You can sense an original film two minutes into it. Aamir is fresh right from the introductory montage of Mumbai waking up to ‘It’s a good day.’ We see everyday sights, like it would be cut for a documentary on one of the greatest cities in the world. The common man and the general public are no extras in the film. They are the very fabric this film is made of. All through, they never let you suspend your disbelief and that’s what makes Aamir one of the most engaging films made in recent times.
Debutant director Raj Kumar Gupta knows his craft. He knows that the best way to make you buy his constructed reality is if he plants his character into a reality you are so familiar with — the reality of Mumbai with its dirty patli-galis and people so engrossed in their lives that they have stopped caring about others.
Screenwriting textbooks would tell you that if a scene does not take the story forward, it shouldn’t be in the film. Aamir works because it does not follow these rules. There are scenes that have nothing to do with the story as such, but they portray the reality of life. Haven’t you often got into a cab hoping the driver knows the route? Aamir is great storytelling because it employs moments like that to give its surreal narrative oodles of credibility and makes what is an unreal situation extremely plausible.
Not only does it sparkle in form, Aamir is high on content too, with its layering. At one level, it’s just the story of a helpless man trying to save his family, reduced to a puppet at the hands of the people who’ve kidnapped his loved ones and is told that man does not control his own destiny. It’s a suspense thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat with its unpredictable twists and sinister mood. At another level, it’s about the Muslim identity post 9/11, and takes you deep into the mind of the terrorist. Aamir, after being searched thoroughly by the Customs on arrival because of his name, is first sent to the lesser-developed pockets of the city. His first stop is at a National Restaurant where he sees a middle class family contemplating ordering cola, his second stop is a Gulistan building which is in ruins. All that he has to do after that is make a call to Karachi to get into the bad books of the cops. A little later, he’s walking through a slaughter house and asked to halt at the Indo-Gulf lodge, where he gets in touch with the men who provide the money, which, after a few scenes, is traded for a bomb.
Yes, a few stereotypes do find their way into the film but then, the filmmaker does his best to debunk some of them. Like the bit where he casually shows us his fundamentalist villain sip MNC-branded cola. It’s these casual cues that work better than the obvious metaphors such as the slaughter house or the toy monkey that is hit on the head when it stops dancing after being wound.
Rajeev Khandelwal is such a terrific actor that it is impossible to believe he’s from the soap opera circuit.
The support cast is fresh and raw, and all that adds to the fabric of realism as captured by cinematographer Alphonse Roy.
The score, though inspired from the Requiem for a Dream theme, haunts you long after the film is over. And, the songs rock.
Creative producer Anurag Kashyap once again proves that he is the best thing to happen to independent filmmaking of our times. Overall, Aamir is one film you don’t want to miss. More so, if you are a movie buff.
Aamir Genre: Thriller
Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Cast: Rajeev Khandelwal, Gajraj Rao, Shashanka Ghosh
Storyline: Homecoming turns into a nightmare for Aamir after he finds his family missing and a phone tossed into his hand on arrival
Bottomline: Blows your mind