Anita Mehta in Mumbai
It would be tough to slot Aamir Khan. Just ask most critics and journalists who have interviewed him. The star can wow hundreds while he demystifies movies or whips up a marketing frenzy.
Tagged perfectionist, maverick, a marketing genius and now Mr Blockbuster, Khan's success script is what masala Hindi films are made of.
Born to producer Tahir Hussain, Aamir Khan's debut film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak refashioned filmdom's lingua franca and his latest 3 Idiots rewrote the numbers game!
This 22-year journey has had 32 films in between -- with almost a dozen astounding hits and mind-blowing performances. The journey has been an uncompromising one -- paced at his will and whim -- with controversy, awards, friends and fights strewn along the way.
As he turns 45 on March 14, here's a look at his best roles unadulterated.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
Aamir Khan's effervescent debut made him an overnight sensation. His portrayal of a teenage-lover was everything giggly girls wanted to see on-screen.
His dramatisation of 'Raj' was of the boy-next-door without cockiness but charisma, without smarts but heart and of silence rather than verbose dialogue.
Aamir Khan's tapori Munna set off a slew of characters. Like Aamir recounts in an interview: "Ramu had four flops before this. Urmila (Matondkar) had eight. The film had no story."
And yet it spiraled all their careers into the fast-track!
His street smart tapori's claim to love and good life had an unbelievably soppy and sugar-sweet ending. But it had us all rooting for this underdog.
His wardrobe and lingua franca set off a new trend of both dialogues and made the bright and jazzy super cool!
Raja Hindustani (1996)
Aamir Khan's focus on the underdog continued in Raja Hindustani.
His role of 'Raja' stayed raw and honest, not ashamed of his origin. And though it earned him the tag of a boorish chauvinistic husband, he still made a mark with the audience!
Much was made of the lip lock and Karisma Kapoor's stunning transformation, yet it was Aamir who made this movie stand out, winning him his first Filmfare Best Actor Award.
Aamir set the trend for a new lover boy avatar with this movie. Successful with both critics and the box office, it made both Khan and Madhuri Dixit the undisputable reigning stars of Bollywood.
Khan played 'Raja' in Dil, a story line close to his debut which had Khan and Dixit running away from home -- only with a happy ever after.
It had everything that a Bollywood actor would ask for -- dance, remarkable screenplay (remember the scene in where Aamir and Madhuri take their vows around the fire), and sheer chemistry!
Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin (1991)
It's often told how Mahesh Bhatt approached Aamir Khan with a script which he wasn't happy with and Khan who didn't know how to respond to this award-winning director, suggested he wanted a light remake of a Roman Holiday.
Bhatt came back with the script of Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin!
Starring Pooja Bhatt, this movie -- considered a remake of It Happened One Night -- stunned the box office.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
"Waise bhi perfection ko improve karna mushkil hota hain."
This line perhaps identified the cockiness of Aamir Khan's character and his own towering standards in real life. Setting off cool in his own way, Aamir played Akash, who he states in an interview, "generally does his own thing. He thinks the concept of love was created to ruin healthy relationships. The only difference between Akash and me is that I believe in love. Akash doesn't."
A coming of age movie, Aamir Khan made the difference because he underlined the dichotomy and the ethos of a well-settled generation who liked a life without too much struggle, who were under no great pressure to perform and who, therefore, scarcely valued what they had.
Establishing his own relevance in Bollywood like his character, Khan gave Akash a character graph and an attitude that even the word cool couldn't.
Taare Zameen Par (2007)
"I would be heartbroken if Taare Zameen Par doesn't work."
That's what Aamir Khan stated in an interview of his simple story of a dyslexic child, and one which questioned the education system.
Direction was always on Aamir Khan's radar and it was always as he stated on many occasions, a matter of when than why!
Playing art-school teacher Ram Shankar Nikhumb, he highlighted in the second half of the film, what a great school teacher can do for a student.
The film was racked with controversy especially when writer Amol Gupte raised questions about who really directed the film.
3 Idiots (2009)
A 44-year-old Aamir Khan played an IIT student without making him over the top. Aamir was worried that his Rancho was too perfect. Playing it inquisitive, innovative and easy, Khan seems to have hit the perfect formula to be an Idiot.
It also highlights how Khan seems to pick mannerisms from real people. He modelled this character on the boyish director of Ghajini, A R Murugadoss, and his 14-year-old nephew Pablo, who can never sit still.
Khan set up Aamir Khan productions for Ashutosh Gowarikar's Lagaan. The rest they say is history.
Everything that can be said about the Oscar-nominated film has been said before. Khan states in an interview with India Today, of the time he asked the producer, Jhamu Sughand for the money, 'Even when I told him it will cost a lot of money, he didn't blink. He never asked me are you sure? 1893 and cricket? Sports films haven't worked in India. But he didn't question me.'
Such was the power of his word. Aamir played Bhuvan, a farmer in the film which was India's official entry to the Academy Awards in 2001.
Khan later commented on the loss of Lagaan at the Oscars, 'Certainly we were disappointed. But the thing that really kept us in high spirits was that the entire country was behind us.'
Directed by Vikram Bhatt, it was a film that made Bollywood understand and salute the credibility of this Khan.
It was also one of the first films at that time about disenchanted youth. What attracted Aamir to the role was the hero's graph. He says in an interview, 'This supposed hero had such sham bravado. He was a macho guy who became almost cerebral.'
It also set a mini-trend of actors singing their own songs and his song, Aati Kya Khandala became a surprise chart-buster.
That was not all that Aamir did to breathe life into the character of Siddharth. Amongst the interesting on-set stories is one where he attempts a dangerous stunt involving a speeding train. It seems Aamir ran towards the train after calculating the time when it would hit him and decided to jump off the rails in the nick of time.
Andaaz Apna Apna (1994)
Perhaps amongst one of Bollywood's movies that attained cult status, despite failing at the box office, is where Aamir teamed up with Salman as Amar-Prem to create magic on screen.
The comedy-timing and the continuous Tom and Jerry game of one-upmanship made this a must-watch for all Aamir Khan fans!
Even though Salman and Aamir had a spat on the sets, the camaraderie is something that Salman remembers till date.
He stated in an earlier interview to rediff.com. "I feel Andaaz Apna Apna with Aamir was one of my sweetest films. I enjoy watching that film even today."
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (1992)
Nobody can play shy loverboy quite like Aamir Khan.
Khan played Sanjay Lal Sharma with ease. Directed by cousin Mansoor Khan, this tale addressed issues relating to teenagers and their self-discovery.
The romantic ballad Pehla Nasha still remains an anthem for those in love and for Khan, it continued his winning streak and established him as a serious contender amongst the Khans and Kapoors!
Aamir played an upright cop ACP Rathore in this Bollywood drama with a difference.
With sexy Sonali Bendra in tow, Aamir combined action, romance and dialogue in the seamless way only he can!
The actor lent his ACP Rathore a suaveness with gravity! It's not surprising that Aamir counts this amongst his favourite films.
Rang De Basanti (2006)
As the flashy DJ, Aamir's character, says on screen, "We have one foot in the past, one in the future and are pissing on the present."
This dialogue outlined the premise of the movie whose message set off debates, candle light marches for the-then cases of Priyadashini Matoo, Jessica Lall and more, creating what is still dubbed as 'The RDB effect'.
Much has been written about Aamir's muscles which he honed for a year as well as how he designed the marketing strategy for his home production to such an extent that it will now be taught as part of a course in film marketing at IIM-Ahmedabad.
Essaying the blood hungry, avenging character of Sanjay Singhania, Aamir focused on the blood-gore-action with a dash of romance bringing back the 90's pot boilers.
Everything about the film -- from the phone numbers etched onto his body, his shaven look and even his memory loss -- made news.