Amir Khan: The Reel as well as Real Hero
Amir Khan is not just a Bollywood Hero indulging in unimaginable heroics in films. He has also emerged as a real time hero who endeavors to change the society for the better. In films, he has always sought to bring in the new real life concepts with messages of social peace and awakening. When he moves from the Big to Small screen, he tries to engage the masses for the purpose of eradicating the social vices. When he moves out of the screen, he is seen campaigning for socially relevant movements on roads, holding jhadus and sermonizing conclaves. Though Bollywood actors are not regarded by the common masses as committed Muslims, but there have been several whose love for religion has not remained hidden. While Amir Khan cannot be compared to a man like A R Rahman, a devout Muslim in Sufi mould, he has shown considerable affinity with his religion.
Born on 4 March 1965 Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan is an film actor, director, screenwriter, producer and television presenter. Through his successful career in Hindi films, which has now spanned more than two decades, Khan has established himself as one of the most popular, most versatile and most influential actors of Indian cinema. Unlike some of his closest rivals in the industry, he has a knack for wide variety of roles ranging from romantic to angry man, and from angry man to social activist. I*n recent years, through his popular TV show Satyameva jayate, he has earned for himself a certain respect unmatched by any of the current film stars. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including four National Film Awards, seven Filmfare Awards and Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan awards by the Government of India.
Amir Khan’s entry into Bollywood was as a child artist when he featured in Nasir Hussain’s big hit, YadoN ki Baraat in 1973, starring Dharmendra. He also acted in Holi in 1984. But his formal entry as a full-time actor was through Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, a romantic tragedy which was an instant super hit. With the passage of time, he became of the most popular heroes and is included among the three unchallenged Khans of Bollywood, the other two being Salman and Shahrukh. But in contrast to the other two, he is known more for his versatility, for his performances in off-beat films and for his superlative performances. His commercial successful films include drama DilRaja Hindustani, Sarfarosh, Earth, Dhoom 3, 3 Idiots, Ghajini, Talaash, Taare Zameen Par, Fanaa, Rang De Basanti, Lagaan, The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pande, Dil Chahta Hai and his latest PK.
In 2001, Khan started a production company, and as producer he gave the hits like Lagaan, Fana, and Rang De Basanti. Then, he made his directorial debut with Taare Zameen Par. Khan’s greatest commercial successes came with the thriller Ghajini (2008), the comedy-drama 3 Idiots (2009), the adventure film Dhoom 3 (2013), and the satire PK (2014), all of which held records for being the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time.
Early Life and Background
Amir was born on 14 March 1965 in Mumbai. His father was Tahir Hussain, a well-known film producer, and mother was Zeenat Hussain. He belonged to a family having several big names of the Indian film industry including his late paternal uncle, the producer-director Nasir Hussain. He is the great-grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the great Indian freedom fighter, politician, philosopher and cleric. During his opening address at the 2014 Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF), Aamir recalled that “the leader had instilled confidence in Aamir’s uncle, producer Nasir Hussain, to join the film industry, in the wake of family protests.” He said that “actually if Maulana Azad hadn’t given that advice, my uncle might not have been in films, then my father wouldn’t have joined films and if my father hadn’t joined films I might have been somewhere else.”
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 whose popularity has risen considerably in last few years.
Khan attended J.B. Petit School for his pre-primary education, later joining St. Anne’s High School, Bandra till the eight grade. He completed his ninth and tenth grade at the Bombay Scottish School, Mahim. He completed his twelfth from Mumbai’s Narsee Monjee College. He played tennis in state level championships, and has professed being “much more into sports than studies”. Khan had a “tough” childhood due to the financial problems faced by his father whose film productions were mostly unsuccessful. Khan has told that he was always at risk of being expelled from school for non-payment of fees.
A born actor, he was always longing to be successful as an actor. But his parents opposed to his joining films due to their own experiences and wanted him to pursue a career of an engineer or doctor Therefore, he had to hide his first assignment as an actor in Paranoia in which he played the lead role alongside actors Neena Gupta and Victor Banerjee . After completing his high-school, Khan decided to discontinue studying, despite the objection of his parents. Rest is history.
Awards and Honours
Ironically, Amir Khan is known to always avoid award ceremonies. But he has a long list of awards and honours. Ikipedia lists the following:
- 2003 — Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India.
- 2010 — Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour in the Republic of India.
- 2013 — Honorary Doctorate by Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) for his distinguished contribution to the Indian cinema and entertainment industry.
National Film Awards
- 1989 –1990 National Film Award — Special Jury Award / Special Mention (Feature Film) Actor for Raakh and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
- 2001 — National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment for Lagaan (shared with Ashutosh Gowarikar)
- 2004 — National Film Award for Best Exploration/Adventure Film (To include sports) for Madness in the Dessert (shared with Satyajit Bhatkal)
- 2008 — National Film Award for Best Film on Family Welfare for Taare Zameen Par
- 2002 — IIFA Best Actor Award for Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
- 2002 — IIFA Best Movie Award for Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
- 2009 — IIFA Movie of the Decade for Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
- 2009 — Star of the Decade — Male
- 1989 — Filmfare Best Male Debut Award for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
- 1997 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Raja Hindustani
- 2002 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Lagaan
- 2002 — Filmfare Best Movie Award for Lagaan
- 2007 — Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor for Rang De Basanti
- 2008 — Filmfare Best Director Award for Taare Zameen Par
- 2008 — Filmfare Best Movie Award for Taare Zameen Par
- 1989 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
- 1990 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Raakh
- 1991 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Dil
- 1992 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin
- 1993 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar
- 1994 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke
- 1995 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Andaz Apna Apna
- 1996 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Rangeela
- 1999 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Ghulam
- 1999 — Filmfare Best Male Playback Award for the song Aati Kya Khandaala in Ghulam
- 2000 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Sarfarosh
- 2002 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Dil Chahta Hai
- 2006 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Mangal Pandey: The Rising
- 2007 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Rang De Basanti
- 2008 — Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for Taare Zameen Par
- 2009 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for Ghajini
- 2010 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for 3 Idiots
- 2015 — Filmfare Best Actor Award for PK
· 2006 — Screen Award for Best Actor for Mangal Pandey: The Rising
· 2007 — Screen Award for Best Actor for Rang De Basanti
· 2009 — Screen Award for Best Actor for Ghajini
· 2014 — Screen Award for Best Actor for Dhoom 3
· 2014 — Screen Award for Popular Choice Male for Dhoom 3
· 2015 — Screen Award for Best Actor for PK
· 2009 — Apsara Award for Best Director — Taare Zameen Par
Gollapudi Srinivas Award
· Best Debut Director for Taare Zameen Par
Deenanath Mangeshkar Award
· 2008 — For his contribution to Indian cinema
Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Awards
· 2001 — BFJA Awards, Best Actor for Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
Zee Cine Awards
· 2002 — Zee Cine Award Best Actor- Male for Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
Bollywood Movie Awards
· 2008 — Stardust Best Film Award for Taare Zameen Par
· 2008 — Stardust Star of the Year Award — Male for Taare Zameen Par
· 2009 — Stardust Star of the Year Award — Male for Ghajini
· 2010 — Stardust Star of the Year Award — Male for 3 Idiots
Global Indian Film Awards (GIFA)
· 2007 — Best Actor for Rang De Basanti
BIG Star Entertainment Awards
· 2010 — BIG Star — Film Actor of Decade (Male)
· 2001 — Bollywood People’s Choice Awards: Best Actor for Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
· 2008 — Planet Bollywood People’s Choice Awards: Best Director for Taare Zameen Par
· 2008 — Planet Bollywood People’s Choice Awards: Best Supporting Actor for Taare Zameen Par
· 2013 — Felicitated with a prestigious US award in recognition of his successful effort to create debate on country’s pressing social problems through his popular TV show Satyamev Jayate.
· 2014 — IBNLive Movie Award: Best Actor for Dhoom 3 (Online Poll)
· 2014 — IBNLive Movie Award: Best Actor in Negative Role for Dhoom 3 (Online Poll)
· 2014 — Star Box Office India Award: Actor Of The Year(Male) for Dhoom 3
Honours and recognitions
· In March 2001, he was ranked 3rd Most Powerful Indian Film Star by Forbes.
· In December 2001, he was named “Man of the Year” by Bombay Times.
· In 2002, he was a member of the jury of the Locarno film festival.
· In April 2008, he received a “Special Award” from Master Dinanath Mangeshkar Smruti Pratisthan for his exceptional services to Indian cinema.
· In January 2009, he received “Indian of The Year in Cinema” Award by NDTV
· In January 2009, he received the “Indian of the Year in Entertainment” Award from CNN-IBN.
· In May 2009, he received “Raj Kapoor Smriti Vishesh Gaurav Puraskar” by the Government of Maharastra for outstanding contribution to the Indian cinema.
· In August 2012, TIME magazine put his picture on its cover page.
· In April 2013, he was among TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World List.
Social Activism through Media
Amir Khan made his television debut on May 6 2012 with Satyamev Jayte a social issue based talk show . The show meaning “The Truth is the Ultimate Winner” focused on a large number of issues related to social problems. The show was aired simultaneously by Star Plus, STAR World and national broadcaster Doordarshan on the 11 am Sunday and was slot in eight languages.
Satyamev Jayate has earned wide acclaim from the media. 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. Here are excerpts from some of the reviews:
* “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.”
-Ritu Singh of IBN Live
* “(He is to be admired for) step[ing] in to do what journalists are supposed to do — make a difference. The show is a classic example of that.”
- Parmita Uniyal from Hindustan Times
*“”He is breaking the Bollywood mold by tackling India’s social evils. Can an actor change a nation?”
— TIME magazine Asia edition
* Satyamev Jayate Season 3 held on to the nerves of the audience. While the season was surprisingly a bit low on its high-teary-appeal, it did generate enough emotional blues.
Aamir Khan synchronized sports in the country with a way of channelizing ones livelihood in the first episode this season. And while the issue needed a celebrity mouth to be elaborated upon, the voice that had Aamir and Satyamev Jayate as its background definitely reached the audience.
Moreover, it was interesting to see that the show went a bit engaging with more of live examples being roped-in than AVs that used to capture most of the episode until the last season.
And when a person touches the subject like gender equality or other surreal issues, it becomes inevitable to speak out the word of mouth through those who have gone through such circumstances and overcome the fiery on their own.
Thus, when two female gold medalists from Haryana expressed how their father constantly supported them and asked them to do their best in the field of wrestling, the entire nation listened.
And why one would not, when a staunch father from a not-so-fashionable-ground tells his daughters to compete with men in wrestling and motivates them by saying that nothing is impossible for a woman when she can even be the PM of the country!
Stories have always been strictly encouraging on Satyamev Jayate and this time too, the issue was highlighted with much simplicity and stroke. Sports not only as a medium of good well-being but also as a way of scooping out ones livelihood, Aamir Khan totally made sense of each word he uttered in the episode.
And this time, he was not the only one talking and molding his all cinematic expressions to deliver a bunch of emotional appeal. Rather, he was the one listening and making his audience listen to something he is paying attention to.
So, when we see the man of complete sagacity, Aamir Khan giving his attention to the words of someone who teaches football to the kids of sex-workers, we become obliged to do the same.
For the ones who missed it, here’s a sure assurance that Satyamev Jayate feels far better sans Aamir Khan’s constant sloppy tears that you would not find ruling at least in the first episode aired!
Also, watching Aamir Khan raising voice for making sports a part of curriculum in India, urging people to adopt sports and elaborating on how a ‘Ball can change the world’ is a sure meaningful treat to every sensible person.
Watching Satyamev Jayate this season won’t hurt despite its long stretch of 90 minutes, Mumkin Hai”
-India TV Entertainment Desk
Aamir Khan’s unsettling revelations on rape contradict the gleaming lines of his introduction speech — Hindustan badal raha hai, ek laher si chal rahi hai, says Sukanya Verma as the actor returns to the small screen with Satyamev Jayate’s second season
What changed after Satyamev Jayate?
Those who are conscientious and believe in clean, honest living didn’t need a show that tells right from wrong to inspire them. Those who are soulless, attacking and despicable, it’s unlikely they would have watched it in the first place.
Instead within four months after its first season wrapped up, a horrifying incident shook even the most apathetic among us.
A 23-year-old girl died from a brutal gang rape in Delhi. When its disturbing details emerged, India’s young rage burst out in masses of protest across the country like never before.
This time, we, the people, were pissed off beyond measure and nothing less than a death sentence for the offenders would come close to recompense for the evil that transpired. In what was perceived as a historical judgment, it is exactly what happened.
Moved by these events, Satyamev Jayate’s superstar host Aamir Khan, also credited for its conception and creation, returns with a new season (featuring only five episodes unlike previous seasons’ 13) after significant discussions on subjects like female foeticide, medical malpractice and child abuse to focus on the four-lettered horror, the worst, conceivable form of violation — rape.
His unsettling revelations besides the ones most of us already know (and if you are a woman dread of every single day) immediately contradict the gleaming lines of his introduction speech — Hindustan badal raha hai, ek laher si chal rahi hai.
No woman is safe from these perverts who — beat, tear, cut — anyone between three months to 93 years and get away scot-free. Innumerable instances are cited in its two hours running time to underscore the rampant cases, which take place everywhere and anywhere between tiny villages, small towns and metropolitan cities.
While endorsing retired Judge Usha Mehra’s One Stop Rape Crisis Centre proposal for rapid, rational justice. Khan points out the deep-rooted flaws within the police, medical and judicial system that fails to approach such unfortunate circumstances with sensitivity and support.
A cop locks up an 11-year-old rape victim in a cell and threatens her with dire consequences if she doesn’t take back her case; doctors continue to employ the revolting and inappropriate two-finger test and callous lawyers get away with questions like, “How long was his organ?”
He also lashes out at a society that alienates women and their families as though they are the ones who committed the crime instead of shaming those responsible and ensuring they don’t get away with it. Like one of its gutsy guests Suzette Jordan reveals how some believed she “deserved” what she “got” because she enjoyed dressing up and attending parties.
When I watched its first ever episode, I wasn’t sure if his initiative would bring about a revolution but at least it gave a voice, a chance to those individuals who actually underwent unspeakable trauma.
Khan may be responsible for Satyamev Jayate but he is neither its content nor its draw. The people are. It’s insulting to the people who inspire courage to be overlooked for its host, his fees, his stiff eyebrows, and his inability to withhold his tears.
While I still feel the same, I will share my concern and criticism of what I saw today.
In the previous season, Khan went easy on the advertising since it would dilute the seriousness of its substance. But this time, every heavy-duty, emotionally draining session is rudely interrupted with commercials and promotions of Nargis Fakhri cattily commenting on Ranbir Kapoor.
There’s something plain odd about seeing prominent scatterings of sponsor logos while a NGO backer talks about the removal of an iron nail from a victim’s delicate regions in absence of anaesthesia.
Another thing I felt is that what Sunday’s episode forgot is to condemn the glaring misogyny in our esteemed politicians and governing bodies’ idiotic statements to the media on such occasions, laying blame on everything from a woman’s attire to her perfume.
I, also felt, there could have been a capsule reserved to shed light on the lightness with which our society adjudges marital rape.
But what can I say about a country where a woman spent her entire youth waiting for justice. It’s been 21 years and there’s no respite in sight. Guess when Sunny Deol screams out that “tareekh pe tareekh” line in Damini, it’s not his hysteria but the truth we react to.”
— Rediff.com Review
* ‘Satyamev Jayate’. While Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khans game shows were high on entertainment value, Aamir chose to be different. His highly emotional chat show, aims at bringing a change in the society. Real people and real stories form the strength of ‘Satyamev Jayate’. First episode of the show aired today, focused on the issue of female foeticide in India. We come across such reports almost everyday in newspapers and news channels, but hardly pay any attention. 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. The show began with some shocking stories of mothers who struggled to give birth to their girl child and how they are bringing them up now. Contrary to our assumption, educated people from big cities foster such practices. On the show, Mitu Khurana who is a doctor by profession revealed how her in-laws tortured her when they found out that she was pregnant with twin girls. Wife of an orthopedic surgeon, Mitu’s story was an eye opener for all.
This was followed by interviews with experts, doctors and media persons as well. Footage of a sting operation done seven years ago by two reporters was also included in the show. Cost of a girls murder is just Rs 2000, and how casually medical professionals talk about it is shocking. The only light moment in the entire 90 minute show was Aamirs conversation with some young men from a Haryana village. They are all unmarried as the number of girls in their village is extremely low. From interviews, bar charts to video conferencing, different formats used in the show enhanced the impact of the message. In past, we have seen shows like Aap Ki Kachehri with Kiran Bedi and Rakhi Ka Insaaf, trying to establish a connect with the common man. However, Aamir Khans Satyamev Jayate surpasses all of them in terms of content and appeal as well.
Aamir completely understands the pulse of TV audiences. The daily soap obsessed Indian viewers will like the show as its high on emotional drama. Known as a perfectionist in Bollywood, Aamirs presence on the show will increase its mass appeal as well. ‘Satyamev Jayate’ is not just a show.” Source
Humanitarian and Political Causes
Amir Khan has had a well-known humanitarian face, which has brought him in the midst of several popular movements. He has been part of the demonstrations put up by Medha Patka’s Narmada Bachao Andolan after the Gujarat government’s decision in 2006 to raise the height of the Narmada dam. He quoted to support adivasis (tribes), who might be displaced from their homes. Aamir also lent his support to the Janlokpal Bill Movement led by Anna Hazare in August 2011. He joined the Anna team in Delhi during a protest. He has also been supporting the causes of malnutrition and education. He is part of the government organised IEC campaign to raise awareness about malnutrition. On 30 November 2011, Khan was appointed national brand ambassador of UNICEF to promote child nutrition. He went to the extent of opposing the reduction in Entertainment Tax saying that , “I don’t want any reduction in that, all I expect is focus on education and nutrition.” He quit the copyrights panels of Government of India in February 2010 after facing sharp differences with other members. He also raised the plight of manual scavengers, and in his meeting with Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh in 2012, sought eradication of manual scavenging in the country.
Amr Khan had an interesting meeting with Bill Gates. A report describes the meeting as follows:
“ He is the founder of the world’s largest software maker and the other is a Bollywood actor, but when Bill Gates and Aamir Khan met, it was a meeting of two kindred spirits. On his first day in India Gates was more than happy to discuss his favourite topics — philanthropy, health, and India’s development — with Aamir.
“On his blog thegatesnotes.com on May 29, Gates had expressed his desire to meet Aamir and talk about social issues plaguing India: “I’m also looking forward to meeting Aamir Khan, the Bollywood star and activist. I want to hear about his work as a UNICEF ambassador for child nutrition. I also want to hear about his TV show, Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails), which is shining a light on some critical issues facing India. And maybe, if I’m lucky, he’ll show me a few dance moves.
“The billionaire philanthropist wrote: “We were filming a question-and-answer segment in front of a studio audience for his show on New Delhi Television, one of India’s largest news networks. Prannoy was asking me and Bollywood star Aamir Khan about philanthropy, health, and India’s development…
“Gates and Aamir discussed in detail regarding better sanitation facilities. “Talking toilets with Bollywood star Aamir Khan, discussing how satellites help fight disease,” Gates posted on his blog. “Things have really changed. Just before seeing Prannoy, I had spent several hours in meetings with Indian parliamentarians and ministers. Our wide-ranging conversations about health and vaccines almost always returned to how to stop the spread of diseases through better sanitation and, specifically, toilets,” he wrote.” Source
Aamir’s photo graced the cover page of the US-based magazine with a caption that read “Khan’s Quest” and below it saying “He’s breaking the Bollywood mould by tackling India’s social evils. Can one actor change a nation?” Describing the recognition, a report says:
“Aamir is the third actor to be featured on Time’s cover after Praveen Bhabi and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Other Indians featured on the cover of the popular publication include Mahatma Gandhi, Sania Mirza, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi Narendra Modi, Manmohan Singh, and Sachin Tendulkar.
His TV talk show “Satyamev Jayate” has taken up prevailing social problems in society in a bid to draw government’s attention. His efforts have borne fruits with concerned authorities now starting to look into such issues.
Aamir racked up many achievements just days after kicking-off his talk show. On one of the episodes, Aamir talked about the irregularities in the country’s healthcare system and pointed out the unethical practices by some doctors who would fleece the patients on the pretext of giving treatments.
Following the episode, the Maharashtra Government announced the initiative to make generic medicines available in government hospitals and the setting up of government-aided medical stores across the state.
The actor was also invited to Rajya Sabha by the Parliamentary Standing-Committee to share the findings by his creative team on the ailing healthcare industry and to give input about permitting FDI in retail.” Source
Charities & foundations supported
Aamir Khan has supported the following charities listed by the US:
- In his new role Mr. Khan will focus on supporting child nutrition to end stunting across the region.
- “I am delighted to become an Ambassador for UNICEF in South Asia. I hope my messages on the importance of children’s nutrition will urge parents, families, and leaders at all levels to support and adopt proven services and nutrition practices that will help children grow and develop to their full potential,” Khan said.
- “Child stunting remains one of the greatest development challenges to South Asia. Stunted children have stunted bodies, stunted brains, and stunted lives. Compared with children who are not stunted, stunted children have poorer cognitive development, often enroll later in school, complete fewer grades, and learn less — leading to reduced productivity and income-earning in adult life” he added.
- After sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia has the highest number of under-five deaths in the world with 2.3 million in 2011. Across the region nearly 40 per cent of children under the age of five are stunted because of chronic undernutrition and an estimated 28 per cent of children are born with low birth weight, largely due to women’s poor nutrition before and during pregnancy.
- “With the immense respect that Aamir Khan commands across South Asia, we are convinced that Aamir will make a lasting difference in the fight against child stunting, potentially the biggest threat to children’s growth and development in this part of the world,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.
- During his visit to Nepal, Mr. Khan took part in the launch of the “1,000 Golden Days” national nutrition campaign. The most crucial time to meet a child’s nutritional needs is during the first 1,000 days from conception to the child’s second birthday. Proven and effective interventions during this time can prevent malnutrition and drastically reduce the prevalence of stunting.
- Aamir Khan becomes UNICEF Ambassador as the organization celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC has inspired domestic legislation to respect, protect and fulfil child rights in all eight countries of South Asia, as well as the creation of policy and national development plans for their implementation. Yet, pervasive poverty and disparities prevent millions of children in South Asia from living in dignity, reaching their potential and making choices about their own future.
- UNICEF South Asia is marking the 25th anniversary of the CRC with “Generation@25” a child rights campaign focused on decreasing stunting in India, improving girls’ education in Afghanistan, ending open defecation in Nepal, and increasing birth registration in Bangladesh. The campaign’s link is www.generation25.org.
Khan married twice. His first wife was Reena Dutta, with whom he had two children, a son named Junaid and a daughter, Ira. They divorced each other after 15 years of marriage with Reena taking custody of both children. In 2005 he married Kiran Rao who had been an assistant director to Ashutosh Gowariker during the filming of Lagaan. On 5 December 2011, they announced the birth of their son, Azad Rao Khan, through a surrogate mother.
Amir Khan seems to have considerable religious influence in his life. He performed Hajj taking his mother Zeenat Huseeain along. The media reports quote him as saying:
‘Hajj’ is a religious duty that every able-bodied person who follows Islam and who can afford to visit, must perform at least once in his or her lifetime.
“It was a moving and spiritually overawing. A very emotional and introspective moment for me.
“I felt very close to God. The character and beauty of the place has a surreal feeling. Especially when you go to the maidaan of Arafat — that’s the most important moment of the trip. Because it’s here that you spend the whole day recalling your mistakes, your offenses and the people affected by them, and then ask God for forgiveness. A sense of catharsis overtook me.
“Ammi had been wanting to go there for a while. In Islam, a woman has to be accompanied by either her brother, husband or son if she wishes to go to Mecca. Ammi doesn’t have her husband now; she doesn’t have a brother either, so Faizal or I could have taken her for the trip. So I told her to block the dates and then I locked my time.
“I told Aditya Chopra about it much before I started shooting for ‘Dhoom 3′.
“I have become more spiritual than I ever was. I am much happier and at peace then I used to be. I certainly want to lead a noble or good life where hopefully I won’t commit mistakes like I have done in the past. I will try to live as honestly as I have lived in the past, without having to compromise with anything and without hurting anyone. I want to live a life of caring and sharing and full of happiness. This is the life I always wanted and my search for a good life will continue.”
“I am a Haji, but what’s important is what I feel within, not how I am addressed. I pray that all Muslims who intend to go for the Haj should make their trip there unfailingly.”
In an admission, which generated some controversy in the media, Aamir Khan has said that despite his wives belonging to Hindu religion, he would always want his kids to follow Islam.
Tehelka magazine, has described his newly found love for his identity as Muslim:
“It was not until the late 1980s and early 1990s that Aamir Khan became conscious of his identity as a Muslim when the “rightwing in India really started whipping up negative feelings” and things changed, says the actor.
“It was in these circumstances that I became conscious. At times it made me feel very lost, alienated,” Aamir says in an exhaustive interview in the current issue of Tehelka magazine. It kept getting worse as time went by, and the first change for the better was when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost the election. “It really made me proud to be a part of a society where the common man has the ability to decipher for himself what he sees as not good,” the cerebral star of films as diverse as “Lagaan” and “Dil Chahta Hai” says.
Discussing the traumatic events of Gujarat, Aamir admits that he would have spoken out at the time if he was a Hindu by religion. “But because I am a Muslim, I wasn’t sure how my thoughts would be represented, and how they would be received.”
At the same, he asks, in which other society would you have a situation where the rightwing is on the rise — but the top three stars of the film world are Muslims — “….and is succeeding to quite a degree in poisoning people’s minds”.
Though strangely no one has asked him for his opinion on international events like the London blasts, the actor is unsparing in his condemnation of terror acts — and scathing in his criticism of US President George Bush who is “probably killing many more people and destroying many more innocent lives.” Source
Latest controversy on PK
Amir Khan’s latest Bollywood release “PK” generated huge controversy triggering a sharp reaction from the forces of Hindutva. In continuation with the high-voltage polarization campaign following the victory of Narendra Modi-led BJP, the Hindutva organisations and leaders ran a virulent campaign against PK describing it as an affront to Hindu religion. They tried to convey the message that PK hit the Hindu beliefs because of its leading actor, Amir Khan, a Muslim, and forgot the fact that the Producer, Director, Script Writer as well as the majority of the cast were Hindus. They also seemed not to listen to the opinion of Hindu leaders including BJP stalwart L K Advani, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Former Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar and many others who showered encomium on the film. The controversy was widely reported even in the international media. BBC presented an analytical article on the controversy. Here are excerpts from the article, captioned, “Why is Bollywood film PK controversial?” By Vikas Pandey:
“Bollywood is famous for its dance routines, dramatic visuals and songs across the world. But India’s most popular movie industry also produces films that initiate social debates on issues that matter to the country.
“Aamir Khan’s PK is one such movie. It questions superstitions in a country where religion is deeply rooted in social consciousness of the people.
“Khan plays an alien in the film who comes to visit the earth and almost immediately falls victim to human greed. His “remote control” — a device without which he cannot go back to his planet — gets stolen. From that moment, he embarks on a journey to discover the world. He meets people, “both good and bad”, visits places and learns the language. He painstakingly discovers that many people believe that only god can help him find his remote control.
“He visits remote temples, mosques and churches. He follows advices given by priests and religious leaders to convince the god of every faith. But Khan’s character slowly finds out some self-styled gurus or “godmen” use superstitions and “fraud” to “cheat” people.
“PK is not the first movie that has taken a controversial but critical look at religious practices in India. But then why is the film generating strong reactions? The answer lies in the movie’s simple narrative. It doesn’t reach any conclusion on the existence of religion, but simply questions superstitions. In one of the scenes, a priest tells a man to take an arduous journey to a temple in the Himalayas to ensure that one of his sick family members gets well.
“PK jumps into the conversation and asks the priest if it’s true that god considers all humans as his sons and daughters.
“Yes, says the priest.
“PK follows up with another question: “Which father would send an already troubled son on an arduous journey?”.
“Such simple but important questions have made the movie a thought-provoking drama…..The rest of the movie is all about PK’s debate with one such powerful “godman” who is in possession of his remote control. In the end, he proves the guru wrong, falls in love with a female journalist who helps him, and returns to his planet.
“Film analyst Namrata Joshi says the duo deserve credit for bringing such a sensitive topic in a mainstream commercial film.
“Aamir is a superstar and that is why this movie has reached millions. It has made people think. Religion has been debated in many regional language films and earlier Bollywood films, but Aamir’s presence has made the difference this time,” she says.”
The critics included Baba Ramdev, a controversial figure himself. He called for the boycott of the film. He asked all ‘Hindus’ to come together and protest against the movie, as he feels PK is anti-Hinduism. He said:
“People think a hundred times while talking against Islam. However, when it comes to Hinduism, anyone gets up and says anything. This is shameful. …There should be a social boycott in society against those who are involved in making such movies. It has become a hobby of some people to denigrate Hindu Gods and Goddesses…and insult our saints….“It seems like big personalities are fond of insulting Hindu deities.”
According to another report,
“The groups accuse there are multiple scenes in the film which are extremely hurtful to Hindusand their religious sentiments. According to the religious groups, the entire imagery of Aamir running around Shiva in the film has offended them . But actor Aamir Khan looks unperturbed in face of all the charges.
He said, “We respect all religions. All my Hindu friends have seen the film and they have not felt the same. Even Raju is Hindu, so is Vinod and so is Abhijat. In fact 99% of the crew was Hindu. No one would have done such a thing”, he clarified. But that everyone will have different viewpoints is something that Aamir knows and respects as well.”I think that this is a democracy where everyone has their own opinions and I respect everyone’s viewpoints, their feelings and their opinions. Having said that, I don’t think that any of us are talking about any one religion in particular. I think there have been utmost care taken in telling the story in a sensitive matter and not a sensational matter”
Rajkumar Hirani, who directed the movie further adds, “We have not done anything for which people can tell we have deliberately hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. The core idea of the film is just that we are not born with a birthmark proclaiming we are Hindus or Muslims or Sikhs or Christians. It is just that like a baby is born without any pre-conceived notions and is made to follow a certain lifestyle and perform certain rituals, we decided to have Aamir as an alien which meant he too did not have any idea or notions about what religion is here on Earth. A newborn baby is taught to follow certain rules and act according to one’s religious traditions. When they grow up and have their own set of ideologies, they think their ways or methods are right and others are wrong. To a Hindu, some ritual might be done in a certain manner or something might be considered sacred. But for Muslims, it might be something else. That is what we tried to portray that our ways are different, not by choice, but our faith remains the same”
“In Munnabhai, we tried saying that doctors should be compassionate. It was a message , not for all doctors because not all doctors are uncompassionate. Similarly this message is for a particular section of people who exploit and use others for their own benefits, in the name of religion”
Right away a question rises. Are all spiritual gurus in the country wearing such masks? ‘No’, says Aamir as he continued saying. “There are a lot of spiritual gurus as well who will make you feel better and who are devoid of such notions. They inspire and enrich you with ideas and they are great spiritual leaders. This film does not target them. But it is for them who are corrupt and are trying to take advantage of you to sell their products”
Claiming all these practices as institutionalised religious activism, the duo also claim that these are not just merely harming people’s sensibilities but are also detaching them from their faith and God. “I feel that the biggest thing is the connection which each one of us has with God. that is the primary relation. If I have to pray, talk or communicate to God and share my feelings, or troubles with Him, nobody needs to tell me how to do it. It is between my maker and me that the relationship exists”, said Aamir.
But is Aamir also a religious person by heart? “Everyone has personal preferences but I don’t go much for rituals. I respect it when my mother or Kiran’s mother who is a Hindu wants me to perform any rituals. I do it out of my respect for the people I care for. I personally don’t believe in them but I am happy to do it if that makes someone happy”, he proclaims.
Aamir, being the unabashed and outspoken person that he is, does not deny that he was expecting such a backlash for the film. Yet, he did hold his ground stating these are ‘issues that need to be talked about’. “Faith is an extremely integral part of our lives. I think Raju, Abhijat, me genuinely feel that faith should not be robbed. We also need faith for life. But blind faith or andh vishwas is unnecessary because many people exploit us under the garb of such masks. Especially the needy and the poor are exploited the most. How sometimes under the name of religion you are doing things that your religion does not allow you to do — like killing people. Religion does not teach you to do such things but some people pretend that it is religion that is asking them to do such things”, added Aamir.
Although many have gone onto Twitter in support of Hindu organisations and sparked an online protest with hash tags like BoycottPK trending nationwide, there have also been a fraction of the audience who have come out in full support for the actor and his film. As a result, along with BoycottPK, WeSupportPK also started trending on the social networking site. But Aamir believes Indian audience, at large do not feel the movie insults their religious sentiments.
“I think Indian audience is not feeling this. For everything that anyone does, you have to realise that there would be one person who would stand up and say something negative. People criticised Satyamev Jayate also. So there’s no end to that. The collections are only rising and is only indicative of the fact that the people are watching the film and they are liking the film as well. It is rising by 20–30–40% each day which does not happen if people don’t like the film. If you don’t like the film, the numbers drop instantly. So clearly, I think that certainly this film is taking a stance against those groups or those people who are exploiting others.”
Taking a strong stand for his audiences, Aamir also clarified that the protests are structured by the people who are most likely to be harmed by the message that’s preached through PK. “Those who want to maintain the status quo and does not want to change anything because of their own benefits are putting a net on your eyes. They won’t like this film. It’s more like a parda phaash for them. Even in Satyamev Jayate we have seen many times that people who benefit from the status quo does not want it to change. So they are usually the guys you need to be careful about”. Aamir signs off only after warning his audiences of the ills that still continue to plague the Indian society today.” Source
Originally published at worldmuslimpedia.com.