Berlin hosts Khan after Khan

By Mehru Jaffer, IANS
Friday, January 28, 2011

BERLIN - Indian cinema fans in Europe are basking in the company of Khan after Khan and they can’t believe their luck. First, it was Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan who spent three months in Berlin and now Aamir Khan arrives here early next month.

Aamir will be here as a member of the international jury of the 61st Berlinale that opens Feb 10.

“It’s not that we are in the habit of collecting Khans. But we greatly admire the work of both Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan and are totally excited that Aamir will be with us this year,” Dorothee Wenner, Berlinale’s special representative for Indian cinema, told IANS.

Wenner says the festival has admired Aamir as a producer and actor for many years and has been trying to get him to participate in the Berlinale for a long time.

“Of course, it is not enough to want Aamir in our midst. It is about schedules and whether he is free from work to be part of the Berlinale. The logistics were always a problem. Aamir’s work schedule did not allow him to be part of the Berlinale earlier. We are very happy that he is with us this year,” Wenner said.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick saw Aamir’s “Peepli Live” at the last Berlinale and liked the film so much that Wenner was asked to work overtime to make sure that Aamir participated in the event this year.

“I think it is great that such a versatile filmmaker is on the Berlinale jury. He knows every aspect of filmmaking, from acting, to directing and, of course, producing. I hope he will stay in that last role in the coming years because it means we can look forward to more unusual and surprising Hindi films. Also, if you look at the way he promotes his projects, I would want him as a producer if I were to make a film,” Gerlinde Seitner from the Austrian Film Institute told IANS.

It is Wenner who first introduced Shah Rukh to audiences here and now she is very happy to host Aamir. Shah Rukh first participated in the Berlinale with “Om Shanti Om” in 2008.

Berliners still recall how Shah Rukh had stopped traffic in the German capital with his charming ways. He was again at the Berlinale in 2010 for the world premiere of his last film “My Name Is Khan” and spent the last three months of the last year filming for Farhan Akhtar’s “Don 2″, which is partly shot in Berlin.

Berliners are thrilled that one Khan has barely left the city when Aamir will soon be with them.

The Bollywood participation at this year’s Berlinale includes the world premiere of “7 Khoon Maaf”. It has been selected for screening in the Panorama special section that picks cinema on the basis of innovative narrative styles and unusually critical images of society. Audiences will watch the film in the company of director Vishal Bharadwaj, producer Ronnie Srewvalla and leading lady Priyanka Chopra.

Priyanka fans look forward to her return to Berlin after having feasted on her presence just a few months ago when she was in the city shooting for “Don 2″.

Another Indian film is “Gandu” by Kaushik Mukherjee and Om Puri’s “West is West” will also be screened.

Award winning Shekhar Kapur will bring no film to the festival but he will join a panel for discussions with production designer Alex Mcdowell and others on “Play as Process: World building and New Ways to Imagine”.

Berlinale is one of the most prestigious film festivals and the international jury led this year by Italian actress Isabella Rossellini is the last word on which lucky film director gets to take home the Golden and Silver Bears at the end of the 11-day gala which concludes Feb 20.

The other members on the international jury along with Aamir are producer Jan Chapman, actress Nina Hoss, director Guy Maddin, costume designer Sandy Powell and Iranian director Jafar Panahi.

(Mehru Jaffer can be contacted at )

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