What a movie! Direction (by debutant Raj Kumar Gupta who assisted Anurag Kashyap in No Smoking), Cinematography (by debutant Alphons Roy), Performance (by debutant Rajeev Khandelwal), Music (by debutant Amit Trivedi), Editing (by Aarti Bajaj) – all are top notch.
This post in not a review. (There are many good reviews available online.) It contains my personal interpretations about the message that the movie tries to convey.
SOPILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched the movie yet, don’t read this post.
There’s a lovely song by Eddi Reader “It’s Not What You’ve Been Given, It’s What You Do With What You’ve Got”. (Listen to it here, it’s really beautiful.)
And that precisely what, I think, the central theme of the movie Aamir is.
“Kaun Kehta Hai Ki Aadmi Apni Kismat Khud Likhta Hai?” is the tag-line of the movie. The answer lies in the movie, in the final scene, to be more precise.
When the kidnapper tries to preach Aamir and tells him about the difficulties that Muslims face in India, Aamir shots back at him and asks who’s stopping them to break the social and economic barriers and make a decent living? After all, as his argument goes, he himself is one of them (i.e. a muslim) and became a doctor in spite of living in the same discriminating society! Although Aamir loses that verbal debate, he, in the end, wins the ideological debate. Aamir could have left that bomb in the bus as he was asked to do, but he chose not to. In that sense, however limited his options were, he finally chose his destiny. He chose not to become a terrorist and kill innocent people. (That’s the only thing he does willingly in the entire movie.)
This message could be easily extrapolated into the realms of our society. There are many poor, oppressed, discriminated against, subjugated people, but not everyone chooses to take the wrong, negative or destructive path (of robbery, violence, terrorism etc.). However, some do opt for baleful ways to either take revenge or in order to end their misery. But (as I’ve pondered over that earlier here) that can cause a vicious cycle of hate and retributions that can eventually have cataclysmic results for the society.
The circumstances might limit the number of options that are available to you. But it’s YOU who finally make the choice.
The main character is aptly named as Aamir (which means leader). In the entire movie, he had to do what he was forced to do by the kidnapper, but in the end, by doing what he could do (and wanted to do in the given circumstance), he became a true leader. Leader of his own fate, who led his life to a respectable, noble and courageous end.
Update: I just watched Cavite, the Filipino thriller from which Aamir clearly seem to have been… inspired. I wanted to say copied, but I read somewhere that the producers of Aamir have bought “adaptation rights” from the makers of Cavite. If they did that, I am glad and I really appreciate that. But I found huge similarities, not only in the story, but in the screenplay, in locations (narrow alleys in slums, squatter camps etc.) and in the political backdrop (terrorism, muslim/minority oppression). And all of that can’t just be coincidental. I am highly skeptical about (director) Raj Kumar Gupta’s and (creative producer) Anurag Kashyap’s claim that the script of Aamir is original. That’s just hard to believe. Two people could have coincidentally come up with similar stories, but only identical twins who got separated at birth (for a chuckle, see the cartoon below), could have executed the movie in the exactly same manner. I mean, come on!
Changing the end of the movie, and replacing a hand-held (constantly moving) camera with a steady one, don’t make one’s script original. If your movie is an adaptation, get the rights, put a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie, and that’s it. Don’t try to pass it around as an original script (as Anurag Kashyap has done here, co-producer Vikas Bahl has done here, and Raj Kumar Gupta has done here) and hope that we’ll blindly believe you.