Encounter of the third kind, with Aamir Khan

Aamir Khan is sitting at ease on his couch looking intently at his glaxy tab, excusing himself out of the conversation for a minute. He is grappling with something on his tab while he unconsciously touches his mustache, which is part of his new look. He folds his tab and is back into the conversation eager to listen to our feedback on ‘Delhi Belly’, the new movie that he has produced. He wants to discuss our thoughts on the marketing plan for the movie. While I liked the movie very much, I try to organise my thoughts on how he could do it but I cant think of strong creative hook for marketing the movie. The moment passes, as he shares his own thoughts on the creative hook and I am floored by the simplicity and the power of the thought, it feels bang on. I am left nodding my head and smiling at him, like any star-struck person probably would seem, having nothing much to add to his idea.

One person from our team comments on how young he is looking, and he sort of agrees with it saying it is because of drinking 4 Lt of water a day and the new diet he is on and that he has been hearing this complement from people so often since he got on the diet. I am almost tempted to ask him what that diet is, but then decide against it. Sitting in his house with the minimalistic decor, cant just help admire the life he has chosen to live – surprisingly simple and uncluttered. The only bit that sort of betrays the veneer of this crafted look is the number of coffee table books that are kept all around. I am trying to look at the book titles in the book shelf to maybe judge the sort of person Aamir is, but cant read any of the titles from where I am sitting except for ‘India after Gandhi’, a copy of which I also own but have yet to read, wondering if he as also read it yet.

As I zone back into the conversation, Aamir is discussing the music of the movie and tries to play it out of his MacBook – somehow I would have been surprised to see him use a Dell/ HP/ Lenovo. He gives a context to each song, and plays it out, but then abruptly stops playing the songs. He tells us that this speaker isn’t giving the right flavour of the music, and if we are ok we should come along to the music studio to give it a listen right now. What in ordinary circumstances would have been an unreasonable suggestion by anyone else, ‘tomorrow being a working day’ and it being 11pm already, it seems the most natural thing to be doing- time has ceased to matter.

His Bentley follows as he chooses to sit in one of my colleagues Honda city and he tells his personal assistant to go with me in my car to show me the way to the music studio. The ‘boy’ is a bit hassled that Aamir has not given his staff and security any heads-up and has just decided to make this plan abruptly. As I chat him up he claims to be sleep-deprived not having slept for the last 2 days, and says how he sleeps even lesser than Aamir but then has to do it since he is the ‘boy’, which I assume is the jargon for assistant, and he goes on talking about the trivial details of Aamirs life busy schedule. I notice the sense of pride the ‘boy’ has in the responsibility he handles, the trivial details that he shares about Aamir life which make him seem quite so normal. At the end of this enjoyable chat (for me) we arrive at the studio before Aamir and we wait outside for him to arrive. He arrives, hops out of the car and tries to get into the studio, trying to walk only in the shadows and comments that he has to do it so as not to draw any attention.

Once in the studio, Aamir takes charge again. He wants the music to be played out in a certain sequence. The music explodes on the state-of-the art speakers as we listen in, mesmerized. Once the songs are over, Aamir wants Ram Sampat (the brilliant music director of the movie) to sing aloud one of the songs still to be recorded. Ram, very sportingly and without hesitating for even a moment launches into the song after setting the underlay music on his console. Aamir taps into his tab again, and wants the song lyrics to be the version that was mailed to him three days ago since he still hasnt ‘digested’ the new version (and I realize what was he struggling with his tab at home). There is a vigorous discussion on how to sequence the paragraphs, and which song segment will go best with which part of the movie. We stand there immersed in this creative process, the privileged spectators with front row seats to Aamirs world as he puts his brilliant touches to the movie.

I walk out of the studio still recovering from all the nights action and get tapped on my shoulders. A young guy in shorts asks me if that is my car. I tell him yes it is. He screams out a volley of abuses and threats – it seems I have parked in front of his gate and he has been stuck for the last one hour not able to take his car out. I am a bit surprised since I was careful not to park in front of any gate, but I seemed to have obviously misjudged (this was some sort of a lane which dosen’t look like a lane). He then proceeds to inform me that he has already taken the air out of all the four tires and if I was a bit late he would have smashed the windows of my car. I look at him, still undecided if I should pick a fight or just apologies. I decide to apologise profusely to him, some genuinely and some for kicks. I tell him how deeply sorry I am to have put him through this anguish (the truth) and I completely understand why he felt the need to remove the air from my tires (not the truth, another guy would have probably detected the note of sarcasm, but he was too angry to go for any subtleties). I also thank him for not smashing my car (again the sarcasm was too subtle to be noticed). He however is taken aback at this unexpected response from me. I ask him politely if he has only removed the air or has he cut the tires too? He protests his innocence – no no, only the air. I thank him again, and ask him if he knows where I could get some air at this time of the night. He admits to now feeling really bad about all this, but tries to explain how angry he was which led him to do doing it, and to again emphasizes how we wanted to smash my car up. I console him telling him that he wasn’t wrong, and the fault was mine, but I now need his help now find a tire repair shop. He points me out in the right direction, but the shop is closed, it is 12.30 am. He enquires where I stay, and I almost expect him to offer me a ride back. I decide to leave the car behind (after moving the car away from his gate), and I catch an autorickshaw and drive back home.

The movie and the car incident playout out in my head to the underlay music of the auto’s screeching engine. I catch myself smiling as I remember Aamir’s summation of the movie – how sometimes we don’t seek trouble, but trouble just falls in our lap, ‘shit happens’ as the theme of the movie goes. Suddenly I wonder if I have locked the car before I left it parked there. I cant remember doing it consciously, but I always lock it out of habit. I am already 40 min away from where I parked it and it is really late. I decide not to think about it and carry on and be ready for whatever happens tomorrow when I go back to pick the car up.

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  1. LS says:

    I am a loyal Aamir fan–and it was interesting to read about your personal interaction with AK., especially while working on marketing of a risky film like Delhi Belly. Most people on bolly discussion forums are writing off this film. I would like the author-blogger’s reaction. Would really appreciate a reply.

  2. Ritz says:

    Thanks for sharing. So when is first promo hitting net?

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