Peepli: Aamir offers grittier face of Indian cinema

“The style of story-telling is larger than life, with strong emotions. This film is unusual for Indian cinema."


Afp August 16, 2010

After forging a career as one of the biggest stars of lavish Bollywood movies, Aamir Khan is using his clout to bring a grittier vision of India to the big screen.

Khan, the star of acclaimed films such as 3 Idiots and Ghajini, is the producer of Peepli Live, a dark tragi-comedy about the hardships suffered by workers in contemporary rural India.

“Mainstream Indian cinema is larger than life and mainly musicals,” Khan told a news agency in an interview during a publicity event in Beverly Hills ahead of the worldwide release of Peepli Live on August 13.

“The style of story-telling is larger than life, with strong emotions. This film is unusual for Indian cinema as well, and it’s a challenging film for the audience as well.”

A household name in India, Khan remains a relative unknown in the United States, even if, during a press day in Los Angeles he retains the trappings of Bollywood superstardom: two bodyguards are stationed outside his suite, and anyone approaching the actor-director is subjected to a pat down.

Dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt, however, Khan is anything but the caricature of a cosseted movie star, speaking freely as he offers his opinions on film and life in India.

Khan threw his considerable weight behind Peepli Live after reading first-time director Anusha Rizvi’s script. Khan was hooked immediately.

“Indian films are more about fairy tales. You have heroes, romance, action, big musicals,” Khan explained. “It’s not usual to have a very realistic setting for a movie in India.”

“When I read the script I felt that this is a challenging film for mainstream Indian audiences. I also believed that it had the potential to engage audiences across the world.

“It’s a human story, very funny, very entertaining, but also heartbreaking. It’s a great window into rural life in India today. But I think that it’s a story that resonates across cultures and across countries.”

Convinced that the movie would find an audience beyond India, the film’s producers invited staff at foreign consulates in Mumbai to attend test screenings. “They responded very well also,” Khan said.

Khan revealed that Peepli Live helped him understand rural India after living most of his life in the country’s huge urban centers.

“The film, in fact, is about this growing divide between urban and rural India, and how as a society, we are concentrating all our resources, our energies, our emotions, our wealth towards cities,” Khan said.

“And as a result, villages and rural India get completely neglected. They are almost invisible for us. And that’s not good.”

Khan though was happy to support a film that helps bring the plight of rural communities to a wider audience.

“I would like to use the strength I have as a mainstream Bollywood actor to be a platform for projects which have unusual and different things to say,” he explained, adding he is not ready to turn his back on Bollywood just yet.

“I’m not fed up with mainstream cinema. I think they have a place of their own. It’s great to see a good mainstream film which takes you on a journey which is very entertaining.

“But for me, to be attached to a film, I have to be excited about the script. And whether it’s mainstream or not, it has to attach me, move me, indulge me and entertain me.

“When I say entertain, I don’t mean make me laugh. I mean make me think.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2010.

COMMENTS (4)

ALI 03142718002 | 11 years ago | Reply peepli (an ego trip) is a case in point for a producer like aamir (the actor) to further prove his versatility to come up with different genres of films and win accolades. show peepli to poverty stricken farmers, or those families whose bread earners had to shut eye! and ask them if the (measly) compensation they got made them as prosperous as the likes of the producer?
SAADAT ALI | 11 years ago | Reply i haven’t seen it and nor m i excited, but it seems the new cinematic trend is to exploit and project serious issues in a lighter vein or in the garb of farce! earlier tere bin laden and now this! looked up the net if aamir announced to ease the plight of such farmers with whatever the film will earn but nothing! n this is not the first film to have a raw and rustic cast. remember salaam bombay? it could have been a satire too. nor is this the first to symbolically slap the system. many in the archives n with awards for the producers.
VIEW MORE COMMENTS
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read