“I like to go for projects which I’ll find tough-going.”
Indian actor Aamir Khan began his career as a leading artist in 1988.
Since then, he has delivered many remarkable performances that have gone down well in the history of Bollywood.
During the 2000s decade and onwards, Aamir became known for his unique ability to pick the right scripts.
When Aamir Khan gets the right project with a super director, the box office is soaring high.
Earlier, Aamir also gave some historic performances in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Many went on to describe him as “the chocolate boy” hero, especially after his debut film.
In over three decades, Aamir has established himself as one of India’s most influential actors. He has been the recipient of several awards and honours.
Aamir Khan has won over six Filmfare Awards during his career
In 2017, he was also invited to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The same year, Forbes named Aamir Khan as the “most successful movie star in the world.”
But how is that all possible without great performances? Aamir Khan has not earned the title of ‘Mr Perfectionist’ for nothing.
We present a list of 12 remarkable performances by Aamir Khan in Bollywood films.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
We start this list from where it all began for Bollywood actor Aamir Khan.
After appearing in cameos films such as Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973) and Holi (1984), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was his official launch.
In the film, Aamir played the part of Raj, who falls in love with Rashmi (Juhi Chawla). Unfortunately, the families of both the young lovers have a long-running feud burning between them.
This is one of India’s first official takes on Romeo and Juliet.
Aamir did not just act – he shone as well. Audiences went wild. This may be cliché, but he literally became the next big thing.
People loved the way he widened his eyes in romantic scenes and slowly moved his lips to the melodious songs.
Aamir smoothly strummed the guitar in ‘Papa Kehte Hai’ and smiled charmingly in ‘Ae Mere Humsafar’. The last scene when he breaks down did not leave a dry eye in the audience.
He also shared infectious chemistry with Juhi, and they appeared together in several hits thereafter. But it was Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, which remains the most memorable for the pairing.
The film was a blockbuster hit, Aamir winning the Filmfare Award for ‘Best Male Debut’ in 1989.
Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991)
If there is a first film that showed Aamir Khan’s comic timing, it is Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin.
Aamir plays Raghu Jetley, a struggling journalist who helps a rich girl Pooja (Pooja Bhatt) run away. They fall in love in the process.
Raghu does not enjoy Pooja’s company at first, with Aamir displaying all the comedy in the right places. Whether it is trying to ask for lifts on the road or threatening Pooja, Aamir is perfect for the role.
Aamir chose his character’s name himself and took a while to pick out Raghu’s cap. This perhaps was the first indication that Aamir was a consummate professional.
The film’s director, Mahesh Bhatt came to realise the potential of Aamir with this film:
“I could see that Aamir was more than just an actor.”
“He has a mind that is fresh, audacious and wants to get into new terrain.”
Bhatt Saab added:
“I think [Aamir Khan]’s a brave actor. He is heartbreakingly sincere.”
The director also mentions that Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin became successful with the all-round performances. Aamir indeed was on top form with this film.
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992)
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar saw Aamir Khan reunite with his first director and cousin Mansoor Khan after Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.
It is a coming-of-age drama with sports as the catalyst of the film. The most interesting aspect is that this was the first film where Aamir played a character in need of redemption.
Unlike his previous romantic characters, Sanjaylal ‘Sanju’ Sharma (Aamir Khan) is a brat who only thinks of himself.
Sanju has to find forgiveness and he needs to prove himself after a terrible accident, which brings a change to his family.
In Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Aamir plays a college student with ease and fits into the role like a bird to the sky.
The picturisation of the romantic song ‘Pehla Nasha’ is impressive. Aamir conveys relatable expressions to fit the mood.
This film was a chance for Aamir to play a variety of emotions including love, angst, sadness and guilt.
A scene when he cries about his brother makes the viewers forget the character’s past mistakes. From then onwards, they are rooting for him.
The audience urges him with the stadium, as Sanjay crosses the finish line on his bike, winning the final race.
Aamir shares beautiful good chemistry later on with his co-star Ayesha Jhulka (Anjali).
Sanju has a touching relationship with on-screen brother Ratanlal ‘Ratan’ Sharma (Mamik Singh) and father Ramlal Sharma (Kulbhushan Kharbanda).
In Christina Daniels’ biography of Aamir, I’ll Do It My Way (2012), Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is a “break-away film.”
The film perhaps was an early indication of Aamir’s penchant for picking unconventional scripts and roles.
The film remains popular within his fanbase, with Aamir’s performance remaining magnificent.
Andaz Apna Apna (1994)
Andaz Apna Apna was the first in and out pure comedy film for Aamir Khan.
In the film, Aamir plays Amar Manohar, a young con who joins forces with Prem (Salman Khan) to woo an heiress Raveena (Raveena Tandon).
The comic timing of Aamir is at its very best. The film showcases his ability to portray humour, particularly during scenes in a big mansion or the police station.
Before the film’s release, Aamir had said:
“I think it’s a film that audiences will enjoy a lot. It has all forms of comedy from situational to slapstick to language comedy.”
In the late 80s, Salman debuted with Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989). Along with Aamir, he was a fresh, romantic face.
So, naturally, for many, it was a surprise when the two young stars came together onscreen for this comedy.
In the film, there is no major romantic angle. It’s all comedy. Many still remember the phrases “Hailaa” (Oh my!) by Aamir along with Salman’s “Oui Maa!” (Oh, dear!).
Although Salman is good in the film, many argue that the movie belongs to Aamir.
A review of the film on Planet Bollywood disagrees with this, but opined that “Aamir is better.”
The film went on to become a classic and Aamir’s performance is exemplary.
In Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela, audiences saw Aamir Khan in a completely new avatar.
He plays Munna, a ‘tapori’, (street boy) who makes a living selling movie tickets illegally. He falls in love with his friend, an aspiring actress named Mili (Urmilla Matondkar).
Aamir nails the dialect of a ‘tapori,’ being hapless and relatable whenever the time is right.
Reportedly he did not wash his face for several days to get the skin complexion accurate.
According to Daniels’ book, Aamir went on to plan his own clothes too. Speaking of understanding the correct dialect, Aamir said:
“I’m well-acquainted with the kind of street language used.”
His performance really shines in the film. Despite featuring alongside popular actor Jackie Shroff, Aamir walked away with all the applause.
Aamir also spoke about taking on challenging characters :
“I like to go for projects which I’ll find tough-going.”
He cites Rangeela as an example. This demonstrates Aamir’s passion for his craft, showing his audience something.
In 1995, Rangeela came under the shadows of films like Karan Arjun and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
However, Aamir’s performance remains possibly the best of that year.
Eminent film director Karan Johar describes Aamir Khan’s Lagaan as “the Sholay of our times.” Sholay (1973) was a classic and Lagaan too remains one.
The film marked Aamir’s debut as a producer.
In this epic sports drama, Aamir plays Bhuvan, a villager determined to free his province from the harsh British taxes. The film explores themes of determination, love, freedom and patriotism.
Many particularly recollect the scene where Bhuvan disapproves of his fellow villagers for shaming a lower-caste player.
Director Ashutosh Gowariker says that Aamir made Bhuvan fun and exciting in places too.
Ashutosh had to save the audience from becoming bored of the hard-working, sincere villager.
Cinemas exploded when Bhuvan claimed a historic win for his team at the end.
Aamir himself shared that when the first British batsman is declared out, Sachin Tendulkar jumped out of his seat.
With, Lagaan, for the very first time, Aamir spoke in a different language onscreen. He speaks in Awadhi, instead of Hindi. He smashes it, accurately uttering all the nuances and intonations.
In 2002, the films shortlisted for an Oscar under the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category.
Aamir won a Filmfare Award for ‘Best Actor’ for Lagaan in 2002. Any list of Indian classic films is incomplete without this movie.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
In 2001, Aamir Khan’s next release after Lagaan was Dil Chahta Hai. It is directed by the then debutant filmmaker Farhan Akhtar.
As Akash Malhotra, Aamir fully forsakes his serious image. Sporting a goatee beard, he is fun, charming and humorous.
Farhan had initially wanted Aamir to play the character of Sidharth ‘Sin’ Sinha (Akshaye Khanna). But the happy-go-lucky, fun character of Akash appealed to him more.
Aamir nails Akash’s innocent betrayals, jokes and antics. There is a scene where Akash tells Sameer Mulchandani (Saif Ali Khan) to stand up to his girlfriend, Pooja (Sonali Kulkarni).
Akash’s chemistry with Shalini (Preity Zinta) was loved by the audience. It is one of the reasons why Akash’s heartache over Shalini is relatable.
There is no doubt that Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna are incredible in their roles. But Aamir’s Akash is the most-loved spot in the film.
Aamir delivers the jokes with the right amount of humour. He also does not let Akash’s despondent moments dampen the character.
Rang De Basanti (2006)
Aamir Khan takes on Punjabi with his character in the film, Rang De Basanti. Aamir employed a tutor to help with his diction and he did it very well.
The lines of DJ (Aamir Khan)’ are still remembered. The scene where he breaks down in tears is a popular one.
Interestingly, Aamir himself was not too happy with that scene. He had prepared himself for it on another day of the shooting.
But that scene could not be filmed due to technical problems. By this time, the audience was aware of Aamir’s commitment to his roles.
However, this anecdote shows that he is equally committed to specific scenes and that timing is paramount.
The film’s director is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, who has also helmed films like Delhi-6 (2009) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013).
Speaking about Aamir Khan in Rang De Basanti, Mehra says:
“I didn’t have to stress a lot on him.”
“I could focus on the rest of the film, without worrying where Aamir’s character was going.”
His statement sums up Aamir’s ability to not only become his character but also make life easy for a director.
“With DJ’s character, we never struck a false note.”
It would be unfair, however, to give credit for the success of Rang De Basanti entirely to Aamir. The other actors are superb too.
But equally, it cannot be denied that Aamir’s performance was a special one.
With no romance or any lip-synced songs, Aamir again proved his preference for breaking old norms and forming new ones.
Taare Zameen Par (2007)
Not only did Aamir Khan act in Taare Zameen Par, but he turned director too with it. It could be argued that this film belongs to Darsheel Safary (Ishaan Awasthi).
However, Aamir brings in the right energy and warmth as the kind-hearted teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh.
Aamir is tender, firm and enlightening. This film raises the issue of dyslexia, with a core message that every child is special.
The effect that the film on the world is everlasting. It also had an impact on actor Hrithik Roshan:
“Taare Zameen Par stayed with me.”
There is no doubt that Aamir proved that he is a good director. Though the way he underplayed his role is amazing. Many reminisce with his dialogues.
The scene where Ram reprimands Ishaan’s family is filled with dialogues that touched hearts across the globe.
Additionally, the scene where he teaches his class about successful people with dyslexia proved popular.
His nonsensical monologue at the beginning of ‘Bum Bum Bole’ has been repeated worldwide.
If Darsheel is the ocean of the film, Aamir is the beach that supports that.
In 2008, Aamir was nominated for a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Filmfare award. He won the ‘Best Director’ Filmfare Award for this film.
Ghajini shows Aamir Khan’s ability to change his body. He put on 8-pack abs for the part of the amnesic Sanjay Singhania.
This film was directed by AR Murugadoss. In the 2000s, actors like Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan were known for their bodies on-screen.
Aamir was not seen in this way before. Hence, it was nice a surprise for both the audience and the industry to see Mr Perfect like this.
The work for Aamir is fantastic in the film. The audience feels for the character when he explodes in rage or after he witnesses Kalpana (Asin) die before him.
It is not necessarily appealing when a protagonist commits murder. But when Sanjay delivers the fatal blow to Ghajini (Pradeep Rawat), the audience whistle and cheer on.
Praising Aamir, the director states:
“He is a very good, sincere and sensible artiste.”
After the film was posted on YouTube in 2013, Sara Lin commented:
“For me, Aamir Khan is the best actor in the world.”
In 2009, Akshay Kumar won the Star Screen award for his performance in Singh is Kinng (2008).
However, he refused to accept it, saying that Aamir deserved it more for Ghajini.
Ghajini is another showcase of Aamir’s passion for showing his fans a variety of performances.
3 Idiots (2009)
Unlike Andaz Apna Apna, 3 Idiots is not a pure comedy. It deals with fear, growing up and suicide.
But in every theme, Ranchoddas ‘Rancho’ Shamaldas Chanchad/Chhote/Phunsukh WangduRancho remains loveable and relatable.
Rancho’s dialogues became tattooed in peoples’ minds. Aamir’s smiles and laughs comfort the audience in the film’s melancholic moments.
The phrase “All is well” remains evergreen and very positive, especially during difficult times.
When he was offered this film, Aamir found it difficult to imagine himself as a college student. He was in his mid-forties when this movie came about.
However, his love for the script was intense. He asked the director Rajkumar Hirani why he thought he could pull off a character half his age.
“Because these lines are very important, and when you say them, I believe them.”
In his reply, the director was alluding to Aamir’s bravery he had displayed through his previous unusual choices.
To prepare and look the part, Aamir wore clothes that were double his size. Throughout the film, he never stands still. This accurately portrays the traits of a youngster.
This film also has a profound impact on the view of the Indian education system. It remains one of Aamir’s most unforgettable performances.
Dangal film broke all records both in India and China. In this film, Aamir Khan plays an ex-wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trains his daughters in the sport.
Aamir shows all the emotions splendidly. During a screening of the film in the UK, the audience laughed and cried.
They stood up when the Indian national anthem was played in the film’s climax.
There is a scene in the film when Mahavir wrestles with his daughter Geeta Phogat (Fatima Sana Shaikh). The expressions he displays are hard-hitting and authentic.
The character requires Aamir to be overweight and much older. For a small part of the film, he also had to look young.
Aamir refused to wear padding for the overweight portions and gained weight instead. He then shed all that weight to portray the younger Mahavir.
Aamir is not only a famous star but also a contributor to societal issues. In his TV show, Satyamev Jayate (2012-2014), he talked about female foeticide and the overall treatment of women in India.
This was later replicated in his 2016 biographical sports film, Dangal. After watching the film, actor Rishi Kapoor (late) tweeted:
“@aamir_khan Saw Dangal. For me, you are the new Raj Kapoor. Absolutely wonderful.”
Director Nitesh Tiwari was also complimentary in a YouTube video titled, Fat to Fit:
“If a superstar gets involved in your film with so much passion, there’s no greater thing for you.”
Did you know these 5 things about Aamir Khan?
- He only did 36 days worth of shooting in 1993.
- He played pranks on his co-stars on sets, which included spitting on their palms.
- He refused movies like 'Saajan' (1991) and '1942: A Love Story' (1998).
- He doesn't charge fees for his films, preferring to become a partner in profits.
- He nearly died jumping in front of a train. while filming a scene in 'Ghulam' (1998).
Film critic Anupama Chopra from Film Companion in her review was also full of praise for Aamir:
“There isn’t a hint of vanity. For most of the film, he’s an old, overweight man.”
Talking about Aamir’s decision to gain weight, Anupama also wrote:
“This itself is an act of courage.”
It was a masterful performance and Aamir won the Filmfare Award for ‘Best Actor’ in 2017.
Aamir is rightly considered one of the world’s most talented actors.
He has delivered memorable performances in some other wonderful films. These include Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993) Ghulam (1998) and Fanaa (2006).
Rishi Kapoor compared him to Raj Kapoor. Saira Banu has compared him to Dilip Kumar. Asha Parekh has said she sees Dev Anand’s passion only in Aamir.
But the truth is that Aamir is his own star. He has always done things in his own way, which has led to his greatness.
The audience looks forward to many more incredible performances by Aamir Khan.