Aamir Khan interviewed hours before his 3 Idiots hit the screens.

In a brown suit with a bright red tie, Aamir Khan looks handsome as he greets you with a warm hug at the premiere of his new film, 3 Idiots, at IMAX Wadala in Bombay on 23rd December. The embrace is warmer than usual, but that’s because the actor is running fever. After he has met every guest at the show with his trademark smile and boyish joy, he settles down in a seat in one of the four auditoria screening the film. That he has seen the film more than ten times before this hardly makes a difference.After interval, he is out, sitting with friends in the lounge. Wife Kiran, in a black pair of trousers and a red top which matches with Aamir’s tie, is also in the lounge, sitting next to him. Lyricist Prasoon Joshi, filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, co-actor Sharman Joshi and some others give Aamir company. Rajkumar Hirani walks in later. Kunal Kapoor walks in much later. Madhavan flits in and out. You seize the opportunity and chat up Aamir in the ten exclusive minutes you get of the star.

Are you nervous, Aamir?
Yes, I am. I am a nervous wreck before every release of mine. I lose sleep.

The trial reports have been excellent. So, what’s the worry?
I just want to see the audience reaction now. Bas! .

Have you got fever because of your nervousness?
No, it’s probably because of exertion. I’ve been out of the city, travelling to different places all over the country in the last two weeks as part of the film’s promotion. Plus, I’ve not been getting adequate sleep, partly because of my partying.

Yes, we’ve been partying a lot – a party every day after a preview show of the film. Yesterday, we were together till 4 a.m. .(The ‘we’ includes producer and co-writer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, writer and director Rajkumar Hirani and Sharman and Madhavan, all of who were present at a preview show of the film at Film City.)

It is now Aamir’s turn to question you.
Says he, “I am told, the advance booking of 3 Idiots is a bit lesser than my previous film, Ghajini, at some places. Why do you think it is so?”
“It must be because the cinemas have hiked admission rates quite steeply,” you reason.

“There’s always an initial resistance of the public to increased admission rates in the hope that they will be brought down to the earlier level after some days. That could be the reason why the advance booking in not as strong as that of Ghajini.”

It’s now your turn to shoot your next question.

Do you think, the film will do as well as Ghajini in smaller centres also? After all, Ghajini had a lot of action while this film has no action at all.We all know that action films work big time in small centres.
I think, 3 Idiots has the potential to score in the small centres too because the film deals with education. And good education for their children is the concern of every parent, whether in the cities, towns or villages. I must tell you this incident in Varanasi where I had gone in disguise as part of the promotional campaign of the film.

I met a boatman there and I asked him if he was educated. He told me, he had studied upto Std. IV. But he said, he was sending all his children to school and wanted them to become literate. That is why I feel, 3 Idiots, which has the backdrop of education, will work in small centres too despite having no violence in it.

Aamir now asks for some hot coffee. Finishing his cup, the actor gets up from his seat and announces, “The shows are about to get over. Should we now go to the lobby and meet our guests?” Kiran is a bit apprehensive because he is not feeling well. “You will get mobbed,” she warns. With a twinkle in his eye, Aamir replies, “But that is exactly why we make films – to get mobbed.”

And mobbed the diminutive actor is as a sea of humanity surrounds him in no time. As Aamir gets hugged and kissed, as his hands get shaken again and again, you realise, he is lost for you. Waiting for him to resurface would be foolhardiness. So you make way for the exit gate. After all, it’s pointless to be standing there like one idiot, hoping the crowds will leave him so easily – and so soon.

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