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Power Trip
by M. H. Ahsan Bookmark and Share
 


What did your chemistry teacher tell you about the two reagents kept on the top shelf in your laboratory? Never, never ever bring them together. And yet, that's exactly why our curious mind wanted to. Besides, you'd heard somewhere that the two created a sparkling, spectacular mixture. And thus, defying better judgment to make some magic, you got the two together and then' dhoom! Explosive fireworks, that's what it caused, making you run for cover. Today, 'Hum Tum' director Kunal Kohli resembles the lost kid in the chemistry lab with his fingers burnt. But more than curiosity, it's his super ambition of casting mega talented and super difficult Aamir Khan and Kajol in his film that's landed him in a minefield. 

Let us be the first to admit that the Aamir and Kajol pairing makes one helluva casting coup and a pairing we would relish watching on screen. Two powerhouses of talent were never paired for a film when they were at the peak of their careers (Is Aamir 'rising' to yet another peak?) for whatever reasons. And when Aamir and Kajol fleetingly breathed the same air in the making of 'Ishq' (where Aamir was paired with Juhi Chawla, and Kajol with hubby Ajay Devgan), there was no love lost between the two. Aamir had gotten all worked up over Kajol's attitude-throwing ways and their mega egos had flared up. Understandable that better sense prevailed with most makers, who didn't try to make the twain meet. After all, it's common knowledge that the midget Khan is interference personified on the sets, directors take a back seat. And temperamental Kajol, Ms. Trouble herself, can single-handedly send the director on anti-anxiety pills. You can only handle one of them at a time. In such a scenario, hats off to Kunal Kohli's guts and gumption, who, with the backing of producer Yash Chopra for their Yashraj banner, dared to bring them together. 

The question was, how come two hard-to-please-with-scripts stars acceded to this film. No one is doubting Kunal Kohli's talent after his remarkable success with 'Hum Tum'. But both, Aamir and Kajol, are hardly the ones to care two hoots for a person's reputation. Although Aamir Khan was said to have signed the film for old friend Kunal, his reasons for doing the film did appear clearer. Aamir practically needs absolute creative control on the sets of his films. After working with first timers or directors who's stock isn't too high, be it Ashutosh Gowariker, Ketan Mehta or Rakeysh Mehra in the recent past, Aamir has set a pattern. Of course, Aamir Khan's presence in the film immensely benefited these directors, whose films get talked about much before their release. And the directors got back into the reckoning. Kunal Kohli's recent success notwithstanding, it can be said that Aamir was keeping the trend. 

And he was probably right if he thought so. But Aamir hadn't considered opposition coming from his leading lady. Aamir was used to working with the Gracy Singhs and Soha Ali Khans, who would be in awe of him. Or then Rani Mukherjee, who thinks acting includes always pandering to your heroes' egos. Kajol was neither, always a mind of her own and never afraid to speak it. Though settled blissfully in matrimony and enjoying the blessings of motherhood, Kajol always seemed lurking with a comeback. Husband Ajay, and her close friends, including Karan Johar, kept coaxing her to return to films, and Kajol kept resisting. It was only a matter of time before she would take the plunge again, believed industry watchers. Karan even offered her the main lead opposite Shah Rukh in his next film, which Kajol refused. She wouldn't, even for personal equations. It was a move that surprised knowalls. But a bigger surprise was when Kajol, soon after rejecting Karan's film, signed Kunal Kohli's film with Aamir Khan. She seemed positively excited about the script and about the prospect of working with Aamir Khan. 

Like we said, on paper, we too would be equally excited to see the two together. But that's exactly how it remained, a project on paper. Despite having a bound script and a solid cast for over a couple of months now, the film refused to take off. With 'The Rising' up for release and 'Rang De Basanti' almost complete, it wasn't like Aamir Khan didn't have dates. And Kajol also, sitting at home mostly, must have been rearing to go. As we discovered more about the delay in the film, we realized the nightmare Kunal Kohli's been going through in the past few months. It is believed that Aamir Khan, who first okayed the bound script, developed cold feet. We all know that as much of a terrific actor that Aamir is, and a perfectionist, he's also an insecure actor. And rarely, in any of his films, do the actresses share equal footage with him. To share the footage on equal grounds with someone like Kajol unnerved Aamir. His mind ticked fast, pen faster, as he made swift changes to the script and sent it back to Kunal. What he'd effectively done was added more flesh to his character, writing chunky scenes under his name, and skinned off majorly from Kajol's portion. 

Kunal's face turned pale in horror when he saw the modified script. He knew better than to argue with Aamir Khan about it. But he fairly forwarded the 'Aamired' script to Kajol. Maybe he'd harbored a hope in a million that Kajol would overlook the changes and still agree to do the film. Even that slim chance was dashed when, in minutes, she sent the reworked script back, insisting on the original script. Rightfully so. Aamir stuck his ground on his sound knowledge of script-writing while this time Kajol, already agitated, suggested her own changes to the script. That must have just taken Aamir Khan's goat, who seems to have forgotten his old friendship with Kunal, making his life tougher by the day. Here were two inflamed egos and Kunal was made to swing like a yo-yo between the two's starry tantrums.

As of now, the differences are yet to be resolved. If Kunal is hoping for any intervention from the Chopras, it's not forthcoming. Kajol is said to be their firm favorite, but they don't want to upset Aamir Khan either. We didn't want to embarrass the hapless director Kunal Kohli by asking him to comment on the star-dominated functioning in this industry. And we haven't forgotten that Kajol had once, famously trashed an adoring fan's camera just 'coz he wanted to take her pictures. She'd probably snap enough to damage. And what would Aamir, for whom the Sun rises in his own backyard, have to say? We would certainly like to know their individual takes on the issue, and sincerely hope the differences are resolved, and egos don't come in the way of seeing this sensational pair on the screen. And till then we will await the fireworks, both, on screen, and off it. 

9-Apr-2006
More by :  M. H. Ahsan
 
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