Aamir Khan’s latest cinematic outing as Shakti Kumaarr in Secret Superstar may only qualify as an extended cameo, but it is not something one can forget that easily. Contrary to Aamir’s recent characters, Shakti is a flirtatious, borderline cheap music producer, who is as unabashed about his dressing sense as he is about his opinions.
And there is something about Aamir’s frivolous demeanour in Secret Superstar that transports us to the sweet nostalgia of the 90s. To the colourful time of Rangeela (1995), Andaz Apna Apna (1994) and Ishq (1997). To the time when Aamir’s spot-on comic timing and near-perfect Bombay ‘tapori’ act was a winner in the hearts of all movie aficionados. To the time before Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai (2001), both landmark films for Aamir and Bollywood, after which Khan became a perfectionist of an actor, smoothly transitioning from being just an actor to a movie star.
Aamir is a man of many talents and comedy is one of his most underrated ones. No wonder then that despite miserably bombing at the box office in 1994, his first all-out comedy Andaz Apna Apna comfortably holds the status of a cult classic today. Khan’s comic timing had left us wanting for more in previous films such as Dil and Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi but it took Rajkumar Santoshi’s sitcom-like laughathon to really tickle our funny bone.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate Aamir’s brilliant dialogue delivery here? “Aap purush hi nahi, Mahapurush hai!” One has to credit Aamir’s inventiveness that even though the dialogue is repeated no less than four times in the movie, it manages to crack everyone up till the very end. Be it his infectious screen presence or his sprightly ‘Aaila,’ Aamir manages to outshine all his contemporaries including Salman throughout the movie.
But it was in 1995’s Rangeela that Aamir completely revamped his game as an artiste. Ever since his debut, Aamir had been essaying the ideal chocolate boy and vulnerable lover roles. But Rangeela’s Munna who is a street-smart black ticket seller is a stark departure from his previous outings. And therein lies Rangeela’s comedy. It an unintentional kind of comedy accentuated with Aamir completely blending in his character. Take the famous restaurant scene, for instance.
Swaddled in yellow from top to bottom, Aamir walks into a five-star hotel and unabashedly asks the waiter “turn the AC in his direction.” Munna is not even trying to be funny, but it is his weird ‘tapori’ eccentricities that leave us cackling in our seats.
In 1997’s Ishq too, only an actor with the calibre of Aamir can manage to overshadow actors like Ajay Devgn, Juhi Chawla and Kajol. Be it his fake-knife scene which scared the wits of Juhi or the “Ram, Ram, Ram” one where he just walks on a pole between two buildings to save his buddy Ajay, Ishq’s situational comedy was brightened 10-fold with Aamir’s natural act.
It is seldom in the 2000s that us cinephiles get to witness Aamir’s flair for comedy. His betel-mouthed, ‘bhery’ Bhojpuri PK did strike a chord with the audiences but it was nothing like the Aamir of the 90s.