I have seen three Aamir Khan films this week. I have decided that I have to dedicate an entire post to this fantastic man.
In the cinematic hell that is Bollywood (this is not an insult, it's the truth - they just don't usually make very good movies), Aamir Khan is nothing short of a saint. His movies are Hollywood standards, terrific, and by Bollywood standards, stratospherically superior to anything else on the map.
Now Aamir Khan is a terrific actor, but he has also become a major producer. He produced Lagaan, which was terrific, and Peepli Live, which was an excellent movie that I mentioned in a previous post. He has not produced all that many movies personally, but the production company that he founded has produced quite a few. Also, whenever he makes a movie, apparently he is quite involved in the story and production in some kind of uncredited way.
My first taste of Aamir Khan came long before the idea of Rotary Youth Exchange, much less the destination of India, was anywhere in my thoughts. After the AP Exams, our AP World teacher Mr. Wold screened Aamir Khan's historical cricket epic Lagaan. I think the entire class loved it, me included. It was a fantastic first taste of Bollywood. Lagaan is an awesome movie and thanks to Mr. Wold it has a bit of a cult following in Northfield. Go see it.
On Sunday Pratik, Purav (a friend) and I rented this movie called Mangal Pandey and watched it. It was an unusually good print in that it had English subtitles, which was terrific. It was in a pretty similar vein to Lagaan...an Indian historical epic that demonizes the British. But it was quite dramatic. I didn't like it quite as much as Lagaan but it was still way above the average Bollywood film.
Then there was this drama called Rang de Basanti. It was a very complicated movie and I won't explain it, but it was basically a very well-done statement on how the numerous problems of the Indian government (namely the incredibly pervasive corruption) are derailing the youth of India. He starred in it. He was excellent. It was a very good movie, daringly dark by Bollywood standards.
Today, though, I watched 3 Idiots, which features, among other things, a fantastically unpromising title. 3 Idiots is the highest grossing movie in Indian history (but in the Avatar way -unadjusted for inflation, I mean). It's a story of three friends at an engineering college where the headmaster rears them to compete like gladiators. It's an indictment of competitive Indian society and it's cutthroat but often completely ineffective educational system. There's very little learning for the sake of learning in school here.
Basically it's extremely funny and hugely touching. I usually like to be more emotionally detached when speaking about movies, but 3 Idiots is the rare movie that has the power to change its country (apparently schools are reconsidering the way they do things solely based on this movie) and to really just give a person a huge appreciation and gratitude for the life they are given.
I thought I was watching an American movie - that's the highest compliment I can give it. There was so much care taken in the construction of the story, and the songs were completely different from the usual Bollywood songs that just exist to show off the bodies of the stars. They were songs that were actually trying to make some point that was relevant to the story. And they were musical songs too.
So after watching 3 Idiots, I have had my faith restored in Bollywood. Maybe it is only one out of fifty movies, but every once in a while they can make something really special.
Aamir Khan is responsible for most of these great movies lately. He's amazing.