But the (boyfriend) boy-next-door image in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), which was specially created for this film, became the reference point for Aamir’s image in the future. He is the trusty boy next door who will come to your rescue if your washbasin leaks or your child goes missing.
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) brought mainstream sanity to sports films in Bollywood. Before JJWS, sports movies did not run. Much later, Aamir gave the same legitimacy to wrestling in Dangal.
The situational comedy Tom and Jerry came off the screen with Andaz Apna Apna (1994). Aamir used to have fun both inside and outside the sets. It set the tone for films making fun of 2-heroes like Dil and Gunday.
With Lagaan (2001), Aamir broke many myths: that period films don’t work, that he can’t wear a dhoti, that the West can’t be won over by Bollywood. Lagaan went on to become one of the most loved Bollywood films overseas. To date it remains the only successful cricket-based film.
In Dil Chahta Hai (2001), during Lagaan the same year, Aamir played a character 10 years younger than his actual age. Directed by debutant Farhan Akhtar, the film marked the advent of youth film. Dil Chahta Hai has got a sequel.
Rang De Basanti (2006) remains one of the most influential films in India which created a new social awareness about corruption in politics. Again Aamir played the character at least a decade younger than his actual age.
Taare Zameen Par (2007) marked Aamir’s official directorial debut, and created a niche for films dealing with problems related to impressionable minds. This movie is a textbook on child-rearing. And about the sacred guru-shishya relationship. The flip side of the teacher-pupil equation as seen in Whiplash.
3 Idiots (2009) redefined the parameters of the education system. It pointed out the defects in the faculty and believed that a person’s destiny need not be shaped in a classroom.
Salute to producer Aamir Khan’s slutty cinema in Delhi Belly (2011). It created a niche for sex comedy that was not there in mainstream Hindi cinema.
Raju Hirani’s PK did for organized religion what 3 Idiots did for formal education. Aamir’s cinema consistently redefines the parameters of mainstream Bollywood entertainment. How can we describe this Khan as a downright fearless trendsetter. However, the performances that Aamir Khan loves are not his best. In fact the performances that reveal him as an actor of substance are not always noticed.
Raakh (1989), which came just before Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, proved Aamir Khan to be an actor of volcanic intensity. It is the story of an angry frustrated young man, ahem, Aamir, whose girlfriend (Supriya Pathak) is gang-raped on the street as he helplessly watches. The film dissects Aamir’s anger and builds the character’s revenge in scenes that play themselves out like the chronology of a police confession: broken, disembodied, boiling over with injustice. No one ever saw Aamir rise to this height of explosive indignation ever again. Basu Bhattacharya’s son Aditya, who directed Raakh, said that Aamir was his first and only choice, although Aditya had not seen much of Aamir’s work. Great feeling for a character who is broken inside.
Aamir argued and fought with director Deepa Mehta during the making of 1947: Arth (1998). He hated the way his character was shaped. He hated everything related to film. But as Dil Nawaz, an ice-cream seller during those difficult months of Partition, who has an infatuation for Nandita Das, Aamir gives the most controlled performance of his career, showing a perfectly sensible and composed character during the film’s improbable madness. Brought to the fore the communalisation of the proper person. Communal riots. More than the words spoken, we saw Aamir’s body language and his gleaming eyes transform from a soft soul to a fanatic. What a performance! Deepa Mehta still feels that this is Aamir’s best performance till date.
The tapori Aamir had completely changed as Munna (Aamir Khan) in Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela (1995) in yellow pants, knit vest, stubborn stubble and cocky cap. To call Munna a goon would be gravely wrong. He’s more of the rowdy Rathod of the neighborhood in none other than khaki. Arguably the best performance of Aamir’s career, Munna gave Aamir a chance to have fun with a part without being bogged down by the character’s past and future history. The scenes were when he coached Urmila to memorize their dialogues for the shoot the next day, showing the actor’s gaze melting into unrequited love as he gets ‘in character’. Aamir actually played the quintessential Chandramukhi in Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s Devdas with a sex change. He didn’t need to do mujra to entertain love. The lovelorn looks when Mili is not looking (his eyes trained for distant dreams) put Munna’s character at the level of a street-smart lover-boy without reducing him to a caricature. Munna’s hurt when Millie excitedly walks off in the middle of a lunch date with the superstar was so obvious that we wanted to shake Millie off her shoulders and point her towards Munna’s love.
Director Ram Gopal Varma says, “Aamir’s character was based on a street punk I knew in Hyderabad. When I told Aamir about Rangeela, he immediately agreed. He is an incredibly passionate artist. Is Rangeela Aamir’s best? I can not say. I haven’t seen all his movies. But I think he played the character of Munna exactly as I thought of the character.