Okay, the Aamir story has finally reached the point that I feel like it is worth reporting instead of ignoring. And the point when I am hitting myself in the forehead and going “well, duh! Why didn’t I put that together before?”
I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out when the news first broke of him taking the next ten years for one series. Obviously it’s the Mahabharata! He’s been talking about wanting to make it literally as long as I have been following Indian news. And it would take 10 years to do right.
It’s also pretty much the one epic series that Aamir can be sure will be a hit, enough of a hit to justify him giving up the end of his career to it. And his preferred role, Krishna, can easily be played by him into his 60s. He’s a character that shows up as kind of the “guest star” in a lot of other people’s stories, as well as having stories of his own. So Aamir can easily lend his star power and just appear to give advice and be charming for 15 minutes in a story that is lead by other actors.
(Like N.T. Rama Rao in Mayabazaar)
If he’s been waiting for the right time for it, this is it. Bahubali proved the audience is ready for this kind of story, Thugs of Hindostan is going to give him a front row seat to the kind of special effects he will want. And Dangal/Disney gave him the money to help fund it. Also, with the Disney/Fox Searchlight merger news coming out of Hollywood, that’s even more money for Aamir (potentially). Both companies have produced successful Hindi films in the past and this would be a very smart place for them to put their new combined money.
He’s also got the directing comfort to take the helm. Aamir’s been ghost-directing many of his films for years and everyone knows it. Not saying “all”, but when it’s something like his Secret Superstar director who used to be his manager, it seems clear that he is a bit of a front. Even if he came up with the story himself and started the shoot, Aamir was the one deciding if a take was okay or not, offering suggestions on how to shoot scenes, sitting in the editing bay, designing his own character, etc. etc. Anyway, rumor has it that the same director will do the first film at least in the series, and then later Aamir will direct himself. Which I interpret as, “later Aamir will officially direct, but really he will have been running things from the first.” Because there is no reason to look at Secret Superstar and think “this person should direct The Mahabharata!” unless you just want someone who will follow orders and be a nice cover.
(Not saying it was a badly directed film, just a very small story compared to the very large story of the Mahabharata)
Of course now the question is, how the heck is he gonna cast this thing? The smartest simplest thing would be to pick entirely unknowns and build them up over the course of the series, and again him taking Krishna would work with that. It would make him the one magical special character, against the others who are slightly less special. Therefore, the one star role opposite the other non-stars.
Although I am a little sad because at one point in this epic journey to The Mahabharata, Rani was rumored to be Draupadi, and that I would have LOVED. But not to be, I suspect. Oh well.