Most people call him a genius and a perfectionist. But Aamir Khan doesn’t restrict his gifts to acting alone. Having directed a successful film and produced close to 10 films so far, his contribution to cinema is laudable, to say the least. But the biggest of his contributions has got to be his knack for promoting films. From being one of the first few people to use alternative methods to promote a film, he’s turned it into something of a norm for the industry and into a whole business idea in itself. On his birthday, we profile Aamir’s journey as a marketing mastermind.
Aamir Khan’s idea to promote a film wasn’t a millennial one. In fact, he set the wheel in motion with his 1988 film, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Touted as his big launchpad into the movies, Aamir made the most of it with the outdoor ad campaign, which was a faceless poster that read “Who is Aamir Khan? Ask the girl next door.” The campaign was followed by a massive launch of the poster. Moreover, Aamir and his brother-in-law Raj Zutshi even personally put up posters on rickshaws across Mumbai. When the film released, anyone who bought eight or more tickets would also get a free poster of Aamir and Juhi. What a start!
There was a lull in his radical strategies post QSQT, but it was with Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na and Ghajini that Aamir established a turning point for the industry. With Jaane Tu… Aamir not only launched his nephew Imran Khan but also took on digital promotion head-on with pop-up ads on various portals. Ghajini turned the tide in more ways than one. Not only did it rake in the moolah at the box-office, setting precedents for the 100 crore club, Aamir showed his ferocity in the on-ground promotions. Giving every one of the male ushers at theatres a makeover with the Ghajini hairstyle, he made sure the film stuck in memory before the release.
It only got bigger and better from 2008. When it was 3 Idiots’ turn for release, Aamir not only revisited his ads-on-rickshaws technique, posting stickers that read, “Capacity: 3 Idiots,” he also launched into a full-blown hunt, where he roamed the country in disguise and challenged people to find him. Moreover, on the film’s release, shows were scheduled as early as 7am and patrons were given free chai and biscuits with their tickets. Similarly, with productions like Peepli Live! he made sure to make appearances on popular shows to promote the small-budget film. His 2012 release Talaash saw an in-depth collaboration with the hit TV show CID, portraying his onscreen character inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat.
Tides turned with Dhoom:3 and Aamir Khan chose not promote his film out loud but create something which is now termed as an ‘abstract buzz.’ Choosing to let the film’s content and the curiosity around it take centre stage, Aamir maintained a low-profile, even though his look from the film was paraded and parodied on various reality shows. The film rocked the box-office regardless and Aamir repeated a similar strategy with PK, choosing only to speak through a talking standee in theatres, where a track in Aamir’s voice played from a life-size cutout of his character. Even in 2015, though he played a rather central role as the narrative voice Pluto in Dil Dhadakne Do, Aamir was nowhere to be seen, leaving audiences guessing right till his appearance in the film.
Post the release of Dangal in 2016, Secret Superstar in 2017 and Thugs of Hindostan in 2018, the actor is now gearing up for his upcoming projects. Just today, on his 54th birthday, he announced his new project, the official adaptation of Tom Hanks’ Oscar-winning classic Forrest Gump (1994). Titled Lal Singh Chaddha, Aamir will co-produce it with Viacom18 Motion Pictures. It will be directed by Advait Chandan. We're sure this announcement would be the best gift for his fans. Though not formally announced, the actor is said to have started working on his dream project based on