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Hints about Aamir Khan's Republic Day film

Rubaru Roshni is very real and a significant piece of the actor's work

By Bharathi S. Pradhan

  • Published 13.01.19, 12:31 AM
  • Updated 13.01.19, 12:32 AM
Aamir's team has been working quietly on the film for two years
Aamir's team has been working quietly on the film for two years Image: Wikimedia Commons

I chanced upon a brilliant piece of work by Aamir Khan, something that few are aware of. While the focus was on forgettable fare like Thugs Of Hindostan, the actor and his team at Aamir Khan Productions were quietly working on a significant piece of cinema. It took them two years to make the nearly two-hour film which, as he himself announced on Twitter, will premiere on StarPlus this Republic Day.

What I can reveal without giving away too much:

Does it star Aamir Khan? The film will air in different Indian languages and, yes, the Hindi one will see the actor’s participation in it.

What’s it about? Directed by Svati Chakravarty, Rubaru Roshni goes into an area where no Indian filmmaker has.

Hint: Everybody’s heard about Priyanka Gandhi meeting Nalini, one of her father’s “killers”, in a jail in Chennai. Nalini may have claimed to be innocent of the plot to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi but was serving a life term after her death sentence was commuted when Priyanka met her.

The truth: there was a story of pain on both sides of the prison bars, families were involved on either side.

Another truth: Aamir’s film is not about Priyanka or Rahul, who were able to forgive their father’s killers after years of anguish and anger.

The third truth: Priyanka and Rahul’s purely personal story as kids who lost their father to a cruel, calculated killing, was not a standalone. There were other high-profile murders with the one common thread of two families and two stories running concurrently.

What I can say is that Aamir will not be serving fiction on Republic Day. Rubaru Roshni is as real as it can get, sensitive and sensible; a film that will probably do the rounds of schools for sensitisation of children and win a heap of awards too.

The footage — of interviews with people you and I won’t be able to get close to, of photographs and statements even by a terrorist who is hanged, and of stories that are well-researched — is a journalist’s dream come true.

Aamir showed signs of intrepid journalism in Satyamev Jayate, his show on television. Rubaru is another fine example of his team’s in-depth investigation to ferret facts and narrate a human story. Or make that a trio of real-life, stark but moving stories.

It is true that unlike other journalistic or filmmaking teams, Aamir Khan’s well-earned reputation is a key that can open doors. But here’s a celebrity who has used his clout to create credible cinema and document a reality that must be told. Can’t post a smiley here, but after Rubaru, I forgive you for Thugs, Aamir.

Which brings me to the three Khans. For anyone who thought 2018 signalled the end of the trio, reality is that all three will have a bigger role in shaping public opinion in the years to come and they’ll do it through the medium they best know — entertainment in any format.

The ruling party badly miscalculated when it used social media to crow about The Accidental Prime Minister. Anupam Kher had claimed just the day before that it was not a political film, that he was not a politician, that he himself had signed away the next three years of his life to New Amsterdam, the TV series being shot in the US, so there was no chance of him entering politics.

Next day, the BJP bragged about the film like it had come from its own stable. It was not the wisest thing to do, for it has unleashed an unstoppable phenomenon. The Congress will now use its supporters in the film industry — and there are plenty of them by the way — to tell stories from their PoV.

I’m not referring to Aamir’s Rubaru Roshni, which is not a political statement. But the trio generally leans ideologically away from the current dispensation. So don’t be surprised if you find them making powerful political software in the months to come. When they do, remember you read it here first.

Bharathi S. Pradhan is a senior journalist and author

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