Aamir recently hosted a discussion with the legendary actor on Shakespeare in films...
So, what does one expect when a legendary actor and an expert on Shakespeare and his influence on cinema visits India to talk about the greatest bard that ever lived? Well, a cinema lover in you would want to make the most of the opportunity and listen to him widen the horizons of your understanding of cinema, right? Well, naturally we were excited to be a part of this discussion. Another element which sparked our interest was that the 'perfectionist' of Indian cinema, Aamir Khan was to conduct this discussion. Whoa, this is a collision of two great minds, one would think. Alas, the evening that could have progressed into something far from stimulating or enriching was nothing but a drab session, and the reason was mostly Aamir Khan.
Surprised are you? Well, don't be. This was supposed to be a session where the Dangal actor would have a free wheeling discussion with the 76-year-old actor on Shakespeare and its depiction in films through ages and its socio-cultural-educational and societal influences. So, for that Aamir who was supposed to be asking questions to Ian should have played the 'perfect' host with the actor. No he didn't and here's why.
Aamir was struggling with names, ideas and was too engrossed in himself than the Lord Of The Rings' actor and what he felt about Shakespeare. What could have been an enriching experience for the cinema lovers turned into a ham session, the later part mostly done by Mr Khan.
#No homework done on Ian Mckellen's background and work
Aamir conveniently forgot to gather basic knowledge about the legendary actor, his work and films. With the result, his ignorance shone through. It was evident that Aamir (who has a usual sense of self assurance about himself) did not spend much time reading up on Ian's work. He was seen fumbling and ran out of questions too.
#Self praise and gloating
It seems like the Dangal star was keen to use the platform to gloat about his own work rather than focus on the star of the moment, Ian. On one occasion, Aamir spoke about being 'too aware/ involved in the act and that affecting the act itself, to which Ian jibed, "Maybe then you know too much." In another instance, Aamir was busy talking about his own scene in Raja Hindustani where he drank just to perfect the drunk scene despite being a teetotaler. Ian did not leave this opportunity and questioned Aamir's 'method acting' albeit with a good humour for he plainly asked, 'What if it was a love scene?"
He also made a not so subtle reference about 'Satyameva Jayate' and how actors should be sensitive socially too. Okay, so this was meant as a question to Ian but ended up indirectly praising his own self.
#Lack of interest and a general sense of apathy
Even a novice could gauge that Aamir was a bit disinterested and not very passionate about the session. He hammed throughout and asked him cliched questions to Ian the actor which was far from what we were promised, ie - A discourse on how Shakespeare has influenced the culture and cinema.
#No depth of knowledge on the subject at hand
If you ask any individual about Indian adaptation of Shakespeare which film would come to his/her mind? Maqbool, Omkara or Haider right? Well, the Dangal star was struggling for the names and conveniently forgot about Maqbool. He was reminded by his audience. Also, picture this: Ian is about to perform a bit from a Shakespearean play and at that exact time the Dangal star excuses himself loudly on mike saying that he 'wants to pee real bad.' Oh yes, this happened for real. Well, this behaviour did not go unnoticed by the senior actor nor the media present at the event.
Well, the session organised by the MAMI Film Club (of which Kiran Rao is the chairperson. Get the hint, thank you) would have been spectacular if it was conducted by someone who is deeply passionate about Shakespeare from the industry and not Aamir who by the looks it came without any prior idea of homework. Yes, but the session had its moments. Ian expansively spoke about coming out in open about being a gay actor and his, very real, struggle with the heterosexual love making scenes in the films. He also spoke about what it means to be openly gay and still being accepted by every single fan. He also joked that actually the anti-gay act was passed by the British in the colonised India because we had 'too much of it' and now. we very hypocritically are still adhering to the Section 377 under the guise of our culture!
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