Aamir Khan (pronounced ˈaːmɪr ˈxaːn; born Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan on 14 March 1965) is an Indian film actor, director, screenwriter, producer and television presenter. Through his successful career in Hindi films, Khan has established himself as one of the most popular and influential actors of Indian cinema. He is the recipient of numerous awards and nominations, including four National Film Awards and seven Filmfare Awards, and was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri in 2003 and the Padma Bhushan in 2010.
Khan first appeared on screen as a child actor in his uncle Nasir Hussain's film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). His first feature film role came with the experimental film Holi (1984), and he began a full-time career in film with a leading role in the highly successful tragic romance Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). His performance in the film and in the thriller Raakh (1989) earned him a Special Jury Award at the National Film Award ceremony. He established himself as a leading actor of Hindi cinema in the 1990s by appearing in several commercially successful films, including the romantic drama Dil (1990), the romance Raja Hindustani (1996), for which he won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor, and the drama Sarfarosh (1999). He was also noted for playing against type in the critically acclaimed Canadian-Indian film Earth (1998).
In 2001, Khan started a production company, whose first release, Lagaan, 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 continued to portray leading roles, most notably in the 2006 box-office hits Fanaa and Rang De Basanti. The following year, he made his directorial debut with Taare Zameen Par, a major success that garnered him the Filmfare Awards for Best Film and Best Director. Khan's greatest commercial successes came with the thriller Ghajini (2008), the dramedy 3 Idiots (2009), and the adventure film Dhoom 3 (2013), all of which held records for being the highest grossing Bollywood film of all-time.
In addition to acting, Khan is a humanitarian and has participated in and spoken out for various social causes, some of which have sparked political controversy. He has created, and featured as the host of the television talk show Satyamev Jayate through which he highlights sensitive social issues prevailing in India. Khan was married to his first wife, Reena Dutta, for fifteen years following which he married the film director Kiran Rao. He has three children--two with Dutta, and one with Rao through a surrogate.
Early life and background:
Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan was born on 14 March 1965 in Mumbai to Tahir Hussain, a film producer, and Zeenat Hussain. Several of his relatives were members of the Hindi film industry, including his late paternal uncle, the producer-director Nasir Hussain. His great-grand uncle was the Indian freedom fighter and philosopher Abul Kalam Azad. Khan is the eldest of four siblings; he has a brother, the actor Faisal Khan, and two sisters, Farhat and Nikhat Khan. His nephew, Imran Khan, is a contemporary Hindi film actor.
As a child, Khan appeared on screen in two cameos. His first appearance was at the age of eight in a highly popular song in the Nasir Hussain-directed musical film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). The following year, he portrayed the younger version of Mahendra Sandhu's character in his father's production Madhosh (1974). Khan attended J.B. Petit School for his pre-primary education, later switching to St. Anne's High School, Bandra till the eight grade, and completed his ninth and tenth grade at the Bombay Scottish School, Mahim. He played tennis in state level championships, saying that he was "much more into sports than studies". He completed his twelfth grade from Mumbai's Narsee Monjee College. Khan described his childhood as "tough" due to the financial problems faced by his father whose film productions failed to earn profits. He said that "there would be at least 30 calls a day from creditors calling for their money" and he was always at a risk of being expelled from school for non-payment of fees.
At the age of sixteen, Khan was involved in the experimental process of making a 40-minute silent film entitled Paranoia that was directed by his school friend Aditya Bhattacharya. The film was funded by the filmmaker Shriram Lagoo, an acquaintance of Bhattacharya, who provided them with a few thousand rupees. Khan's parents opposed to his joining films due to their own experience, wishing that he would instead pursue a "steady" career of an engineer or doctor, and thus the shooting schedule of Paranoia was a clandestine one. In the film, he played the lead role alongside actors Neena Gupta and Victor Banerjee, while simultaneously assisting Bhattacharya. He said that the experience of working on it encouraged him to pursue a full-time career in film.
Khan subsequently joined a theatre group called Avantar, where he worked backstage for a year and a half, following which he made his stage debut with a small role in their Gujarati play, Kesar Bina, at Prithvi Theatre. He then acted in two Hindi plays and an English play named Clearing House. After completing his high-school education Khan decided to discontinue studying, despite the objection of his parents, choosing instead to work as an assistant director to Nasir Hussain on two Hindi films--Manzil Manzil (1984) and Zabardast (1985).
In addition to assisting Hussain, Khan acted in documentaries directed by the students of FTII, Pune. He was noticed for his work in these documentaries by director Ketan Mehta, who offered him his first feature film role in the low-budget experimental film Holi (1984). Featuring an ensemble cast of newcomers, Holi was based on a play by Mahesh Elkunchwar, and dealt with the practice of ragging in India. Khan portrayed the role of a rowdy college student, an "insignificant" role, that was described by CNN-IBN as "lacking in finesse".The New York Times published that the film was "melodramatic" but was "very decently and exuberantly performed by the nonprofessional actors".
Holi failed to garner a broad audience, but Nasir Hussain and his son Mansoor noticed Khan's performance in it and signed him on for Mansoor's directorial debut Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) alongside Juhi Chawla. The film was a tale of unrequited love and parental opposition based on the Shakespearean tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, with Khan portraying the leading role of Raj, a "clean-cut whole-some boy-next-door".Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak proved to be a major commercial success, catapulting both Khan and Chawla to stardom. It was awarded seven Filmfare Awards including a Best Male Debut trophy for Khan. The film has since attained cult status, with the entertainment portal Bollywood Hungama crediting it as a "path-breaking and trend setting film" for Indian cinema.
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. 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. Khan was awarded a National Film Award - Special Jury Award / Special Mention for his "imaginative, innovative and promising" performances in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Raakh. Later that year he reunited with Chawla for the romantic comedy Love Love Love, a commercial failure.
Khan had five film releases in 1990. He found no success with the sport film Awwal Number, the mythological thriller Tum Mere Ho, the romance Deewana Mujh Sa Nahin and the social drama Jawani Zindabad. However, the Indra Kumar-directed romantic drama Dil (opposite Madhuri Dixit) was a success and established him as a leading actor of Hindi cinema. A tale of parental opposition to teenage love, Dil was highly popular among the youth, and emerged as the highest-grossing Hindi film of the year. He followed this success with a leading role alongside Pooja Bhatt in the romantic comedy Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991), a "frame-by-frame copy" of the Hollywood film It Happened One Night (1934), which proved to be a box office hit.
After that, he went on to appear in several other films in the late '80s and early '90s: 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. 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 a cult status.
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 Best Actor Award, 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. Khan's career had 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. John Mathew Matthan's Sarfarosh (1999), Khan's first release in 1999, was also moderately successful, gaining an above average box office verdict. The film and Khan's role in it were highly appreciated by movie critics, as was his role in Deepa Mehta's art house film Earth. 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.
In 2001 he appeared in Lagaan. The film was a major critical and commercial success, 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 the National Film Awards. Khan himself won his second Filmfare Best Actor Award.
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 newcomer Farhan Akhtar. According to critics, the film broke new grounds by showing Indian urban youth as they really are today. The characters depicted were modern, suave and cosmopolitan. The film did moderately well and was a success mostly in urban cities.
Khan then took a four-year break citing personal problems, and returned in 2005 with Ketan Mehta's Mangal Pandey: The Rising playing the title role of the real-life sepoy and a martyr who helped spark the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's award-winning Rang De Basanti was Khan's first release in 2006. His role was critically acclaimed, 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, 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 Best Foreign Film at the BAFTA Awards in England. Khan's work in his next movie, Fanaa (2006) co-starred with Kajol was also appreciated, and the film went on to become one of the highest grossing Indian films of 2006.
His 2007 film, Taare Zameen Par was also produced by him and marked his directorial debut. 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 alike. Khan's performance was well-received, although he was particularly applauded for his directing.
In 2008, Khan appeared in the movie Ghajini. The film was a major commercial success 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.
In 2009, Khan appeared in the commercially and critically acclaimed film 3 Idiots as Ranchodas Chanchad. 3 Idiots has become the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time in India, breaking the previous record set by Ghajini which also starred Aamir Khan.3 Idiots also became one of the few Indian films to become a major success in East Asian markets such as China, eventually bringing its overseas total to US$25 million--the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time in overseas markets. 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. The film also went on to win many awards, winning six Filmfare Awards including best film and best director, ten Star Screen Awards and sixteen IIFA Awards Around August 2011, Khan started talks with Siddhartha Basu's BIG Synergy, to host a talk show, similar to The Oprah Winfrey Show.
On 6 May 2012, the highly anticipated show Satyamev Jayate debuted in English and all major Indian languages and received both popular and critical praise for its discussions on various social issues like female foeticide, child sexual abuse and dowry plaguing Indian society.
There was speculation that Khan had disagreements with Reema Kagti over the tone of the film, Talaash, which delayed its release date significantly. However Khan said that the claims were baseless. The film was released and was a hit.
Khan next venture was Dhoom 3 with Yash Raj Films. He has considered this to be his most difficult role in his career to date. The film was released worldwide on 20 December 2013. Upon the release the film was hugely appreciated by the critics and public and the film went on smashing all box office records.Box Office India declared Dhoom 3 "the biggest hit of 2013" after two days of release, with the film grossing 2 billion (US$33 million) worldwide in three days. with the film grossing 4 billion (US$67 million) worldwide in ten days, making it the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time.
This was the third time that Khan topped the list of highest-grossing Bollywood films, having previously done so with Ghajini, in 2008, and with 3 Idiots a year later.
Film production and direction:
In 2001 Khan set up a production company known as Aamir Khan Productions. Its first film was Lagaan. The movie 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. It was eventually chosen and nominated in that category but lost to No Man's Land. The film 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. 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".
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.
In 2007 he produced the drama Taare Zameen Par which marked his directorial debut. Khan also played a supporting role in the film, sharing the screen with the debut of child actor Darsheel Safary. The film was initially conceived of and developed by the husband and wife team, 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, 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 eventually earned Khan another nomination for Best Movie at the Filmfare.
In 2011, Khan released his home production Dhobi Ghat. which was directed by his wife, Kiran Rao. In 2012, Khan starred in Reema Kagti's neo-noir mystery film, Talaash which was joint production by Excel Entertainment and Aamir Khan Productions. The film was eventually declared a semi-hit in India and accumulated a worldwide gross of 1.74 billion (US$29 million).
Khan made his television debut with his social issue based talk show Satyamev Jayte which started airing on 6 May 2012. Aamir was paid Rs. 30 million rupees per episode to host the Satyamev Jayate, and it makes him the highest paid host in Indian television industry (as on June 2012). 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. 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.
Satyamev Jayte opened to positive reviews and feedback from eminent personalities such as social activists, media houses, doctors, film and television personalities. Khan was also praised for his effort. In her review, Ritu Singh of IBN Live stated that, "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." Parmita Uniyal from Hindustan Times praised the content and Khan for "steping in to do what journalists are supposed to do - make a difference. The show is a classic example of that." 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.
Khan made to cover page of TIME magazine Asia edition in 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?"
Humanitarian and political causes:
In April 2006, Aamir 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. 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." Aamir also lent his support to the Janlokpal Bill Movement led by Anna Hazare in August 2011.
He has been supporting common causes; when asked about views on entertainment tax in 2012 budget Aamir said, "I don't want any reduction in that, all I expect is focus on education and nutrition." He quit the GOI's copyrights panels in February 2010 after facing sharp differences with other members. 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." 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.
On 30 November 2011, Khan was appointed national brand ambassador of UNICEF to promote child nutrition. He is part of the government organised IEC campaign to raise awareness about malnutrition.
In the media:
In a 2009 interview, Khan states 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."
Aamir Khan has a reputation for shunning award ceremonies and not accepting any popular Indian film awards. Though nominated many times, Khan has not attended any Indian film award ceremony as he feels "Indian film awards lack credibility". When asked about the selection procedure and authenticity of popular Indian Film awards, Aamir Khan says, "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."
In 2007, Khan was invited to have a wax imitation of himself put on display at Madame Tussauds in London. However, Khan declined, stating that "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."
In April 2013, he was among TIME magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. He was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri in 2003 and the Padma Bhushan in 2010.
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, ending the 15-year marriage. Reena took custody of both children.
On 28 December 2005, Khan married Kiran Rao who had been an assistant director to Ashutosh Gowariker during the filming of Lagaan. On 5 December 2011, Khan and his wife announced the birth of their son, Azad Rao Khan, through a surrogate mother. In 2007, Khan lost a custody battle for his younger brother Faisal to their father, Tahir Hussain. His father died on 2 February 2010.
Awards and honours: