GUESS what I’ve been doing? Having tea with Aamir Khan!
Aamir has been blogging for a while and, I think, finds it an excellent way to interact with his admirers directly without being interpreted by the media or other filters. He is in Hyderabad now, shooting for Ghajini, and asked last week if some of his local readers would like to meet him. Guess who put up her hand? Moi.
He was nice! Affable, articulate, attentive. Asking questions, seeking opinions; telling us his own with startling frankness. There were about 15-18 people in all – a diverse, well-informed, interesting gathering. Conversation flowed, flitting from Indian mythology to the state of our media, lingering on AP politics, staying quite a while on movies.
We met on location for Ghajini and that brought a chance to see Aamir Khan in action. He invited us in to see the filming and sync-sound demanded that we keep quiet as mice. It has been a while since I was on a set, and the small exposure had me yearning… the dust, the heat, the cables underfoot… the ordered mayhem of it all.
It has been years since I was involved with TV and film, and I had, in fact, been itching to see how the years have altered film-making. It was a lesson to see the changes – sync sound, super light-sensitive cameras, the recording process. AR Murugadoss, who directed Ghajini in Tamil, directs this project as well. With him flew out my idea of the director as a loud presence. Diminutive, almost retiring, he sits in front of the monitor, closely watching the frames, darting off now and then to have a quiet confab with his star. The commands for silence, camera and action, in fact, came from a bossy (sounding) assistant.
Do you know, they don’t necessarily say ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ any more? They dropped ‘Lights’ altogether on this occasion, it’s ‘Roll Video’ now, but mercifully, they say ‘Action’ still. They lit the scene entirely with ‘normal’ lights yesterday – wall mounted lights, lamps throwing pools, which apparently were more than adequate for the moody indoor ambience they sought. No sign of the heavy duty arc lights that have for so long been such evocative symbols of cinema.
Also, a great number of young women in the crew! Director’s assistants, sound recording and mysterious other jobs. All of them frightfully efficient.
So much has been said about Aamir Khan’s perfectionism and it is indeed true. His concentration is phenomenal and he sees very clearly what must be achieved, I should think. Once that is clear, he spares no effort in achieving it. If another take and twenty more minutes must be spent in producing a shot a touch more menacing, or attain movement a little more beautiful, it must be done. Not to do that, to settle, is intolerable. It is an admirable work ethic.