir Khan fan, which to be honest if you read the rest of this article will be fairly obvious, but because I am an Indian – and PK was my idea of my India – the India where religion is part of us – our belief and not an industry thriving on human emotions. So I couldn’t stop myself from penning this – Aamir hasn’t paid me for this – sadly he probably doesn’t even know I exist (sigh!), but I feel his work needs to be celebrated and honoured. If we throw stones at one of the very few that have risked a lot for us, we’re certainly headed to the stone ages.
Widely referred to as the first “superstar activist”, Aamir Khan is a man whose career and contribution to Indian Society demands gratitude and celebration. Be it Aamir’s contributions to Indian Cinema or his work for Indian Society, Aamir has demonstrated to the world the true meaning of being Indian. Aamir has through his films continuously challenged the boundaries of Hindi Cinema. The ‘perfectionist’ has each time given us films that are both critically and commercially acclaimed. His work flawlessly combines hard hitting messages with the glitz of entertainment and quoting TIME magazine, in which Aamir is the only male Indian actor to ever feature on the cover of, Aamir has in his career worked on a string of “movies that artfully straddle the demands of popular cinema and that desire for grace.”
Aamir’s work always breaks boundaries and reflects creative genius. He is known as the ‘Marketing Guru’ – he knows where to strike the chord. But the unique brilliance of Aamir lies in the way he has combined his creative and commercial talents to address issues that plague India. He touches issues across time and across linguistic barriers, issues that affect the common Indian man. Be it Rang De Basanti or Lagaan, Taare Zameen Par or Sarfarosh, Aamir’s movies have constantly touched people globally, and reminded them of their duties towards their motherland, their India. As one of the finest actors India has ever produced, Aamir has redefined the meaning of acting – one doesn’t watch Aamir Khan. One watches Mangal Pandey, Munna and Sanjay Singhania. Aamir’s debut film as a Director brought to the world, life through the eyes of an 8 year old dyslexic kid. Not many debutant directors are bold enough to endorse an issue so hushed for their debut. Not many have seen changes in disability laws as a result of their work. Aamir has. Economically, Aamir has given India its biggest ever commercial success – 3 Idiots. The movie is a flawless work of art that inspires and provides hope to the millions of young men and women in the country who lose their childhoods in the social quest for ‘marks’. Not surprisingly, this movie is India’s biggest grosser both on home turf as well as overseas.
Crucially, and this puts him into a league of his own, Aamir has reminded India of ‘Satyamev Jayate’. Where other stars have ventured into television only to host reality or game shows, Aamir has ventured into this medium to use its strength combined with his own superstar status to shine light on inequities. He reminds India that ‘India Shining’ is far from reality as the country struggles amidst the problems of Caste Discrimination, Domestic Violence and Female Foeticide, to name a few. TIME’s Bobby Ghosh comments “It’s a ballsy move, and potentially jeopardizes his status as the beloved idol of millions,” since the subjects his show tackles “are precisely the sorts of harsh realities from which many of Khan’s fans seek escape in his movies.” Particularly for the Indian Youth, Aamir releases a wake-up call.
I want to, on behalf of the National Indian Students Union UK, salute Aamir Khan for being a role model to millions of humans, in India and globally. We celebrate and honour his work and brilliance, his creative genius and his patriotism.
National Indian Students Union UK