Aamir Khan just called Peter Dinklage a what now?! Advertisement

Aamir Khan just called Peter Dinklage a what now?!

What I learned about Aamir Khan from his chat with Sir Ian McKellen


“I get into trouble for saying this, but the worst way of discovering Shakespeare is to read it,” said Sir Ian McKellen. “He didn’t want them to be read. He wanted them to be experienced. It’s like giving me a score of Mozart to read.” The iconic actor, who’s featured in over 55 films, 300 plays and several TV shows, was in conversation with actor Aamir Khan. On the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, he’s here to launch the British Film Institute’s Shakespeare On Film series in India. The two also kicked off the inaugural Jio MAMI Film Club.

If the evening was memorable, it was solely because of McKellen’s sparkling wit, and obvious charm. Khan started with fairly elementary questions – What was your first brush with Shakespeare? – and McKellen happily obliged (he was eight and it was an extract from Twelfth Night). They ventured away from the Shakespeare for a bit to discuss homosexuality and its impact on him and his craft. “It did inhibit me,” McKellen confessed, but only when he was doing romantic scenes. “That was territory I knew nothing about.” (Everything he did know about “the missionary” he knew from stick figures.) In 1988, McKellen came out on a BBC Radio 4 programme. The motivation? Margaret Thatcher‘s Section 28 legislation, which meant authorities couldn’t promote homosexuality in a positive light. “It was legal, but I think you had to be 21,” he said cheekily. “I was 49. Everybody knew, but I hadn’t said it. Everything changed for the better. I was at ease.” Acting became less about disguise.

Soon enough, Khan interjected with questions that would swiftly pivot the conversation toward himself: “Do you believe it’s important for an actor to be socially conscious and contributing in any way? Is that something you’ve done?” To which McKellan said: “There are as many sorts of actors as there are actors aren’t there? I never lecture anybody on what they should or shouldn’t do with their celebrity or fame. But I’m in awe of how you’ve used yours of late, with your TV show.  I think what we do is important, we tell stories and the aim of our stories is to make people feel, think and maybe change. You’ve carried that beyond your films. But that’s not for everybody to do. They may not have the ability or interest.”

I also learned a LOT about Khan (more than I hoped for), from the questions he posed. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

Aamir Khan really suffers for his craft

Khan: “Do you feel exhausted sometimes after a scene which is highly emotional? I find that that happens to me. If I’m doing a really emotional scene at the end of the day it feels like I’ve run a marathon.”

Aamir Khan is no Jon Snow 


Aamir Khan is conflict averse 

“What do you do when you don’t agree with a director?” 

*and later when emcee Mini Mathur turns the question to him* 

“It’s very difficult for me to say yes to a director. There have been times where I’ve discovered – after signing on – that a director’s sensibility is very different from mine. Through all of those films, I’ve just suffered, because I had to do what the director wanted. I used to come home and I used to cry. I was miserable. So after that initial phase of [my career], I was really careful about who the director was. The director has to be someone I trust, because I am going to leave myself in his hands. I mean, you have disagreements; you have that all the time. But in essence you have to [share the same] sensibility.”

Aamir Khan is terrible with names – also, terribly inappropriate. Sorry, Peter Dinklage! 


When Aamir Khan needs to go, he *really* needs to go

*Mathur urges McKellen to perform his favourite Shakespearean monologue*

“But, but, but before you do that I need to pee really badly. I’m going to request you to take a couple of questions. I’ll be right back.”


giphy dev patel