I did this for Shahrukh already, and I found it fascinating! To look at the broad sweep of a 25+ career and see where were the low periods and the high periods and the genre experiments and everything, and also where the industry was going in each era, the changes in the production houses and directors and co-stars, and all kinds of juicy things. Aamir seems like he should be similarly fascinating. Plus, thanks to his perfectionist style, far fewer films! I should be able to knock this out in two parts. Three at the most
Directed by Ketan Mehta, who also worked with young Shahrukh. Ketan was an art director from a stage tradition making his second movie, 4 years after his first movie. An interesting first film, an amazing cast, Aamir got to work with Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah in his very first movie. Also, future Lagaan director Ashutosh Gowariker. And an interesting story, a tale of campus unrest that starts when the principal cancels the Holi celebrations and slowly escalates. This is the kind of movie Aamir has returned to over and over again through out his career, strange and small and radical.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
The most interesting thing to me is the four year gap between Holi and this film. During that time Aamir worked as an assistant director for two of his uncle Nasir Hussain’s films and helped his cousin Mansoor Khan with writing this film. He didn’t rush anything, started with a small unnoticed art film that let him get comfortable on camera, then took the time to prepare for his major release, and finally took on the kind of film that had a real chance for mass success. Oh, and also got married. Aamir had the family connections to have facilitated a major film right from the beginning, but instead he chose to be careful and cautious and ready before his career started.
Aamir’s first film after QSQT was much more like Holi than QSQT. This time he got the chance to act with Pankaj Kapoor and Supriya Pathak. Recently married in real life, but in this film Supriya plays Aamir’s slightly older love interest while Pankaj is his embittered mentor. It is a tale of vengeance and violence, but not carefree painless vengeance, instead the kind that takes a deep psychological toll and leaves you broken. There’s a lot of talk now about actors who move between art and commercial films, but back in the late 80s when no one was really paying attention, it was much easier to simply do what interested you at the time and not worry about being in any particular category.
Love Love Love (1989)
This film is definitely on the commercial side of things! And on the rapidly made bid for a profit side of things. Juhi and Aamir were a hit pair after QSQT, cranked out by an director on his way down, Babbar Subhash who had made Disco Dancer 7 years early followed by cranking out a whole series of low budget Mithun Chakraborty films. This is the kind of movie Aamir likes to pretend he never made, that his career was all intense art films and high quality commercial. But then, it’s what you have to do when you are trying to start off your career and make sure the audience remembers you.
Awwal Number (1990)
Dev Anand starred and directed in a cricket film with Aamir Khan and Aditya Pancholi. I would never have thought any of those actors would have worked together. The 90s was an interesting transition period, the old stars of the 60s were still alive and around and working, but they were fallen so far that they had to work with the no name young boys. And the no name young boys were so many and so varied that no one could tell Aditya Pancholi was destined to be an industry hanger while Aamir would go on to be king of it all. Also, how strange is it that an Aamir Khan movie in which he played a cricketer and co-starred with Dev Anand is never mentioned? Despite his later famous Cricket roles and the rarity of young stars having interacted with Dev Anand? I guess without DVD and streaming and TV telecasts it is easy for a movie to disappear and be forgotten.
Tum Mere Ho (1990)
Family is complicated. This is an incredibly stupid movie, but it is also produced and directed by Aamir’s father. So, what can you do? It is interesting that already, just a few films old, Aamir is helping his father and not the other way around. This movie survived on the popular pairing of Aamir and Juhi. Now there is so much talk about nepotism benefiting the children, we forget that it started out as a way of benefiting the parents.
Aamir’s second big commercial hit, proving that Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak wasn’t just a one off. His other films did well, but this was a solid blockbuster. Of the strictly commercial variety, love and forbidden romance and Madhuri Dixit and great songs. And no relative involved anywhere.
Deewana Mujh Se Nahin (1990)
Second film in a row with Madhuri! A bit of an odd one, a dark stalker kind of love story that twists around here and there. It didn’t open as well as expected, proving that jodis aren’t everything, Aamir and Madhuri together again wasn’t enough to overcome a boring odd movie. Also, what was up with the early 90s and stalker romances???? Dil was a bit of one too, completely with a rape threat.
Jawani Zindabad (1990)
An intense anti-dowry film that also tries to be the campus romance type. Strange mix, kind of showed how Aamir didn’t have full control of his career yet. Aamir co-starred with Javed Jaffrey and Tabu’s older sister and ROHINI!!!!! Bahubali’s mother Rohini!!!! So, yeah, the mixing between industries has been happening for years, it just didn’t used to be talked about as much. Also, ROHINI!!!! I can’t believe she co-starred with Aamir.
Afsana Pyar Ke (1991)
Another Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak rip odd movie, this time co-starring Neelam Kothari as the forbidden love from the rival family. It’s interesting how Aamir’s career was already growing and getting confused. He was only 3 years in, best known for two romance films but already realizing it wasn’t a good fit for him to keep doing that over and over again, but without yet finding what would be a good fit for him. And also, despite two major hits, still stuck working in lower budget romances with lower budget heroines on occasion.
Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991)
I think of this as one of Aamir’s first true “grown-up” roles. Yes, it is yet another young love story, but this time he is a reporter with some slight shades of grey, and the heroine is a spoiled rich girl. Not the same college romance. Most importantly, the director is Mahesh Bhatt. Aamir’s first experience with a truly experienced and truly talented director, who could challenge him to a new height of performance.
Isi Ka Naam Zindagi (1992)
Pran! Aamir got to co-star with Pran. He really got around in those early years. It sounds like an interesting odd movie, about an old man and his garden plot and the local landlord that wants to take it away from him. Aamir plays the old man’s grandson. This would definitely fall into the “odd and experimental” category of Aamir film rather than the “commercially successful” category.
Daulat Ki Jung (1992)
Aamir and Juhi are, guess what, college students who fall in love! Against the wishes of their feuding fathers! And this time they elope and get caught up in a treasure hunt. So that’s a little different. Boy, you really get a sense of the strength of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak when you look at how many times Aamir was forced to try to repeat its success.
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (1992)
Now, this is something very very different. An unofficial remake of the American classic Breaking Away, Aamir plays a young man who dreams of dating a rich girl and ignores the girl next door, who disrespects his father and his older brother sometimes, and who struggles with his class identity as he and his friends are part of his father’s humble not for profit school but are forced to confront the wealthy children at the nearby private school again and again. All culminating in a bicycle race. Aamir had finally found a way to take his boyish looks and put them to use in something a little more interesting than yet another love story.
Pehla Nasha (1993)
Ashutosh Gowariker’s first movie! And it was TERRIBLE!!!! But he called on every friend he had to help out, including Aamir and Shahrukh both doing tiny cameos. The hero was Deepak Tijori. But what’s interesting to me is that Aamir was already big enough to do a cameo as himself. Although not yet big enough for that to be enough to save the film.
Terrible terrible movie. Great title. And Aamir continues to rack up his unexpected co-stars. First there is Saif Ali Khan in his very first movie (a bond that has lasted to today, Saif talking about how he is more comfortable with Aamir than anyone because Aamir taught him how to be on camera). And then there is Sunil Dutt. Also Vinod Khanna and Ramya Krishna, but Aamir never gets to share a scene with them. Most importantly, Yash Chopra directed it. It’s possibly the worst film he ever made, but still it’s a Yash Chopra picture. Aamir was on his way up. A big budget movie with a big director and a big cast, and he had the lead hero role, finally out of the young love story ghetto.
Aamir only has a friendly appearance in this, but that’s important. He was famous enough to lend a little star glamour and do a special appearance in a song in an intense action drama and social issues film. It would be a few more years before he could anchor that kind of movie himself (in this case, Sunny Deol does the honors), but he is already known enough that he can be brought in to add star glamour. Oh, and for all the talk about special appearances and so on, here’s one Aamir did without a second thought decades ago.
Hum Hain Rahe Pyar Ke (1993)
Finally, Aamir and Juhi get to co-star and NOT be boring young lovers! This time he is the struggling single parent trying to raise his nephew and niece and she is the nanny he hires. It’s not about family objections and so on, it’s about more than that, jobs and houses and raising money and so on. While still keeping that same light hearted feel to it of their earlier movies.
Andaz Apna Apna (1994)
Aamir’s only film of 1994 and by golly it was worth it! Also a sign that Aamir was growing into himself and who he was as a star. 1994 was the real beginning of the 90s films with the release of Hum Aapke Hain Koun and this film confirmed the arrival of a new generation of stars. Salman and Aamir together were something special, they didn’t need a Dev Anand or a Sunil Dutt around to supervise them. And there was no Aditya Pancholi brought in because they thought he was just as good as a Khan. But for Aamir himself, this was a turning point role. The dangerous wise cracking joker had always been there hidden in his sacrificing hero roles, but now it was brought to the fore and allowed to flourish. No more harmless little boy lover, now he was a clever dangerous young man ready to take control of a whole film.