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Finding hope in darkness

Aamir Khan, Svati Chakravarti and Kiran Rao
Aamir Khan, Svati Chakravarti and Kiran Rao


ON THE occasion of India’s 70th Republic Day on January 26, 2019, Bollywood superstar
Aamir Khan premiered his latest production venture Rubaru Roshni, on Star Network.

The actor, who has a reputation for being one of the finest creative forces of Hindi cinema
with a career spanning over 30 years, delivered a documentary-film revolving around three real- life stories of forgiveness that really pulled on the heartstrings.

Helmed by debutante Svati Chakravarti Bhatkal, who has previously worked on Khan’s popular television show Satyamev Jayate, Rubaru Roshni received positive responses and praise from all corners of the world, with some even claiming it to be an experience of a lifetime.

Eastern Eye met Khan at his Carter Road residence in Mumbai, after Rubaru Roshni had
aired, to speak about his latest venture, what inspired him to produce it and why he opted
for a television release instead of a theatrical or digital one.

How did Rubaru Roshni happen and what inspired you to produce it?
When Svati came to me and said that she wanted to make a film on forgiveness and told me the three stories, which all of you have seen in the film, I was shocked to know that what all had happened with Avantika (Maken), Samundar and the others. The moment she told me that the concept of the film is forgiveness, I said, ‘I am on. I want to produce it. You make it.’

Why did you decide to release the film on television instead of opting for a traditional theatrical release?
At that time, I did not know as to how I would take this story to the audience. Whether we
would opt for a theatrical release or go on any digital platform, we had no idea when we started. I just said to Svati, ‘whatever is in your mind, you must make it and AKP (Aamir Khan Productions) will produce it. We will decide about its release once the product is ready.’

Whoever has seen the movie is in love with it. How was your reaction when you saw it for the first time?
When I saw the first cut of the film, it impacted me a lot. In our lives, we all hold grudges over a score of trivial issues. We poison our hearts with grudges and hurt ourselves. But in the film, we see that these people have gone through so much in their lives, but they are still able to overcome that. It made me think about myself and all my relationships in my life, which I have been very hard on. So, I found this film to be very introspective.

How did you arrive at the decision to premiere Rubaru Roshni on Star Plus?
When I saw the film, I decided that I want to show it to the entire country. It was then that I thought to have it released direct on television. The film has been dubbed in seven languages and we have the entire bouquet of Star Network, not just Star Plus, which showed the Hindi version of the film. Tamil, Telugu and other versions are shown on various regional channels of Star Network, because we wanted it to be seen across the country, you know, to have a deep impact on all of us.

How did you decide on the title of the film?
There is a poem of (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad) Rumi (a Persian poet and Sufi master born
807 years ago in 1207), titled as The Wound Is Where The Light Enters. From there we
got the English title, Where The Light Comes In. We were very happy with the title,
but then Rubaru Roshni popped in my head from nowhere. It has a slightly different
meaning, but it is quite similar to what Where The Light Comes In means. Rubaru
Roshni means when you come face to face with light. So, that’s how the title came.

Since Rubaru Roshni has garnered such a tremendous response from the audience, would you like to work under Svati’s direction in a full-fledged film in future?
I would love that. We have not planned anything yet, but I would love to work with her. I think Svati is a very sensitive person and she will make a very good director. This film Rubaru Roshni was, of course, not fiction as it was based on true stories, but even with
fiction, I believe, she will do quite well.

Did you ever have a desire to direct the film on your own considering the fact that the stories had a profound impact on you?
No, I did not, because when Svati came to me with these stories, I felt it was something which she was dying to tell. I like to support my directors who come with thoughts and stories, which are, you know, very close to their heart and at the same time, I can also feel what they are feeling. Because it was something which came from her heart, I felt she would do it very well and she did do it wonderfully.

Is there any plan to convert the docudrama into a full-length feature film?
Not now as, I think, we have made it. I hesitate to do the same thing again. If I do something, I don’t redo it. And it’s not a documentary; it’s like a film.

Did you provide any creative inputs before or after the making of the film?
See, these stories were already there. And they were true stories, so I did not have any contribution in the scripting because there was no scripting as such. But when I saw the first cut, I had some suggestions. Other than that, I didn’t give any inputs.

Are you planning to send it to the Oscars?
We could. I don’t think much about awards and all, so my mind doesn’t go there. But I think you are right that this is a film the whole world should watch and maybe we should
pursue that.

Your hair has changed again, are you preparing it for a role?
This is for my next film. So, when I am preparing for a new project, what I do is that I start
growing my hair. I physically start moving towards what the character needs. And before
the shooting, we decide on the look. If I have long hair and a beard, then we can play
with the look. It gives you flexibility to play with the character as you can plan what kind of hairstyle you can sport.

Which is the next film you are talking about?
I don’t know at the moment. I will come to know within a month and I’ll be able to tell you everything then.

Have you zeroed in on something?
At the moment I have some really interesting stories with me, which I have liked a lot. So, I don’t know exactly which one will be next. But I will know everything within a month.

Are you planning to announce the next on your birthday, which is in March?
Nothing like that. See, when I want to make something, I will tell you. I don’t want to respond to speculation. Also, when I announce something, I should have answers for you. You would want to know the director’s name, when the film starts rolling, and so on. So, I should first have answers to these questions, only then I can announce something.