"If I had done the film, I would have ruined it."
Termed as Bollywood’s ‘Mr Perfectionist,’ Aamir Khan has been entertaining audiences for over 35 years.
In that time, he has wowed millions in many great films. He has brought to life countless characters that have enthralled wide plethoras of fans.
Aamir is one of the finest actors in the Indian film industry. It is undeniable that many filmmakers harbour the dream of working with him.
As a result, they enthusiastically approach him with scripts.
However, the Dangal (2016) star has not been able to be a part of all of these offers.
This can be due to a variety of reasons including creative differences or simple availability.
Join us as we delve into seven films that almost starred Aamir Khan.
This romantic film has been a fan favourite for over 30 years. It explores themes of boundless love, poetry and sacrifice.
Saajan features Sanjay Dutt (Aman Verma/Saagar), Madhuri Dixit (Pooja Saxena Verma) and Salman Khan (Akash Verma) in lead roles.
In the early ’90s, Salman and Aamir were fairly new to the industry. They were both touted as the younger romantic boys on the block.
Consequently, filmmakers were keen on bringing the two together in their films. Saajan director Lawrence D’Souza was one of them.
Lawrence offered Aman’s character to Aamir first. However, Aamir says he did not feel that Saajan was his type of film:
“Lawrence D’Souza offered me Saajan but I turned down the offer as I thought it was not my type of movie.
“Sanjay and Salman did the movie and it was a super hit. I felt very happy because if I had done the film, I would have ruined it.”
It is very mature of Aamir to admit that his presence may have had an adverse effect on the film.
Aamir and Salman later appeared together in the cult comedy, Andaz Apna Apna (1994).
Legendary filmmaker Yash Chopra helmed Parampara (1993) with Aamir Khan in the lead. The film also marks the debut of Saif Ali Khan. Unfortunately, the movie was a box office flop.
Despite this, Yash Ji signed Aamir for the villainous role of Rahul Mehra in his next film Darr.
Darr is a classic of Indian cinema. It showcases the story of Kiran Malhotra (Juhi Chawla) and her husband Sunil Malhotra (Sunny Deol).
They deal with a stalker who becomes obsessed with Kiran and frequently tries to kill Sunil.
Aamir loved the role in Darr. However, problems arose when he asked Yash Ji for a joint narration of the film’s script with Sunny:
“Whenever I do a film that has two heroes, or more than one hero, I request the director to make us sit together and narrate the story so we are satisfied with our roles.
“In this case, that was not possible. Yash Ji did not feel that he should give a joint narration. So, on that basis, I was removed from the project.”
Furthermore, Aamir was not keen on being beat up by Sunny in the film’s climax:
“I was concerned about my screen image. I was certainly not going to be beaten up by a regular hero in a regular commercial film.”
Yash Ji then cast Shah Rukh Khan as Rahul. SRK certainly delivers a terrifying performance.
Darr also marked the beginning of a successful association between Yash Ji and SRK.
1942: A Love Story (1994)
Fans love 1942: A Love Story for its relatable romance and sensitive performances. The film also contains the final soundtrack of iconic composer RD Burman.
Given the admiration the film has, it may be difficult to imagine anyone but Anil Kapoor as Narendra ‘Naren’ Singh.
The role of Naren was initially to be played by Aamir. Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra excitedly offered the character to him.
At the time, Aamir refused, citing a lack of dates as the issue.
In 2019, the superstar revealed the real reason behind rejecting the film. He discloses that he did not come on board due to disliking the script:
“I was offered 1942: A Love Story but I didn’t like the script.
“I even advised Vidhu Vinod Chopra to not make it either, but then the songs of the film worked.”
Interestingly, Anil was also hesitant to star in the film. The producers convinced him otherwise.
1942: A Love Story is a standout in Anil’s filmography. The beautiful music also won RD Burman a Filmfare ‘Best Music Director’ award in 1995.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra went on to collaborate with Aamir Khan on 3 Idiots (2009) and PK (2014).
Karan Arjun (1995)
Karan Arjun was the first Bollywood film to intertwine reincarnation with a mother-son bond.
It is the first film to star Salman Khan (Karan Singh/Ajay) and Shah Rukh Khan (Arjun Singh/Vijay) together.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020, director Rakesh Roshan gave an interview to ‘Bollywood Hungama.’
He states that originally, Ajay Devgn and SRK were to play the titular characters.
When things did not materialise, he approached Aamir and Salman. However, Aamir had prior commitments which the director could not accommodate:
“I approached Salman Khan and Aamir Khan and both jumped at the script.
“However, Aamir made it clear that he was shooting some movie at that point and that he could start only six months later. But I couldn’t have waited for so long.
“Shah Rukh found out that Salman and Aamir have shown interest. This is when he came back to me.”
Salman and SRK definitely make for a formidable duo in Karan Arjun. They play their roles with equal doses of brute force and tenderness.
The film is renowned for the chemistry of the two stars which has thrilled viewers in several more movies.
Hum Tum (2004)
This award-winning comedy features Saif Ali Khan as Karan Kapoor, a self-styled ladies’ man.
Saif is a breath of fresh air in the movie. He proves that he is a versatile actor who deserves respect and admiration.
Hum Tum is also among director Kunal Kohli’s best work. The movie won him a Filmfare ‘Best Director’ accolade in 2005.
Kunal shares that he had first gone to Aamir Khan with the script.
Unfortunately, the actor did not hear the story due to his messy divorce from his first wife Reena Dutta:
“We had first approached Aamir Khan. At that point, he was going through his divorce.
“He was so low that he was not able to even hear the narration.”
Hrithik Roshan and Vivek Oberoi also declined to star in Hum Tum. All of this eventually led to the film falling into Saif’s lap.
Hum Tum was one of the biggest successes of 2004. Saif won a National award for his performance in 2005.
Kunal directed Aamir two years later in Fanaa (2006). It was the first film in which Aamir was romantically paired with Kajol.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
This sports biopic chronicles the fascinating saga of Subedar Milkha Singh.
Milkha Ji was a top-class athlete and was nicknamed ‘The Flying Sikh.’
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directs Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. He pours every ounce of his effort into the production.
The filmmaker won a ‘Best Director’ Filmfare Award in 2014 for his work.
Rakeysh had previously worked with Aamir Khan on Rang De Basanti (2006). The patriotic drama was one of the highest-grossing movies of that year.
It makes perfect sense that Rakeysh would want to collaborate with the PK (2014) actor again.
However, in his book The Stranger in the Mirror (2021), Rakeysh writes that Aamir had turned the role down. The superstar had said:
“Man, Mehra, this one is not for me.”
Post Aamir’s refusal, Rakeysh signed Farhan Akhtar, who did full justice to the film.
Rakeysh maintains his respect for the choices that artists make:
“I have always respected the decisions of another artist – we all have our own head spaces.”
After the grand success of PK (2014), which featured Aamir Khan as the titular alien, director Rajkumar Hirani started Sanju.
The film documents the life of actor Sanjay ‘Sanju’ Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor). It focuses largely on the star’s relationship with his father Balraj ‘Sunil’ Dutt (Paresh Rawal).
Notably, Aamir was given the first opportunity to play Sunil. Aamir and Rajkumar give different accounts of this.
When asked why he declined the role, Aamir explained that he was more interested in playing Sanjay:
“I told Raju that Sanjay Dutt’s role is so wonderful that it won my heart.
“So in this film, I can’t do any other role but Sanjay Dutt’s, which of course I cannot do because Ranbir is playing it.”
Meanwhile, Rajkumar alleges that Aamir was apprehensive of playing an older character so soon after Dangal (2016):
“Aamir showed me Dangal and said, ‘Look, I’m already playing an older man’s role. After Dangal, if my next film has me play an older man again, then people will stop giving me a young man’s role.’
“That was a valid argument.”
Paresh dazzles in Sanju as the unflinching father Sunil Dutt. He brings warmth and compassion to the movie.
For many Aamir Khan fans, it would have been a sight for sore eyes to see him in these films.
It might have been more feasible financially for him to do these roles too.
Sometimes, though, creativity has the final say. If Aamir had done these films, they would have turned out a different way.
They certainly would not be the same masterpieces that audiences love so much.
Some of these offers came from affluent producers and famous banners.
Aamir should be commended for his courage in not letting logic take over his creative instincts.