The director speaks in a candid chat about her style of filmmaking, competing with her actor-filmmaker husband Aamir Khan, and her latest presentation, Ship of Theseus
Having a star actor-filmmaker like Aamir Khan as her husband doesn’t give Kiran Rao reason enough to either cast him in a movie or compete with him at the box office. The Dhobi Ghat director will be content if “different kinds” of movies can co-exist with the “changing” star system in filmdom.
“I don’t think I will ever be able to give competition to Aamir. Different kinds of films don’t need to compete,” said Kiran, who had teamed up with Aamir in her directorial debut.
Aamir is known as one of the biggest commercial stars in tinseltown, with blockbusters like Taare Zameen Par, Ghajini and 3 Idiots to his credit. He is popular as the man with a Midas touch and this was evident when he presented non-commercial satire Peepli Live, which emerged as a major commercial hit of 2010.
Kiran, who has Aamir’s constant support, isn’t too much into calculating the box-office figures, but believes that when “some films earn Rs 100 crore, it’s good for small films like ours (mine), because it strengthens the industry and more money comes in.” She doesn’t feel her movies and Aamir’s films are “necessarily competitive”.
“I only hope that everybody continues to make different kinds of films,” added the filmmaker, who is inclined towards non-commercial and offbeat scripts.
She is glad the star system in the Hindi film industry is changing. She feels that it will still take time, but “(now) people don’t necessarily go (to cinemas) because there is a star in the film. I don’t think the star system, which existed 15 to 20 years ago, still exists.”
After working with Aamir, one of Bollywood’s top four Khans – the others being Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Saif Ali Khan – in Dhobi Ghat, does she plan to cast him in a commercial project in the near future? “I don’t,” she replied promptly, adding, “Because I do cinema that excites me. I don’t even watch many huge films. I don’t go to the cinema every weekend. I watch selective cinema and want to make my kind of films. I don’t judge cinema on its box office success. I would never make a film because I think it’s going to be a box office success. I don’t know if I have it in me to make a Dhoom or Dabangg. But never say never…I can’t say no, but it’s unlikely.”
Incidentally, Aamir stars as the antagonist in Dhoom:3.
Kiran and Aamir married in 2005. Together they raise a son named Azad Rao Khan, born through a surrogate mother.
These days, Kiran is busy promoting Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus, which she is presenting. A critically acclaimed film at international film festivals, Ship of Theseus is releasing July 19. The movie is about human values and features three characters – an experimental photographer, an ailing intellectual monk and a stock broker.
She admitted a film like Ship of Theseus is not for the box office. “It’s so small, such an unusual, challenging film to make. You would not be able to compare it with a commercial film. The box office in an arthouse film is always going to be small. We have to face this and overcome this. So, we overcome that by keeping the marketing cost low,” she added.
Kiran didn’t deny that movies which click at film festivals don’t necessarily mint money at the box office. She says “it’s not a myth”. “Films that go to festivals are made with a different style and different cinematic language, which often the mainstream audience is not used to,” she said.