What would be your reply if I say - Having children makes you no more a parent, than having a piano makes you a pianist?
(Laughs) I know you mean that having a child doesn't mean that you are fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of a parent. I think this film really addresses the above sentence. I have to confess that when I read the script for the first time I felt that it really made me more sensitive towards my own children. I think I'm a good parent to begin with, but despite that I felt that it changed the way I looked at my kids and other kids as well. So it had a very positive impact on me and I hope the same thing happens with the audiences across the world.
Does that clearly mean that you have become a better father?
Yes, I'd like to think so. I have a sincere belief that I've always been a good father and both my kids are really dear to me. I'd like to say what the film's tag line says, 'every child is special.'
You've always believed that the audiences are your number one critics. With Taare Zameen Par, are you ready to face the Parents as your second lot?
I take full responsibility for the kind of films I've made irrespective of producing, acting or directing it. So in that sense the buck stops with me. Yes, I am prepared to face the honest reaction of the audience.
Known to be the master perfectionist, can we now say that Aamir Khan is jack of all?
I hope I'm more than that (laughs). I expect to be master of all.
Acting started with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, then you produced your first film Lagaanand now debut as a director for Taare Zameen Par. What's next in the pipeline?
I don't know. I take life as it comes along. I didn't really have any plans to produce but I ended up producing Lagaan because I felt that was what I should do at that time. Again, in the case of Taare Zameen Par, I eventually took the responsibility and directed it. So let's see what lies ahead now.
The Play station generation who love to kill or be killed in the games, have clearly proved that these things are no child's play anymore. Shocked by Tuesday's incident in which two of its Class-VIII students killed a classmate within the school premises of the Euro International School in Gurgaon, don't you think that in today's time; issues like these should be addressed in films too?
Yes certainly. There is a lot of pressure on kids today and the kind of influence they face. One thing I'd like to see change is that somewhere along the way we kind of tend to teach our kids to be really competitive rather than teach them how to be more sensitive and caring. I think it's a very important part of bringing up children. That will go a long way in shaping them in a very positive manner.
Off late, the way to promote an Indian film is to go with your cast and crew to dance and to music talent shows or come up with movie merchandise and tie up with a leading shopping mall. You seem to have taken a back seat from all this. Why?
It's important to market your film and since we have made this film with so much love and care, I'd like as many people to know about it. But I don't want to do anything which is not right for the kind of film we've made. It's a film about children and I'd like to be honest to that, I've made an effort to go on shows that are about children or have something to do with children. Other than that, I don't think any other tie-up would really connect with the film and it's subject.
Did you in your real life go through what Darsheel's character goes through in the film, that of not studying or neglecting your studies, etc?
To a certain extent, Yes. We all face some sort of difficulties in academics, sports, etc. I too, like Darsheel's character, have faced rejection and feeling of not being good enough in something and a feeling of discouragement. I think a lot of us may have gone through the same thing. As far as studies were concerned, I was an average student but I hated homework (laughs) and I loved sports, which was my passion as a kid. So, I did go through what Darsheel's character goes through in the film.
Have you taken the cast and crew of Taare Zameen Par to your own school where you studied in Mumbai to interact with the students and teachers? Don't you think that could've also helped promoting the film too?
No. I didn't feel it was necessary. All the crew have been through their childhood phase and have their own experiences of what they have gone through. Almost all of us identify with it very strongly and we all got very emotionally involved while we were working on it. Each one had their own experiences and they came with that.
Are you missing your female lead in Taare Zameen Par?
(laughs) No, I am not. I think the connect in this film on the emotional level is with the children and on lot of levels it's extremely fulfilling.
It's always seen that a child learns something from his or her parents. But let's change positions here. What have you learnt from your kids or from your co-star Darsheel Safary?
What I've learnt from my own kids and other children is to be resilient, their ability to grasp and their spirit, which is very infectious. They are very open hearted, clear and keen in their approach towards things. They don't come with any inhibitions. That's something which we all should learn.
Why should one go and watch Taare Zameen Par?
I'm not the kind of person who will tell people that they will have to go and see my film. I don't do that. I make films that I believe in and if people would like to see it that would be great. It should be something like they should feel like doing. I don't want to force people to do something like this. I'm really happy with the way the film has turned out and I'll be happy if the people enjoy it.
Any parting New Year message for our readers?
I'd like to give them my love and would like to say to them that follow your heart. I'd like to tell the kids that follow your dreams and believe in them. Do not be discouraged with momentary failure or disappointment. I'd like to tell them that it's really important to care for kids around you. You might have your friends or colleagues and kids in your class, but it's always vital to develop a sense of caring for the people around us too.