07 June 2006

Aamir Khan: hero or villain?

Did you love Aamir Khan as the hero in Fanaa? Which part of the hero’s story did you identify with most? Did you love him in the first half of the film? Or, the second? Or, did you think he was extraordinary through the entire film?

These questions may sound simple, even stupid, but the answers can be revealing. Because, in Fanaa, Aamir Khan plays a dual role: that of a hero (first half) and a villain (second half). Yes I know, stories and films have to have heroes as well as villains, and that this hero-villain concept is non-exclusive (you can’t have one without the other), but for a plot to have the same character as a hero and a villain is rather unique. Especially so, since our good-looking song-and-dance Hindi film hero in Fanaa turns out to be a villain of the highest order: a ruthless treacherous murderous chameleon-like Pakistani agent – a terrorist – out to destroy our beloved country.

What if Fanaa’s story was true? Where would that leave us?

In a film, as in a story, a hero is supposed to embody the collective hopes and ideals of the entire audience – and not leave them feeling terrified. For, a hero, with all his bravery and charm and good nature, is supposed to be a symbol of civilised society – a symbol of life. Anything outside this perimeter can be unsafe. Yet, in Fanaa, Aamir Khan is as romantic as risky.

It’s not easy for an actor to present a hero-villain dual role to his audience with any semblance of believability. But, Aamir Khan does so, admirably.

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