About 13 years ago, Aamir Khan, the producer and lead actor of the Bollywood film Lagaan, was sitting outside my studio as I was writing the film’s main choral theme. After he heard it, he came in with moist eyes. “A.R., what a great feeling this is,” he said. “My movie is made now!” I saw a childlike honesty in his eyes.
In a world of false diplomacy and evasiveness, Aamir is a straightforward man. A man of his word. His movies are commercial successes — Lagaan was nominated for an Academy Award — but they also display a sense of social responsibility: they tackle important themes, like poverty and education. His TV show, Satyamev Jayate, is part journalism and part talk show, and it confronts India’s deepest social ills, from sexual abuse to caste discrimination. He uses his gifts as a charmer to give his audience the most bitter medicine. Hypnotized, we take it without complaint. That’s Aamir’s magic at work. Satyamev Jayate was not intended to provide solutions but to ask hard questions, the kind society is often reluctant to address. By showing the courage to ask those questions, Aamir has started a movement that will help change the world in which Indians live. Jai ho!
Rahman is an Academy Award–winning composer