Happy Aamir Week! Raja Hindustani, and Aamir With a Beard!

Dangal is opening 2 days early in America, yaaaaay!  So this is my second to last Aamir post, and I get to start Salman week 2 days earlier than I thought I would!  Also yaaaaay!  Since I am getting close to the end, I’m going to pull out a nice interesting movie, Raja Hindustani!

Not a lot in common between Raja Hindustani and Dangal.  At least, not for most of the film.  For most of the film Aamir is a sweet innocent mountain boy who just wants to be happy.  But then at the very very end, he becomes a father and it all changes.

First similarity with Dangal, the beard!  I kid, but that’s also kind of serious.  For much of Raja Hindustani, Aamir’s character, and Karisma’s, interact in a way that kind of seems more appropriate for pre-pubescent children than for adults.  And the beard is the most distinctive way of showing that era is over.

The sexual tension between them is more of the type of “I don’t understand these powerful feelings that are suddenly inside me” than of the “let’s flirt and talk about it” kind of attraction.  Which is what makes it such a great movie, of course.  Watching these two people not deny their feelings, but rather not understand their feelings.

The tension between them builds and builds for the whole first half.  Aamir is more aware of it than Karisma, feeling an immediate pull towards her which makes him act irrationally.  But it’s not just that Karisma is unaware of her attraction to Aamir and vice versa, she is unaware of herself as a sexual being at all!  The “red dress” incident, in which she cannot imagine a problem with wearing a skimpy red dress in a public place, and is shocked at both the eve teasing she experiences and Aamir’s violent reaction to it, to me shows that she still thinks of herself as just a little girl who happens to look different now.

Aamir is only slightly more advanced, his best friend/business partner is Kunal Khemu, a little orphan boy.  And his relationship to his foster parents seems still slightly childish, in that he is grateful and happy for whatever they give him, with no sense that he could give them anything in return.  I don’t mean it is bad, I just mean it feels like a little boy would react, not like a man and an equal.

And this is why Raja Hindustani is one movie where that explicit kiss scene really is because “the script demands it”.  Aamir and Karisma are trapped in arrested development, Aamir because he had such a difficult childhood he hasn’t really had the time to notice that he is all grown-up, and Karisma for a similar reason, being “Daddy’s girl” and ignored by her stepmother, it has been easy for her to keep acting as the little girl her father wants.

Aamir has been getting hints of adulthood all along-his fight scene, his clumsy attempts to woo-and therefore when Karisma asks him to come stand close to her in the shelter of a tree during the rain storm, he resists, knowing that there is some unknown something that might happen if they are close.  But Karisma is still completely unconscious.

One thing I always notice about the kiss scene is that it is much more erotic in Karisma’s memory than in reality.  The kiss, she runs back home and hides herself in her room, then closes her eyes and remembers it.  But they must have re-shot the kiss for her memory, because it is very different in this version.  Longer, more close ups, all of that.  It’s not just Karisma remembering the kiss, it’s her feeling the sexiness of it and dealing with the aftershocks.

And poof, they are adults!  Sort of.  Adult enough that Aamir can “call her” to him and they can decide that they MUST be married, or else they cannot live.

But their marriage isn’t exactly a marriage of “grown-ups”.  Yes, the romantic and sexual tension is resolved and they are ecstatically happy.  By they aren’t exactly taking responsibility for their lives and each other, they are more living in a happy fantasy still.

It’s only when Karisma gets pregnant and starts putting her hair up and wearing saris that she grows up.  And in the same way, Aamir has a physical sign of adulthood with his beard.  He’s not just sexually mature now, he is really really mature, able to forge his own path and make his own (insane) decisions.

Which brings me to Dangal!  In two ways.  Aamir’s more grizzled look for this film signifies a more mature character than he usually plays.  Clean-shaven means a boy, mustache means a man, but a beard means a Grown Man, if you see what I am saying?  Someone who is past all the macho posturing of youth and focused on real accomplishments and real problems.

Sultan is the perfect case study for this, Salman went from a callow youth to a mustached Man.  But then we got the 3rd phase that you don’t get to see much in Indian film.  He wasn’t worried about showing off any more or winning the woman he loved or any of that stuff from earlier.  He didn’t get angry any more, or act hastily in any way.  He had a bigger goal in mind and a bigger idea for his life.  And thus, beard!

And Aamir’s facial hair is showing us the same thing in Dangal, he’s not playing some romantic youth, or some macho young man, he’s playing a grown man who can take the long way and look at the big picture and care about things besides himself.

You know who is making that journey from being so youthful as to not even understand their own body to being an adult?  The daughters!  Only instead of growing facial hair, they are growing head-hair, learning that boys and clothes and toe nail polish are fun, that their body can be for more than just fighting.


9 thoughts on “Happy Aamir Week! Raja Hindustani, and Aamir With a Beard!

  1. I have enjoyed reading your Aamir week posts. You’ve done a nice job making connections between his older work and Dangal. I liked Raja Hindustani quite a lot. Pardesi Pardesi is such a gorgeous, melancholic song. I love the visuals, especially the reflection of the fire burning in Karisma’s glasses, and the tearful gazes back and forth. That hug with the music swelling, camera and lights swirling around, feels like everything! It was during that scene that my wife came home and commented that young Aamir looked a lot like Pacey from Dawson’s Creek. I had to pause the movie to laugh, mainly because I could totally see the resemblance! I thought you made an excellent point about the various stages of facial hair signifying the maturation of a man in his life. I never really made a mental note of it, but that seems to be a common representation in Hindi cinema.


    • “Facial hair” falls into the category of stuff that Hindi cinema uses which seems like “oh, let me explain the deep cultural significance” and then you realize, No! It’s just a natural human thing that you understand instinctively.

      Similarly, the importance of someone feeding someone out of their own hand, or being transfixed when they see a woman with loose hair, it’s almost easier to understand if you just dump all the intellectual thought and think about how you would feel about it in a basic human level.


  2. This post is a year old but I had to comment because I recently saw Raja Hindustani for the first time and now I’m doing deep dive into all the Bollywood films I can find online with English translations. Raja really grabbed me despite the cheesiness because of Aamir’s performance (though I will never get over the fact they used a REAL BABY in the final fight scene).

    Dangal is pretty wonderful and even my husband, who isn’t a Bollywood fan, really enjoyed it.


    • Hi! So happy you commented, and so happy you have found my blog, and really really happy that you have found Indian film!!!! This sounds like shameless self-promotion, but if you are new to the films, I really really do encourage you to read my book. It’s super short and I wrote it for people who are new to the films and want to get a little oriented.

      And now I am resisting the urge to give you a bunch of advice and list of films and links to what to watch and so on and so on. Okay, one thing 🙂

      This is my most recent Netflix post, I haven’t updated in a while so the list might be slightly out of date, but it gives you a description of each film and a quick idea of what is MUST WATCH versus SHOULD WATCH versus COULD WATCH:



        • Yaaaaaay! I will give you SO MUCH advice! first, book link: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Call-Bollywood-Introduction-Universe-ebook/dp/B01FIHE2WG

          Next, let’s see, you liked Raja Hindustani and Dangal and Aamir. Hmmm.

          For more amazing Aamir performances, Lagaan: noble peasant rebel. Ghulam: hardened boxer bad boy. 3 Idiots: Noble innocent genius college student. Ghajini: amnesiac revenge seeker. Dhoom 3: Magician. Dil Chahta Hai: sarcastic twenty-something. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (his big break role): pure perfect baby-faced lover.

          For more cheesy but emotional films like Raja Hindustani: Maine Pyar Kiya: young lovers, on Netflix. Hum Aapke Hain Koun: Very slow beginning, addictive once you get into it, lots of family emotion. Vivah: newer than the others, cleaner production values, and clearer story. But also young lovers. All of these are from the same production house, by the way.

          For more well-made gripping strong female role films like Dangal: Chak De India: Dangal before Dangal, did it first and did it better. Udta Punjab: Not really about sports, but amazing female characters, great songs, gripping story. Be warned, kind of a downer. Dear Zindagi: wonderful female lead character drama, with an inspirational ending. Oh, and all of these have great cute guy heroes too 🙂

          Some other random recommendations of films that most people seem to like once I show them: Jab We Met, really cute slow building romance with great songs, on Netflix. Dabangg, great fun over the top action film. Chalte Chalte, really sweet mature romance. Bang Bang, amazing songs, stupid fun movie.

          Big landmark films to be aware of: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) is the movie that reinvented the romance genre for Indian film in the 90s, and launched massive star Shahrukh Khan. Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (K3G) launched this whole over the top film fantasy idea in the early 2000s. Kaho Na Pyar Hai launched the major star hysteria of the new era with the hero Hrithik Roshan. Devdas was the first super expensive film to do well on the international art film circuit.

          And I am going to stop here! If you want, you can watch the first 20 minutes of these, see which one you like, and then come back and tell me and I can give you more suggestions.

          On Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 5:43 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I’ve seen a lot of those already but I have to admit I don’t like DDLJ and I’m not taken with SRK (don’t ban me from your blog, lol). I did love K3G, though and that’s the film that gave me a sense for why SRK is so popular. Hrithik was gorgeous and he can dance but not so much with the acting.

            Seen Dil Chahta Hai, Dhoom 3 (which Aamir made me enjoy in spite of myself), QSQT and Taare Zameen Par. I just got 3 Idiots and will see it this week. PK is in the mail. Haven’t bitten the bullet on buying Lagaan because it’s pricey. Oh, I also saw Fanaa which I loved even though on some level I know it was a terrible movie and Aamir wasn’t at his best but Kajol was fantastic.

            I haven’t seen any Salman movies yet. I keep reading that his films are terrible but he’s such a big star I feel like I should at least check out some of them.

            I haven’t even touched any of the younger stars yet.


          • If you haven’t seen Chak De, definitely check it out. It’s a different side of Shahrukh, but also it’s a different kind of Hindi film, you might like it.

            If you liked K3G, I want to recommend some others that are like it, only they mostly also star Shahrukh. So if you can get past that, and want more emotion and drama and amazing songs, check out Kal Ho Na Ho, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

            You really should check out Salman. I would recommend Maine Pyar Kiya again, and of his recent films, Bajrangi Bhaijaan would be the one to see. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is on Netflix, and is very pretty, but otherwise I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. He has a very unique onscreen energy, a strange sort of innocence. And for me, Maine Pyar Kiya and Bajrangi Bhaijaan show that best. Oh, and neither of them are action movies.

            If you want more Hrithik, and more amazing songs and huge houses and drama and stuff, check out Mujshe Dosti Karoge. Classic love triangle plot, great songs.

            I want to recommend more Aamir for you, but it’s tricky because he only makes a movie every couple of years, so there just isn’t that much out there. Lagaan is an absolute must. I don’t know why it’s expensive, I ran into the same problem, but you really have to see it if you like Aamir.

            For other Aamir movies, hmm. I guess I can just list off every good film in his filmography that you haven’t already seen. Back in the day, when he was starting out, he was in a lot of garbage that you will want to avoid. But there are a few gems in there.

            Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (touching young love story) Dil (another touching young love story that’s slightly more ridiculous) Dil Hai ki Manta Nahin (remake of It Happened One Night) Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (coming of age/love story with bicycle racing, inspired by Breaking Away) Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (cute story of a young man trying to take care of his orphaned niece and nephew and falling for their nanny) Andaz Apna Apna (brilliant comedy, but may not actually be funny to you right away. Can take a few watches) Rangeela (great movie, girl gets her big break in the movies and is torn between her lowclass boyfriend Aamir and her new co-star) Akele Hum Akele tum (A Star is Born crossed with Krama versus Kramar) Ghulam (brilliant film, I already recommended it) Sarfarosh (really interesting movie, Aamir plays a cop) Mann (remake of An Affair to Remember) Lagaan (already recommended it) Mangal Panday (if you are a massive Aamir fan, this might work for you. Otherwise, no. But you are, so it might! Period drama, mustaches abound) Rang De Basanti (I think it is one of the greatest films of all time from any film industry, other people I know hate it. Political drama about college students) Taare Zameen Par (thoughtful drama about learning disabilities, Aamir doesn’t show up until late in the film but has a wonderful role) Ghajini (already recommended) Talaash (really good mystery film, Aamir is a cop again)

            On Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 12:20 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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