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How Aamir agreed to Dangal and Sakshi Tanwar became his 'wife'

The superstar did not want to play a character older than him, was only keen to do the film 4-5 years later.

Mayur Lookhar

Aamir Khan does few films these days, one every 3-4 years. As such he is not known to make decisions in haste. Being the best in the business means one has got to choose one's script wisely. That is why Aamir Khan agreeing to do a film is a legend in itself. We all know how Khan first analyses a script, contemplates its pros and cons, and then agrees to do it or rejects it. Writers and directors need to be very patient when dealing with the superstar.

So, it was no different for writer-director Nitesh Tiwari, who waited patiently for Khan to give his nod for Dangal.

In 2013, Tiwari took his script for Dangal to Ronnie Screwvala, then Disney India (earlier UTV) chief, who immediately approved the subject. Screwvala then asked the director whom he would like to cast in the lead role of Mahavir Singh Phogat. Tiwari gingerly named Khan, and was pleasantly surprised when Screwvala agreed to get him on board.

However, as always, Aamir Khan took his own sweet time before agreeing to it.

Speaking at the poster launch of Dangal, Khan narrated the sequence of events behind his decision to take up Dangal. 

"Dangal came to me at the time I was working on Dhoom 3," he said. "As you are aware, Dhoom 3 required me to be in the best of shape, look leaner and younger too. So, suddenly, I was offered this film where I'll be required to play a 55-year-old, one who would weigh 95 kg. So, I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to pull it off."

Khan said he would have expected such a role 4-5 years down the line. "At first, I thought, at 50 I'm being asked to a 55-year-old. So, this would be advancing my age by 4-5 years. That would be revealing my true age, which I always do my best to hide.

"I requested Tiwari if he would be willing to wait for five years. He was more than happy to oblige. I completed Dhoom 3 and, some months later, I called up Tiwari. He stated that they were still waiting for my reply. So, I  gave my nod to Dangal."

The biggest challenge for the superstar was the physical transformation. Khan had a novel idea how to go about Dangal. 

"Having agreed to do the film, I requested Tiwari if he could shoot the old and hefty Mahavir Singh Phogat first. It is comparatively better to gain weight first and then lose it. Besides, the younger Phogat will be seen briefly. So, it made sense to shoot the 55-year-old, 95 kg Phogat first," he explained.

Meanwhile, reports had it that Mallika Sherawat was in the fray to play Aamir Khan's wife in Dangal, but she lost out to popular TV actress Sakshi Tanwar.  Interestingly, this move had Khan's blessings.

Khan acknowledged that Sherawat was among the many who had auditioned for the role but refused to divulge more details.

"I wouldn’t like to comment on who all auditioned for the role," he said. "My wife Kiran [Rao] watches a lot of television. She has always spoken highly about Sakshi Tanwar. I casually suggested to Tiwari if Tanwar could be tried.  She was called and she cleared the auditions. Honestly, I knew she was a good actor but I was blown over by her performance. She is not only a skilled actor but the emotions she displays completely bowled me over."

Aamir Khan also said all is well now among Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and him. The three Khans have had their issues in the past, but there is no bad blood among them any longer. 

“I have always stated that Salman and Shah Rukh are much bigger stars than me," Aamir Khan said. "You get an idea about Salman’s stardom the moment he steps into a room. There’s a great aura about him, which you wouldn’t find with me. Contrary to Salman, when I step in, I’m more like a waiter," he said, adding hastily, "Oops, I don’t mean any disrespect to the humble waiter.”

Now, let's hope the actor does not get trolled for his ‘waiter’ comment. Dangal releases on 23 December 2016.