'My biggest challenge was getting into the head of the character.'
Aamir Khan talks about his big release, PK.
On December 19, UTV will release director Rajkumar Hirani’s latest production PK with Aamir Khan in the lead. The film also stars Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput and Sanjay Dutt.
In the past few months, promotions related to PK have ranged from the poster showing a nude Khan holding a boom box, to quirky trailers and songs.
There is a lot of speculation, but the truth is that no one other than the film’s team knows what PK is about.
On Friday morning, Aamir spoke to the New York-based desi press via satellite and he shed some light on PK, the character he plays, and how he prepared for the role.
The press conference was held in the prestigious Bryant Park Hotel’s screening room. During the interview, Khan also addressed what lies ahead for him and whether he really maps out his career. Aseem Chhabra listens in.
From the trailers and song videos, it looks like you have spent a lot of thought and energy getting into the character of PK. How did you prepare for the role?
I don’t want there to be a spoiler. I want you to experience the film the way I experienced it the first time when I heard the narration from Raju.
PK is a very unusual character. You get to see that while watching the promos. He is very innocent. He’s a little strange looking, and a bit Chaplinesque.
I don’t think Raju Hirani and Abhijit Joshi (co-script writer) intended that. But I sensed that reading the script.
In terms of the mental process, it was probably one of my most difficult roles. My biggest challenge was getting into the head of the character.
Physically, one of the things we did was that I popped my ears out. My ears are on the bigger side, but we kind of exaggerated them.
I wore green lenses. The character doesn’t move his hands much when he is running or walking. It’s natural for us is to move our hands. This character doesn’t blink, and so I didn’t blink in the film.
He is a Bhojpuri speaking person; you must have gathered that from the trailers. That was also one of my challenges.
It took me three or four months to learn the accent. I had a Bhopuri language expert, Shanti Bhushan. He would speak out each line and then I would write it phonetically. I memorised my dialogues phonetically. I started the process four months before we started shooting.
Initially, the character spoke khardi-boli or Hindustani. But I suggested to Raju that perhaps he can speak Bhojpuri. It adds to his quirkiness.
You said your character doesn’t blink. How long can you go without blinking?
Initially, it was tough, especially since I was wearing lenses. When you wear lenses, you feel like blinking a little more.
The way I tackled it was to mentally concentrate on the object or person in front of me. And if my head would be curious about that thing, then I would not blink. That helped me a lot.
Over the years, you have tackled different characters and roles. What motivates you to take on these roles?
When I hear the story and the script narration, I don’t sit with any pre-determined thoughts. I often tell the directors not to give me the background synopsis of the story; instead, they should just narrate the story to me.
When I hear the story, I become like an audience member, like when you all watch the film. I go with a clean slate and I don’t know what to expect.
The emotional impact of the story -- when I laugh or start to cry, I flow with the story. And when the narration ends, if I say to myself, ‘Wow, I really enjoyed that,’ that’s when I realise that I have to work in that film.
There is one more thing. If it’s a new role that I have not attempted before, usually I am drawn to such projects.
So I get attracted to different types of characters and films. I remember when I first heard the story of Taare Zameen Par, I liked the story so much. It really touched my heart. So I wanted to do it.
You worked with the Raju Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra team in 3 Idiots and now in PK. What is the common theme here?
PK and 3 Idiots are totally different. My character here is very different from Rancho.
I am really excited to work once again with Raju because he is the number one director in our industry today. He is a wonderful writer and his thought process is very deep and fresh.
He has a different sense of humour. He is also a wonderful human being so it is a pleasure to work with him.
This film, just like 3 Idiots, is totally Raju’s film. You can take me out of the film and it will stay the same. But if you remove Raju, the film will not be the same.
You will turn 50 next year. That’s the age when people can retire and you are comfortable financially and can spend time with your family. What motivates you to go on?
It is the joy I feel in touching people’s hearts. I enjoy being part of stories, making people laugh and cry, to move them and hopefully inspire them. I will continue as long as I enjoy myself.
I don’t think so much ahead. I live in the present and don’t plan ahead. For example, the television show was in my head for some time and then it evolved into Satyamev Jayate.
At this point, I am looking at the immediate future, which is December 19,when PK will open in theatres. After that, I have yet to sign a film. I have been hearing scripts, but I haven’t fixed what I am doing next. I may not have a release next year.
My Satyamev Jayate team is taking a bit of a break. We have been working on the show for the last five years -- that includes the research time before season one. So it’s been a very enriching but an emotionally exhausting journey for us thus far.
To answer your question, what next, I really don’t know. I let things happen to me organically.