One of India’s biggest film stars, Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan, better known as Aamir Khan, was born on 14 March 1965 in Mumbai.
His father, Tahir Hussain, was a film producer. Many members of Aamir Khan’s extended family were linked to the Hindi film industry.
Khan’s first appearance on screen was as a child in a song in the film Yaadon Ki Baaraat, directed by his uncle Nasir Hussain. This was followed by a small role in Madhosh, his father’s production.
Khan studied in Mumbai’s J.B. Petit School, St. Anne's High School, Bombay Scottish School and then Narsee Monjee College.
He later said that his childhood was tough as his father’s film production ventures did not do well and creditors lined up for money.
In a 1988 interview to the Movie magazine, after the release of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, the film which made Khan a star, he said: “As a child I was shy, high-strung, goofy and awkward . . . [M]y ‘filmi’ connections disillusioned me further. My dad, being a producer, paid the directors and artistes; yet he had to regularly chase them, as they would play musical chairs with him before completing his films.”
When he turned 16, Khan assisted in the making of a short, silent, experimental film called Paranoia, directed by Aditya Bhattacharya. Khan also acted in the film. Neena Gupta and Victor Banerjee, both eminent actors, had roles in that extremely low-budget film as well.
After this, Khan joined a theatre group, worked backstage and acted in a few Hindi, Gujarati and English plays.
He assisted director Nasir Hussain in Manzil Manzil (1984) and Zabardast (1985), and acted in a few student documentaries. On the basis of his work he was offered the role of a college student by the director Ketan Mehta for his low-budget feature film Holi.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, the next film Khan acted in, announced the birth of a new star in Bollywood. A story of doomed love, it set the box office on fire and won several Filmfare awards, including the Best Male Debut for Khan. Both he and the actress Juhi Chawla, his love interest in the film, became very popular.
In some ways, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak also signalled the arrival of a new type of male star — boyish charm, ‘chocolate’ good looks, a far cry from the angry masculinity of Amitabh Bachchan.
Remembering the film a quarter of a century after it was released, the film critic Baradwaj Rangan wrote in The Hindu in May 2013: “For some of us, those nearing the end of school or already into college, the film was something of a generational marker. I refer, of course, to the song that was not just a song but an anthem, ‘Papa Kehte Hain...’ This was one of the first instances of teenage confusion I remember seeing on screen. We were used to kids dropping out of school and college, and those kids became delinquents and grew up to be Amitabh Bachchan (in the 1970s) or Sanjay Dutt (in the 80s) — but here was a clean-cut lad telling us that he just didn't know what he wanted to do in life.”
Love, Love, Love, Khan’s next venture with Juhi Chawla, failed at the box office. So did a series of subsequent films including Awwal Number, Tum Mere Ho, Deewana Mujh Sa Nahin and Jawani Zindabad.
Success came in the form of Dil, in which Khan starred opposite Madhuri Dixit. The 1991 romantic comedy Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, in which Khan and Pooja Bhatt played the lead roles, also did well commercially.
His other hits in the next few years included Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Rangeela and Andaz Apna Apna. Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, a sports saga in which Khan plays a carefree youngster who wakes up to his responsibilities, and Andaz Apna Apna, a comedy that also starred Salman Khan, have both become cult films of mainstream Hindi cinema.
Aamir Khan’s other major films of the 1990s included Raja Hindustani, a blockbuster that won him a Filmfare Award for Best Actor, the multi-starrer Ishq, Ghulam, and the much-acclaimed Sarfarosh.
In her review of Ghulam, the film critic Anupama Chopra wrote in the India Today magazine in June 1998: “If Munna from Rangeela was plucked out of his unworried existence, away from his film star girlfriend, and into a grim Mumbai chawl, this would be his story. In Ghulam, Khan reprises his tapori (lumpen) role but on a more sombre note, proving that he is easily the finest actor of his generation. Every note, nuance, gesture and expression is played to perfection.”
Calling Khan’s performance in Sarfarosh “gritty”, Deepa Deosthalee wrote in The Indian Express in May 1999: “Aamir Khan virtually has the entire film to himself. Obviously, he has put in a lot of sweat to pull off the part of the tough ACP — the dormant rage over his brother’s bloody death and father's paraplegic condition seething under his skin.”
In the new millennium, some of Aamir Khan’s biggest hits include Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti and 3 Idiots. He started his own production house, Aamir Khan Productions, in 2001.
In 2007 he produced, directed and acted in Taare Zameen Par, in which he played the role of a teacher of a dyslexic child. Reviewing the film for CNN-IBN, the film critic Rajeev Masand wrote: “As Ram Shankar Nikumbh, Ishaan’s well-meaning teacher, Aamir Khan is expectedly brilliant, delivering a mature, sensitive performance, adding those little touches that make a difference. It is to his credit as an actor and director that he never once over-shadows the real star performer — Darsheel Safary, who steals your heart as Ishaan Awasthi.”
Aamir Khan, who also ventured into television in 2012 with a successful talk-show called Satyamev Jayte, chooses his films with care and is known to be a perfectionist. He is married to Kiran Rao, also a filmmaker.
A recipient of many awards, including the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, he was ranked among the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2013 by the Time magazine.
The music legend A.R. Rahman wrote in Time: “In a world of false diplomacy and evasiveness, Aamir is a straightforward man. A man of his word. His movies are commercial successes — Lagaan was nominated for an Academy Award — but they also display a sense of social responsibility: they tackle important themes, like poverty and education.”
Also on this day:
1931 — Alam Ara, the first Indian sound film, was released
1949 — Farida Jalal, Indian film actress, was born
1967 — Vijay Yadav, Indian cricketer, was born
1972 — Irom Sharmila, civil rights and political activist from Manipur, was born
1973 — Rohit Shetty, Indian filmmaker, was born
1998 — Dada Kondke, Marathi actor and filmmaker, passed away