Aamir Khan & Oscar Movies – Is It Pre-Meditated Or Pure Coincidence?

From Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar to Rang De Basanti, BIRTHDAY BOY Aamir Khan’s films are peppered with influences from films that have either won an Oscar or have been nominated for one

It’s said that an Oscar trophy can single-handedly change the course of a film. As far as India is concerned, 89 editions of the Academy Awards have taken place so far, yet we don’t have much to boast about except A.R. Rahman, Resul Pookutty and Satyajit Ray. But there is nit picking here and that relates to our one and only Mr. Perfectionist.

Out of the commercial triumvirate of Khans, Aamir Khan is the only one who can be dubbed as having some connection with the reputed awards. Apart from having tasted and savoured the opportunity of being nominated in the category of Best Foreign Language Feature in 2002 with Lagaan, he also holds the distinction of having featured in four films which were India’s entry to the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language category. His juggernaut began with Deepa Mehta’s Earth in 1999 and followed with Rang De Basanti in 2006, Taare Zameen Par in 2008 and Peepli Live in 2010 albeit in the capacity of a producer.

But that’s not the moot point here; there is another unique feature that binds Mr. Perfectionist with the coveted awards. One look at his filmography and it can be sensed that Aamir’s films are peppered with influences of Oscar winning/nominated films. Were the makers of his films influenced by them?

1. DIL HAI KE MANTA NAHIN
dil hai ki maanta nai and it happened one night poster
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In some corner of film corridors one can still hear people discussing the possibility of remake of the 1991 smash hit Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin. Post the release there were many takers for Aamir’s cap and his no-nonsense behaviour at a time when Mahesh Bhatt was known to direct films through his phones. But the seeds of the film came from Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night. The Clark Gable starrer was nominated in five categories and swept everything clean including best actor, best actress, best film and best director categories.

2. JO JEETA WOHI SIKANDAR

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JJWS is one of those films from Aamir’s career which after 25 years have assumed cult proportion. The popularity of the film is a testimony of the fact that in the recently concluded MAMI festival the entire cast assembled to celebrate its 25th year. But not many know that the film has shades in the 1979 release Breaking Away.  The film was nominated in five categories but took home the trophy for best writing and screenplay.

3. HUM HAIN RAHI PYAR KE

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It’s now the turn of the much acclaimed Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke again under the baton of Mahesh Bhatt. The plot of the film shares an eerie resemblance with the 1958 Hollywood release Houseboat. The Cary Grant-Sophia Loren starrer was nominated in two categories for the Oscars held in 1959 but failed to make any dent.

4. AATANK HI AATANK

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Aatank Hi Aatank hit theatres in 1995 and is possibly one film from Aamir’s repertoire that the man himself would like to omit. A colossal dud at the box office, this much delayed film was a straight away lift of The Godfather. The only take away from the film could only be Aamir’s moustache and the ill-fitting wig. And the less said about The Godfather, the better.

5. AKELE HUM AKELE TUM

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It was the turn of the deadly combo again - Aamir Khan and Mansoor Khan. Though Akele Hum Akele Tum failed to make money at the box office it did receive it share of critical acclaim. This time the inspiration for Mansoor came from the Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep starrer Kramer Vs Kramer. The film was a sheer beauty and out of nine nominations during the 1980 Academy Awards, it took home five. Both Dustin and Hoffman were awarded for their text book performance. Take heart, both Aamir and Manisha too were nominated in acting categories for the Filmfare awards.

6. GHULAM

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Next in queue is the film which is also considered as director Vikram Bhatt’s last blockbuster (he failed to deliver any after this film). Ghulam packed a punch at the box office riding on powerhouse performance by Aamir and Rani. The plot of the film has shades of On the Waterfront though much in the film is fresh. On The Waterfront created storm during the Academy awards held in 1955. The film was nominated in 12 categories and was declared winner in eight.

7. MANN

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Mann is considered an aberration in the Aamir Khan-Indra Kumar combo. After having tasted success with films like Dil and Ishq, Mann was a major let down. Mann again was inspired from An Affair to Remember which was nominated in four categories at the Academy awards held in 1958. This was also the second time an Aamir film got inspired from Cary Grant.

8. RANG DE BASANTI

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There comes a film in a decade which actually shakes the nation and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti ticks all the boxes for such films. Though the film was lauded and earned plaudits for its innovation plot and storytelling technique, not many know that the plot again has shades in a Canadian film. Jesus of Montreal was Canada’s entry in the best foreign language film category in 1989 when it lost to Cinema Paradiso, the year’s favourite. Credit must be given to the film maker for the way the film was adapted in the Indian milieu.

9. GHAJINI

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Ghajini holds the distinction of being the first Indian film to cross the 100 Cr hurdle. It brought a different facet of Aamir Khan to cine goers but the inspiration of the plot for Ghajini found a reflection in a film by master filmmaker Christopher Nolan. The film took inspiration from Memento which was nominated in two categories during the Oscars held in 2002.

10. PEEPLI LIVE

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And here comes the finale. The above mentioned films feature Aamir in various roles as an actor on the silver screen but there is one film that did not feature Aamir rather it was produced by him. Peepli Live earned both acclaim as well as moolah at the box-office but if one were to turn back the clock to 1951 one can dig a film out which later on became the foundation for Peepli Live. Ace in the Hole was directed by master filmmaker Billy Wilder and dealt with a similar situation as depicted in Peepli Live. The film was nominated in just one category at the 1952 Academy awards.


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