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Aamir Khan (pronounced [ˈaːmɪr ˈxaːn]; born Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan on 14 March 1965) is an Indian film actor, producer, director, television talk show host, singer, screenwriter, activist, and philanthropist.[1][2] Through his career in Hindi films, Khan has established himself as one of the most popular and influential actors of Indian cinema.[3][4] Often referred to as "Mr. Perfectionist" for his passionate dedication to his work,[5][6] he is the highest-grossing Indian actor at the global box office,[7][8] and has received numerous awards and honours, including nine Filmfare Awards, four National Film Awards, an Academy Award nomination,[9] an AACTA Award,[10][11] the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan from the Government of India,[12] an award from the Government of China,[13] and an appearance on the Time 100 list.[2] He has been described as the world's "biggest movie star",[14][15][16] with a large following across Asia as well as the South Asian diaspora.[15]

Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan
Khan at an event for Dhoom 3 in 2013
Born Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan
(1965-03-14) 14 March 1965 (age 52)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Nationality Indian
Education Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics
Occupation
Actor, producer, director, singer, talk show host
Years active 1984–present
Spouse(s)
  • Reena Dutta (m. 1986; div. 2002)
  • Kiran Rao (m. 2005)
Children 3
Parent(s) Tahir Hussain (father)
Zeenat Hussain (mother)
Relatives See Khan-Hussain family
Signature
Aamir khan signature.jpg

Khan first appeared on screen as a child actor in his uncle Nasir Hussain's Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). His first feature film role came with the experimental film Holi (1984), and he began a full-time acting career with a leading role in the tragic romance Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). His performance in the film and in the thriller Raakh (1989) earned him a National Film Award in the Special Mention category. He established himself as a leading actor of Hindi cinema in the 1990s by appearing in a number of commercially successful films, including the romantic dramas Dil (1990) and Raja Hindustani (1996), for which he won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor, and the thriller Sarfarosh (1999).[17][18] He was also noted for playing against type in the internationally acclaimed Canadian-Indian art house film Earth (1998), set during the 1947 partition of India, with a negative role that was considered his best performance up until then.[19] He made his screenwriting debut with the hit romantic comedy Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993),[20] and made his playback singing debut with Ghulam (1998).

In 1999 he founded Aamir Khan Productions, whose first film, Lagaan (2001), was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and earned him a National Film Award for Best Popular Film and two more Filmfare Awards (Best Actor and Best Film). After a four-year absence from the screen, Khan returned to portray leading roles, notably in the 2006 box-office hits Fanaa, where he played a Kashmiri insurgent, and Rang De Basanti, which received a BAFTA nomination for Best Non-English Film. He made his directorial debut with Taare Zameen Par (2007), a major success that garnered him the Filmfare Awards for Best Film and Best Director. Khan's greatest commercial successes came with the psychological thriller Ghajini (2008), the comedy-drama 3 Idiots (2009), the action film Dhoom 3 (2013), the satire PK (2014), and the sports biopic Dangal (2016), each having held the record for being the highest-grossing Indian film ever.[21] Dangal is one of the highest-grossing non-English films,[22] with its greatest success in China; it is among the highest-grossing films at China's box office,[23] and has been watched about 320 million times on Chinese streaming platforms.[24][25][26] The film's success earned him the highest salary for a non-Hollywood actor.[27][28][29] Khan won two more Filmfare Awards (Best Film and Best Actor) for Dangal,[30] as well as Australia's AACTA Award for Best Asian Film.[10][11]

Within and beyond the film industry, Khan is an activist,[2] humanitarian, philanthropist,[1] and social reformer.[31] His films are often known for dealing with social issues in Indian society.[15] He has also participated in and spoken out for various social causes, some of which have sparked political controversy. He has created and hosted the television talk show Satyamev Jayate, which began airing in 2012, through which he highlights sensitive social issues in India. The first season garnered over a billion digital impressions from 165 countries,[32] and the second season drew an audience of 600 million viewers in India.[33] His work as a social reformer, tackling issues ranging from poverty and education to abuse and discrimination, earned him an appearance on the Time 100 list of most influential people in the world.[2] Khan was married to his first wife, Reena Dutta, for fifteen years, after which he married the film director Kiran Rao. He has three children—two with Dutta, and one with Rao through surrogacy.

Contents

Early life and background

Khan was born on 14 March 1965 in Mumbai to Tahir Hussain, a film producer, and Zeenat Hussain.[34][35] Several of his relatives were members of the Hindi film industry, including his late paternal uncle, the producer-director Nasir Hussain.[35] He is related to the Indian philosopher Abul Kalam Azad through his grandmother.[36][37] Khan is the eldest of four siblings; he has a brother, the actor Faisal Khan, and two sisters, Farhat and Nikhat Khan (married to Santosh Hegde).[38][39][40] His nephew, Imran Khan, is a contemporary Hindi film actor.[41]

As a child actor, Khan appeared on screen in two minor roles. At the age of eight, he appeared in a highly popular song in the Nasir Hussain-directed film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973),[42][43] which was the first Bollywood masala film.[44] The following year, he portrayed the younger version of Mahendra Sandhu's character in his father's production Madhosh.[42] Khan attended J.B. Petit School for his pre-primary education, later switching to St. Anne's High School, Bandra till the eighth grade, and completed his ninth and tenth grade at the Bombay Scottish School, Mahim.[45] He played tennis in state level championships, and has professed being "much more into sports than studies".[45][46] He completed his twelfth grade from Mumbai's Narsee Monjee College.[47] Khan described his childhood as "tough" due to the financial problems faced by his father, whose film productions were mostly unsuccessful. He said, "There would be at least 30 calls a day from creditors calling for their money." He was always at risk of being expelled from school for non-payment of fees.[48]

At the age of sixteen, Khan was involved in the experimental process of making a 40-minute silent film, Paranoia, which was directed by his school friend Aditya Bhattacharya.[49] The film was funded by the filmmaker Shriram Lagoo, an acquaintance of Bhattacharya, who provided them with a few thousand rupees.[50] Khan's parents did not want him to make films, wishing that he would instead pursue a "steady" career as an engineer or doctor.[49] For that reason, the shooting schedule of Paranoia was a clandestine one.[51] In the film, he played the lead role alongside actors Neena Gupta and Victor Banerjee, while simultaneously assisting Bhattacharya.[50] He said that the experience of working on it encouraged him to pursue a career in film.[52]

Khan subsequently joined a theatre group called Avantar, where he performed backstage activities for over a year. He made his stage debut with a small role in the company's Gujarati play, Kesar Bina, at Prithvi Theatre.[50][53] He went on to two of their Hindi plays, and one English play, which was titled Clearing House.[54] After completing high school, Khan decided to discontinue studying, choosing instead to work as an assistant director to Nasir Hussain on the Hindi films Manzil Manzil (1984) and Zabardast (1985).[49][55]

Acting career

1984–1989: Debut and career challenges

In addition to assisting Hussain, Khan acted in documentaries directed by the students of FTII, Pune.[56] The director Ketan Mehta noticed Khan in those films, and he offered him a role in the low-budget experimental film Holi (1984).[56][57] Featuring an ensemble cast of newcomers, Holi was based on a play by Mahesh Elkunchwar, and dealt with the practice of ragging in India.[58] The New York Times said that the film was "melodramatic" but "very decently and exuberantly performed by the nonprofessional actors".[59] Khan's role was that of a rowdy college student, an "insignificant" role[58] that was described by CNN-IBN as "lack[ing] in finesse".[60]

Holi failed to garner a broad audience, but Nasir Hussain and his son Mansoor signed him as the leading man in Mansoor's directorial debut Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) alongside Juhi Chawla.[58] The film was a tale of unrequited love and parental opposition, with Khan portraying Raj, a "clean-cut, wholesome boy-next-door".[61] The plot was a modern-day take on classic tragic romance stories such as Layla and Majnun, Heer Ranjha,[62] and Romeo and Juliet.[61] Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak proved to be a major commercial success, catapulting both Khan and Chawla to stardom.[63] It received seven Filmfare Awards including a Best Male Debut trophy for Khan.[64] The film has since attained cult status,[60] with Bollywood Hungama crediting it as a "path-breaking and trend setting film" for Indian cinema.[65] Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was a milestone in the history of Hindi cinema, setting the template for Bollywood musical romance films that defined Hindi cinema in the 1990s.[66][67]

The year 1989 saw the release of Raakh, a crime thriller from Aditya Bhattacharya that was filmed before the production of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.[68] The film tells the story of a young man avenging the rape of his ex-girlfriend (played by Supriya Pathak). Despite a poor reception at the box office, the film was critically acclaimed.[69] Khan was awarded a National Film Award – Special Jury Award / Special Mention for his performances in both Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Raakh.[70] Later that year, he reunited with Chawla for the romantic comedy Love Love Love, a commercial failure.[71]

1990–2001: Successful career and acting break

Khan had five film releases in 1990. He found no success in the sport film Awwal Number with Aditya Pancholi and Dev Anand, the mythological thriller Tum Mere Ho, the romance Deewana Mujh Sa Nahin and the social drama Jawani Zindabad.[72] However, the Indra Kumar-directed romantic drama Dil (opposite Madhuri Dixit) was a major success.[73] A tale of parental opposition to teenage love, Dil was highly popular among the youth,[72] and emerged as the highest-grossing Hindi film of the year.[74][75] He followed this success with a leading role alongside Pooja Bhatt in the romantic comedy Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991), a remake of the Hollywood film It Happened One Night (1934), which proved to be a box office hit.[76]

Khan appeared in several other films in the early 1990s, including Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992), Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993) (for which he also wrote the screenplay), and Rangeela (1995). Most of these films were successful critically and commercially.[77][78][79] Other successes include Andaz Apna Apna, co-starring Salman Khan. At the time of its release, the movie was reviewed unfavorably by critics, but over the years has gained cult status.[80]

Khan continued to act in just one or two films a year, then an unusual trait for a mainstream Hindi cinema actor. His only release in 1996 was the Dharmesh Darshan-directed commercial blockbuster Raja Hindustani, in which he was paired opposite Karisma Kapoor. The film earned him his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor, after seven previous nominations, and went on to become the biggest hit of the year, as well as the third-highest grossing Indian film of the 1990s.[81] Khan's career seemed to hit a plateau at this point of time, and most of the films to follow for the next few years were only partially successful. In 1997, he co-starred alongside Ajay Devgn, Kajol and Juhi Chawla in Ishq, which performed well at the box office. The following year, Khan appeared in the moderately successful Ghulam, for which he also did playback singing.[82]

John Mathew Matthan's Sarfarosh, Khan's first release in 1999, was also moderately successful, gaining an above average box office verdict.[83] The film and Khan's role in it were highly appreciated by movie critics, as was his role in Deepa Mehta's Canadian-Indian art house film Earth (1998).[84] Set during the 1947 partition of India, Earth was internationally acclaimed,[85] by critics such as Roger Ebert,[86] with Khan's negative portrayal of Dil Nawaz ("Ice Candy Man") considered his best performance up until then.[19] His first release for the new millennium, Mela, in which he acted alongside his real-life brother Faisal Khan, was both a box office and critical bomb.[87]

He produced and starred in Lagaan (2001), which was a major critical and commercial success,[88] and received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards. Additionally, the film gathered critical acclaim at several international film festivals, in addition to winning numerous Indian awards, including a National Film Award. Khan also won his second Filmare Award for Best Actor.[89]

The success of Lagaan was followed by Dil Chahta Hai later that year, in which Khan co-starred with Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna, with Preity Zinta playing his love interest. The film was written and directed by the then-debutant Farhan Akhtar. The film won the 2001 Filmare Critics Award for Best Film.[90] Khan then took a four-year break from Bollywood after divorce from his wife Reena Dutta.[91][92]

2005–2007: Acting comeback and directorial debut

Khan made a comeback in 2005 with Ketan Mehta's Mangal Pandey: The Rising playing the title role of the real-life sepoy and martyr who helped spark the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.[93]

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's award-winning Rang De Basanti was Khan's first release in 2006. His performance was critically acclaimed,[94] earning him a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor and various nominations for Best Actor. The film went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of the year,[95] and was selected as India's official entry to the Oscars. Although the film was not shortlisted as a nominee for the Oscar, it received a nomination for BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language at the BAFTA Awards in England. In his next movie, Fanaa (2006), Khan co-starred with Kajol.[96] Playing the role of a Kashmiri insurgent terrorist, his second negative role after Earth, the role offered him creative possibilities to try something different.[97] Fanaa became one of the highest-grossing Indian films of 2006.[95]

His 2007 film, Taare Zameen Par, was also produced by him and marked his directorial debut.[98] The film, which was the second offering from Aamir Khan Productions, starred Khan in a supporting role as a teacher who befriends and helps a dyslexic child. It opened to excellent responses from critics and audiences. Khan's performance was well-received, although he was particularly applauded for his directing.[99] Khan received the Filmfare Awards for Best Director and Best Film of 2007,[100] as well as the National Film Award for Best Film on Family Welfare.[101] The film won other awards, including the 2008 Zee Cine Awards[102] and 4th Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards.[103] The film was initially acclaimed as India's official entry for the 2009 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film.[104][105][106]

2008–present: Resurgence and global success

In 2008, Khan appeared in the movie Ghajini. The film was a major commercial success[107] and became the highest-grossing Bollywood movie of that year. For his performance in the film, Khan received several Best Actor nominations at various award ceremonies as well as his fifteenth Filmfare Best Actor nomination.[108]

In 2009, Khan appeared in the commercially and critically acclaimed film 3 Idiots as Ranchodas Chanchad. 3 Idiots became the highest-grossing Bollywood film ever at the time,[109][110] breaking the previous record set by Ghajini, which also starred Khan.[111] 3 Idiots was one of the few Indian films to become a success in East Asian markets such as China[112] and Japan,[113] at the time making it the highest-grossing Bollywood film ever in overseas markets.[114][115] It was expected to be the first Indian film to be officially released on YouTube, within 12 weeks of releasing in theatres on 25 March 2010, but finally got officially released on YouTube in May 2012.[116] The film won six Filmfare Awards (including Best Film and Best Director), ten Star Screen Awards, eight IIFA Awards,[117] and three National Film Awards,[118] and received a Japanese Academy Award nomination for Best Outstanding Foreign Language Film.[119][120]

Khan has been credited with opening up the Chinese markets for Indian films. His father Tahir Hussain previously had success in China with Caravan (1971),[121][122] but Indian films declined in the country afterwards, before Aamir Khan opened up the Chinese market for Indian films in the early 21st century.[121][123][122] His Academy Award nominated Lagaan (2001) became the first Indian film to have a nationwide release there.[124][125] When 3 Idiots released in China, the country was only the 15th largest film market, partly due to China's widespread pirate DVD distribution at the time. However, it was the pirate market that introduced 3 Idiots to most Chinese audiences, becoming a cult hit in the country. It became China's 12th favourite film of all time, according to ratings on Chinese film review site Douban, with only one domestic Chinese film (Farewell My Concubine) ranked higher. Aamir Khan gained a large growing Chinese fanbase as a result.[123] After 3 Idiots went viral, several of his other films, such as Taare Zameen Par (2007) and Ghajini (2008), also gained a cult following.[126] By 2013, China grew to become the world's second largest film market (after the United States), paving the way for Aamir Khan's Chinese box office success, with Dhoom 3 (2013), PK (2014) and especially Dangal (2016).[123]

It was reported that Khan had disagreements with director Reema Kagti over the issue of his 2012 film Talaash, causing significant delays in the film's release.[127] However, Khan said that the claims were baseless.[128] The film was a hit in India and overseas markets.[129]

Khan's next venture was Dhoom 3 with Yash Raj Films. He has considered this to be the most difficult role of his career.[130][131] The film was released worldwide on 20 December 2013.[132][133] Box Office India declared Dhoom 3 "the biggest hit of 2013" after two days of release,[134] with the film grossing 2 billion (US$31 million) worldwide in three days[135] and 4 billion (US$62 million) worldwide in ten days, making it the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time.[135][136][137]

In 2014, Khan appeared as the eponymous alien in Rajkumar Hirani's comedy-drama PK. It also starred Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani and Sanjay Dutt in pivotal roles.[138][139] The film received critical acclaim and emerged as the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time (the fourth time Khan achieved this feat).[140][141][142] Khan's performance was unanimously praised by critics. Raja Sen called the film a "triumph" and said: "Aamir Khan is exceptional in PK, creating an irresistibly goofy character and playing him with absolute conviction."[143] The film won two Filmfare Awards,[144] and in Japan received a top award at the 9th Tokyo Newspaper Film Awards event held by Tokyo Shimbun newspaper.[145][146]

Khan produced and starred in Dangal (2016), directed by Nitesh Tiwari, with Khan portraying wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat.[147] He played him at several different ages, from 20 to 60 years old, gaining 30 kg and weighing 98 kg to play the older Phogat, then losing the weight to play the younger version.[148][149] The film received positive reviews from critics and emerged as the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time domestically, surpassing PK, making it the fifth time Khan had achieved this feat.[150] Dangal also became an overseas blockbuster success in China, where it was the 16th highest-grossing film of all time,[151] the 8th highest-grossing foreign film,[152] and the highest-grossing non-Hollywood foreign film.[23] Worldwide, it became the fifth highest-grossing non-English language film of all time,[22] earning Khan one of the highest salaries for a non-Hollywood actor, at $42 million.[27] Dangal has also been watched about 320 million times on Chinese streaming platforms.[24][25][26] Dangal won him two more Filmfare Awards (Best Film and his third Best Actor award)[153] as well as Australia's AACTA Award for Best Asian Film.[10][11]

In October 2017, Khan appeared in an extended cameo in Secret Superstar, with his Dangal co-star Zaira Wasim playing the lead role.[154] Khan is currently filming Thugs of Hindostan, working with Amitabh Bachchan. The film is being directed by Dhoom 3's director Vijay Krishna Acharya.[155] It will also star Fatima Sana Shaikh[156] and Katrina Kaif.[157] Shaikh also appeared in Dangal while Kaif appeared alongside Khan in Dhoom 3.

Film production and direction

 
Khan at a promotional event for Taare Zameen Par

Khan co-wrote the screenplay and script for the 1993 hit romantic comedy film Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, where he also starred in the lead role.[20] Khan began working as a producer after he set up his own production company, Aamir Khan Productions, in 1999. Its first film was Lagaan, which was released in 2001, starring Khan as the lead actor. The film was selected as India's official entry to the 74th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category, for which it became India's third nominee ever; it eventually lost the award to Bosnian film No Man's Land. Lagaan won numerous awards at several Indian award functions such as Filmfare and IIFA, and won the National Film Award for Most Popular Film, an award shared between Khan and the film's director, Ashutosh Gowariker.[158] For producing the documentary Madness in the Desert on the making of Lagaan, Khan and director Satyajit Bhatkal were awarded the National Film Award for Best Exploration/Adventure Film at the 51st National Film Awards ceremony.[159]

In 2007, he directed and produced the drama Taare Zameen Par, which marked his directorial debut. Khan also played a supporting role in the film, sharing the screen with new child actor Darsheel Safary. The film was conceived of and developed by the husband and wife team of Amole Gupte and Deepa Bhatia. It is the story of a young child who suffers in school until a teacher identifies him as dyslexic. The movie was critically acclaimed,[160] as well as a box office success. Taare Zameen Par won the 2008 Filmfare Best Movie Award as well as a number of other Filmfare and Star Screen Awards. Khan's work also won him the Best Director. In 2008, Khan launched his nephew Imran Khan's debut in the film Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na under his production house. The film was a big hit in India, and earned Khan another nomination for Best Film at Filmfare.[161] He also co-wrote the blockbuster film Ghajini (2008), which he starred in; Khan made alterations to the original 2005 Tamil film and rewrote the climax.[162]

In 2011, Khan released his home production Dhobi Ghat,[163] which was directed by his wife Kiran Rao. In same year, Khan co-produced the English language black comedy film Delhi Belly with UTV Motion Pictures, starring Imran Khan, Kunaal Roy Kapur and Vir Das.[164] The film opened to critical acclaim and was a commercial success, with a domestic revenue of over 550 million (US$8.6 million).[165] In 2012, Khan starred in Reema Kagti's neo-noir mystery film Talaash, which was a joint production of Excel Entertainment and Aamir Khan Productions. The film was declared a semi-hit in India and accumulated a worldwide gross of 1.74 billion (US$27 million).[166]

Aamir Khan, who debuted as a child actor in the first masala film, his uncle Nasir Hussain's Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973),[167] has been credited with redefining and modernizing the masala film with his own distinct brand of cinema in the early 21st century, earning both commercial success and critical acclaim.[168]

Television debut

Around August 2011, Khan started talks with Siddhartha Basu's BIG Synergy to host a talk show similar to The Oprah Winfrey Show.[169]

Khan made his television debut with his talk show, Satyamev Jayate. The show dealt with social issues. It started airing on 6 May 2012. Aamir was paid Rs. 30 million rupees per episode to host the Satyamev Jayate, and it made him the highest paid host in Indian television industry as of June 2012.[170] Aamir, speaking on a radio channel, said that in view of phenomenal public response, he may come up with a second season of the show.[171] The show went live simultaneously on Star Plus, STAR World and national broadcaster Doordarshan on the 11 am Sunday slot in eight languages, being the first to do so in India.[172]

Satyamev Jayate opened to positive reviews and feedback from social activists, media houses, doctors, and film and television personalities. Khan was also praised for his effort.[173] In her review, Ritu Singh of IBN Live stated: "Aamir Khan deserves an applause for bringing up such a sensitive issue and presenting it in a hard hitting way. The amount of research Aamir and his team has put into the show was clearly visible with the facts and figures presented. Every aspect of the issue was covered with great diligence."[174] Parmita Uniyal from Hindustan Times praised the content and Khan for "step[ing] in to do what journalists are supposed to do – make a difference. The show is a classic example of that."[175] Despite the initial hype and being labelled as the channel's most ambitious project till date, the initial viewership figures were not very encouraging; the show received an average television rating of 2.9 (with a reach of 14.4 million, it was watched by only 20% of TV viewers) in the six metros in its debut episode on 6 May. The rating was far lower than those of most other celebrity-hosted shows at the time.[176][177]

Ratings for the show eventually picked up, and it became very successful. The first season of Satyamev Jayate garnered over a billion digital impressions from 165 countries.[32] The second season of Satyamev Jayate drew an audience of 600 million viewers in India.[33] The issues discussed on the show garnered national attention, with several being discussed in parliament and influencing politicians and lawmakers to take action. After the first episode, for example, Rajasthan Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot, urged public representatives and non-governmental organisations to take actions to stop the illegal practice of female foeticide.[178] Khan met Gehlot over the issue, and Gehlot accepted the request to set up fast track court to deal the case of the sting operation featured on the show.[179][180] Following the second episode, the helpline for children received an increased number of calls from across the country, reporting child abuse.[181] The legislation to protect children below 18 years from sexual abuse became a reality with the Lok Sabha passing the bill.[182]

Khan has made a number of appearances on other TV shows. In October 2013, Khan appeared as a guest celebrity contestant in the show Kaun Banega Crorepati for the promotion of his film Dhoom 3.[183][184] In early 2016, following the intolerance controversy, he made an appearance on Aap Ki Adalat, where he clarified his remarks and views.[185]

In the media

 
Khan at Satyamev Jayate press conference

In a 2009 interview, Khan stated that he tends to take an independent approach to the world of filmmaking, noting that he does not "do different things; I try to do it in a different manner. I think every person should follow his/her dream and try and make it possible to create an ability to achieve it backed by its practicality." He has also indicated that he is more interested in the process of filmmaking than in the end result: "For me, the process is more important, more joyful. I would like to have my entire concentration on the process right from the first step."

Khan has a reputation for avoiding award ceremonies and not accepting any popular Indian film awards. Though nominated many times, Khan has not attended any Indian film award ceremonies and has stated that "Indian film awards lack credibility".[186] When asked about the selection procedure and authenticity of popular Indian film awards, Aamir Khan said, "Fact is that I have no objections to film awards per se. I just feel that if I don't value a particular film award, then I won't attend it either. Apart from the National Film Awards, I don't see any other award ceremony that I should give value to. My personal experience about these award ceremonies is that I don't trust them. I have no faith in them so I would prefer to stay away."[187][188][189]

In 2007, Khan was invited to have a wax imitation of himself put on display at Madame Tussauds in London.[190] Khan declined, saying, "It's not important to me ... people will see my films if they want to. Also, I cannot deal with so many things, I have bandwidth only for that much."[191] Khan also endorsed brands including Coca-Cola,[192] Godrej,[193] Titan Watches,[194] Tata Sky,[195] Toyota Innova,[196] Samsung,[197] Monaco Biscuits[198] and Snapdeal.[199]

In April 2013, he was among Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.[200][201] Khan was featured on the cover of Time magazine Asia edition in the September 2012 issue with title "Khan's Quest" – "He is breaking the Bollywood mold by tackling India's social evils. Can an actor change a nation?"[202] In addition to being highly popular in India, he is also highly popular overseas, particularly in China,[203][204] the second largest movie market.[205] He is the most followed Indian national on Chinese social media site Sina Weibo, above Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.[206] Khan is also popular in Turkey,[207] Hong Kong,[208] and Singapore,[209] among many other countries.

In February 2015, Khan stated his views at a popular online comedy group All India Bakchod for its celebrity Roast episode. He said, "I completely believe in freedom of speech, no issues. But we have to understand that we all have a certain responsibility. When I heard what was being described to me I felt it was a violent event." He further said violence is not just physical but it has verbal aspects to it. Calling the roast a shameless act, Khan did not spare even his friends from the film industry Karan, Ranveer and Arjun.[210]

In Chinese media, Aamir Khan is often referred to as a "national treasure of India" or "conscience of India", due to much of his work tackling various social issues that are pervasive in Indian society, some of which are also relevant to Chinese society, in a way that domestic Chinese films often don't. His work is highly regarded in China, with films such as Taare Zameen Par (2007), 3 Idiots (2009) and Dangal (2016) as well as his television show Satyamev Jayate (2012–2014) being some of the highest-rated productions on popular Chinese site Douban.[211][212] In China, Khan is known for being associated with quality films and committed to social causes.[213]

Humanitarian and social causes

In April 2006, Khan participated in the demonstrations put up by the Narmada Bachao Andolan committee with their leader Medha Patkar after the Gujarat government's decision to raise the height of the Narmada dam. He quoted to support adivasis (tribes), who might be displaced from their homes.[214] Later he faced protests and a partial ban on his film Fanaa, but the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, supported him by saying, "Everyone has the freedom of expression. If someone says something on a particular subject, that doesn't mean you should start protesting."[215] Aamir also lent his support to the Janlokpal Bill Movement led by Anna Hazare in August 2011.[216]

He has been supporting common causes; when asked about views on the entertainment tax in the 2012 budget, Khan said, "I don't want any reduction in that, all I expect is focus on education and nutrition."[217] He quit the GOI's copyrights panels in February 2010 after facing sharp differences with other members.[218] During the promotion of 3 Idiots, he journeyed to diverse parts of India, mostly to small towns, noting that "film makers from Mumbai don't understand small-town India."[219] This experience of reaching out to "regional India" was extended in his debut TV show, Satyamev Jayate. On 16 July 2012, Khan met the prime minister and the minister for social justice and empowerment and discussed the plight of manual scavengers and sought eradication of manual scavenging in the country.[220]

On 30 November 2011, Khan was appointed national brand ambassador of UNICEF to promote child nutrition.[221] He is part of the government-organised IEC campaign to raise awareness about malnutrition.[222] He is also known for supporting causes such as feminism[14] and improved education in India, which are themes in several of his films.[223]

Political controversies

Gujarat controversy (2006)

In 2006, Aamir Khan lent his support to the Narmada Bachao Andolan movement, led by activist Medha Patkar, in their actions against raising the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam.[224] While promoting his film Fanaa in Gujarat, he made some comments regarding the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's handling of the Narmada Dam and the necessity to rehabilitate the displaced villagers.[225][226] These comments were met with outrage from the BJP, with the government of Gujarat demanding an apology from Khan. He refused to apologise, saying "I am saying exactly what the Supreme Court has said. I only asked for rehabilitation of poor farmers. I never spoke against the construction of the dam. I will not apologise for my comments on the issue."[227] An unofficial ban of Fanaa was put in place for the entire state of Gujarat. Protests occurred against the film and Khan which included the burning of posters of the star in effigy. As a result, several multiplex owners stated that they could not provide security to customers. Thus, all theatre owners in Gujarat refused to screen the film.[228]

Intolerance controversy (2015–2016)
"I think in the last maybe six to eight months, there is a growing sense of despondency. When I chat with Kiran at home, she says, 'Should we move out of India?' That's a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day."
— Khan on his wife Kiran Rao's views.[229][230]

In November 2015, Khan expressed the feelings that he and his wife Kiran Rao had about rising intolerance in India at an event in New Delhi hosted by The Indian Express newspaper.[231] This was in response to recent political events in India, including violent attacks against Muslims and intellectuals, along with the absence of swift or strong condemnation from the country's ruling BJP Modi government.[232] Khan remarked that his wife Kiran, fearing for her family, suggested to "move out of India", to his surprise.[233] Khan's remark about intolerance in India and his wife suggesting to "move out of India" sparked political controversy, referred to as the "intolerance row" in the Indian media,[234] and started a debate on social media.[233] Khan faced intense backlash for his comments, with certain sections of society branding him "anti-national",[235] while others voiced their agreement about his concerns[233] and applauded him.[236]

Much of the backlash against Khan, an Indian Muslim with a Hindu wife, came from Hindu nationalist groups.[232][31] The far-right political party Shiv Sena sharply criticised Khan's statement, labelling it "the language of treachery".[237] Ruling political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remarked the incident a "Moral Offence".[238][239] In the wake of the controversy, burning of posters took place in Ludhiana by the Sena party.[240] Punjab's Shiv Sena chief Rajeev Tandon also made a violent threat, offering a 1 lakh (US$1,600) reward to anyone who slaps Aamir Khan.[241][242] As a result, the Khan family was given additional police protection.[243] Khan responded to the backlash and threats by stating, "it saddens me to say you are only proving my point".[244]

In response to the backlash, Khan received support from a number of celebrities and public figures,[245] including Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi,[232][246] as well as Hrithik Roshan,[247] Shah Rukh Khan,[248] Mamata Banerjee,[249] Rajkumar Hirani,[250] Kabir Khan,[251] Farah Khan,[252] A. R. Rahman[253] and Priyanka Chopra.[254] Several, on the other hand, criticised Khan's remark about intolerance, including Shatrughan Sinha,[255] Anupam Kher,[256] Raveena Tandon[253] and Vivek Oberoi.[257]

Aamir Khan later stated that he was not leaving the country.[258][259][244] A lawsuit was filed against Khan and Rao at Jaunpur in ACJM II court.[260] Khan was dropped as brand ambassador of the government's official Incredible India tourism campaign.[232] A company that Khan was endorsing, Snapdeal, faced backlash from Khan's critics for being associated with him, before the company distanced themselves from his comments.[236]

Khan later clarified his comments in January 2016, saying that he never said India was intolerant or that he thought about leaving the country, saying he was "born in India and will die in India." He said that his comments were taken out of context and the media was responsible for it to some extent.[261][262] Despite this, he continued to face backlash later in the year, with calls for protests and boycotts against his film Dangal. In October 2016, the Vishva Hindu Parishad called for protests against the film.[263] Following its release in December 2016, #BoycottDangal was trending on Twitter,[264][265] and BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya called for protests against the film.[266] Despite calls to boycott the film, Dangal surprisingly turned out to be a massive hit, grossing more than 500 crore (US$78 million) in India.[267]

Personal life

 
Khan with his wife Kiran Rao at an event in 2012

Khan married Reena Dutta, who had a small part in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, on 18 April 1986. They have two children, a son named Junaid and a daughter, Ira. Reena was involved briefly in Khan's career when she worked as a producer for Lagaan. In December 2002, Khan filed for divorce. Reena took custody of both children.[268]

On 28 December 2005, Khan married Kiran Rao, who had been an assistant director to Ashutosh Gowariker during the filming of Lagaan.[269] On 5 December 2011, Khan and his wife announced the birth of their son, Azad Rao Khan,[270] through a surrogate mother.[271][272] In 2007, Khan lost a custody battle for his younger brother Faisal to their father, Tahir Hussain.[273] His father died on 2 February 2010.[274]

A practising Muslim, Khan along with his mother Zeenat, performed Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims, in 2013.[34] His wife Kiran Rao is a Hindu. In March 2015, Khan stated that he has quit non-vegetarian food and has adopted a vegan lifestyle after being inspired by his wife.[275][276][277]

Filmography

Awards and honours

Khan won 9 Filmfare Awards, out of 30 nominations,[a][278] including the Best Actor award for Raja Hindustani (1996),[279] Lagaan (2001), and Dangal (2016),[89] the Best Actor (Critics) award for Rang De Basanti (2006), the Best Film award for Lagaan, Taare Zameen Par (2007), and Dangal, and the Best Director award for Taare Zameen Par. He has also won four National Film Awards, as an actor in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) and Raakh (1989), as the producer of Lagaan and Madness in the Desert (2004), and as the director and producer of Taare Zameen Par.

Overseas, Lagaan earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards in 2002.[280] This made it one of only three Indian films to receive an Oscar nomination, along with Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957) and Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay! (1988).[281] This also makes Aamir Khan one of the few Indian filmmakers to ever receive an Oscar nomination.[9] Khan later commented on the loss of Lagaan at the Oscars: "Certainly we were disappointed. But the thing that really kept us in our spirits was that the entire country was behind us".[282] Taare Zameen Par was also India's submission for the same award, but did not receive a nomination.[283] In addition to an Oscar nomination, Lagaan received a European Film Award nomination for Best Non-European Film,[284] and won awards at a number of international film festivals, including the Bergen International Film Festival,[285] Leeds International Film Festival,[286] Locarno International Film Festival,[287] NatFilm Festival,[288] and Portland International Film Festival.[289] Dangal has also won him the inaugral Best Asian Film award at Australia's 7th AACTA Awards in 2017.[10][11]

In addition, Khan has received honorary accolades, including the Government of India's Padma Shri in 2003[290] and Padma Bhushan in 2010,[291] and an Honorary Doctorate by the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) for his distinguished contributions to the Indian cinema and entertainment industry.[292] In 2011, he accepted an invitation from the Berlin Film Festival to be a member of the jury, after having previously turned down their offer three times since 2008.[293] In 2012, he appeared on the Time 100 list of most influential people in the world.[2] In 2017, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited Khan for its membership,[294] and he received an award for "National Treasure of India" from the Government of China.[13]

Despite having won numerous awards and honours, Aamir Khan is known for refusing to attend, or accept awards from, Indian film award ceremonies. This has occasionally led to controversy, notably at the 2017 National Film Awards, where Khan was snubbed from the Best Actor award for his performance in Dangal. Committee member Priyadarshan explained that they did not want to award him because of his refusal to attend the award ceremony.[295][296][297] Despite avoiding Indian award ceremonies, he had made an exception for the 2002 Academy Awards; his reasoning was that he saw it as an opportunity for his film Lagaan to reach a wider audience, but did not care much about the award itself.[9]

See also

Bibliography

  • Khubchandani, Lata (2002). Aamir Khan: Actor With a Difference. New Delhi: Rupa & Co. ISBN 978-81-291-0046-7. 
  • Daniels, Christina (2011). I'll Do it My Way: The Incredible Journey of Aamir Khan. New Delhi: Om Books International. ISBN 978-93-80069-22-7. 
  • Chandra, Pradeep (2014). Aamir Khan: Actor, Activist, Achiever. New Delhi: Niyogi Books. ISBN 978-93-83098-29-3. 

Footnotes

  1. ^ Awards in certain categories come without a prior nomination.

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