After grilling Aamir about his new home production, Dhobi Ghat, I quiz Bollywood’s top actor/filmmaker about his views on the Indian film industry and international collaborations.
In recent years there has been a relationship building between the Indian and American film industries, particularly post Slumdog Millionaire where Hollywood studios have taken an interest in Indian artists, technicians, locations and audiences. What are your thought on this development?
I don’t really have any thoughts on that. As an actor or filmmaker it doesn’t matter who writes the script or where the story is set. At the end of day what is important is that I would like to be part of films and cinema that I admire. It doesn’t matter what nationality the crew happen to be or who the actors are as long as they are talented. For me the journey of making the film is as important as the end result.
Do you ever get sent scripts from NRIs around the world?
I get scripts from Indian writers in India, NRIs and non Indians – many Americans and Europeans. I’m always open to reading scripts.
All Bollywood actors say they just want to do a film with a “good script” but Indian writers hardly ever get given enough credit and chance to develop their stories. Do you think that’s changing?
I hope that’s changing. I know I do my bit. But in terms of depth and grammar of writing there is a difference between American and European films and Indian films, which is fine. These differences should remain as it’s important that each culture and country should have its own identity in cinema and the arts.
Any international scripts come your way that you are currently interested in?
I’ve had a couple of offers in the last two to three years that I’ve been interested in, mostly from Hollywood and Europe. There was also one from the UK that I was keen on, but up until now there hasn’t been one I’ve really wanted to do. Either because of the script or filmmaker – something or other has made me decline. My criteria for doing a film, either in India or abroad, is that it has to be good.
There were rumours of you and British Director Danny Boyle working on a film together. What’s happening with that?
There is a story set in Mumbai that Danny may be producing that we talked about, but I haven’t seen a script for it yet.
Indian cinema seems to be in love with special effects right now. Ever felt the need to do a big 3D special effect superhero style film?
These days it’s quite inorganic, where someone may say ‘Look I’m a big star and I want to do a superhero or action film, so Mr so and so write me an action film. That’s not how I work. I don’t approach films and look at them in terms of whether they I have done them before or not. I know I haven’t done a special effects film or mix of live action with animation but that’s not how I work. I just want films to happen organically, because of the passion of a writer, director or a story. Once I have that then I can get involved with it. If it excites me then that’s what makes me do it.
You’ve achieved so much in your career. Any film related desires that remain unfulfilled?
I don’t know about specifics but there is a lot that I can still do. I know I have been very successful in the last 10-15 years but that’s not what it’s all about. You can be successful and unfulfilled. As an actor there’s still a lot I can learn and do for myself.
As a filmmaker I’ve produced a few but only made one as a director so there’s still plenty of scope there. Each film has different dynamic and just want to be part of good cinema.
If I bought you a cinema ticket and you had a few hours to spare, what kind of film would you go see?
I like all kinds of films, no one genre. Off beat Indies, comedies, dramas, historicals, action films and documentaries. In fact I love documentaries. So long as it communicates something and engages me emotionally or intellectually.
In your opinion do Indian films really ever engage audiences intellectually?
Some of them do. But that’s not only true for Indian cinema it’s true for any cinema coming out of any other part of the world. Films don’t always engage people on a higher level. It’s predominantly basic entertainment.